Will we soon suffer from (and tire of) blogorreah? Goodbye, cyberspace! Hello, blogiverse! Blogosphere? Blogmos? (Carl Sagan: 'Imagine billions and billions and billions of blogs')
Brad L Graham wrote this post on his blog on September 10, 1999:
In September, 1999, Brad L Graham could not imagine billions of blogs (web journals) when the blogosphere comprised just a handful of them. Now, according to blog search engine Technorati, there are over 112 million blogs in the blogosphere, which swells by over 175,000 blogs every day.
Around 1.6 million blog posts on almost every topic that you can imagine (or probably cannot imagine) are added every day to what Technorati calls the World Live Web.
With the immense potential of sharing views and creating public opinion, blogs are not only being tapped for publicity and brand promotion, their successful monetisation by displaying advertisements has allowed bloggers to turn full-timers from being hobby-bloggers. Though a significant number of bloggers abhor making money from blogs, it's becoming widely popular.
Amit Agarwal, who turned a full-time technology blogger in 2004 after quitting a well-paid job with a Fortune 500 company, started from a free-hosted blog on Blogspot.
Equipped with an engineering degree in computer science from IIT, and five years of work experience, Agarwal wanted to turn a freelancer. A technology blog, he thought, would be a nice place to get some assignments.
"I never thought blogging would be a source of income, my idea was to get freelance software projects after clients discover me via the blog," says Agarwal.
Digital Inspirations, his blog on computers and personal technology, didn't really perform the way Agarwal wanted. It outperformed, but in a very unexpected way. It opened up an entire new arena of blogging for Agarwal that gradually started paying him far more than what he used to get as pay cheques.
Though Agarwal isn't comfortable sharing the exact figures, he says his annual income from his blog is in six-figures in dollars. According to a post on his blog, he hints that he used to earn over $1,000 a day from Google Adsense, an adserving programme, about two years ago when his blog got some 1.25 million page views per month. Today his blog gets over 2 million page hits every month.
But the money doesn't come off your blog without the effort. Like any demanding profession, Agarwal puts in 10-14 hours on weekdays, blogging from his SOHO office in Agra.
Unlike Agarwal, PC, a Delhi-based blogger who keeps his identity a secret for his readers, puts in just few hours a day for his blog that attracts in excess of 350,000 page views.
PC shares computers tips and writes about blogging and ways to generate money from blogs. He too started from a free blogger account which was then shifted to his own web address (Quickonlinetips.com) after a year of overwhelming response from readers.
Although a large number of successful Indian bloggers are techies or computer enthusiasts, there is hardly any need for in-depth technological know-how for being a successful blogger. A computer with Internet connection and some basic computing skills are enough.
It takes just few minutes to set up a blog on a free blog-hosting site like Blogger and Wordpress. Alternatively, one can look more professional by purchasing a domain name (web address) and hosting space for Rs 2,000-3,000, or get a blog set up on a turn-key basis for as less as Rs 10,000-15,000. But getting the kind of recognition and readership to live off the blog requires consistent hard work and patience.
"To build a successful blog, one has to be very consistent and try to share something original everyday. That's the toughest part," says Amit Agarwal. This consistency in generating quality content for blogs can happen only if you are passionate about what you blog, says PC.
Ashish Sinha's passion for startups, VCs and products reflects in his blog. This IIT, IIM passout, whose full-time job involves product management, puts in a minimum of four hours daily for his blog Pluggd.in, creating content and staying updated with the latest in his area of interest. Even though the income that he generates by blogging might just
be pittance compared with his pay-cheque, Sinha works persistently for his blog.
"The idea is to carve out a niche and build an authority. The money will follow in time," he says.
"The major benefit has been the recognition," Sinha says, adding that the blog has made him lot richer in terms of knowledge.
Sakshi Juneja, a bollywood blogger, says, "For me, blogging is primarily about writing things you are passionate about. A hobby taken very seriously. Getting paid for it is incidental." She not only gets "decent pocket money" off her blog, but has also bagged many writing assignments for blogs and magazines.
Though most bloggers stick to one blog and nurture it zealously, a few focus on creating blogs around hot topics and events and monetising them. Once people lose interest in the topic and income from the blog starts waning, they move on to start another.
Ekalavya Bhattacharya, a brand manager with Contests2Win, uses this modus operandi. During the Twenty 20 World Cup, when India was getting crazy for cricket, he was busy blogging on Worldcuptwenty20.com, the blog which he had created for the event.
"I ended up making Rs 75,000 in 15 days," he says. Bhattacharya has blogged on several blogs dedicated to sports events, especially cricket. He has already kept a blog ready at IPL2008.com for covering the Indian Premier League cricketing events and is planning to launch more.
With several blog networks hiring bloggers, they also have the option of being on the payrolls of any network or freelance on a per-assignment basis. Though there are not many Indian blog networks, the number can be expected to grow.
Being a blogger has several advantages like being your own boss, flexibile work hours and getting to write what you love (or hate) passionately.
"It's like getting paid for your hobby," says Agarwal.
Anyone with an interesting idea can hit the blogging road. The thumb rule is to start part-time and gradually turn full-time. One should also be prepared to keep blogging for quite some time without any monetary gains.
"Blogging is risky. So, there should be something to fall back on," says Agarwal, who had the option of getting back to a regular job if his decision to blog full-time didn't click.
Also, blog about something you are passionate about. Juneja says, "People shouldn't start blogging just to earn money because then they will only be disappointed."
Making sense of adsense
Though there are many online ad-serving networks, including Yahoo! Publisher Network, Google Adsense is the most popular.
Adsense is a contextual advertising programme where website and blog publishers put a small piece of code to their blogs or websites allowing Google to analyse the content of the page and accordingly display relevant ads. When an ad is clicked, a share of the amount that the advertiser has agreed to pay is credited in the account of the site or blog.
An average Adsense-monetised blog with 300,000 page hits per month can expect to earn about Rs 15,000-30,000.
Where ads come from
Adwords is Google's advertising platform where both text ads as well as image ads can be booked on a pay-per-click basis. Advertisers specify the keywords that should trigger their ads and the maximum amount they are willing to pay per click. Based on the amount for a click and the rate at which the ads are clicked, the ads are displayed on various webpages, including Google search pages, websites and blogs affiliated to Adsense.