How to make pots of money from blogging

Posted on October 29, 2006 
Filed Under Uncategorized

… or die trying.

So you want to know how to make big moolah from blogging?

Don’t we just love it when mainstream media journalists take such rose-tinted views of the Internet, fanning the flames of web opportunity?

The moths of the dotcom era appear to be all aflutter again.

Let’s drop all reasoning and talk money. Big money.

The Sept 1, 2006 Business 2.0 issue ran a story entitled “Blogging For Dollars”.

Here is the short list of the Blogillionaires:

1.Michael Arrington, Techcrunch: US$60,000 revs a month.
2.Four-person Boing Boing: US$1mil revs in 2006.
3.Nick Denton, Gawker Media, 11 blogs: US$3mil revs in 2006.
4.Jason Calacanis, sold Weblogs Inc, 85 blogs, to AOL in ’05: US$25 million.
5.Drew Curtis, $600,000 to $800,000 revs monthly soon.
6.Brian Sugar, PopSugar: Projects US$15mil in revs in 2008 and US$40mil in 2009.
7.Rafat Ali, US$1mil in revs in 2006.

No kidding? They make that much money? Hey! Must be some truth to this, you say.

Even Business 2.0 editor Josh Quittner went on record to lend credence to the idea.

He says when staffer Om Malik decided to leave the Time Inc publication to focus on his popular tech blog GigaOM, Quittner did some “soul searching” and came up with the idea of getting every staff to blog.

Drill deeper down the story to discover these nuggets: Can you give me an idea of the remuneration for the traffic?

Quittner: Well, to start, if your blog gets a 100,000 page views in a day, that would probably give you a couple of hundred bucks. No, you’re not going to retire on it. The Business 2.0 blog has been around for two years, and it gets about 40,000 visits a week.

But if the arrangement with CNNMoney goes through, one good link from CNNMoney could give one of our bloggers something like 200,000 page views in a single day.

IWM: Any final words on blogging?

Quittner: I have really smart, aggressive people here. These blogs should be able to capitalize on their enthusiasm. Still, the amount of money we’re putting into this experiment is negligible. At the very least, my people will learn how to do a blog at a fairly intensive level.

The worst that happens is it’s a failure. No big deal. I’ve lived through gazillions of failures, and I hope to live through gazillions more.

I am not a negative kind of guy. I have no doubts that the bloggers mentioned are making the kind of money they make. My scepticism on the Business 2.0 article is how easy the writers make it all sound.

New York Magazine ran a story entitled Blogs to Riches in a similar vein in its February 20, 2006 issue, but added this damper:

When (Clay) Shirky compiled his analysis of links, he saw that the smaller bloggers’ fears were perfectly correct: There is enormous inequity in the system. A very small number of blogs enjoy hundreds and hundreds of inbound links—the A-list, as it were. But almost all others have very few sites pointing to them. When Shirky sorted the 433 blogs from most linked to least linked and lined them up on a chart, the curve began up high, with the lucky few. But then it quickly fell into a steep dive, flattening off into the distance, where the vast majority of ignored blogs reside. The A-list is teensy, the B-list is bigger, and the C-list is simply massive. In the blogosphere, the biggest audiences—and the advertising revenue they bring—go to a small, elite few. Most bloggers toil in total obscurity.

My two-cents worth if you believe that blogging will make you money:

1.GET OTHER PEOPLE’S CASH EVEN BEFORE YOU START: There’s nothing like getting some money in the bank before you even begin a business. Find an angel investor or VC with deep pockets and put a powerpoint together and sell them on the idea of a blog first. Otherwise, get some buy-in from at least two or more advertisers. Better still, hook up with an existing publisher who wants to experiment with blogging. That way, you get regular income and when it starts to take off, make sure the fineprint was fuzzy to begin with. (Subscription model, you say? Two words: Forget it!)

2.EXPECT TO WORK HARD: None of these bloggers had it easy. They gave up their regular jobs and were on blogging call 24 by 7. This isn’t a passive income mate, it’s an active fulltime job for which no one is paying you yet. You can’t do it part-time, or grow it in the moonlight. You’re a one-man show doing all your own content, researching, designing, writing, deep-linking, branding, marketing, GoogleAdWords campaigning, and sales and you better believe that it’s hard work. Ignoring the laundry, regular meals, pets and all human contact on a daily basis will be the norm. If can’t write daily now, think how it will be blogging hourly for 18-hour stretches?

3.NICHE-ING AND THE LONG TAIL: The A-list focuses on politics, boytoys (gadgets, cars,etc) and celebrity gossip. Let’s not even consider the XXX-list. You don’t want to play there. Look for a niche that you may already have a foot or whole leg in, or maybe a grapevine you can suck on. Think local if there are low-hanging fruits of info to pluck everyday, think global if you’ve chosen an area that has commercial value that is only just being realized. Think of a wave you can ride on using blogging as a new conversation space. Read Chris Anderson’s Long Tail

4.SCALABILITY: How long can you do this before you a) run out of funds b)lose your family, friends, dog, all human civility c) grow ten-inch nails d) go insane e) all of the above? Can someone steal all your content tomorrow and take off leaving you in the dust? Can the website sustain your interest (let alone hundreds of thousands of other unique visitors) five years down the road? Can you drive this sucker for the longhaul? Can you live, eat, breathe and sniff this puppy everyday until it transforms into a ravishing Best-In-Breed, Show-Winning Bitch? Don’t scrimp on the dogfood and crappy kennel either – get a real, mother-loading, hack-free webserver that can pump out those blogposts like a multi-barrelledGaussian gun.

5.GET VISUAL: Vlogs are all the rage. But can you do one everyday? Or will it pop off like a rocketboomlet? Dip into a 1000-a-day stock photo site and pay for it dammit. Have visuals ready for your reading-impaired netheads. Unless you have Wall Street Journal-like cutting edge tips that stockmavens, and other motley fools will pay for — which is as rare as that paper is starting to become — get those visual carrots ready.

6.BE AD-SAVVY: Think Google AdSense, AdBrite, Federated Media, and get with the programme.


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