Monday, July 12, 2004

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(Some) bloggers get (a little bit) rich

Maureen Ryan reports in the Chicago Tribune that bloggers are starting to rake in the bucks:

A year ago, blogger Glenn Reynolds joked to the Tribune that he was making "burger-flipping" wages from the trickle of funds readers donated to his popular Web site,

These days, Reynolds can afford to order steak. Since he began accepting advertisements on his site five months ago, has been bringing in several thousand dollars a month.

It's starting to look as if bloggers can make a living from their sites, thanks to an advertising boom. Companies who want to reach specific consumers -- current-events mavens, conservative PhDs, cell phone fanatics -- are hooking up with blogs that can deliver those eyeballs. Some politically oriented blogs are also riding an election-year advertising wave, but industry experts expect the trend to last well beyond November....

"It's really just taken off the last few months," says John Hawkins of, a Blogads client who says he cracked $1,000 in monthly ad profits for the first time in June.

Advertisers have started to realize that some of their most well-heeled customers spend a decent chunk of their Web time reading such blogs as the politically obsessed Eschaton (, the Washington, D.C., gossip site and the cell-phone fanatic blog

Blogads offers ad rates tied to its clients' Internet traffic -- the more visitors, the higher the rate for an ad on that site. Given that some sites have been running as many as 15 ads at a time, a little back-of-an-envelope math shows that several of Blogads' top clients are likely clearing as much as $3,000-$5,000 a month.

That's a nice chunk of change for bloggers, especially the ones who would like to make blogging a full-time job.

But is this burgeoning advertising boom -- and it is a boom, since the top premium ad on Escaton cost $100 per month a year a go and $2,500 per month today -- built to last?

I will leave that question for my readers to discuss. However, Ryan reviews the various demographic surveys suggesting that the blog demographic is a lucrative and well-connected one:

"Every week for the last year, I had at least one advertiser say to me, `Who reads these things?'" says Henry Copeland, the founder of Blogads. "I wanted them to see for themselves that it's not just unemployed teenagers."

Far from it. In May, Copeland created a demographic survey and asked several of his blogging clients to alert their readers to it. Copeland had hoped that 10,000 blog readers would volunteer to click on the survey and answer its questions, but more than 17,000 did so.

And though the survey isn't a scientifically accurate sampling of blog readers, the folks who filled out the form appear to be a mature, well-heeled group. Sixty percent of the Blogads respondents said they are more than 30 years old, and almost 40 percent reported they have a household income of more than $90,000.

Perhaps most important to advertisers, half of those who took the Blogads survey said that over the last six months they spent more than $50 online for books and more than $500 for plane tickets; 25 percent spent between $100-$500 on electronics via the Web.

A May poll of 20,000 readers of Talking Points Memo -- a different survey conducted independently of the Blogads poll -- reveals a similar level of prosperity. Forty-five percent of TPM's survey respondents said they have advanced degrees, and 52 percent claimed incomes of more than $75,000 a year.

That said, one should bear in mind that Ryan is really talking about the peak bloggers at this point. If John Hawkins is raking in $1,000 a month, that's great, but that's not a huge sum of money. [What about you?--ed. I bring in far less than Hawkins -- but I won't deny that it's gratifying to actually earn money from this little venture.] At this point, maybe 5-10 bloggers can earn a decent living from blogging. It's nice that there's a new job category for the BLS and IRS to consider, but we're not talking about a huge economic impact here.

posted by Dan on 07.12.04 at 09:56 AM


Don't forget though, if you make money 3 out of 5 years, you get a presumption that it's not a hobby (Rebuttable However). That is of course assumming, that you report your blog income...

posted by: Gov on 07.12.04 at 09:56 AM [permalink]

Hah! Let's see them outsource that!

posted by: Ezra on 07.12.04 at 09:56 AM [permalink]

It's been my fantasy to make enough money on my weblog-TOC site ( that I can have an income that will buffer the lean times between selling articles freelance. (I'm a technical writer now, and it's a soul killer.)

At this point, it's still in the realm of fantasy. My counter is up to 28 hits. Woo-hoo!

And Dan, you are a Featured Blog. You can't imagine what an honor it is. :)

Scott Ferguson

posted by: Scott Ferguson on 07.12.04 at 09:56 AM [permalink]

If I were online editors of major newspapers, I'd feel more than a little bit burned by all of this.

posted by: praktike on 07.12.04 at 09:56 AM [permalink]

A few points:

First; There seems to be something the papers have been in active denial of; an econimic boom, else this stuff wouldn't be possible. Personally, I blame the Bush Tax cuts, myself. They're killing newspapers.

Secondly: I've been pulling ~70HPD for the last 6 months. One of these days, I'll start trying to make money off this bit.

Third; At an average of ten times my HPD rate, I can't imagine Dan's not getting some income here. It'd be interesting to see at what level of HPD a site becomes profitable.

Forth: What happens to such profitability when the boom goes bust, as it will, eventually. Does the blog, as well?

And the first responder brings up a fifth question: At what point does it cease being a hobby?

posted by: Bithead on 07.12.04 at 09:56 AM [permalink]

A little more tax advice for you: Report your income from blogging. It is, after all, required by law.

The upside is that your blog is now a sole proprietorship. Expenses incurred running the site (hosting, software, design, broadband charges) come off your income. Further, you're likely entitled to claim a home office, since you are your own employer. That means the portion of your home devoted to the office is a tax write-off (a proportion of the rent/mortgage, taxes, utilities, etc.) as are office furniture, laptop, etc.

posted by: James Joyner on 07.12.04 at 09:56 AM [permalink]

I don't belong to the group of "peak bloggers," so I can't have the same price tag on my blogads as for example, Escaton or InstaPundit, but I have managed to find my niche and reach out to certain individuals who are interested in supporting my blogging by placing ads.

I have discussed this issue in my posts, BLOG @DVERTISEMENT and TIME FOR A COMMERCIAL BREAK...EVEN....

All the Best,

Martin Lindeskog
Gothenburg, Sweden.

posted by: Martin Lindeskog on 07.12.04 at 09:56 AM [permalink]

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