The Blogging Consortium

11

Although of course the Dowbrigade recognizes that part of the power and righteousness of the Blogoshpere derives from its lack of professionalism in the mercenary sense, like most serious Bloggers we sometimes imagine how nice it would be to be able to blog full-time, without having to worry about the time-consuming details of a “day job.”

Furthermore, it seems as though an inordinate number of successful and prominent bloggers are university professors or other educators, due no doubt to the flexibility of their schedules and access to disposable hours. How many other undiscovered natural-born-bloggers are out there whose professional or financial obligations form a barrier to participation?

Putting aside the moral implications, is it even theoretically possible to imagine a scenario in which blogging would be a remunerative activity, short of selling out and becoming a blog whore to a major corporation or PAC? We would not have asked such a silly question were we not willing to give it a try, so here goes:

Clearly, not many people would pay anything to read any one Blog. There are too many others out there, and not even the best bloggers can write worthwhile posts EVERY day. But what about a consortium of 50 really excellent blogs, including at least a few famous, top blogs, all in one place, with a variety of news, sports, humor, politics, technology and business? In addition to the 50 regulars, throw in a dozen guest bloggers every day chosen for topicality or relevance to current events.

Of course, these bloggers would have to make their content available ONLY through the consortium, which would be a sacrifice at least for a while. And the question remains, would it be economically viable? A truly high-quality and well-chosen 50 would certainly provide an information resource comparable to the New York Times or Time Magazine. Suppose all of this writing and reporting were available in one place for 25 cents a day. Once registered, users could be charged a quarter any day they used the site, for as many times as they wanted to visit it that day. They could stay connected 24-7 for a quarter if they wanted. And on any day they didn’t use the service, they would be charged nothing.

The utility of a scheme like this depends on the implementation of a painless and popular picopaymens system, and as far as we know none exists at this point, but present practicality has never constrained our imagination.

However, the pull and power of even 50 of the ‘Sphere’s top bloggers alone would not be enough to make this scheme work. The site would have to offer a number of value added services. Like a web-based Super-Aggregator to manage multiple reading lists and organize an individuals complete news flow needs. Users could have access to complete aggregator channels for each of the 50 featured bloggers via a drop down menu. There could be a search feature for the 20,000 RSS feeds we are already tracking via stream name or keywords, which could create an instant aggregator channel with the results of any particular search. The site could feature special aggregator-channel reading lists on important topics of the day compiled by experts in each field. And eventually it could offer tons of additional fun and useful features which are only now being imagined and developed by the clever gang of early adopters who are starting to figure out what can be done with this amazing technology called RSS.

With that kind of powerful information management functionality, and access to a varied and hot bunch of bloggers, we imagine the hits would come. How many would it take?

Suppose 100,000 visits a day, which is only an average of 2,000 for each of the 50 Blogs at the center of the scheme. That doesn’t seem unreasonable. Why, several of the big names get that many visits alone on a good day now. At 25 cents a hit, that works out to $25, 000 a day, or $500 a day for each of the 50 contributors. Assuming one of the 50 bloggers contributed every day of the year, they could take home $182,500 before taxes. Not too shabby.

11 Comments

  1. Mike Walsh

    January 27, 2004 @ 9:41 am

    1

    Michael – Some data points in terms how much people are will to pay for “good” blogging content.

    In their recent interviews on BOPnews, Andrew Sullivan said he can only squeeze $50K per year out of his blogging activity after expenses. Atrios, who estimates his current daily readership at 80,000 per day said he doesn’t make as much as Sullivan.

  2. Mike Walsh

    January 27, 2004 @ 9:45 am

    2

    Michael – you may want to put the “Blogging Consortium”/ “Can Bloggers Make a Living” on the agenda for “Thursday at Berkman.”

  3. Michael Feldman

    January 27, 2004 @ 10:34 am

    3

    But that’s my point, Mike, no ONE blogger alone, even the great Andrew Sullivan, can make it a viable activity, But FIFTY good blogs in one place would create a whole new paradigm, expecially with all of the value added (esp. aggregator) services mentioned.

  4. Mike Walsh

    January 27, 2004 @ 2:34 pm

    4

    Michael – I understand your point regarding the value of bundling a group of blogs together to make a compelling offer. But it’s been my experience over my career in publishing and information services, that people are incredibly reluctant to pay for content. Even good content.

  5. Phil Wolff

    April 24, 2004 @ 7:44 pm

    5

    First, subscriptions aren’t the only source of money. Ads/sponsorships follow when you demonstrate a consistent, well-described readership. A news and commentary portal might do just that.

    Second, not only do citizen reporters have to find their way in the world of journalism, they have to become active in politics as a group. They have their own interests, which include access to the same rights, protections, and priveleges as the institutional Fourth Estate.

    I’m playing around with the Kerry 100 Club fundraising system; 100 friends give $100 to the campaign in the name of some cause. Here’s mine. http://kerry100club.com/citizenjournalists

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