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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blogging for Dollars

Will blogging produce millionaires? Can blogging financially provide people with a full time earning capacity? Will we see more and more professional bloggers? Can and should blogs earn money?

An increasing amount of people are writing about making money from Blogging. There is a quite a bit of debate about the legitimacy of doing so.

Megnut wrote an interesting article titled Blogging for Dollars: Giving Rise to the Professional Blogger . She writes:



‘Most financial discussions focus on blog content and explore donations, advertising, or some type of sponsorship/patronage model as the means to compensate bloggers. Very little progress has been made towards finding viable economic models because people still think of Weblogs as personal sites. If you aren’t Andrew Sullivan (who purportedly makes $6,000 per month on his site through donations), it’s hard to imagine how you’d get the traffic and donations to generate such revenue….

By paying great bloggers to produce Weblogs, we remove economic constraints and enable them to devote their energies full-time to producing compelling content and creating outstanding Weblogs.’

Whether you agree with it or not - here are some of the ways bloggers are going earning money from their blogs.

Link to your favorite stores and earn money!Advertising - An increasing number of bloggers are running advertisements on their blogs. Programs like Blog Ads have popped up around the place which help you find advertisers. Of course these programs generally take a cut of the revenue earned. Other bloggers (often the bigger ones) find their own advertising or use a combination of their own and other programs. Nick Denton from Gawker Media is one person who seems pretty good at doing this on his numerous successful blogs.

Market Banker is another program similar to Blog Ads that lets you sell ads through their system automatically. They allow both banner and text ads. I have used these successfully on my Digital Camera site. You do give up a cut of the revenue to Market Banker, but for ease of use and the receiving of smaller payments this is a good option.

coverPrograms like fastclick.com also offer to serve ads to your site. If you have a lot of traffic this is a great option definately worth considering as many of their ads pay per impression. I’ve reviewed the fastclick system here.

Also worth checking out is the Chitika eMiniMalls system which have become my biggest blog income earner. You can read my review of Chitika eMiniMalls here.

Adsense - Google Adsense is one advertising tool that many are using (including me). Ads are run depending upon the content of the page. If you flick through my individual archives you’ll see that each page has a different focus of ad.

Google pays people who run their ads per click on the ads. Payments vary on the type of ad. I started using this two months ago. Part of the agreement in signing up with the program is that you don’t talk about your specific results and figures so I’ll refrain from that except to say that I’ll never become rich through it - but that I’ll continue to go with it. To do well with this program you either need to have very high traffic or blog on topics that pay well. Some of the following links talk about using adsense and other such programs.

- Adsense Tips for Bloggers (a series of posts about maximizing the potential of Adsense on your Blog).
- Blogging for Dollars with Adsense
- How to Boost your Adsense Revenue
- Introducing Google Adsense
- Nick Denton on Adsense

Amazon Associates - Other bloggers are Amazon Associates. In this program bloggers link (either via text, images or actual advertisements) to Amazon products or pages. If people purchase after following these links they take a small comission from Amazon, either for cash or gift vouchers. Blogs liks Blogcritics use this very intentionally. It is a system I’ve been trialing (mainly on my digital camera blog) recently. I have found it to be a worthwhile move to be an Amazon affiliate - its not my biggest revenue stream, but supplements Adsense nicely and is growing with my blog. I like it because you have complete control over what products you will promote and can tailor ads to fit exactly with your content.

Other Affiliate Programs
By no means is Amazon the only affiliate program available to bloggers. There are many affiliate programs that focus on different regions and products. Some pay a percentage of income generated from those being referred from your site, others pay on a per click basis, others pay for leads. The success of such programs tends to vary depending upon the match between your blog and the type of product your affiliate is offering. I’ve tried a number of programs but am yet to find them to be overly successful to this point.

Some affiliate programs that you may wish to experiment with include:
- Clix Galore
- Affiliate Sensor (I’ve found this one works pretty well for me so far).
- LinkShare.com - This one works well for me also.

coverBusiness Blogging - An increasing number of people are starting ‘business blogs’. These take a variety of forms but generally are blogs about a particular service, product or business/organization. Check out the following articles on the topic.

- Blogs may be the cheapest way to communicate with your customers.
- New biz on the blog
- Business Blogs - The Big List
- The Small Business Blog

Tip Jars - Other bloggers have decided to simply ask their readers for donations. I know of many bloggers that do this through a variety of tools - the most popular of them being ‘PayPal’. I surveyed a few this week and most have never or only rarely had donations - but for others like it is a major source of income. Andrew Sullivan is said to have made $80,000 in his last pledge week through donations. Here are some links that talk about it.

- Tip Jars
- Andrew Sullivan - Will Blog for Cash

Other Interesting links that talk about different approaches that you might want to check out might include:

- Gold Blogger - How to Make Money from your Blog
cover- Blogging Network - get paid to blog
- Blogging for Bucks - an interview with someone who does
- The rise of professional bloggers
- Paid Content
- Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content
- Blogonomics - Making a living from Blogging
- Jeff Jarvis - The Free Me

Different earning methods will suit different blogs depending upon content, readership levels and the goals of the blogger concerned.

Predictions & Observations

Is it possible to make money from blogging? I believe so. Will there ever be ‘millionaire bloggers’? I suspect it will happen in the next few years. Will people earning a living from blogging be as common as people earning livings from plumbing, stock brokering or gardening? I’m not so sure.

Blogging has the potential to generate income - but I believe it will only be a select few who will be able to make their fortune (or even earn a full time income) purely through blogging. A few very creative entrepreneurs, good marketers and powerful communicators will make it big but the average joe shouldn’t expect to set themselves up for retirement through blogging.

I think we’ll see the rise of people who are able to supplement their income through the medium. Personally I would love to be able to get to the stage or earning a day or two a week from it (anyone want to advertise in this space?) to support my other work in the community. I also think that we’ll see more and more people earning enough to pay their blogging costs through some of the above means.

coverI suspect we’ll also see more people earning money off blog related tools and products. They may not technically be blogs as such - but if blogging continues to grow at the rate it has been (and as it is predicted to) a ‘blogging industry’ (of sorts) is likely to emerge. This will include blog consultants, blog tools, blog search engines, blog designers etc. (all of these things already exist - but with increased numbers of bloggers they are likely to start paying off). This will probably distress some blogging purists but it will happen.

Clusters/colonies of bloggers working together in alliances will emerge - not just because they have common interests to blog about - but so that they can work together to market and promote one another.

Dangers - In summing up my thoughts I think it worth saying that there are perhaps some dangers in blogging for dollars. The concern that I share with others is that in the quest to earn money from blogging that content could suffer. Balance is needed to keep advertising from dominating and setting the agenda for content.

Blogging for dollars is here to stay - it will continue to stay on and climb the agenda for bloggers everywhere. Its therefore something that I feel is important to discuss and I’m interested in what others might think about it - please feel free to critique or add to this post in comments - your opinion is highly valued.

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