I often wonder what the actual threshold is for being able to claim that you are a “professional” in any given activity. The basic definition I have always used is whether or not you get paid for what you do. I have been paid to act in every production I have been in since 2001 (with one exception), so I am comfortable calling myself a professional actor. Is that enough, though? I mean, if you do ONE show in your entire life when you get a paycheck can you call yourself a professional? Is there a minimum number of shows you should do? Should you have to have an Equity card? Perhaps you can only say you are a professional if you actually make a living acting.
I was recently part of a production of Biloxi Blues that was criticized by Tampa Bay Times writer John Flemming as being “amateurish” because nobody in the cast was a member of Actors’ Equity. This caused a bit of a stir in the Tampa Bay area, because the fact is that around here most of the paid actors who appear on our stages are NOT members of the union. He, in a nutshell, called anyone out who didn’t have a card as being an amateur. Needless to say, that rankled.
I feel this way about my blogging on occasion as well. This blog has never generated any kind of revenue in the past. I have sold a few of my Cafe Press T-shirts, but those sales have come through direct links on my Twitter feed or through people stumbling across my shirts in the Cafe Press store. I got some work at WoWInsider as a result of being a part of the now-defunct ShrinkGeek blog, though, so I wonder if I can now say I’m a professional blogger? I’ve been paid to write for a blog that gets millions of page views every month, so does that count? Or do I have to actually be working full-time as a blogger to earn this achievement.
My former boss decided, after his position with our company was eliminated, that he was going to try earning his keep by playing poker. Does that make him a professional poker player, or does he only get that distinction if he shows up on ESPN in one of those big tournaments? Is it enough for him to make his living by playing through a web site like [redacted]?
Does the fact that I’m now getting offers to place paid advertisements on my blog make me a professional?
Or does it make me a sell out?
Does the fact that I wrote an entire post about the subject in order to include a paragraph that was relevant to the advertisement that was purchased add or detract to my sell out factor?
Do you see what I did there?
Yeah, I figured you did.
Maybe I’m less professional and more prostitute, but daddy has bills to pay and this blog ain’t paying for itself.
Edit – April 24, 2014
So I was asked to remove the link to the site in question due to my advertising no longer being needed. Funny, that. They only paid me for a year, but I completely forgot about this and they could have just let it ride forever rent-free. Ah well.