Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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The Plan

Okay. Here's where you tell me I'm out of my effing mind. Or here's where you constructively offer opinions on how we can do this in a better way. The whole theory behind this is power in numbers. Like, if 1,000 of us no-name bloggers got together and each contributed $1 for a good cause we could really change someone's life. What if we each contributed $2 or $5? The possibilities are endless! And what if that money we raised ALWAYS went to someone else in our group? This group of us would have each others backs no matter what. A safety net, if you will, of people who are willing to forgo that Starbucks once or twice a month and put that money toward The Great Experiment. Because one day they may be the one in need. And come on! Most of us are blog blog blogging away in anonymity, thrilled to pieces when someone reads our stuff and offers up a word of kindness. This could link us all up.

I have several theories on how we can go about doing this, and again, the key is spreading the word. The more people we have, the more money we can give to someone who needs it and the less it costs each of us to do so. What if we really could get 1,000 people in on this? That's at least $1,000 a month! I know that would rock my world!

This is what's rattling around in my brain. Once a month everyone with a blog (Myspace.. whatever, just some online portal you can host your post) can enter a writing contest about a particular topic. It could be a specific subject like mother-in-law or potty-training and it could be general like humor or fear. Maybe I could come up with 5 topics on the first of each month and y'all can vote on which one you want to be the featured topic? I figure everyone PayPals an entry fee, like, $1. It's debatable. Anyway, you pay the fee and you're in. I will send you an email verifying receipt and letting you know you're in that month's contest.

You have the entire month to work on your entry post. Again, the monthly topics could range anywhere from the secret I never told anyone to marriage, divorce, parenting, death, the best rock show I ever saw, music... you get the idea.

During the last week of the month I will post links (Bonus! You get traffic) to the blog posts of everyone who entered and the world at large can vote via my comment section. Get your friends and families to vote. Whatever it takes. However, I can monitor IP addresses in my comments so I'll disqualify anyone who tries to "stuff the ballot box" by voting too many times from one computer. We'll probably also need a word limit. Reading a shit-ton of blogs could get tiring, even if all you brilliant people wrote them. We'll narrow it down to the top three and then feature a 24-hour poll on The Girl Who that will decide the winner. Once again, there are poll hosting websites that block the same IP address from voting more than once.

The winner gets a cashier's check from me for the entire amount collected that month. No, I won't abscond with your money. You've been reading this blog for four years, you know my family, you know where I work, you could ruin me. It won't happen. I will publicly keep a running total here on the blog of how much we've collected so everyone will know how much is there every day. I WILL NOT KEEP ANY OF THE MONEY. The only thing I'd ask is that the winner post a button on his blog saying something like "I Won X amount of dollars in The Great Experiment and you can too" with a link back to the page on my blog that lets people know how to enter. THERE IS NO FINE PRINT, NO BULLSHIT... Just a way for us writers/bloggers to unite in a fun way and make some cash to pay off the credit card debt. Maybe as an addendum to your post, you have to add a paragraph explaining what you'd do with the money if you won. If what you plan to do with the money is kickass (pay off debt) and not stupid (buy a flat screen TV) you could edge someone out if you're in the final top three.

If enough of us participate the monthly winner could get a pretty big payday, especially if it works out and we keep doing it and more people join. Or maybe just ten people enter this first go round, but hey, that's why it's called THE GREAT EXPERIMENT.

There are a million ways we can run this, point is, I really hope to form this collective of people who vow to donate at least $1 a month to the cause. Each month somebody gets the money. Nobody can win twice in a year. The more we do this, the bigger it gets and the more money can be given to each recipient. We could change lives here! Just by donating a stupid dollar a month. Shit, I'll lay off the beer this month and kick in $100 just to get the ball rolling. Kind of paying it forward, if you know what I mean. Hopefully, the cool stories from winners about how our contributions made a difference will come rolling in and make it worthwhile.

Anyway - this is what I'm mulling over.

Obviously I will not be participating, just coordinating and trying to get publicity for the cause. Also, any issues that arise will always be discussed and worked out (fittingly) via a blog post here on The Girl Who and comment-type voting. Think democracy, people. The world is a rainbow.

Another huge bonus is belonging to a community of fellow writer/bloggers who you virtually know. If you did get cancer, dude, we'd be all up in your business hosting writing contests every damn week until we raised enough to pay for your chemo. Seriously. If your pipes get clogged and you can't afford to fix it, let us know! We'd be here for you with a money collecting plan of action already in place. Think of it in terms of sharing the bounty. Let's link arms, sing Kumbaya and share the bounty of our blogs!

Come on, people! You're blogging ANYWAY. Let's make it exciting!! Fuck the weblog awards or the bloggies or whatever in hell they call that bullshit. You know the ones, where the SAME cast of characters wins every year. I'm too social anxiety-ridden to go to Blogher (I'm afraid it'd be like the lunchroom in the Can't Buy Me Love high school). Do you have to pay for your plane and hotel to go to Blogher? Think of all the money saved if we fucked off Blogher (sorry Blogher, I think you are a noble endeavor but come on? Plane tickets and hotel rooms and swag and popular bloggers and not popular bloggers? Yuck.) and created an enduring community that stretches all across the web instead. We can sit in the quiet anonymity of our own living rooms all the while marauding around the internet like Robin Fucking Hood. Except for the robbing the rich part. But we'd still be giving to the poor! Or the talented that would have gone unknown were it not for THE GREAT EXPERIMENT!

If you're anything like me, you feel like a jackass trying to promote your blog yet you've put SO much time into it it seems like you should get some return, right? But self-promotion just feels slimier than Violet after a jar of applesauce. If folks want to read my blog cool, if not there ain't NO way I'm going to be out there promoting it. I think a lot of you feel the same way. So it's this. This is a chance for the unknown blogger (there are millions of us out here!) to get his/her due and make some cash! Even if you don't win, there's always another month coming. Not only that, but you'll get traffic, your work read and belong to a community of awesome people that look out for each other on the internet. Anonymous bloggers of unread blogs unite! Tell every blogger you know! Let's do this!

Okay, enough with the exclamation points. Rain on my parade. Tell me why this won't work or how we can improve The Plan. The only thing bugging me right now is that only one person wins a month. I'd like to spread the wealth more but can't think how to do that. Maybe have a top three? Come on everyone, brainstorm with me.

Also, copy and paste The Great Experiment button up there onto your blog so people click it, come over and help brainstorm ideas.

Reader Comments (41)

Here are my 2 cents - I pay $1/month for a magazine subscription and have often thought I'd be willing to pay that to the 3 or 4 blogs I follow, no problem. However, that is about as far as I'd go with that. I do love the idea of writing contests, sending in a few bucks, and have people vote on the winner.

Also - I have no problem with you taking a percentage of the cash collected for A: getting traffic to our blogs and B: you're the one who has to put in all the damned work!

My writing skills suck ass, but love photography - if you could include that as well, I'd definitely pay to enter some of my pictures for money.

Best of luck - lovin' the Great Experiment!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCindi

A photography contest! That could be great! Just like the writing contest, you host your entry photo on your blog or flickr or wherever you want the traffic and we all vote. Interesting.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheGirlWho

Great idea Monica. I am with Cindi on that I am not the best writer in the world but love to take pictures and yes I do to think you might want to keep a % for you....if this thing get big like I think it could then it will be a lot of work for you.

I am in :)

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

I don't want to take any money, I feel like that would detract people from participating if they think I'm in it to make a buck. I'm sick of this blog being a place where I whine about life. If I could turn it into something cool that helps people it would all be worth it... and then I wouldn't feel so bad about all the whining I still plan to do :)

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheGirlWho

Hey Monica! This is Kelly Davis Scott from good ol' MVHS. I am HUGE fan of your blog. I found you off Marisa and Natalie's blog. I have been reading your blog, stocking you I guess, for a while now. I too LOVE to write and blog. And oh so enjoy reading everyone's blogs. I LOVE your idea and am totally in. I am sure I have some blogger friends who would be interested as well. I will pass the message onto them via facebook and my blog. LOVE reading about your life and your absolutely GORGEOUS baby girl! You are as gorgeous as always, and I am not kissing your ass! You are an amazing writer and I enjoy your blog very much!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKel Scott

Kelly Davis! What the? It's been more than ten years, no? Wow. Did you put a link to your blog in your comment? In my hurry to respond to you I didn't even check! I'd love to read what you write. Oh, that's exciting to hear from you!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheGirlWho

Ok Monica I am such a dork.....I can not get this button to link back to you WTF am I doing wrong?

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

You aren't a dork, it's probably me. Am new to all this button blog business. But I tried it on this other blog of mine ( and it seemed to work. Create an HTML widget in your sidebar and copy and past in the code. It should put the button there which links back to this page. If you still have trouble email me and we can work out whether it's me or you!

August 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterMonica


I had to put it in like this and it worked fine....

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

I know! I was just on your blog! Exciting to see it there. Now spread the word everybody! The more people we get to weigh in on The Plan the better it will be. Please please keep posting your ideas and your "2 cents".

August 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterMonica

Great idea...however I am not a writer, would probably never win a contest, and it would just be something else I would be wasting my money on. If it were more random I would be in. Like a dawing or something???

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJazzy

A drawing... that's a good point. I'm struggling with balancing the writing/photography part with just being able to hand someone a big chunk of cash that could help them out. Maybe we split the money three ways; writing winner, photography winner and a random drawing winner? That way everyone's covered. Keep brainstorming!!!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheGirlWho

HEY MONICA!! NO, in my anxious writing too you, which I have done SEVERAL times and then deleted, insecurity I guess, I forgot. It is It started out as a blog for my family, and then my oh so sweet husband kept criticizing what I was writing so I took him out of it, and told him to get his own damn blog! Love him, but he is a shit at times!
I really love your blog and tell Jac about it daily! Especially the "blowy" comment! We laughed and talked about it with our friends at dinner. I LOVE to check and see what you have written each day. It is on my daily stalk list, but I added you to my list of blogs I frequent, hope you don't mind!!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKel Scott

Need to marinate in this a little while longer but here are some immediate thoughts;

Not sure I like the idea of contests. Just feels too much like we're being pitted against each other. However, I do love the idea of supporting other's blogs/photography/writing/creative genius. Perhaps a randomized drawing? A huge support network of some sort?? I don't know, Monica, but I think you're onto something really freaking awesome.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Lynn

I love the idea, but wouldn't participate b/c I'm sucky at writing. I think that's why I like reading's entertaining & it's not something I have a talent for. But I would pitch in a few bucks and vote.

BTW a teacher inspired my daughter Rachel to start a (private) blog. (do you remember Rachel?) She loves to write & it seems like a good outlet to keep her interested in writing and learning. I guess everyone of her generation will eventually have a website or blog.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy

Ah as we look for all the ways to get out of news. Good luck, I hope it works for you.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

I'm confused about how the group as a whole can make any profit off of this. You're talking about wealth redistribution - not wealth generation. The most the group as a whole can ever hope to do is break even. Or am I missing something here?

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranon

You're right. Perhaps "Get Paid To Blog" is not the right terminology although one or two people would be getting paid for their blog or photo. Yes, it's wealth redistribution. Most people won't even break even, they'll still lose the dollar or ten they used to enter the contest that month but if you're thinking dollar signs you aren't getting the point. The goal isn't to generate money, this isn't a business proposition. It's a way to use our blogs that likely nobody but our families and a few friends read as a way to help someone who needs it, once a month. Only the someone who really needs it will be one of us and if there is a way we can incorporate our blogs and talents that would be cool too.

Someone mentioned they don't like the idea of a contest. I kind of don't either, contests stress me out. But they also offer a lot of incentive to people who like to win them and they can be kind of fun. So maybe we host a random drawing every month in conjunction with a contest? If you don't want to be in the contest you could still be in the drawing? But I want everyone's blog to get exposure too. And most importantly, I want everyone in the group to feel part of something cool, something that could help them out if they ever needed it. Kind of like, god forbid I'm saying this, but a Mormon ward or a group of Pioneers heading westward. If someone is hurt, we circle the wagons and give them what we can salvage from everybody's wagon. THERE IS POWER IN NUMBERS. The idea for this kind of started way back in my mind when I was pregnant. Fans of my husband's band sent us baby gifts off of our registry and oh my God you would not believe all the expensive stuff they got us! These people, a lot of who had never met me, bought my daughter a swing, a highchair, a baby monitor, boxes of diapers, so many things. Why can't we do the same for someone else every month and use our blogs to do it? We're blogging ANYWAY? Keep up the good comments and brainstorming.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

just one logistical thing to consider is money transfer for those of us who are not in the US - we can't do a direct deposit into an account without incurring international transfer fees which would be larger than the amount being transferred. Otherwise I think the idea is good in principle, needs some fine tuning but that will come with time.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Are there international PayPal fees? How much are they?

August 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterMonica

GREAT ideas! It actually seems as though it's two ideas as one project! I've already pasted this into my blog...not that I have readers but I can certainly direct people to start reading my blog. I'm laid-off and have nothing to do but write & bug the shit out of people (my friends) with jobs! Glad to do it - especially for something altruistic!
Let me know if there is anything else I can do - like I said, I have time.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Yep. I would participate. Great idea. And I know some other bloggers that would too!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrachelgab

I'm in Monica!
I recently pondered what my blog was doing positive for my life.....
Here ya go, you did it. In, getting the button.
PS I love commenting on The Girl Who..................

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I like the way you're thinking, Monica. I am a follower of blogs BUT don't have my own- mostly because of shyness, but I do like to write, so this may be a reason for me to start one up. I agree with Jennifer Lynn about contests, I don't like them so much because so much in life as turned into a competition... it's tiring!

I do have to add that I try to find different entities where I can donate money and this would be one that I would add to. I have different charities where I contribute, but it would be cool to add some money to the pot fort some people I know a little bit about via their writing!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I'm okay with a contest of sorts - if the winners rotate. I'm also okay without a contest, just a drawing. I think, though, that you shouldn't have to justify the money. Maybe it's for your mortgage, maybe you need a weekend away before you go insane. What does it matter? We all get so judgey anyway - just enter and be up for it. Tell us what you did with it or just say thanks and yay.

I favor a lower dollar contribution, too.

You know I started blogging because of you - I'm totally in. Let's find a way to make it something more than our super special deep thoughts. ;-)

Chrissy - I love that Rachel's blogging. She's awesome, your kid. I miss seeing her!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEDW

You know me Monica - I don't blog - so I have nothing to contribute - however I LOVE this idea. I love the whole 'hands across america' feel of it. I would vote, I would judge and I would definitely donate. Truth be told I was embarrassed that I had ZERO money saving tips for your last post. For those who know me well.....if I could light money on fire for no good reason at all I probably would. This is inspiring and has good karma written all over it! Good on you girl.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle

about logistical thing I must agree with Sarah, PayPal fees are gonna be bigger then the amount being transferred, but whole Plan sounds exciting and I like it a lot, I'll think about some tips or ideas, and I guess I could use my photography skills as well, I'm bad writer unless we can make lyric contests :)

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterana_jo

ups, sorry I meant bank transfer, i've checked paypol fees, it's said paying is free, am I right?

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterana_jo

I can't see how the money could go to 'someone who really needs it'. If you have a random drawing, it will go to whoever got lucky enough to be picked, not necessarily need it. If you're talking contest, what stops a professional, or a good writer snapping up the money? What about the rest, your average bloggers? I think it'd be very unfair.
Still doesn't mean they are really in need of the money.
A thousand bucks/months could be put to much better use. I'm thinking charities, programs, initiatives to benefit a good cause.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertam

Sounds good to me.

On the need based - I'll be honest - I wouldn't blog about my financial situation because my husband's family reads my blog, and that would be a violation of trust. He so does not want them knowing his business. Would I pay off credit cards? Absolutely. But, yeah, if some mom or dad needs a spa visit or fishing trip, heck, go for it.

I'd rather we picked winners based on how they speak to us. Do their words or pictures make us feel? Then they win.

Just my extra 2 cents! This is a great idea, and I'm so glad you thought it up!

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEDW

Maybe I missed this earlier, but is this open only to women? Just asking because I know a couple of SAHD who dabble in blogging and might be interested.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeneria

You're right EDW, I didn't think of the financial situation that way. So let's not do that. Cool, this is slowly coming together.

And this is absolutely open to men! I probably, unfortunately, used the term women somewhere along the way but I'd love to get as many folks as possible in the group. I get excited thinking about the possibilities of all the different folks from all over the place linking up. If there are enough of us and the monthly pot gets big enough we can begin to pick more than one winner. I guess that one thing I'm still missing though is helping someone who really needs it. It's shaping up to be a contest where the best writer is rewarded... but I want to tweak the judging criteria somehow, so that we aren't just judging on writing alone, but maybe the way someone presents themselves on their blog, what kind of person they are. Does that make sense? How can we do that?

Like I said earlier, so the single Mom who isn't exactly a brilliant writer but is just about the nicest person ever has a shot at winning.

August 7, 2009 | Registered CommenterMonica

I don't blog, but I'd like to read and contribute - knowing I can't win a drawing just for looking, of course. But if I should become so moved by what you all are undertaking and wish to start blogging, the rule that you have to have been blogging for a year would then exclude me. So please rethink that part. Oh, and I also agree - one shouldn't have to say how they will spend the $$. One person's necessity is another's vice is another's way to throw it away, is another's - you get the idea.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

Another idea I'm going to throw out. Monica, you said you want to help someone who really needs it...what about making the first writing contest about someone the blogger wants to help. Writers would blog about someone else they know in need (with their permission of course) & people would vote on the best story. Then the winnings would go to the person they wrote about.
I dunno...just a thought.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy

That IS a cool thought, Chrissy. I guess it would just be on the winner's honor that they give the money to that person. But what a great thing to be able to say; I wrote about you and won you X amount of cash because I love you or whatever.

We could rethink the requirement that you'd have to have been blogging for a year too. Maybe the less rules the more people would participate.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

Hello there

I've had a few fabulous gin with elderflower cordial and apple juice's - trust me, a winner - so apologies. Monica - I love your plan and I salute you for being so industrious and damn inspiring. Things I love - the sending more traffic to a blog, the writing contest, the helping others deal, the vote for who you like best on a subject. The things I don't dig as much - the saying what you do with the money. There is a need then to justify what you do with it. If you need therapy, a fab bikini wax, some good moisturiser - whatever - you won, you deserve it. so go and have fun with it - feck, if you live as frugally as some folk seem to who offered money saving tips, then surely you deserve to have some indulgent luxury in your life? Also - judging folk from their blogging as well as what they submit competition wise - well thing is... folks may love your entry - then read your blog and go - oh she believes in XYZ , or lets her child cry itself down, or is anti the death penalty or whatever and change their minds... To judge on a stand alone piece of work seems somehow more fair...

Whilst it is sweet to suggest other folks to donate the cash to - well, does that not call people to beat the charity drum? Which, as you say, is a whole other kettle of fish because my god, there are a million worthy charities out there. I personally would be harping on about samaritans every post - not sure of you have them in the USA....

Ok - will be quiet now. Just some musings. Feel free to ignore!


August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

What's this? Gin with elderflower cordial? That sounds like something a rebellious Anne of Green Gables would get busted drinking. Okay everyone, am gonna try and come up with something on this within the next week or so. I just have this horrible fear the dollar amount to be won will be, like, $10 and then I'll be all embarrassed and start infusing it with my own cash and then I'll have to keep up this elaborate charade for years and years and I'll go broke and have to live in a VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER! Oh well, worth a shot.

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

I am in! I read a lot of really great blogs, and I think they should be recognized. I pretty much suck at writing, but i love blogging, maybe it will spur me on to blog more. I don't realy care who reads it, but some of it isn't half bad! :)
Let us know the deets!

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I'm not sure how I missed this post until now, so apologies for the delay in responding....

I like the main idea of this. One caveat that I would consider adding would be that every single person that enters, whether it be a writing, photography, drawing, or whatever competition for that month, should nominate a chosen charity, with at least 50% of the money donated by everyone else that month going to the charity of the winning entrant....

I would be happy to donate $1 a month, probably even $5 a month, if I knew that half my money was going to a worthwhile cause and not to an individual person to pay for a holiday or something stupid like that Because it is the way of the internet that when word gets round about this you will get professional writers/photographers and whatever entering just to help improve their personal situation and even for publicity. So let them have half the cash for them, and give the other half away, and they would need to produce some sort of evidence of the donation to their pre-chosen charity or be disqualified from all future entry.

Obviously, exceptions could be made in extreme circumstances, in order to give someone a help back up after a devastating crisis in their personal lives (I'm thinking something like Hurricane Katrina or sudden death of a spouse kind of thing here). I'm not completely heartless! But if we can be inspired to donate a little each month, knowing that what we donate is going to a good cause, and in the hope we may win every now and then to recoup what we donated of course, then this has to be one hell of a good thing!

I, for one, am in, regardless of whether my comments above are accepted by the majority or not. And if I should be lucky to be voted the winner on any particular month, I will donate the entire amount to cancer charities. I'm not interested in entering this kind of thing for me, but more interested in the potential good it can do for other people.

August 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDamien

Hey Monica

For some reason I am unable to reply to the message you sent me, so I am doing it here instead. Apologies for hijacking this for a more personal message, but I didn't want you to think I was ignoring the one you sent me!

I do make an effort to be positive where possible. My life is far from great, but it's getting better, and I'm too much of a private person to share the things that get me down with others, preferring instead to sit at home with a bottle of vodka when I am feeling depressed. Which hasn't happened for a while in fairness, so I guess I really am going through a good patch in my life!

As I may have said elsewhere, I was raised with an attitude of "If you have nothing positive to say then don't say anything", and I try to stick by that. So many people out there are negative and find pleasure in picking up on the faults of others, forgetting that every single one of us has faults of our own, none of us are perfect, and are in fact a long way from it. But we can make ourselves better people by the attitude and actions we choose to take.

This 'Great Experiment' of yours is a wonderful example of that. There you are sat at home, little baby just starting to crawl around the house, and you want to devote time to helping other people in this way. Serge is one very lucky guy to have landed himself such a wonderful person as his wife!

Keep up the writing, and hope the great experiment really takes off. I'll be supporting it for sure. Already have the big red button on my blog, and as soon as I get paid I'll be making my first contribution to the cause!

August 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDamien

Exelente idea!

August 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRo

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