Can you make money from blogging?

Pods and Blogs have a fairly mixed message on whether it’s possible to make money from blogging. Sam Sethi is sceptical that anything other than the head of the tail has a particularly interesting take on it saying that bloggers need to help advertisers understand the value of their audience. I come in fresh from the election campaign, with a more upbeat message (though I had put the caveat, that I’m nowhere near giving up ‘the day job’).Craig McGinty, a journo who now mostly blogs, says that you can make a living by becoming ‘a point of knowledge in your field’. Russell Davies, says the blog model is just too fiddly for the big ad companies. The value of blogs just haven’t been agreed yet.

  • URQUHART

    This month’s edition of Real Business has an excellent article on a company called Shiny Media – a blog publisher. Founded in 2004, this company recently sold half their business for a tidy £2.25M. The investor was an outfit called Bright Station Ventures.

    So someone is making money out of blogs – you just need to get the finger out Mick!

  • The Dubliner

    Since 47.2% of your traffic comes from the United Kingdom and 39.6% from Ireland, you should to focus your efforts on finding advertisers who sell in both countries. Alternatively, use geo-targeting to show banners that are determined by the IP, i.e. showing UK viewers UK-only banners and Irish viewers Irish-only banners. Ideally, a site should focus on finding advertisers who are selling products or services that are relevant to its viewers. But, being a political blog, that strategy would limit you to finding political advertisers (good luck with that). Although you probably should look at ways of gaining revenue from political parties, beyond the election cycle – why let the newspapers with their general readership get all of that revenue when your political traffic is more relevant? It is better to look beyond the political interest of your readers to what else they are interested in (buying). A few large contracts is all you need… travel agencies, insurance, you name it. That is, assuming, you are interested in a self-managed CPM model. The convenience of allowing networks to manage that has the drawback of disinterest from those networks due to how fragmented the Blog readership market is. In short, that may be like waiting for Godot. You should certainly look at CPA models. Essentially, you join a network that has contracts with a wide range of advertisers and you show whichever banners you choose, gaining either a percentage or a fee when a reader takes an action, such as making a purchase, joining something (such as an online dating site) or simply clicking a banner. I suggest you read the relevant forums on GeekVilliage.com for wider background info (with some rather good contributions by me in other sections). Apart from selling eyeballs, you could try direct selling. I don’t mean getting paltry sums from Amazon.com. For example: setting up Ireland’s ‘best political bookstore’ right here on Slugger. You buy the books at the wholesale price and sell them for profit. You could widen it to books of broader interest and reviews, etc. One thing is for certain, you won’t make money by not trying to. Two cents and all that – keep the change.

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks TD. It fits with some of my own thinking.

    I’m fairly confident that the Message Space service gives us some of the flexibility we need to do what you suggest. We can also run ads that only appear in front of certain members of the audience. We have one ad running at the moment, for instance, that only appears for those using UK government servers.

    I think the key is going to be in growing the market, and developing the understanding of ad agencies. I thought Davies’ argument was very useful in that respect: at the moment they just don’t have the right model to exploit the blog market.

  • grumbleweed

    Steve Pavlina, the self professed personal development guru, claims to make a decent income from his blog.

    Lots of his articles discuss the approach he has taken to increasing traffic and maximising revenue, and may be of some interest.

    http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/

  • Mick Fealty

    I loved this note at the bottom:

    If you find this site helpful, please leave a donation for Steve so you can enjoy the spirit of giving too.

  • The Dubliner

    Mick, as I use ad-blocking software, I’ve yet to see any banners on this site. I’m sorry for wilfully depriving you of an eyeball.

    I won’t get into how fragmented Blogs are in terms of the demographics or why that would deter advertisers (because you undoubtedly know more about Blogland better than I do) except to say that an organisation promoting 100 or so of the biggest UK/Ireland Blogs to advertisers is a good idea (and that is probably what Message Space is).

    You probably don’t like carpetbagger ideas (selling anything to your readers that’ll make money), but I wouldn’t rule out other options such as allowing others to do the carpetbagging via CPA (Cost Per Action) affiliate marketing. They look the same as any other banners, with the only difference being that you don’t get paid to show the ad: you only get paid if the viewer takes an action. That means that you don’t have to convince advertisers to show ads on your site because those advertisers don’t have to pay you to show them; they get free advertising and you gain if the ad gets results. Check out the affiliate network cj.com for more info.

    One last (probably equally useless) suggestion I’d make is to consider a ‘premium member’ service. That would be where folks register as a member of Slugger (say, paying £25 annually) and in return get to register a username that is exclusive to them and receive other benefits, such as access to premium content (which could be an extensive library of NI-related PDF files or other info) and perhaps privileges such as ability to edit their posts or upload images. The ability to register a username is bound to interest journalists here as a means of preventing impersonation, along with interesting a ranger of other users. If you get 50 to register, that should comfortably cover the hosting costs – if nothing else.