From the Wall Street Journal site, comes "America's Newest Profession: Bloggers for Hire." Nothing shocking in the headline. I know that a few people blog for a living. But wait - I read on and discovered that:
"...there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers. Already more Americans are making their primary income from posting their opinions than Americans working as computer programmers or firefighters."
Really? I can handle that the number of people doing it for at least some income is approaching 1% of American adults. In the studies used by the WSJ, in the U.S. with 20+ million bloggers, with 1.7 million profiting from the work, we have 452,000 of those using blogging as their primary source of income.
The article's author, Mark Penn, says that if journalists were the Fourth Estate, then bloggers are becoming the Fifth Estate, and a real business has arrived. Bloggers not only are used to launch new efforts, but for companies and products that depend upon blogger reviews. He points to a similar trend in "Opinion TV" where those opinions get far more attention than the gathering of facts.
I am not alone in questioning those numbers, and anyone who looks online for the "facts" on blogging and blogger numbers will discover a real lack of agreement. As a non-profiting blogger, I also wonder at a poll done by Technorati saying that those bloggers who had 100,000 or more unique visitors made an average income of $75,000.
Serendipity35 averages about 12,000 unique visitors, so does that mean that Tim and I could be getting $16,000 to blog? Who is paying? What's the business model? Good questions.
Like almost all online ventures, blogs get most of their revenue from ads and readers clicking on them. Some bloggers get paid by the post ($75-200), and some "spokesbloggers" are paid by a company to blog about their products.
Entry into this field? No tests, degrees, or any real regulations. Though Mark Penn may joke about a future "Columbia School of Bloggerism," it is more likely that many more self-made bloggers will move up the pay scale. Mark Zuckerberg wasn't studying social networking at Harvard when he created Facemash and then dropped out to build it into Facebook. (Okay, he was a computer science major.) So, why should budding bloggers study journalism?
Comparing Job Numbers in America - Bureau of Labor Statistics Lawyers = 555,770 Bloggers =
452,000 Computer Programmers
75% of bloggers are college graduates. Most are white males reporting above-average incomes. Though one third of young people report that they blog, only 2% of those make a living at it. Most bloggers are like myself - doing it for about 35 months and making a few hundred bucks.
(Tim: We have about ten months to make a few hundred dollars and then quit so that we can be typical!) Of course, there are those blogging professionals who work at
corporations or write for
the big sites with lots of traffic. (Penn surmises that "at some point the value of the Huffington Post will no doubt pass the value of the Washington Post.") The pros make $45,000 to $90,000 a year for their blogging and 1% make $200K. The hours are long - 50 to 60 hours a week - but very flexible.
Sounds pretty sweet. Of course, they still need to deal with unemployment insurance, contracts, deadlines, their status as "journalists" (my quotes), libel suits etc.
No one has offered me the big blogging gig yet, but I'm certainly open to doing it as a living instead of just doing it. I'm guessing some much younger bloggers are thinking the same thing.