Maybe all of those Bloggers taking $500 per Blog post from advertisers to post about their brands, products and services is paying off. That’s the word from The Wall Street Journal today. It turns out that Blogging is becoming serious business and a full-time job for many.
"In America today, there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers. Already more Americans are making their primary income from posting their opinions than Americans working as computer programmers or firefighters. Paid bloggers fit just about every definition of a microtrend: Their ranks have grown dramatically over the years, blogging is an important social and cultural movement that people care passionately about, and the number of people doing it for at least some income is approaching 1% of American adults."
That’s the opening paragraph of the news item, America’s Newest Profession: Bloggers for Hire, by Mark Penn (author of Microtrends) in the April 21st edition of The Wall Street Journal. Without giving away the whole story, here are just some of the very interesting statistics about what Blogging – as a professional vocation – looks like:
- There are over 20 million bloggers in the United States.
- 1.7 million of them are profiting from Blogging.
- About 450,000 of them use their Blog as their primary source of income.
- Blogger who do it for a living only account for 2% of all the Bloggers.
- If you wanted to make $75,000 a year as a Blogger, you need to be generating about 100,000 unique visitors per month.
- Some Bloggers make between $75 to $200 per post.
- The majority of Bloggers only make a few hundred dollars.
- Professional corporate Bloggers get paid between $45,000 to $90,000 per year and work between 50 to 60 hours per week.
The article continues: "The Information Age has spawned many new professions, but blogging could well be the one with the most profound effect on our culture. If journalists were the Fourth Estate, bloggers are becoming the Fifth Estate."
This also goes well beyond the standard (and false) comparison of Blogging to the publishing industry (i.e. how many journalists have been let go from newspapers and magazines over the past little while?) versus the new digital channels (i.e. blogging is thriving because print is dying?). The real interest and opportunity to make money comes in the type of content that these winning Blogs are producing. The majority of Blogs that seem to be scoring in terms of advertising and sponsorship revenues are those with a very deep and specific niche topic. It’s usually about content that is not being covered in the mainstream mass media, but still has wide appeal to a specific group.
And with that comes the challenges:
"It is hard to think of another job category that has grown so quickly and become such a force in society without having any tests, degrees, or regulation of virtually any kind. Courses on blogging are now cropping up, and we can’t be far away from the Columbia School of Bloggerism. There is a lot of interest now in Twittering and Facebooking – but those venues don’t offer the career opportunities of blogging. Not since eBay opened its doors have so many been able to sit at their computer screens and make some money, or even make a whole living."
All of this poses a bigger question: what will journalism and publishing look like if Blogs do generate significant revenue and start stealing advertising dollars away from the traditional publishers who are diving head-first into the digital channels?