Blogging is more popular than ever. We all have personal opinions, and now you can get paid to have your say.
One person who has made a living out of blogging is Darren Rowse. A former church minister, Rowse lives in Melbourne and got into professional blogging almost by accident.
"In preparation for an overseas trip (in 2003), I started a photo blog to show family and friends some of the digital images that I took while travelling. I also posted a review of my digital camera. In checking my blog traffic, I found that no one looked at the images, but that the review was quite popular in Google. A light went on in my head and I began to wonder what would happen if I had reviews of hundreds of cameras."
This led to Rowse doing the occasional camera write up, along with gathering other reviews into his blog.
"I actually found that my readers wanted to compare multiple reviews of the same camera all in the one place." The blog soon turned into a collation of digital camera reviews and links from around the world.
Over the next few years, Rowse explored ways of making money with his blog, and as traffic grew, he began dedicating more time to it. "As my online profile grew, others began to approach me to work with them on different ventures and the business began to expand," he says. "It's been quite a surprising ride!"
Rowse now runs two blogs (www.problogger.net and www.digital-photography-school.com/blog) and is a co-founder of b5media (www.b5media.com) - one of the largest professional blogging sites currently online. b5media employs nine full time staff and contracts around 100 bloggers from around the world to write on a variety of topics. So, how do you make money from blogging? Rowse says most people start by writing their own blogs, building their traffic and then turning it into a profitable business.
You can also work for other people, either within a blogging network (such as b5media), or for specific companies. "We're seeing more and more established businesses wanting a blogging presence," says Rowse. "People are discovering the power of blogs to give their business, brand and employees a voice to potential customers."
Payment options are varied. Some bloggers are paid per post (anything between $2 and $100), while others are paid upon the level of traffic generated to the site. You may also be paid based upon revenue earned. The earnings will depend upon factors including the topic, the length of post, the blogger's profile in the community, and viewer numbers.
If you are a blogger, don't expect to give up your full-time job just yet. Rowse initially worked two days a week as a minister, in addition to part-time study and a part-time second job.
"Blogging was something I did in the evenings and on weekends. Gradually it grew to the point where I could give up my second job, and then I finished my study and put more time into it and eventually gave up my paid work as a minister (I now give that time voluntarily)." Time-wise, it's down to how much you want to earn and how good you are at writing and building an online community. Rowse works over 50 hours a week, but knows of bloggers that work varied hours.
"If you want to earn a full-time living from blogging, expect to work long hours over a number of years. However, many bloggers don't want to earn a full-time living and do it as a hobby to generate a little extra pocket money." Still keen? View blogging job opportunities at http://jobs.problogger.net.
TOP BLOGGING TIPS Darren Rowse gives you his top tips to get you started.
Select a topic you know and enjoy: You need to be able to still see yourself writing about it every day in the next 2-3 years.
Be yourself: Write in your own style, don't pretend to know about things that you don't, and remember to inject some personality into your writing.
Develop relationships: Build relationships with readers as well as other bloggers. You're building an online community so be engaging.
Provide useful and unique content: A mistake many bloggers make is that they just regurgitate what others are writing. Say something that is unique and enhances other people's lives and you'll attract readers.
Experiment: Learn quickly that every blog is different, and what works on one won't always work on another. So experiment with different ways of making money, driving traffic, styles of writing etc. and when you find something that works, stick with it.