By Shivani Baghel

Edited by Madhavi Roy, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

Technically, blogs have been in existence since the late 1990’s. However, the 2000’s brought them alive. The first known weblog was ‘The Misanthropic Bitch’ (1997) followed by Bruce Ambelson’s‘Open Diary’ in 1998, and so on. As we know, a weblog was meant to be like an online public journal. And it gradually became an outlet of thoughts and passion. Everyone, from every corner of the world, could express their innermost ideas and emotions. The voice of opinion found a new medium. For enthusiastic writers, it was definitely one of the most amazing inventions of that time. It became a channel for like-minded people to connect, to explore and learn from each other’s life experiences.At that time, blogging was a form of creative expression. Who had ever imagined that blogging would become a serious game of business and economics one day!

The Huffington Post, The Business Insider, Life hacker, Mashable,Techcrunch, Engadget, The Daily Beast are all multi-billion dollar blogs currently. Of course, they did not start with a success story of this kind way back in the 2000s. Ask them their secret, and pat comes the reply- “Curating exclusive content”. Apart from great economic possibilities, bloggers become a brand themselves. The net worth of the world’s most successful blogger Nick Denton (creator of Gawker) is a little over $100 million USD!

In the first decade of the 21st century, everybody around was enchanted by the social media connections and the prominent spillway which it gave to the writers who write for the love of it. What started as a daily online journal was soon going to become a business hub. The marketers and the business world started noticing the diverse opportunities of moneymaking in this wonderland. There were blogs and bloggers having followers, which could easily be translated into a market. And there, it was the birth of a new form of economic exchange. Throughout history, there has always been one illustrious idea dominating us, shaping our ideologies and our society. During the middle ages, it was religion, but by the 17th century, it was Science. In the 21st century, we are in an era of capitalism and economics.

I have been thinking of starting a blog of my own (and that’s how this article came to life). But, to be very honest, the idea does not revolve around making money. I seek a platform to express myself. And I believe, it’s the same case with at least 85% of the bloggers. A blog cannot be a permanent source of income right from the start. It happens to be one for a very few bloggers, but starting with an idea like that could result in disappointment for many.  As many prominent bloggers say, ” I don’t think I would have been hitting thousands of followers had it not been for my passion of writing and expression, not with an aim of calculating the number of page views I’d get on my every new post.” However, the fact that a blog requires an infinite investment of time, research, brainstorming and money too, in some cases, cannot be denied. Hence, expecting to make a living out of it cannot be termed unfair in all its regards.

So, what is the right time to start thinking about monetizing a blog? The first priority of a blogger should always be creating excellent content which can draw in more readers and build a loyal following. For starters, it’s always advised to take it slow and steady. Immense work should be put in- in terms of writing, photography and social media presence. After generating a significant number of followers, one can think about advertising through banners or text advertisements. This again requires some thought into the types of advertisement one would look for, along with their placement.  Google AdSenses has been a popular choice for bloggers. Amazon Associates is another tool which can get you some commission by linking the products to an Amazon shopping list.

However, if you are planning to continue to blog for a long time, you’ve got to think differently. The advertisement is not the only way (read- ambitious way) of making big bucks. Membership Programs are running huge at this point of time. The bloggers provide a lot of free quality content for their audience and a premium level program for those willing to pay for it. This provides a steady revenue stream.  LinkedIn operates a lot of blogs in this way. Creating a strong brand and positioning oneself well in the market can also result into offline services and consultations. A number of astrological websites are pocketing big bucks with this approach. This can further lead to a long term customer base loyalty. Often the bloggers are seen selling their knowledge in the form of e-books, audio, videos, or all of the above. A 100 % profit is earned if the blogger himself authors the work. After becoming an expert in a certain field, one can worklike Chris Brogan, and speak at various social gigs. Recommendation of products, also termed as a form of text based advertisement, is also an easy way to affiliate yourself with the brands, with a bonus commission of course. Fashion and beauty blogs are the highest earners in this category. In fact, each time these bloggers do product reviews, they are being paid for it. Although, ethically, the bloggers should mention if it’s a paid review, but most of the times, they do not.  Finally, if all this helps you in making a successful blog, or even if your blog fails, you can still economize your years of investment. Sell them! Mashable was rumored to have been sold to CNN news for around $200 million earlier in 2012. In 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post for $315 million US dollars, whereas in 2010 The Daily Beast merged with Newsweek and created the “Newsweek Daily Beast Company”.  In fact, there have been stories of defunct blogs being sold. The buyer buys them at a cheap price, utilizes his/her marketing skills by building the SEO backlinks and developing the readership, turns it around and sells it at a profit. And Voila! That’s Business Economics for the lovers of writing in the 21st century.

So of course, there are people who write and share for their passion and their love for writing, and no cash, or lack of it thereof, can bog them down. However, what about the clichéd aspiration of making money out of one’s passion? Blogging has become that absolute convergent point today. With an array of possibilities and hopes which it creates, blogging is here to stay for a while. And so will its business.Nevertheless, it’s not as easy to make a successful mind blowing blog and create an exclusive web space as it was in the last decade, and most of the multi-million dollar blogs were created then. So, an idea of starting a blog as a business would not be that lucrative unless you are very passionate about the subject you are dealing with. All in all, we can monetize our creativity, but we cannot do vice versa.

 Shivani Baghel is a true Piscean at heart and likes calling herself a Dreamer! Although an introvert, she is an absolute fun loving girl once you get to know her. She loves being an Agony Aunt as she says, “nothing gives me more happiness than helping others”. Her loved ones describe her as trustworthy and honest. She prefers spending her weekends lazing around in a corner, hooked up to a novel, sipping some green tea besides her window. A foodie that she is, exploring and discovering new places around her world fascinates her. She dreams of travelling the world around and writing something unique of each place. She loves doodling random thoughts at random places. Although she calls herself a big procrastinator, she knows for a fact, that no one can nail it the way she does at the last moment. Shivani firmly believes that wearing rose colored glasses can bring you happiness for today and aspirations for tomorrow, and hence doesn’t care a bit when people ask her to get a reality check! After all, only those who have the courage to dream it can achieve it. 

Posted by The Indian Economist | For the Curious Mind