So many people around are advertising ways to make a fast buck out of blogging. Get-rich-quick plans are abounding left and right with marketers and evangelists trying to get you to pay to become rich (thus they become rich)…sounds like some strange sort of pyramid scheme now doesn’t it? The funny thing is that they may just be right, not in the way they’re prescribing, but nonetheless, blogging is becoming one of the newest ways to make a living. After reading an article in the recent Nov. 16, 2006 Economist magazine entitled, ‘Going Pro: More people are quitting their day jobs to blog for a living’ one can’t help but realise that the way we make a living in modern society is changing into something our ancestors would have deemed ludicrous. I mean, making money by telling people intimate details about our lives? Yeah, right. My Grandfather worked for the same company for 44 years. I’m sure if the old guy were still around (To me, he was a legend) he’d say, ‘How does writing about yourself help anyone else?’ You’d be surprised Grandpa. You’d be surprised.
There’s something about hearing a person tell tales of their life’s experiences, their joys and their woes. We can connect with it, we can empathise…It makes us realise that we’re not alone in our struggles, that we’re part of a bigger picture, that others are doing really weird stuff too. It’s a little different from sitting around the fire in the days of indigenous cultures (when they prospered) listening to wisdom hidden in the elders’ stories. Now, the wisdom is being shared by people of all ages. Who else better to empathise with as a teenager than another of your own?
The Economist article mentions a popular blog by a woman named Heather B. Armstrong, which has over 1 million visitors every month. After adding some paid advertising to her site, she and her husband are now ‘Stay at Home Mothers (SAHM) and Stay at Home Fathers (SAHF)’, or as she likes to call them, ‘Shit Ass Ho Motherfucker’ and ‘Shit Ass Ho Fuckingbadass’. Please excuse my language but I’m quoting here. This is her style, and a strong writing style it is. That’s why people like it. People love a powerful personality, a character that is well defined and knows exactly who they are. Her blog is called ‘Dooce’. ‘Dooced’ is a term (I think she created) for losing one’s job as a result of writing your weblog, which happened to her. If you want to hear the rest of her background story, take a quick look at Dooce’s very unorthodox but highly effective and wonderfully candid biographical page.
So you can make a living from blogging, but does that mean it’s easy to do? Coming from the horse’s mouth of MiContent, I can tell you that writing week in and week out is not a simple task. For those who are making a living from it, the economist article quotes these ‘champions’ as saying that it’s taken them a long time, and a formidable amount of hard work and effort. What worthwhile job doesn’t? Om Malik who quit his job at Business 2.0 Magazine to work on his blog ‘GigaOm’ which receives 50,000 visitors daily states that, ‘“It’s not easy.’ Building his audience has “taken me five years, and a lot of sleepless nights.” He now has two other writers and has revenues in the tens of thousands per month with the help of what he says is an ‘ecosystem of support’ from sales and marketing companies.
These days the most lucrative area in the field of blogging stems from what are actually online magazines. In the days of old, owners had to spend a lot of money on distribution, materials (printing the magazines), and shipping them. It was also expensive to buy your audience via advertising. Bloggers are getting their audiences for free (through interesting content), and the only real costs occur when they need more bandwidth and disk space to support their growing sites. This is where the advertising comes in.
The Economist mentions some of the most profitable blogging companies are those with a group or ‘stable’ of online magazines like Weblogs Inc. who run ‘Engadget’, one of the most popular blogs in the Blogosphere. It’s a site dedicated to new technological inventions, often relating to video gaming (nerds rule the world.) They make tens of millions of dollars a year and are in a different class from the ‘small business’ blogs like Armstrong’s. Another major blogging stable mentioned is ‘Gawker‘ who has 14 sites including ‘Gizmodo’ (another ultra-popular gadget site…these geeks sure produce wealth!).
If you are aware of the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) phenomenon (online role-playing games played between huge amounts of people all over the world, I am only aware they exist because I read an article…I’m a different kind of geek.) you will know that there are huge rooms full of university graduates in China playing video games for money. You don’t believe me? Some companies are comprised of 30 or more of these young people (who’ve had a hard time finding other work) sitting in rooms for 12 hours a day killing dragons, finding weapons, and drinking magical potions. The virtual gold coins and battle swords are sold for ‘real’ money to lazy/incompetent/busy Americans (and other wealthy nations who don’t need to scrounge for food) on Ebay and other means so that they can make it to the next level in their games. They make a pretty good living from it, better than the days of sewing shoes all day in a sweatshop. Now that’s a weird job! Next to that, blogging for a living seems relatively normal…
Jesse S. Somer is astounded at how powerful the medium of blogs has become. He believes it all has to do with our world and its people needing to feel more united with one another…a kind of revolutionary backlash created by a collective mental field that is tired of feeling fractured, lonely, and divided.