Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 21, 200911:57 AM

The Business Of Blogging

Maybe all of those Bloggers taking $500 per Blog post from advertisers to post about their brands, products and services is paying off. That's the word from The Wall Street Journal today. It turns out that Blogging is becoming serious business and a full-time job for many.

"In America today, there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers. Already more Americans are making their primary income from posting their opinions than Americans working as computer programmers or firefighters. Paid bloggers fit just about every definition of a microtrend: Their ranks have grown dramatically over the years, blogging is an important social and cultural movement that people care passionately about, and the number of people doing it for at least some income is approaching 1% of American adults."

That's the opening paragraph of the news item, America's Newest Profession: Bloggers for Hire, by Mark Penn (author of Microtrends) in the April 21st edition of The Wall Street Journal. Without giving away the whole story, here are just some of the very interesting statistics about what Blogging - as a professional vocation - looks like:

The article continues: "The Information Age has spawned many new professions, but blogging could well be the one with the most profound effect on our culture. If journalists were the Fourth Estate, bloggers are becoming the Fifth Estate."

This also goes well beyond the standard (and false) comparison of Blogging to the publishing industry (i.e. how many journalists have been let go from newspapers and magazines over the past little while?) versus the new digital channels (i.e. blogging is thriving because print is dying?). The real interest and opportunity to make money comes in the type of content that these winning Blogs are producing. The majority of Blogs that seem to be scoring in terms of advertising and sponsorship revenues are those with a very deep and specific niche topic. It's usually about content that is not being covered in the mainstream mass media, but still has wide appeal to a specific group.

And with that comes the challenges:

"It is hard to think of another job category that has grown so quickly and become such a force in society without having any tests, degrees, or regulation of virtually any kind. Courses on blogging are now cropping up, and we can't be far away from the Columbia School of Bloggerism. There is a lot of interest now in Twittering and Facebooking - but those venues don't offer the career opportunities of blogging. Not since eBay opened its doors have so many been able to sit at their computer screens and make some money, or even make a whole living."

All of this poses a bigger question: what will journalism and publishing look like if Blogs do generate significant revenue and start stealing advertising dollars away from the traditional publishers who are diving head-first into the digital channels?

(hat tip Bryan Eisenberg - GrokDotCom)

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by David Claude
    Mitch Joel

    Markets are conversations = true.
    Conversations are markets = True-er.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Interesting facts and information. I enjoyed your analysis of Blogging. You brought up some great questions as well - which will require some deeper thought.

    The next few years will definately bring with it changes in advertising throughout the different media we have available.

    Reply
  • Posted by Matt Searles
    Mitch Joel

    To answer you're twitter question..

    I don't know what my appetite is for blogging as a full time profession.. I'd have to try it out.. to really know.. but my gut tells me that it's a little on the wrong headed side..

    To me the point of blogging and all the new emerging digital channels is.. well if nothing else I think the REAL power is in how you combine the channels... which will get more interesting as technology marches onward.

    Eventually, I figure, its really got to be a personal thing.. finding the right fit for you personally.. where you're passions are, where you're skills are, where the market place is..

    Right now I've got a recording contract brewing.. and I think of that almost as if it were a possibility to monitize social media.. like telling people "well music's my day job, but on nights and weekends I do social media."

    But God.. just imagine a world where entrepreneurship is the norm.. take a little guerilla marketing, a little guerilla pr, stir it in with the pariticulars of industries that comprise you're passions.. add the social media / digital channels.. doing it all.. not alone but in a sorta networked way..

    That to me is the future of all this stuff.

    Reply
  • Posted by Richard Butler
    Mitch Joel

    I believe there's nothing wrong with blogging. It is simply the newest way on how to earn money so people do it. :-)

    Reply
  • Posted by Michael Fidler
    Mitch Joel

    As a non-blogger, I've been curious about the business of blogging for some time. I've gone as far as to ask several prominent blogger's for advice on where to look for the information, but unfortunately, I never found a helpful answer. Thank you for shedding some light on this. Here’s another statistic for you. This morning I came across a short post, that simple said, “There’s more bloggers in the United States than there are Bartenders�. It makes me wonder if a lot of bloggers were bartender’s at one time.

    Reply
  • To add on to this, I just read an amazingly interesting post by Penelope Trunk on her Brazen Careerist Blog titled, Reality check: You're not going to make money from your blog, well worth checking out: http://tr.im/jl0a

    Reply
  • Posted by Chris Brogan...
    Mitch Joel

    I make craploads of money from blogging. Tons. I can bathe in it. Further, I run around and tell newspapers how they can do it. I tell stay-at-home types how. I share it with everyone I can. I love money. It's awesome. I can use it to buy happiness.

    The fun of it, to me, is how it turns even bigger. I'm not hiring typists. I'm hiring strategists with a web presence.

    Reply
  • Posted by Matt Searles
    Mitch Joel

    @Chris

    I remember you telling me how all rich people sucked at a tweet up some time ago.. ( this after an earlier tweet up when you claimed you knew nothing about marketing!) you're one unreliable narrator!

    Reply
  • Posted by Chris Carpenter
    Mitch Joel

    I think it depends so much on the subject matter and the background of the writer. Since blogs are written in a much less "newsy" style, it seems that it will be improtant that the writer has some legit street cred in whatever they write about. For example, it currently feels like there are a lot of digital marketing bloggers out there that are good at writing aboutit, but I don't get the sense they're really good at actually doing it.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Interesting facts on bloggers. Make me wonder how much room for growth there is.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ben Kunz
    Mitch Joel

    Hey, Mitch, I think the WSJ columnist exaggerated a bit. His math doesn't quite work out. There aren't enough readers to support the bloggers he suggests are "making a living."

    Mark Penn wrote in WSJ that to make $75k a year, a blogger would need 100,000 unique visitors a month. He also suggests about 500,000 Americans make a living from blogs.

    OK. 100,000 unique visitors X 500,000 people = 50 billion unique visits required a month to support those people with a livable wage.

    50 billion uniques / 300 million U.S. population means every man, woman and child in the U.S. would have to visit 166 blogs a month, or read 5 a day, to support this home economy.

    Go for it, paid bloggers, but good luck bathing in money. I doubt very many get to $75,000 a year ... at the cost of selling out their voices.

    Rant and math lesson over ;)

    Reply
  • Posted by Dror Zaifman
    Mitch Joel

    As usual very interesting post.
    I believe that the whole blog craze now is very similar to what happened with eBay a few years back when everyone got on the ball but only a few made huge sums of money.
    Unlike eBay however people are actually using their head and brains to write these posts instead of selling who knows what on that auction site.
    Blog helps people by naturing thoughts, helping them become more creative and makes the mind work isntead of just starnig a screen all day long and clicking Sell Now.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jack Zufelt
    Mitch Joel

    Great post. These numbers seem to suggest that blogging is a decent source for extra income, but not everyone will be able to make a career out of it.

    Reply
  • Posted by Atul
    Mitch Joel

    Blogs are a current gold rush. It would have been nice to read about deep niches which are not being exploited by the print media.
    What about the wave after blogs? Let's have some soothsaying on your part!

    Reply
  • I don't consider Blogs a "gold rush" at all. That "soothsaying" you're talking about... read through all of the posts on this Blog on the power of Blogging (pay special attention to the comments). Like the ones above.

    Reply
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