What is a blog, blogging and how do you make money from it?

This topic has been written about by almost every blogger, especially the pros and gurus, but it never hurts to revisit this topic as an effort to return to blogging. So I thank a colleague from work for asking me about this topic.

Let’s begin with the first one, what is a blog? To put it simply, a blog or weblog is a website that is arranged in a reverse-chronological order where the newest posts are displayed on top while the older posts gradually move down the page.

At the end of each post is the comments section where some of the most fun part of blogging comes from as it allows for reader-blogger (the author of the blog) interaction. That’s right, visitors don’t just come to the blog and read the latest posts or updates, they contribute to it by adding their own thoughts via the comments section. Other readers can in turn respond to other comments by replying that specific comment until the a lively discussion grows around that particular post.

RSS feeds is what keeps the readers updated with the latest content from the blogs that they frequently visit or has subscribed to. It’s also a way for bloggers to blast out their content without forcing readers to actually visit their blog. In this way, the communication between blogger and reader is maintained. This is the beauty of social media wherein anyone can practically go online and publish their ideas without the need for expensive printing presses or massive broadcast studios. Media is literally in the hands of the masses.

What then is blogging? I like to describe it as both the art and science of maintaining a blog. It is an art because it is the product of human creativity as blogs are expressions of the blogger’s interests in a particular topic be it a hobby, passion, occupation etc. It is also a science as blogging has reached the stage where higher educational institutions have long offered courses and research that deal with blogs and blogging.

To sum everything in a visual way, here’s a classic video by Common Craft that is very helpful to everyone curious about blogs and blogging.

Now how do make money from blogging? In many more ways than one. The easiest and classical way is to put advertisement units in strategic places around your blog and depending on the type of ad and the amount of traffic your blog receives, you can expect to sent a nice check every month.

There are many, many advertising platforms out there but here are some of the few that I have tried.

Google AdSense – just like with the web search results, most of the ad units you see on top, on the sidebar and below the post content are delivered by Google AdSense. It works by Google scanning each and every page of content on this blog and based on the words and topic of each page, it displays ads relevant to that particular topic. So when you see a post about mobile phones, expect to see ads about mobile phones, mobile services, accessories, etc.

Each time a visitor clicks on it, I earn a portion of the revenue generated from it. After a period of 30 days or when I earn a certain amount, Google sends me a check or a money transfer via Western Union.

Chitika – similar to Google AdSense but more focused on visitors from the United States. What’s unique with Chitika is their ‘minimall’ units where it displays relevant products and gadgets to your posts. This is most useful for blogs or posts that talk about a very particular topic like mobile phones, home do-it-yourself tips, computers and laptops, etc.

Regional advertising agencies – Google AdSense has worldwide coverage while other ad agencies target a particular niche or group of bloggers based on geography. At present, I have ads from Nuffnang, which is a blog advertising network focused on Asia. I have seen considerable success with them that’s why I still run ads from their network.

Paid posts – this was big during the blogging ‘gold rush’ some 5 or more years ago. Advertisers approach bloggers and request that we write a review about their clients’ website, service or product in exchange for a fixed rate. It was lucrative back then until it was abused to the point of distorting and spreading hype about products and services.

Text Link Ads – with the rise of blogging, came the rise of ‘link love’ or having as many websites carry a link to your own website as this increases your rankings in search engine results. This too became so lucrative it once became the top source of income for me a few years back. It all changed when Google started to punish sites that carry paid links which led to the decline of this online money making model.

These are just a sample of the models for making money from blogging that I have tried. The key to successfully making a profit is to keep your blog alive with updated content and an active community of visitors and readers as these are the things that attract advertisers. Branching out into other gigs like writing in mainstream media outfits like magazines, TV shows, radio shows etc or writing your own book or becoming a speaker at events are just another opportunities that blogging could open for you.

Whether you’re doing it to earn a few dollars or more or making it your primary means of living, the most crucial part is not losing your passion in what you do online, be it blogging, podcasting, vidcasting or tweeting. Remember, you may earn lots of money blogging but if you’re not having fun anymore, what’s the point?

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