Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Blogging for money is not for the faint-hearted

“Since the first week of November [2005], I have gone into full-time problogging,” declares Abe Olandres, aka Yuga, in his December 31 2005 post in his personal website www.yugatech.com.

“That means, I stay at home, wake up in the morning and check my blogs, check my emails, read some comments, blog a little, read my RSS [rich site summary, a web feed format used for web content syndication] subscriptions, have lunch, watch some TV, blog some more, post comments, surf Technorati, blog some more, check some stats, tweak the archives, watch the evening news, dinner, read some more blogs, read my RSS subscriptions, reply to emails, blog again, read and blog until I’m too sleepy to write,” he explained.

That sounds like a boring kind of life for most of us. Not for Olandres who describes himself “as a web designer, developer and blog entrepreneur in his mid-twenties who is happily blogging from rags to riches.” For him, problogging, short for “professional blogging,” is an exciting life that he long desired.

“I stopped going to my regular day job,” he said. “I was hoping to do this for quite some time now but I just had to wait until that damn contract expires. That means I am relying on my blogs to generate a majority of my revenue to get me by for the month.”

Olandres explains the professional blogging is a relatively new “career” in the Philippines. No one has become a “tycoon” out of it yet. But in other countries like the United States and Australia, blogging for bucks has become a very profitable entrepreneurial option for many.

Last year, Poynter Institute (www.poynter.org) reported the case of Darren Rowse, an Australian, who—maintaining 17 blogs on problogging and reviews of high-technology products like digital cameras, camera phones, and laptops—earns as much as $14,000 a month from Google AdSense alone.

Google AdSense are contextual ads placed in blogs in which the blogger shares some of the money from Google. Rowse also earns money from independent ad sales and ad networks.

Olandres, however, doesn’t look like a business mogul yet. He walks around in cargo shorts, sandals, collared shirts, and tarpaulin rucksack (containing a nice Apple laptop) like a happy-go-lucky beach bum. His confidence and perpetual smile, however, seem to exude the aura of a contented entrepreneur whose prospects for success are getting brighter by the day.

Olandres maintains five other money-earning blogs (Pinoy tech blog, Pinoy top blogs, Pinoy Travel blog, Pinoy urban blog, and PinoyBlog) together with twelve other techie friends and colleagues. How much money he makes from those blogs and projects is a secret. But he admits in an interview that his own personal blog yugatech.com earns him at least $500 dollars a month from sponsorships, direct ad sales, and Google AdSense.

Apparently that is just gasoline money because Olandres still maintains his business (www.plogphost.com) offering web hosting for weblogs as well as .ph domains. He also does occasional blog consulting work. But his heart is really into problogging where he gets his money for personal expenditures.

“Yes, there’s still that business and occassional blog consulting work. But they’re all set aside as some sort of an insurance or Plan B,” said Olandres. “From now on, I will only use whatever I earn from my blogs may it be via contextual advertising, sponsorships, or direct ad sales. And so far, the budget seems to fit, with a few extra for some R&R [rest and recreation].”

Olandres’ friends and colleagues in the Pinoy Tech Blog network, however, warn that problogging could be a very risky proposition.

In an interview, J. Angelo Racoma, an economist who also writes for ten blogs including the “Pinoy” blog series including his own (J Spot - http://jangelo.i.ph and J Spotter- http://jangelo.racoma.net), said only few bloggers could really make money from blogs because of the difficulties in developing a niche that could attract very high traffic that brings in the cash. He observes that besides their tech blogs, other blogs that seem to attract high traffic and ads are oriented towards showbiz, travel, and fashion.

“Politics-oriented blogs are not money makers,” said Marc Hil Macalua, internet marketing specialist, web designer and director of development of the ePacific Global Contact Center, Inc., a call center company, in an interview.

He explained that while politically oriented blogs may attract high visitor traffic, most of those who visit the sites are intellectuals who read the pages thoroughly but are not likely to click on the ads. “In blogs, monetization is through the volume of clicks, and not on the number of pages read,” he said.

Macalua himself has his own site (www.macalua.com) with a lot of money earning advertisements but he could not imagine himself doing full-time problogging. It’s the last thing he will do in his life, he said.

“Somehow, maintaining a blog (or an army of blogs) and living off [Google] AdSense do not answer the segurista in me. You all know how temperamental and fickle AdSense revenues are, one day you’re hitting 3 digits, the next you’re ripping your hair off ,” he said in his 15 January 2006 post.

Blogging, he stressed in July 15 2005 post, can hardly make real money for two major reasons.

First is that blogs with low traffic would never do so well.

“Unless you are Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes or Paris Hilton, nobody cares about your diary. Nobody’s interested in your latest confession or your latest success story,” he stressed. “Unless your blog’s hosted at www.sex.com, you’re doomed traffic-wise,” he said. “[Google] AdSense revenue is directly proportional to website traffic. Good traffic = good AdSense revenue. Bad traffic…you do the math.”

And second, Macalua said, is that bloggers with sites that don’t have a specific theme don’t have great targeting. It’s really all about positioning. The formula, he said, is Position = Theme = Keywords = Ads. But the problem, he said, is that Philippine related keywords don’t command top bids in Google Adwords. “With so few companies fighting over these keywords, you’re looking at maximum bids of $.05 per click, the lowest possible bid in [Google] AdWords.”

“You, the publisher, will get 20% per click. That’s 1 cent per click. That’s 100 clicks to reach a dollar. That’s 10,000 clicks to reach $100. Now forget the Philippine keywords, what about those pesky blog-related ads that no reader in his right mind (who also happens to be a blogger himself) would click? You’re basically looking at zero clicks. Zero click equals….do the math,” Macalua stresses.

“So except for the only legit Pinoy power blogger that is Sassy Lawyer [Connie Veneracion, The Sassy Lawyer’s Journal], I don’t see me or anyone else making significant income off [Google AdSense],” he said. “I think the inner desire to go problogger should be tempered with the thought that there’s more to Internet marketing than just blogging.”

Despite Macalua’s pessimism, however, Racoma has recently decided to go on full-time problogging. He currently writes for several big blog news media organizations or networks including blogmedia.biz, wordcontent.com besides the "Pinoy blogs" series and his own two blogs. Lately, he said that one blog network is recruiting him to write for a fixed monthly pay of at least $800 (including performance perks) and he is inclined to take the offer.

"I actually quit my day job a few months before I started blogging for money; it was a lucky break," Racoma said.

Apparently, Racoma is taking on the route that Melissa Atienza-Petri, a Filipina expatriate in Germany, took.

“I started problogging (earning from my blogs) in March of 2005. I signed up with Creative Weblogging and have, since then, signed up with more networks (9rules and b5media), with the intention to earn from blogging,” said Petri in an e-mail interview.

An architect by training, Atienza-Petri had a website since 1997 prior to the emergence of blogger.com that triggered the global blogging revolution. “At that time and up until 2004, it never really crossed my mind that soon, ‘normal people’ who are online could actually earn from blogging,” she said.

She said that she started problogging in March 2005 by signing up with several networks including Creative Weblogging, 9rules, and b5media.

“At present, my blogging gig with one network gives me a fixed monthly payment of 450USD,” she said. “In addition, I get revenues from the 2 other networks but the payment I receive at the end of every month varies. From those two, I earn from 78USD up to 300USD. I have also signed another contract with another network, with an expected fixed payment of 250USD per month.”

That makes a cool $1000 a month. Not bad as additional money on top of what she gets from her day job as a mathematical analyst in a high tech firm in Germany.


AnP said...

Interestingly, my first ever blogging for the public break came from one of the managing editors of Poynter. Julie Moos invited me to write for one of her writing projects back in 2004.

Lately, we are seeing more and more Pinoys who are blogging for dollars. Would definitely want to see even more. Hope this article would encourage those who are interested (but are hesitant) to give it a try.

Without Borders said...

thanks for this comment, anp. in the Philippines tho Yuga says he can count probloggers with his fingers. but i guess there would be more of them in the very near future. its like outsourcing where the philippines is getting noticed globally.

Without Borders said...

Poynter! Wow! I like that place. I had my own brief training there under the International Visitors Program for leadership in print journalism (2005). A nice place to learn.

A said...

true but more and more are getting into it. One of my friends just resigned from her full-time job to have more time with her child AND blog. She's been signed up by 2 networks and is earning around 500USD per month.

With Pinoys abroad, the numbers are increasing, as well. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of living, most of us cannot really afford to give up our full-time job to blog.

Poynter: again... bow! hehe

AnP said...

that was me. accidently hit enter

J. Angelo Racoma said...

Thanks for the feature, Dave. :)

Well, as I said in our conversations, it was really a lucky break, at least for now. If one knows where to look, he can most likely get writing or blogging projects that can earn enough funds to quit his day job.

Then again, as Marc worries, it's not as stable as a regular nine-to-fiver, but that's the way entrepreneurs (or rather netrepreneurs) are--we take calculated risks.

I do believe this would be the next trend in offshoring. Pinoys don't only have great spoken English; a lot of us can write well, too--or at least up to the standards of our western counterparts.



Without Borders said...

dear anp: well, its social context has its own opportunities and limitations. what is important is that opportunities like blogging for the bucks are now globalized too. thanks to breakthroughs in information technology.

Without Borders said...

j angelo: you are right there. and we filipinos, well travelled as we are (well many of us anyway) could find our niche. there is just so many issuess to tackle. offshoring? yes, that's right. this is just another form of it and what is nice about it is that we are not "taking away jobs" from our western counterparts. thanks for this comment.

yuga said...

Probloggers actually either work for a network or publishing entity just like journalists, OR run their own little online publishing business and get revenue for it. The 2nd case is what Mr. Macalua is more worried since there is no fixed income unlike the first one where you get fixed salary on a weekly/monthly basis. While the 2nd option has a higher risk, it gives better chance of profitability.

But hey, even regular 8-5 jobs have no security of tenure. Been there, done that -- from stratups to multi-national companies. Problogging may not be a career for everyone but at least it's a viable alternative.

yuga said...

And oh, a minor correction: the $500 is solely from my personal blog (including AdSense). What I hesitated to mention is the total amount I get from all websites/blogs I own. =)

Without Borders said...

yuga: thanks for those very enlightening comments. from now on ill be watching this rising "industry" in our midst. thanks for the corrections. and indeed, there is no longer such an animal as "security of tenure." anything could happen. just ask the staff of enron, world com, and andersen which are giants and world beaters until it collapsed lately. the world is no longer what it seems two decades ago.

AnP said...

yuga is the Darren Rowse of Pinas!

Without Borders said...

dear anp: yes, yuga is indeed our darren rose. but there's another success story in our midst. have your heard about brianboyfabuleux? i heard he/she is earning at least $2k a month. but thats all rumours. she/he never acceeded to my request for an interview. sassy lawyer, daw, is also raking it in. wow!!! pinoy blogging tycoons, anyone?

taoharu said...

You may want to read this blog:
Customer service blogs...
It's one use for blogs. This time it's for keeping business relationships healthy.

AnP said...

oh yea. I have been reading bryanboy's unapologetic yet funny blog. haha Yup, he's earning. But, he's got money to begin with and he doesn't really want to "share" what kind of business he is into. secret.

yup, there definitelly are tons of people raking it in. should have more, especially those based in Pinas.

Without Borders said...

anp: too bad, brianboy ignored my request but definitely my interaction with yuga, marc, j. angelo, and you really provided me with good materials to write the story. thanks.

taorist said...

I agree with J. Angelo. I was interviewed by two of those (offshore) companies, they were hiring "writers" for international clients. Unfortunately, it's a night shift kind of job.

The other was situated in a condo unit. 8-5 Saturdays.

Both, no telecommuting. I turned it down because I wanted to work at home like my blogging idol (J.A.).

For those writers who have problems with their english accents here's your chance to get in on the action!!! There are a LOT of companies looking for "writers" in jobstreet.ph

Without Borders said...

welcome taorist. so the world of probloggers are expanding.

taorist said...

Yes. Expanding indeed!

I just noticed that you and I wrote the same statement, that this "ain't for the faint hearted". I guess it's a universal feeling. LOLZ!!!

Without Borders said...

taorist: this confirms that some things in this country are looking up. good luck to your new endeavor of becoming a problogger!

Greg Moreno said...

As Chairman Mao once said, "let a hundred flowers bloom". For me, blogging is one of the tools to earn money, directly and indirectly. You can use it to build a personal brand, or to market yourself, then may be earn in other means like consulting projects or royalties. If you are earning directly from blogging, that's good. But I still suggest you find other ways of earning money.

Without Borders said...

greg: you really hit it on the nail. marc macalua (who doesnt know marc?!) said one virtue of the blog is being able to do branding. and you explained it so well. thanks for dropping by and welcome to a world without borders.

Marc said...

Hi Dave!

Just a few corrections:

"Macalua himself has his own site (www.macalua.com) with a lot of money earning advertisements" - I don't think you can 1 AdSense ad unit a lot :)

"you’re looking at maximum bids of $.05 per click, the lowest possible bid in [Google] AdWords." - $0.01 bids are now possible :)

"So except for the only legit Pinoy power blogger that is Sassy Lawyer [Connie Veneracion, The Sassy Lawyer’s Journal], I don’t see me or anyone else making significant income off [Google AdSense]" - this was before I met Yuga, AnP and Rickey.

Excellent article bai! :)



Marc said...

Pahabol diay bai :)

"You, the publisher, will get 20% per click." - analysts say it's much higher than that. 70%++ of the click value, or so they say.


Without Borders said...

marc: thanks for all these comments. and for the interview with all of you. its for this article that i met a lot of people doing tech stuff and blogging. i learned a lot.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info

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