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Can a blogger make any money?

Blog writing, it seems, isn't the way to go, if money is on your mind, writes Deepak Mankar.

business Updated: May 01, 2006 16:31 IST

The US TV Guide recently launched 65 television-centric blogs. Some of them are about shows like ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy' and HBO's 'Big Love'. Others are commentary blogs written for the fans by Gemstar-TV Guide International's magazine and Web editorial staff.

Their purpose seems to be two-fold: to connect readers with similar interests; and to create premium ad opportunities targeted to those niche audiences. Elsewhere in this article ('MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. Can a blogger make any?'), I've drawn your attention to an e-mail debate on the topic of making money with blogs. Has TV Guide hit the jackpot?

"We're looking for that mix between our content and user content," said Jay Bryant, director of online communities for TVGuide.com. "We're trying to keep it simple. This isn't aimed at a tech enthusiast; it's aimed at a much broader population."

He also said that TVGuide.com plans to build content and traffic in the next two or three months, at which time a "much more robust user community" will be launched in conjunction with the start of the fall television season.

For attracting advertisers, the blogs "give us a lot more credibility in terms of our audience interacting with the site," is how Jim Hoos, Director of National Ad Sales, explained the initiative.

"As we create more and more content through the blogging we'll be able to offer many more sponsorships around the blogs." clickz.com. Sample the TV Guide blogs at community.tvguide.com. One question for the desi powers that be in tv: don't you think synergy between tv and the Internet in India can be a boon? Surely, the affluent folks at whom most of the tv ads are aimed use the Internet too.
 
CONFUSION CONFOUNDED. One too many Gs is why.

A couple of weeks back .hindustantimes.com this column spoke of Google hiring Israeli-born Ori Allon, the Australian student who wrote the text-search algorithm, Orion. ('FIND A NEW WAY TO SEARCH. It can make you Google-worthy.') It looks like the surfeit of Google products has finally nudged Andy Beal off the edge. He makes us privy to some under-the-wraps, very hush-hush news about forthcoming Google attractions: Google Fire ("…will change the way the world collects, organizes and cooks food") and Google Wheel ("…a new technology that will enhance how we get from one location to another"). marketingpilgrim.com If you're as confused as I am about the plethora of Google gigs, bring a resemblance of sanity to it all. Go to 'Simply Google'. usabilityviews.com. Simply put, it's the Google search 'empire' condensed to a single page. Neat!

REINVENTING THE WHEEL. Once again, Google it is.

I came to learn about Google's new design for their search results page from Downloadsquad.com blog downloadsquad.com (22 April post). They got their cue from the Cybernet Technology News blog tech.cybernetnews.com (19 April post). Both seem to welcome the (real or imagined?) 'change' as a change for the better. "This is a good idea by Google because they are not cluttering up the page and at the same time they are providing more information," claims the Cybernet blog. "It looks like a great, unobtrusive way to boost the power of their search without cluttering up the page with all sorts of buttons and do-dads," echoes Downloadsquad.com. (You can see the screen shots at both the websites. The redesign is somewhat akin to the 'Windows Live' search display, according to some commentators.) By the way, PC Magazine ('Google tests expanded search option') pcmag.co.uk has this to say about the enhanced search feature: "The feature appeared at seemingly random moments with online searches, and appears to be related to the Orion technology that Google acquired earlier this month. The Google spokesperson said she couldn't disclose if the technology was releated (sic!) to Orion."

ALWAYS NUMBER ONE. Google, who else?

"Google is without a doubt the world's number one search engine. According to the research firm Neilsen/NetRatings (sic!), Google's share of the global search market in February 2006 was 48.5%, more than double the 22.5% share its nearest rival Yahoo saw," writes Jim Hedger, Expert Author ('Is Google No.1 Forever?'). As "the engine of choice for nearly five years, Google is synonymous with search. Because Google is the first thing most folks think of when they think about search, it is the most important search marketing venue, at least for the vast majority of SEOs." A recent survey (sample = 205) by UK-based online marketing firm, Harvest Digital, for instance, showed Google as "almost universally recognized as the UK's leading search engine". (When asked, "What search engine do you use?" 94% mentioned Google; 40%, Yahoo; 39%, Ask Jeeves; 37%, MSN.) Is this situation likely to change? "While Google's influence is incredible and its dominance appears unassailable, a number of newer products and changes in public perceptions have prompted subtle shifts in the habits of Internet users. Search marketers and online advertisers have started taking notice, putting more energy into helping clients understand and use tools such as blogs, images, press releases and video content as marketing devices," argues Jim Hedger. searchnewz.com. (P.S.: "Google reported a killer Q1, posting net income of $592 million on revenues of $2.3 billion," Zachary Rodgers tells us in 'Google Grows Q1 Revenue 62 Percent, Expands More Globally'. clickz.com.)

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. Can a blogger make any?

Blog writing, it seems, isn't the way to go, if money is on your mind. By and large, say blog watchers, blogs continue to remain "little more than amateur diaries". The exceptions are few and, as the cliché goes, far between. Jason Calacanis co-founded Weblogs Inc. It's a network of blogging sites that AOL acquired last year. Mr Calacanis is an out-and-out proponent of blogs as business vehicles. The main tenet of his argument is that quality content can drive enough traffic to attract advertisers. Experienced Internet entrepreneur Alan Meckler, Jupitermedia's CEO, is skeptical, though. In their email debate for the Online Journal, Alan Meckler writes: "Jason, few people if any will ever make money from writing a blog. One way to make money is to create a 'blog network' as you did with your Weblogs…" Jason Calacanis agrees: "Alan, you are correct that the best model for making money from blogs is by 'curating' and grouping them like we did at Weblogs. Engadget, Autoblog, and Joystiq have become the largest blogs in their verticals because we've packaged, marketed and sold them better than any one individual blogger ever could." And, so on.
online.wsj.com.

HEAVY WITH HUMOUR. And ads, ads, ads.

Wisecracks galore. Like "This will be over faster than your last relationship" and ".001% of your daily ad intake". Get it? That's Heavy.com with its "tone of knowing commercialism" - "a Web site that has become one of the most popular among a growing crop of sites attracting young people with racy, humorous video programming" - "animation, music, video games, grainy home movies of oddball characters, supermodels in bikinis and pop culture parodies. Often, all of these elements are squished into a single two-minute clip. Advertising is everywhere," to quote the words of Saul Hansell ('A Web Site So Hip It Gets Laddies to Watch the Ads'). It lured 5.5 million users (chiefly 18 to 34) in February, says comScore Media Metrix, nearly triple the audience of a year earlier. Heavy's founders and chief executives, Simon Assaad and David Carson claim their model has been more "a video game than any other media form": "quick-triggered interactive features and almost no text" with about half videos from amateurs. The masked king character who now appears in Burger King's TV commercials came out of user content. One catch, though. You need broadband to enjoy Heavy.com's "rude and wry sensibility" and at times risqué commercials. nytimes.com.

That's all for now though there's plenty more out there. Join me again next week, same place..

Copyright (c) 2001- 2006 by Deepak Mankar. All rights reserved. Deepak Mankar, an advertising practitioner on the creative side since 1965, is also intensely passionate about the web and web content creation. Read his online articles at asiaondemand.com.  Website: http://www.addgandhi.com/original/. You may e-mail him at dmankar@bom8.vsnl.net.in.