Sunday, October 31, 2004

Blogs hitting the Mainstream: More From Newsday

The third (and I believe final) part of Newsday's series on blogs, how to start one, how to spread one, and now how to make money off of one, is here.

It focuses exclusively on making money by being a really popular blogger. IF you're a really popular blogger, AND your blog is somewhat targeted, then advertisers may choose to run ads on your blog, and you get a cut.

This being the focus makes this story of completely limited use to the vast, VAST majority of bloggers.

The people who hope to make money off of blogs in this way are considering themselves to be freelance writers, essentially starting their own publication, analogous to any magazine or newsletter. Just like any other creative profession, from fiction writing, to acting, to music, to photography... it is the tiny minority who become famous, or who even make a real, un-supplemented living from their creative pursuits. I write my monthly column in the Metro, and I can tell's Starbucks Latte money at best. And the rates for similar kind of writing for the San Jose Merc aren't much better according to a buddy of mine who's done this kind of freelance work. So right off the bat, after the top 100 blogs or so, readership drops off to levels that won't encourage advertisers to spend a lot of money on your site. They may spend some, if your blog is tied in a very relevant way to their product, but not a lot.

Now, some folks get themselves in a real snit about the very idea of blogs advertising, contending it will in some way lessen their credibility. I just don't believe it. First of all, publications take ads. That's what they do. It's how they fund their publication. And I see nothing inherently evil about it.

Secondly, most bloggers are publishing their opinions and analysis. Most bloggers are not out there a) on investigative trips or b) creating the news stories of the day. Yes, we can point to RatherGate as being escalated by the blogger community, but generally speaking, bloggers report on what is already news...with their own interpretation, opinion, analysis research etc. And most people read bloggers because they like their writing, and probably agree with their perspective.

In other words, I believe most bloggers are creative, not journalistic, in style. We don't read them to get the facts; we read them to hear what they have to say about the facts.

So, I have said it before, and I will say it again: blog writers are writers. They have the opportunity to make money the same way other writers do. And they have the greatest likelihood of making money by hiring out their writing skills, as opposed to purely writing on their own behalf.

More writers make money writing ad copy and white papers and corporate newsletters than make money publishing their fiction masterpiece. Or you can get lots of freelance gigs that add up...writing for newspapers, magazine etc.

Your blog can get you such gigs. And increasingly those gigs might entail creating or participating in blogging...for businesses, for an online publisher etc.

I wish Newsday would have thought a little bit more outside the BlogAds box and addressed other ways the average blogger could make money.

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