The Blogging Business

photo by Biz Stone

I was reading this article in New York about the new class of A-List Bloggers, some of them making a good 6-figures. I don’t think anyone serious starts off with money in mind, or at least they didn’t. Now there are actually corporate blogs which start with a business plan and then hire writers (Gawker, Huffington Post, Weblogs Inc). Sometimes I wish I could make a living offa blogging, but it actually requires a lot of work, and you need about 5,000 visitors a day to make any decent (Third World) cash. Like, theoretically that could garner you Rs 100,000 a month, but only if you reach a targeted audience. Currently this blog earns 2,000/month off about 350 visitors and Google Ads. Local advertisers and more focused content, however, could get you more. They say Sri Lanka is a limited market, but if someone started a Hi!-like gossip blog I think it’d be very successful.

The key to a successful blog, according to my experience as well as the article, is #1 good content and #2 frequent updates. Good content is completely about writers, and in blogging the typical style tends to be snarky and off-the-cuff. Blogs more than print media tend to have a voice, and people come back for that as much as the ‘content’. Of course, that doesn’t make a difference if you don’t update. For example, I haven’t updated for a week and the repeat visitors drop by about 10 per day. The target market is people bored at work, and they generally need fresh content like every hour. At the minimum, you need something on their desktop in the morning.

Updating that much is really hard, however. Writing something decent still takes something like an hour, and sometimes there isn’t that much to write about. What people like Sumna and, say, Portrait do – linking to each others posts – is probably the best strategy. A read of Kottu is now starting to provide some immediate topics. I only update a couple times a week, but Kottu at large updates a few times a day… which sorta covers my ass. I mean, hopefully people bouncing of end up there and find some other writers. On that note, there are a few new blogs that I really like that are worth a read.

Prose: this girl actually pays some attention to the quality of words, lines like ‘there’ll be a hot mug of herbal tea by my bedside, the steam dancing against slight rays of light from a nightstand lamp.’

Sumna: find him somewhat annoying cause the attitude is so similar to mine, but provocation is a good thing. Updates frequently, and some of the assertions are certainly worth commenting on.

Curious Yellow: Lately he’s had some really good and in-depth post about what its like coming in this war generation, or simply growing up as a smoker. The last line on the smoker post especially makes me laugh.

and of course,

Dominic and Nazreen Sansoni: This is the closest Sri Lanka has come to celebrity bloggers. If they can get 1/10th of their interesting lives online it would be a coup indeed. Dom updates with photos every few days and Naz covers all the interesting art and culture running through Barefoot. However, I think the most popular post is her musings on smoking and driving.

Er, but getting back to the New York article. At one point all the bloggers in New York could gather around two tables, according to Mahangu’s Anil Dash interview in iTimes. That’s one reason I’d like to organize a meet-up soon, before the community gets too big. Do tell me if anyone is interested. New York, today, however has thousands of bloggers, and some which are basically millionaires. Nick Denton’s Gawker network of a few very good blogs powered by good writers is one, and I think Weblogs Inc is based there as well.

Sri Lanka is different in that the web market here is small, and not liable to grow to that size, with hundreds of thousands of visitors per day. That, however, is not the point. What blogs offer aren’t eyeballs, but actual leads – people who would be interested in your product.

Since blogs set their own ad rates, each one offers a different value proposition, Copeland explains. A gossip blog like Perez Hilton has a huge readership—220,000 page views daily—but since the audience is broadly based, the rates are very low, costing $202 to run an ad for one week. Meanwhile, a smaller blog might have only 10,000 visitors daily—but if it’s a lucrative, tightly focused niche, the blogger could charge much higher rates per visitor.

People say the Sri Lankan market is too small, which is, in my opinion, incorrect. Magazines like Business Today, Explore Sri Lanka, and especially Hi make bucketloads of money off one particular elite niche. I think Hi made something like Rs 3 Million in advertising for December. The diaspora market for gossip/social is large, and lucrative. One snarky (connected) blogger could eat it up – along with the connected advertisers.

Another revenue stream is straight sponsorship from print media, like Andrew Sullivan’s recent ‘lease’ of his space and content to Time Magazine. Hi and Leisure Times especially could expand online with some success, and quality writers. Then there is of course, the Indian market, but I think in Sri Lanka alone there are great opportunities for bloggers, yet untapped.

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2006-02-16 21:04:57

“That’s one reason I’d like to organize a meet-up soon, “..

I’m down for that. When?

2006-02-16 21:28:29

April? I’m relaunching the magazine, so that can double as a blog-meetup. I’d like to do it bi-monthly. Booze or not?

2006-02-16 21:46:12

“April? ”

works for me..

“..Booze or not?..”

have any one said no to that? :D..

2006-02-16 21:52:35

um…. BOOZE…?

2006-02-16 22:08:09

fucking A, no booze, forget I mentioned that. It is, however, important for all the young technorati to meet and mingle.

2006-02-16 22:47:36

I’m one of those people who likes to read blogs at work and often make comments, because I work in accounting sometimes there’s not much to do. I didn’t know people can actually make a ton of money by blogging, I always thought blogging was just something people do on the side just for fun.

2006-02-17 00:41:25

read the New York article, most people can’t make money. There are just a few elite bloggers that can/do. Most make nothing, and a sizable few make enough to cover their bandwidth and get a coffee now and then

2006-02-17 00:45:58

Thanks for the mention :)

To me the whole idea of commercializing blogs for monetary purposes isn’t very romantic… But I suppose starving striving bloggers still need to eat.

It’s amazing how quickly the term ‘Blogger’ has starting carrying the same weight as the term ‘Artist’.

2006-02-17 01:29:11

hmm and i thought i can get some money through blogging for my kayak…

2006-02-17 11:23:49

Count me in too… I am sure that I can be classified as a blogger but I would really like to meet you guys. :)

2006-02-19 19:46:34

What I ment to say was that “I am not sure that I can be classified as a blogger” Sorry ;-)

2006-02-17 13:52:52

remember the days of ….i guess that was the start of blogging. how cool is it to sneak a peak at someone else’s life :) ….almost borders on eves dropping???

2006-02-17 18:50:50

not sure if you have seen this

2006-02-18 10:48:22

indi… im a regular visitor to ya site most often i don have time to type in my comments but i sure do enjoy reading them…. however, for the past week since there wasnt anything too newi had to settle for the blogs on kottu…

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