Another email with a journalist writing a “business of blogging” story. I won’t say which publication until it comes out.
> > 1) Quite simply: CAN blogging be business? If so, can it be a money-
> > maker in its own right for a lot of people, or just for a few, like
> > yourself?
Blogging is already a business. Our company, Weblogs, Inc., is an eight figure a year business.
Gawker Media, Rafat Ali’s PaidContent.org, Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch, John Battelle’s Federated Media, and Boingboing.net are all significant media business today.
> > 2) how does one make it a business. Ie, how did YOU make it one.
> > 3) as much as possible in the way of numbers and examples.
> > Revenues, costs, profits. (can be vague, estimates, projections….)
We are an eight figure a year business today. In terms of profitability the blogging business is better than the magazine or newspaper business in two main ways: 1. there is no distribution cost to blogging (i.e. printing, shipping, and postage), and 2. we don’t have the large management cost structure because our bloggers are not edited.
> > 4) Advertising, AdSense etc: Will blogs be monetised as efficiently
> > as search results in future? If not, why not?
Frankly, that’s a strange comparison. Blogs will never have a better margin than search engines have because search engines are created by machines and blogs are create by humans. Humans are more expensive than machines!
That being said, blogs are the most profitable media business today.
> > 5) Are blogs that become businesses really just newspapers or
> > magazines with a modern format? Are they even still “blogs”, as
> > defined by Dave Winer, or have they sold their soul?
They have already become a business without selling their soul! The core of blogging is based on the authenticity of blogger and them being unfiltered. As long as you don’t filter the blog, and the blogger maintains their authenticity all is well.
> > 6) Are there non-advertising business models? John Battelle seems
> > to use his blog as a way to market his conference and his book. So
> > are blogs really just marketings costs for other existing businesses?
Of course. Saying “blog” is like saying “paper.” You can do different things with paper including write a book, market a service, or be a counterfeiter–the same is true of blogging. Blogs are a platform, how you use them is up to you. Most people are not blogging for money, they are doing it to express themselves.
> > what are the day-to-day challenges and stresses of running a
> > blog as a business? Ie, anecdotes about the pressure of posting
> > frequently, giving link love and other ways to rise in the
> > technorati rankins and grow an audience.
The challenge is “feeding the blog.” You work at a weekly magazine so you know how much pressure it can be to “put an issue to bed” every week. Working at a daily newspaper is even harder, and a wire service is harder than that. The blogging world is even more pressure than working on a newswire. In fact, I’d say the best analogy for working at a professional blog is working for CNN–the pressure never goes away.
> > 9) Is the business model for blogging really the same as that for
> > YouTube and many other Web 2.0 businesses: ie, to sell out to
> > google or Yahoo or NewsCorp or AOL because those giants can afford
> > to build something bigger, subsidised by profits from search?
You are confusing the concept of an exit with the concept of a business model. An exit is how shareholders realize their gain on an investment. That can happen in the form of a buyout, IPO, or dividends.
The business model of blogging is highly sustainable because the costs are so low. Many blogs today, like Boingboing.net and TechCrunch, could exist forever because they are profitable businesses. The only reason to sell would be if the shareholders wanted to realize their investment.
> > 10) most importantly, what else would you have to say about all
> > this? You are a pioneer in this area. You’ve clearly been thinking
> > much more deeply about this subject than I have. What would you
> > advise me to say?
I think so far you’re looking at blogs are one big thing, and they are not one thing–they are many things. There are blogs done by companies to promote their products. There are blogs done by friends and family to keep in touch with each other. There are “faux blogs” created by unscrupulous marketers to abuse the public. There are blogs that are run as publications in order to make a profit.
You have to look at the *goal* of each blogger in order to measure your success. At Weblogs, Inc. we wanted to build a “scale” blogging business–that was our goal. Some folks want to build a “lifestyle” business and don’t need to make a large amount of money to be successful.
Also, it is very rare that one new medium kills the medium before it. Blogs are not going to kill newspapers and magazines, but they will take 10-40% of their audience, just like cable TV didn’t kill network TV but it did take 20-30% of its audience.
Finally, I think its important to note that blogs have become a vital part of the media ecosystem. Bloggers are interacting with journalists and helping them build their stories–like you and I are doing now! The media business has moved from a handful of people speaking on their pedestals, to dozens of folks at hundreds of tables having conversations about an issue. It’s very fluid.
Jason McCabe Calacanis
CEO, Weblogs, Inc., An AOL Company.
Office: 310-979-5654 | Mobile: 310-456-4900
Yahoo/AOL IM: jasoncalacanis