Thursday, September 14, 2006

Business 2.0 "Blogging for Dollars"


CNN's Business 2.0 has a great article "Blogging for Dollars" on p 64 of the September 2006 issue, by Paul Sloan adn Paul Kaihla.

The article discusses how some niche bloggers have been able to make big bucks from advertisers. Generally, because there are so many blogs, it is difficult for most bloggers to make significant income from ads, but a blog that "catches on" in a niche area, particular a technical or media area, might have a real chance. The article gives some successul examples, such as Michael Arrington's TechCrunch. Try looking at it; it covers leading edge areas similar to what would interest me. Other examples are Nick Denton's gawker.com and gizmodo.com. (I had trouble getting to these today.) John Battelle has made a business, Federated Media, out of analyzing blogs and serving as an intermediary with advertisers.

The article gives some pointers toward running successful blogs. These include (1) use niche material, make it as factual as possible, and generally as technical or business or money oriented as possible; make the tone professional (2) blog frequently, so that visitors will be curious about what your next move is. A blog is not a "wikidpedia" (last post). Rather, it is a constantly building body of factual knowledge, and should assume that the visitor has the maturity to interpret the broader significance and context for what he/she reads. Blogs could well be linked to by encyclopedia-like sites, however. The blogger should remember that most of the time, "the ball is in your court." Including photos, especially those that communicate in a picture the concept you want to convey (the way a movie should), will make a blog more attractive for return viewer.

The article does discuss CPM and other methods for pricing, and this is a sensitive topic with companies having various proprietary purchase algorithms that are likely to be changing frequently. Ethics does come into play. The click rates for most blogs are low, so financially successful blogs must attract a lot of page loads, often from search engine hits, as well as from regular visitors.

Some blogs of a more personal nature have been successful. For example, Heather Armstrong's Dooce became very visible after she was fired for writing about her workplace (a web design company) in 2002. In fact, "to dooce" has become a verb in our vocabulary.

Other sites making money have original paradigms, such as Drew Curtis with fark.com, which invites the submission of newsy links.

It isn't necessary for a site to be formally a "blog" (in reverse chronological order) to work with advertisers. But it is probably necessary that it look nice, and blogging software (like Push Button publishing) makes it a lot easier for novices. Even as the number of blogs continues to grow geometrically (it may slow down because of employment pressures and conflicts now emerging), the right niche and the right blog could make a lot of dough.

The advice to make blogs as specific and focused as possible seems well founded, when one looks at the business today in email newsletters from various companies (potomactechwire.com, fiercemarkets.com) that often focus on narrow technical areas (often cutting edge areas in wireless, medical, security, etc.). Small changes in very specific technologies can make huge changes in bottom lines for some companies, and executives need to know about these changes quickly; so these kinds of newsletters and blogs that resemble these newsletters may attract better paying advertisers.

There is a Tech Republic issue on blogging later on this blog. Here is the link to the discussion of it.
Newer link.

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