I’d Like To Be More of a Trader ...

Sunni's picture

“Are you a giver or a taker? I’m a trader.” As soon as I read that, in Nothing Comes Easy by Adem Kupi, something started shifting in my brain; that continued—and an insight coalesced—as I washed the dishes.

My current mental state with regard to creating Sunni’s Salons centers squarely on that statement. With some encouragement from friends and former FMN customers, I began Sunni’s Salon as a place to focus on individualistic and pro-freedom culture. I also had hopes of earning some money from the endeavor, primarily via affiliate sales but also through advertising and payola. Despite Bacchus’ encouragement to monetize this place, I simply cannot bring myself to do it; but I was hoping that I was providing enough value here and at the Salon to get some value in exchange. And yes, I was hoping specifically for FRNs.

Not only hasn’t that happened very much at all, it is very rare that I receive any kind of feedback at all regarding the contents of the Salon. And I think that is even more disappointing for me, in a way. Perhaps it is silly or unrealistic of me to think that individuals who appreciate or dislike something there will provide feedback when the site isn’t set up to do so, but I did receive regular feedback on such things when I worked at FMN. I don’t know how the traffic flow between the two sites compares, but I do know I occasionally come across links to a Salon item in the most unexpected places ... so word does travel. Even when critical feedback has been specifically invited, the responses tend to be of the general “I like it” sort—not that that isn’t appreciated, but it is hardly the kind of data I can use to give readers what they want.

The place has become a one-way flow for me ... I try to find interesting people to talk to, I try to offer a mix of old and new books and music in my reviews, and I delve into my personal online explorations to share interesting finds ... but by and large I hear very little back. I’d like to be more of a trader, but I honestly don’t know how to accomplish that at this point.

And so, my enthusiasm for creating it has waned a lot. There’s so much else I could do with the time I invest into each Salon ... and if it isn’t a successful venture, why shouldn’t I change what I’m doing?

I don’t know what I’ll be doing yet, truth be told. I just came to this realization, and I don’t know what to make of it. Maybe I’m being completely wrong-headed about all this ... but there is little enthusiasm for sharing what I do there at present.

I have an interview victim already lined up for the November/December issue ... that is going to be loads of fun, and I have promised that person it will happen, and I intend to honor that promise. After that, I don’t know ... and again, it feels too early for me to be making any kind of decisions about the place right now.

But for today, I’m done sitting in front of my computer monitor trying to wrench words out, when they used to flow so easily. It’s a gorgeous fall day, my beloved children are with me, and there’s an enormous turkey fully defrosted and awaiting the oven sitting on the kitchen table. I’m not going to stress any more today over the current issue of the Salon ... and I’ll get back to it when I get back to it.


Sunni, I think that the biggest problem with the Salon re: feedback is the lack of commenting ability on Salon pages. The Salon is essentially a bi-monthly magazine. There's a lot there. It's very difficult to comment coherently on the many things that you touch on in an issue in a comment back over here or in an email. What I'd suggest is adding the ability to comment directly on Salon pages. It'd probably be more trouble than it's worth to convert the Salon to a blog or CMS, but you could consider manually adding HaloScan comments to the Salon pages. I added manual commenting to a test page here so you could get a feel for what it would look like. Comment moderation is available.

I can hardly wait

FWIW, I'd pay for the Salon. But Presto's idea for allowing for comments is also a good one. Any hints on who the next victim, err...., interviewee will be?

Feedback loop is a one-way street

I hear what you are saying about feedback. I write a post about it every two months or so. I have never made a dime for anything I've ever written (unless you count technical documents for proposals at work at my normal wage), but the hope is there. I guess I keep doing it partially for a release of intellectual energy that has no other willing outlet and partially for my own clarification of ideas and writing practice. Since I obviously don't depend on the writing subsequent reading of my stuff for sustenance, I continue the same way I started.

I have to admit that I haven't been a long-time reader of the Salon. I actually just found it several months ago through Ender's Review and read the interviews linked there. I hope it continues for the extremely selfish reason that I enjoy most of the interviews and other content.

Since my website, The Price

Since my website, The Price of Liberty, is a month into its 5th year, I think I can weigh in on feedback. There used to be quite a bit, but I suspended the feedback form we had on each page when the spam count reached several hundred per day. I don't think we ever had more than a dozen comments in any given week - that were usable at any rate - so it just made more sense to forget about it. We considered holoscan, but have not put it up yet. Still not sure if we will, though if it can be edited, it would probably do.

The bottom line is that few people will spend the time to comment on much of anything, even if they enjoy it. There is just SO MUCH available on line! I love to leave comments and belong to several forums, etc., participate regularly at the RRND symposium and a few other places, but it eats up time like crazy!!!

I very much agree that it makes all the difference in the world if even a few of the readers let you know they appreciate what you wrote, or challenge you on something they feel is inaccurate, or whatever... So, it would seem good to put up some sort of feedback mechanism there at the Salon and see what happens. I promise to write something every time.

Feeding ... backward and forward

Thanks, all of you, for providing some thoughts on my rather self-pitying and indulgent whining here. It does help to know people find value in my work on the Salons. In retrospect, I think it was a mistake to think that just because both the Salon and FMN had email links on the main page (and elsewhere), they’d be used similarly.

Presto, I appreciate what you’re saying; there is a lot there. And even though I would benefit from some feedback on what I do, I am not convinced that a full-fledged comment section is the best approach. It would require more of my and Tom’s time, and would make the place less magazine-like ... that atmosphere is not accidental. It is a place for my more formal and structured writing. I’ll think on this more.

H.C., you are a dear. May I suggest, though, that instead of sending cash, you use the Salon’s affiliate links to buy things that you’d buy anyway? The Amazon box at the bottom of the home page is there for that express purpose ... if Tom and I created an A-store, would that be of interest to anyone too? Or is Amazon just too saturated?

Regarding the next interview victim, I don’t like to give away too much (not even MAL can wheedle details out of me!), but I will say that it is my first repeat victim. Can you believe anyone was that brave?

PintofStout, you are also spot on with your “release of intellectual energy” observation. I guess I will keep doing what I’m doing, and focus more on what I’m sending out than what comes back.

Mama Liberty, thanks for the promise ... but I won’t hold you to it, even if Tom and I do institute some kind of comment system there.

What matters most is what you find to be of value

Ultimately, if you don't find value in the job you're doing then it's probably time to think about another course. When you enjoy doing something, for the sake of doing it, regardless of feedback, then yes it's worth the struggle. If it has become nothing more than an albatross around your neck, weighing down your day---- well, I'd say it was time for some deep thought and internal planning.

Maybe all the Salon needs is a bit of a change up; a new feature, like investigating a recipe's history. If interviews are uncomfortable, maybe another type of writing, say a biographical piece on a historical person, might be worthwhile. When the writing doesn't flow, a change is usually quite good at unblocking the dammed up thoughts.

I've personally found that monetary compensation isn't the end all and be all of satisfying writing exercises. When I've found the writing activity to be personally satisfying then all was good. When the writing ceased to provide some sort of gratification, whether it be personal or kudos from an outside source, it did become a bother. When I started to wake up and think, "Oh Shit, I've got to write today or I'll miss my deadline," it made me feel a bit sick inside. It was time to move on.

I enjoy the Salon, but I think I'd enjoy it more with a bit of a change once in a while. Surprises are delicious!

Money ... and surprises

Lewlew, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I do enjoy creating the Salons—even the interviews, once I get over the initial hesitancy—but as I think I stated before, I was certainly hoping that I would get more than personal satisfaction from the endeavor. Perhaps the place is still a little too young to evaluate in terms of return on investment ... or maybe I’m a text Luddite trying to hang on when the rest of the ’net has swung to podcasting.

I mentioned the money—and do so again—because while I agree with you that getting it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, I do need to support myself and my children. Perhaps I believe the hype too much, but I think that there is a way for me to support myself via the internet more than I am. I’m continuing to think about this ... and I do like your idea of surprises. Thanks!

I mentioned the money—and

I mentioned the money—and do so again—because while I agree with you that getting it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, I do need to support myself and my children.
Very true. I agree; I've taken on many a job that has been more of a bother than a joy for the payola.

If you find value in Salon, and see a possible future of payola, I'd defintely give it more time to mature. Just because something is difficult to put together, or you must struggle to maintain it, doesn't mean it isn't valuable. Often, the more you struggle and overcome, the more important and cherished the activity becomes to you. Since you'd stated the personal satisfaction factor is still elusive, I'd definitely think about changing up the format a bit to see if that helps.

As for being a text Luddite, I don't think so. Podcasting has its place, but I don't see text going by the wayside. Listening is often more passive than reading.