If you're something of a cyber-junkie, you've discovered blogging. Maybe you've even given it a shot yourself -- after all, anyone can do it. But did it occur to you that a few bloggers earn healthy incomes from their online journals? Blogging is big. "It's growing by leaps and bounds," says Paul Chaney. Chaney is president of an Internet marketing and business blog consulting agency based in Tupelo, Mississippi. "Many companies are asking existing employees to set up their own blog and use it as vehicle to talk about the company. Microsoft, for example, has over 1,800 employee bloggers, though none of those are paid to blog," says Chaney. Great news for hobby bloggers. But if you're going to make a career out of blogging, you've got to earn money -- enough to live on -- doing it. There are a few ways to do this. How to Make Money Blogging

Christine Halvorson is on salary. She is chief blogger for a New Hampshire company that produces natural, organic yogurt. "There are very few of us 'salaried' bloggers in the country," she says, "so I'm not sure if we can say what the 'average' blogger is making.

"Let's assume 'blogging" is going to grow into a profession. I think it would be reasonable to assume that whoever does the blogging in a company is getting paid much like a marketing person, a public relations person or a newspaper reporter. These days, with some experience, that would probably average around $40,000 a year." That's about what Christine herself makes.

"Salaries are pretty rare at this time, but they will come," says Tris Hussey, who wears many blogging hats. He's a professional blogger, a blog consultant, and also the product manager and chief blogging officer (CBO) for a company that develops blogging software.

"As a pro myself," continues Hussey, "I make money on a per-post basis, essentially. Either getting paid a post at a time or for X dollars for Y posts per week or month."

Arieanna Foley is a partner in a blog consulting business, a senior marketing specialist with another blogging software company, and a professional blogger for a battery of websites. Foley explains how she makes money.

"Right now, most of my money comes through my contract [as marketing specialist], where part of my mandate is to blog. When it comes to blogging, there are two areas where I make money, for the most part. One, my own blogs -- [through] advertising and sponsorship income. Two, other blogs -- [I'm] paid a monthly stipend or a portion of advertising revenue."

Surviving as an Independent Blogger

Can you make a living as an independent blogger -- running your own blogs and relying solely on the advertising income?

"You can," says Chaney. "One such person is Darren Rowse. His blogging efforts have garnered him a six-figure income and he has become the 'poster boy' for bloggers who want to earn a living via their blogging efforts. His strategy has been to set up a series of consumer-centric blogs with his revenue source being advertising using Google Adwords and other types of ads."

"However," Chaney adds (and this is a big "however"), "I would suggest that Darren is the exception to the rule. Most bloggers who are making a living doing it, either part time or full time, don't have nearly that level of income. Most I'm familiar with make a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per month. Those primarily represent contract bloggers who blog for networks such as Gawker and Weblogs Inc."

Some bloggers make money based on a company's revenue. "For example," says Chaney, "Creative Weblogging pays bloggers based on the income received from ad sales relative to their given blog."

As Hussey points out, "Bloggers don't get paid per hit, but smart ones do tie success of the site to a bonus of earnings."

Knowledge and Skills Required

There are no formal training programs that teach you how to make money as a blogger, how to market yourself as a blogger or how to be a blogger in the first place. The truth is that bloggers have a range of backgrounds and experiences as diverse as the blogs they write.

"I, for example, am a writer," explains Halvorson. "That is my background. I've been writing professionally for 25 years." She goes on to list her career history, from journalist, to communications specialist for a social service agency, to writing statistical reports and policy papers for the government, and finally to blogging.

Hussey has a degree in science, a background that gave him the "in" he needed to get blogging jobs with pharmaceutical sites.

With a degree in business and marketing, Foley may have a bit of an edge in terms of corporate blogging. "I would recommend that a blogger have not just knowledge of blogging," she says, "but also an understanding of business and how blogs can/will fit in."

This knowledge of blogging basically includes blogging skills and technical proficiency (i.e. computers, blogging software, etc.). So it helps to be a bit of a techie, to know HTML, and to be quick at mastering the ins and outs of software. Blogging skill is a bit harder to nail down -- it's more a style of writing than anything else.

Hussey describes blogging skill this way: "Okay, the bottom line is that you have to able to read a lot, quickly, follow memes [units of cultural information] and threads of patterns, condense them (I call it gisting -- from the novel Digital Fortress) and write them. Writing is key."

"Writing 'blog-style' is a different animal than other types of writing," says Chaney. "It's less formal, more conversational and personal. That's not something everyone with a journalism degree can just jump into."

A journalism degree could, however, be the jumping off point to a career in blogging. So could a degree in business, science, education...anything. "Knowledge in any area is an asset that can exploited by writing a niche blog," says Foley.

Advice for Students

At this moment, it is impossible to say whether there is or will be a career as a professional blogger.

"A high school student should go to college, study what he or she wants to study, learn to write very well, learn computers and then see what happens," advises Halvorson.

"I think you'll see blogging evolve as a career to some degree," says Chaney, "though I'd be reluctant to say it's something a high school student ought to set their sights on per se. However, I do think that having experience in blogging is an asset and something that students should be involving themselves with."

How do you get this blogging experience? By blogging, reading blogs and working with blogging software. Start your own blog; you don't have to make it public. Then pitch an idea to a blog network and see what paid blogging is like.

"Some topics are really easy for high school students to get into -- fashion, studying, clubbing, nightlife, celebrities," says Foley. "Lots of blog networks would be open to pitches in these areas."

As for a career in blogging, the best advice for now is to follow a career path that's a little more clear-cut, and develop some expertise in subjects you're passionate about. In the meantime, hone your blogging skills and keep looking for those "ins" that could lead you down the pro-blogger path.

Source: Career Pro

Net Sites

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Weblogs, Inc.
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