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"For profit" bloggers

2. I've been talking to a wide variety of "for profit" bloggers over the last couple of months and it is clear that effective business models are emerging. While most discussions of blogging economics are focused on advertising, I've found that ecommerce revenue generated by affiliate programs is the leading source of revenue for most of the financially successful bloggers.

These ecommerce driven sites blend entertainment or information with mulitple opportunites for their audience to click through and buy something (see Manolo the Shoe Blog). I suspect that mostvisitors don't realize the blog is getting a cut when they click through and buy something, and they probably don't see the blog as a commerce site.

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3. The costs of operating a blog are very low and many bloggers report that outside of their time, they only spend several hundred dollars a month on their blogs. Low operating costs combined with the distribution reach of the Internet make blogging an easy business to set up.

4. Based on my discussions with bloggers, you don't have to attract a lot of traffic to have a financially successful blog if you have a strong ecommerce revenue stream. Ecommerce-based bloggers getting as little as 1500 - 2000visitors per day are happy with the financial returns of their blogs. These folks are not getting rich at this traffic level, but they are running a nice little business that has very low operating costs. If they can scale their traffic to over 10,000 visitors per day the numbers start to get very attractive, and ecommerce revenue can become very substantial.

5. Given the economics involved,I believe we will continue to see the rapid growth of for profit blogs. I also think we will see blogs take on many different forms and styles as bloggers experiment with and exploit profitable niches. Silicon Valley Watcher and The Huffington Post look more like online news magazines than blogs, and Manolo the Shoe Blog looks more like an entertainment site than a traditional blog.

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 it's 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 seethis 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.

We've recently started a research project looking at how consumers use blogs as part of their product research and purchasing decision processes.Our early results indicate that blogs currently have little or no impact on most consumers.However, leading edge users of online technology are starting to mine blogs for product related information.This is especially true for product categories that are viewed as high cost or high risk purchases (health, technology purchases, cars, etc).

Our preliminary research is showing that leading edge online users are skeptical about blogs as trusted sources of information even blogs authored by friends.However, often these leading edge users have blogs they trust for product information.

When asked the reasons why they trust certain blogs, the answers generally have to do with:their view of the credibility of the author and content; the amount of traffic they perceive the blog to be getting; the number of other sites linking to the blog; how active the blog is; and the look and feel of the blog.Blogs that rate high in these areas tend to be trusted more than sites that rate low.This is very consistent with studies looking at how online users perceive web sites in general.

The question is will blogs achieve high levels of consumer trust, and if so what kinds of blogs will be trusted??What will this mean for corporations and how they communicate with their customers??What role will professional blogs play in customer communications??

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 09/18/2021


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