Blogging for Profit
There are a lot of blog discussions these days about the economics of blogging. While there is still a lot of debate on the legitimacy of making money blogging, as I pointed out in my earlier post on the The Professionalization of Blogs the reality is blogging for profit already exists and is growing rapidly.
Despite the growth of for profit blogs, successful blogging business models are still being developed and few blogs generate substantial revenue. Today, most for profit bloggers have a mix of income streams. My favorite for profit blog is Manolo’s Shoe Blog and related sites. While the cagey Manolo won’t reveal much, it is clear from the site he uses a mix of the following revenue generating methods:
Advertising: Most for profit blogs run ads. Blog networks such Blog Ads and Google’s Adsense make it easy to add advertising to a blog site. However, the payment models are not very lucrative, and only the top sites in terms of traffic generate more than a few dollars per day. The Problogger site has extensive information on advertising and blogging, including what leading blog sites charge for ads. Also take a look at Dave Pollard's post on blogging for dollars.
Sponsorships: Sponsorships are another form of advertising where the sponsor gets placement and potentially other services from the content site. Silicon Valley Watcher uses sponsorships as their primary revenue source. In addition to banner placement on their site, SVW also helps the sponsor develop programs to reach their audience. Infineon Watch is an example of this approach.
Affiliate Programs: If you’ve ever wondered why so many blogs have a “books I am reading” section, the reason is the Amazon Affiliate program. This program pays web sites that sell Amazon books. Most ecommerce sites have affiliate programs, and they are easy to use. As with ad networks, it takes a lot of traffic to generate much money with affiliate programs. Check out Manolo’s Shoe Blog and its use of affiliate programs.
Selling Products or Services: Bloggers are increasingly using their sites to sell products or services. This can be an excellent revenue source. Again, check out the Shoe Blog to see an example. Also, many leading bloggers have leveraged their blogging skills and are now also paid consultants, paid speakers and book authors.
Working for a Blog Network – Gawker Media pays their bloggers $2500 per month plus bonuses for traffic growth for what is effectively a part time job. For an excellent description of how Gawker works with their contract bloggers see this post on I Want Media.
As with any entrepreneurial venture, starting a blog is a leap of faith. The advantages of blogs as a small business are very low start-up and operational costs – the only real cost is the bloggers time. The challenge for all for profit bloggers is creating a large enough audience to support the business.