So You Want to Be a Blogger ..

john chow - buzz bishopMore than 65 000 people in North America have lost their job this week. That’s a lot of people looking when not so many are hiring. So what can you do? Go in to business for yourself, by becoming a blogger.

John Chow has been at it for just over 2 years now, living what he calls “the Dot Com lifestyle,” working just a few hours a day while collecting blog revenues that started at $350 in September 2006 and should push past $400 000 for 2009.

John’s level of success is the exception, not the rule. But not everyone starts a blog to turn it into a huge moneymaker in a year, some create online content only to earn a few extra bucks to splurge on vacation while some try to make a living at it.

Jeremy Wright runs b5 Media, a network of more than 300 blogs across topics from finance and taxes to Angelina and Brad.

“When we launched the company our goal was to provide content in the areas of business, beauty, lifestyle, tech and entertainment,” he says. “We do that via niche blogs. Instead of one big blog we have 20 or 30 individual ones.”

20090128 Can You Cash In On Blogging Craze?To get started blogging Jeremy believes you don’t necessarily need to understand all the technical aspects of starting one up, you just need to have a topic you understand and are passionate about.

“For us, we look for good writers. We can teach you how to blog, training for us is a big part of what we do, but finding good writers, where they’re passionate, is our biggest challenge,” explains Wright. “We’ve had to teach some of our bloggers how to login to Windows.”

Once you’ve decided to blog, you need to pick an area of expertise. Only one.

“You don’t want to write a blog about politics and ornithology,” he explains. “There might be an audience for that, but you tend to want to focus on one area and do it very well.”

Whether you break out and blog on your own, like John, or join a network like B5, Jeremy insists once you get things up and running, if you want to become your job, you need to treat it as one.

“Too many blogs start out as a hobby, there’s no strategy or thought,” he says. “I think the more planning there is the more likelihood there’s going to be success.”

“And then the flipside of that is setting realistic expectations,” he continues. “Unless you’re really lucky you’re not going to make $1000 or $2000 a month in the first couple months. There is a curve there.”

John Chow agrees.

“I think bloggers should blog for fun and not for profit,” says John. “If you only do it for the money, chances are you will fail.”


Every week John Chow has an open invitation for anyone to join him and his colleagues for Dot Com Pho, an informal gathering over a bowl of noodles. This weekend, in honour of the Year of the Ox, John will be hosting Dot Com Dim Sum. The location has yet to be announced, but it will be on Saturday over the lunch hour. Follow John on Twitter for details.

Through the last few weeks of 2008, Merlin Mann did a series on how to start create and focus a blog for CBC’s show Spark. From how to get started to choosing a topic to managing expectations and building an audience, it’s a complete step-by-step process (complete with homework) to have you punching out your paragraphs on parakeet breeding, or whichever other topic you’re passionate about.

The internet is all about things for free. Free information, free music, free videos. Everything is free and by giving it away you can actually make money; just ask the cast of Monty Python. Since they’ve opened their entire vault for free in a YouTube channel, sales of their dvds have risen 23 000%.

How much do Brits love Facebook? More than porn. It’s true. “Last week we provided the BBC with some interesting data illustrating how UK Internet visits to Social Networks and Forums have overtaken Adult websites,” says Hitwise. “Social networks overtook last October and have remained ahead since.”

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on January 28, 2009.



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1 Comment

  1. January 29, 2009

    Great article Buzz, thanks for the insight. Thanks John also for sharing your thoughts. Very helpful.

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