Making a Living At The Fifth Estate

From the Wall Street Journal site, comes "America's Newest Profession: Bloggers for Hire." Nothing shocking in the headline. I know that a few people blog for a living. But wait - I read on and discover that they claim "...there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers. Already more Americans are making their primary income from posting their opinions than Americans working as computer programmers or firefighters."

Really? I can handle that the number of people doing it for at least some income is approaching 1% of American adults. In the studies used by the WSJ, in the U.S. with 20+ million bloggers, with 1.7 million profiting from the work, we have 452,000 of those using blogging as their primary source of income.

The article's author, Mark Penn, says that if journalists were the Fourth Estate, then bloggers are becoming the Fifth Estate, and a real business has arrived. Bloggers not only are used to launch new efforts, but for companies and products that depend upon blogger reviews. He points to a similar trend in "Opinion TV" where those opinions get far more attention than the gathering of facts.

I am not alone in questioning those numbers, and anyone who looks online for the "facts" on blogging and blogger numbers will discover a real lack of agreement. As a non-profiting blogger, I also wonder at a poll done by Technorati saying that those bloggers who had 100,000 or more unique visitors made an average income of $75,000.

Serendipity35 averages about 12,000 unique visitors a month lately, so does that mean that Tim and I could be getting $16,000 to blog? Who is paying? What's the business model? Good questions.

Like almost all online ventures, blogs get most of their revenue from ads and readers clicking on them. Some bloggers get paid by the post ($75-200), and some "spokesbloggers" are paid by a company to blog about their products.

Entry into this field? No tests, degrees, or any real regulations. Though Mark Penn may joke about a future "Columbia School of Bloggerism," it is more likely that many more self-made bloggers will move up the pay scale. Mark Zuckerberg wasn't studying social networking at Harvard when he created Facemash and then dropped out to build it into Facebook. (Okay, he was a computer science major.) So, why should budding bloggers study journalism?

Comparing Job Numbers in America -  Bureau of Labor Statistics
Lawyers = 555,770
Bloggers = 452,000
Computer Programmers 394,710
CEOs 299,160
Firefighters 289,710
75% of bloggers are college graduates.

Most are white males reporting above-average incomes but not necessarily from blogging. Only 2% of those make a living at it. More typically, they are like myself - doing it for about 3 years; making a few hundred bucks or less on ads or referrals.
I don't agree with Penn's prediction that "at some point the value of the Huffington Post will no doubt pass the value of the Washington Post." If these "pro" bloggers are making $45,000 to $90,000 a year for their blogging, I'll take the gig. No offers yet, but I'm open to doing it as a living instead of just doing it.

updated"How Much Do the Top Bloggers Make?"  Take a look at this article if you're still dreaming about making big bucks by blogging.
As of June 2017, Serendipity35 averages 582,000 hits a month - and still is a non-profit. We don't take out own advice very well.


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