Blogging as a Business by Perry Estelle

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Blogging Defined

With the recent rise in advanced social networking sites and the subsequent attention they have received from media outlets, people commonly perceive weblogs–which are the staple of social networking–as a new invention; however, this isn’t entirely true. Adding information to web-logs or “blogs”–blogging defined today–has been around for over ten years–and has gradually gained strength on the Internet as means of communication.

While people blogging in the early 1990s generally limited their blogs to personal information, such as chronicles and diaries, bloggers defined today includes blogging on a wide variety of different topics–from politics to cheese-tasting; however, blogging defined today is very much the same: a simple means to better facilitate communication.

Blogging defined is one of the most effective means of Internet-based communication because it is relatively easy and requires little time investment. Using a blogging interface like WordPress or Google’s Blogger, a blog owner can add a new entries to his blog while he sits in a meeting at work or watches events unfold on TV. Rather than fooling around with messy code, he can simply enter his message textually in his blog; and then update it in a matter of seconds.

Another crucial aspect of blogging that makes it such an effective medium for communication is that it allows for rapid-response comments. A political debate could literally unfold over the course of the afternoon in the form of comments on a blog.

Conversely, blogging defined by the media is often “controversial,” but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Many blogs are used to simply say “hello” to friends who are blog owners. This is quite common with social networking sites, such as Myspace and Livejournal–both of which use a form of blog to facilitate communication.

Whether blogging defined is a form spurring debate between political opponents or blogging defined is a means of increasing bonds between friends, they have the ability to rapidly increase the speed of communication by acting as a sort of intermediary between a full-featured website and a forum.

Types of Blogs You Can Build

The types of blogs you can build are limited only by your imagination and by your willingness to conduct research. For instance, while some bloggers focus on general topics, such as cars, other bloggers narrow the scope of their blogs even further to sub-topics, such as luxury cars or antique cars. From an optimization standpoint, a blog with a narrower scope would likely outperform a blog with a broader scope in terms of conversions or clicks-per-visitor. So, if your goal is to make money, the types of blogs you can build are somewhat limited.

In terms of actual topics for the types of blogs you can build, there are about 9 major areas that are popular for current blogs: business, culture, community, politics, religion, science, travel, online diaries, and gossip. Most blog directories use similar topical categories to order blogs.

In addition to the topic for the types of blogs you can build, you will also want to consider the program used to generate it. This is another way that directories categorize blogs. For instance, blogs can fall under the category of the tool or software that was used to create them. Some blogs are created using Google’s Blogger. These blogs are often lumped together in directories as the same “type” of blog. They actually have an auto-surfing system that allows you to jump randomly from one Blogger blog to the another.

Other types of blogs you can build include social networking blogs, which allow members of the same network to interact with each other using various blog functions. Two examples are Livejournal–which was one of the original social networking blog systems–and Myspace, which is currently the largest, boasting a base of around 80,000,000 users. In recent months, marketers and business persons have begun using Myspace to introduce their product to potential customers.

Another type of blog you can build is a video blog or “vlog.” These usually contain videos and allow other posts to attach media in comments.

The last types of blogs you can build are geographical blogs. With such a robust blogging atmosphere–with users weighing in from all over the globe–directories, such as Blog Wise will allow users to search for blogs by geographic location. If you believe you have some information you can contribute about your specific region, you may want to start a regional geographic blog.

The Popularity of Blogs Today

In recent studies by the American Life Project and The Guardian (UK), researchers asked whether or not the popularity of blogs today was growing in the two countries; and if so, why? The results on the popularity of blogs today were not exactly what most members of the blogosphere might expect.

Researchers working on the American Life Project found that the popularity of blogs today in terms of readerships in the United States was absolutely exploding; however, they also found that the amount of blogs available was increasing slowly in comparison. In the last six months of 2004, for instance, blog readers grew from a mere 17% of the population to a robust 37%–a significant increase. However, blog writers only increased from 5% and 7%; and largely maintained their homogeneous composition, which is predominantly male, young, and wealthy. The ALP attributed this explosion in readerships to the Presidential race, where both candidates employed blogging in some form to attract campaign donors.

The Guardian, which performed their study more recently, also found similar results in the United Kingdom on the popularity of blogs today. While they also found that readerships had increased dramatically, they did not find the same issue of slow blog growth; however, they did find out that a fairly astonishing 30% of frequent Internet users had never even heard of a blog.

So in which direction is the popularity of blogs today moving?–To greater profusion or to obscurity?

Given that blogs are the best intermediary between websites and forums, it is hard to imagine that they will decrease in the popularity of blogs today; conversely, however, it isn’t hard to imagine that they will improve significantly in continuation with how they have changed since their inception in the mid-1990s.

In the short term, it is fairly safe to imagine that larger blogs will experiment with video technology while older blogs stick with easy, faster-loading models. It is also fairly safe to image that blog indexing methods will continue to improve and may even break away from the traditional algorithm method.

How to Monetize Your Blogs

Other than direct sales and adsense, are there any other methods you can make money from using your blog? Yes, there are several, but three are usually used more often than others: 1) lead generation; 2) affiliate marketing; and 3) newsletter subscriptions.

Of all the other methods you can make money from with your blog, lead generation may be the most promising. This is an especially true if the market your blog is in is related to anything financial. Mortage and refinance leads are especially good, as they bring in tiered commissions. Your first commission will come when you generate the initial lead – which will simple entail getting someone to fill out a completely free form; this lead will earn you anywhere from $3 to $12. If this lead then goes on to refinance her home with the company in question, you could earn a windfall of several hundreds or several thousands of dollars.

The other methods you can make money from with your blog include affiliate marketing and newsletter subscriptions. Affiliate marketing generally consists of either directly signing up as an affiliate through someone’s website – or signing up as an affiliate through a third party. You will then use your blog to market this person’s products for a share of the total price. If you sell information products from Click Bank or Commission Junction, you can earn as much as 75% per sale; however, if you sell physical products, such as chairs and tables from Link Share retailers, such as Wal Mart, you will earn a 7-15% commission at best.

If these other methods you can make money from don’t sound appealing, you can always consider newsletter subscriptions. You can create an opt-in page or a “squeeze page” on your blog and offer a trial subscription to your newsletter. If you provide quality content and promote your blog, you could end up with hundreds of subscribers over time.

Other methods you can make money from on your blog include selling advertising space directly and selling site memberships that allow visitors to access certain server-side tools.

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