Blogging is fast becoming just another way to do journalism, another skill set journalists can learn and excel at. (Former blogger Andrew Sullivan now writes for The Atlantic.)
It didn’t have to be that way. But those working for publishing houses had a big advantage over the rest. They had a business model.
Publishers know how to monetize page views. They may not move quickly to embrace new forms, like blogging, but they do know how to do business.
Bloggers don’t. And unfortunately their representatives apparently don’t, either.
I am talking here of Blogads.
Founded in 2002 by Henry Copeland, Blogads was quick to seize the
advertising end of the blogging space. Most of the top bloggers quickly
set up accounts, and Henry became the go-to guy for ad revenue.
Unfortunately, no one stepped up to compete with him. And Henry never
solicited, or got, the capital needed to keep the business growing.
The result is that Blogads only generates significant income for a
handful of blogs. Despite having control over millions of page views
per month, Blogads delivers little-or-no money to the great bulk of
bloggers it represents.
On the other hand, publishers have learned to monetize. They may go
overboard with video ads, ads in front of content, with mouse-over ads
and pop-ups, but publishers do bring in money for each page they
deliver to readers.
The result is they can pay writers.
I don’t think I’m unique here. ZDNet,
for whom I deliver roughly 2,500 readers per day, gives me a good
return. It’s not a living, but it’s real cash. And by expanding my
relationship with ZDNet I can hope to expand my income, possibly to as
much as a janitor makes, or maybe a little more.
This blog and voic.us, which I have done for two years now, not so
much. Corante, for whom I blogged for several years before that, nada.
Here I have depended upon the kindness of strangers, like the folks at
Blogads and Cafe Press. At voic.us, I just have not made a good fit
with the business they find themselves in.
Again, I don’t think my situation is at all unusual. Over the last year
I have seen many top bloggers lured by the promise of real paychecks to
either publishing concerns or (in the case of political bloggers) real
campaigns. None, so far as I know, has regretted the move. Once you
prove yourself a moneymaker to a publisher, the publisher is going to
let you make money for them.
So blogging, while it has succeeded as a journalistic art form, has
failed as a business. It is being absorbed into other businesses, into
journalism, into politicking, into general business practices.
But if you had a few million to invest, and you had real publishing
industry chops, meaning you knew how to monetize page views, to get
advertisers, and to serve their needs while staying out of some
bloggers’ way, you could take this business over.