Blogging for dollar$

Recently, I was lucky enough to be asked some questions about blogging by the Ottawa Citizen. They sent out a great reporter, Alexandra Zabjek, who really threw herself into the world of blogging and tried to take in all the information she could possibly handle. The article turned out great.

I will just quote the first two pages, which mention me:

For a lifelong techie and a guy who once wanted to write science-fiction books, Dave Peralty couldn’t get a better job: experiment with gadgets, write opinions on said gadgets, post daily thoughts online for the world — or at least other techies — to read.

But when Peralty settled into his dream job as a blogger for several technology websites, he encountered one significant problem. That word, “blogger,” didn’t always register with people outside the industry.

“I usually say that I provide content to a bunch of sites or that I’m a content editor for websites,” says the 23-year-old who moved from Ottawa to London last week. “I try not to use that word ‘blog’ because most people will give you this little sideways head tilt, going like, ‘What?’”

Some people, like Peralty’s grandfather, doubt the seemingly nebulous world of online publications can generate a steady paycheque. Others, says Peralty, dismiss bloggers — who think of themselves as online diarists spreading information and encouraging conversation — as spammers or fly-by-night writers who don’t conduct substantial research, as he does for sites such as bloggingpro.com or blaptops.com.

American Jacob Gower owns most of the sites for which Peralty writes and advertising is the main source of revenue on Gower’s bloggynetwork.com. Peralty, a St. Lawrence College grad, jokes that he can’t buy a Mercedes-Benz any time soon, but his current gig “pays the bills.”

Not so long ago, blogs were mere hobbies for the tech-savvy or for conspiracy theorists who had finally found soapboxes from which they could address the world. Today, there are an estimated 50 million blogs on the Internet, so it’s hardly surprising that some have become profit-making ventures.

The so-called A-list bloggers have achieved both fame and fortune by posting news, gossip, opinions — or cheeky combinations of all three — online. Last October, Jason Calacanis reportedly sold Weblogs Inc.’s 85 blogs to AOL for $25-million U.S.

Earlier this year, Michael Arrington quit his job as president of a startup to run one of the hottest technology blogs on the Internet, techcrunch.com, for $60,000 U.S. in advertising revenue each month, he told Business 2.0 in September.

About two-thirds of Canadian adults surfed the Internet in 2005, according to Statistics Canada, and cyberspace is now a key target for marketing campaigns. With millions of readers, top-rated blogs have easily convinced companies to take out banner ads on their websites. Bloggers typically charge advertisers based on the number of “impressions,” or page views, their blogs receive. The bigger a site’s readership, the more advertising dollars it can command.

But the Internet’s elite blogs are perched on a very sharp peak, with most bloggers posting their thoughts for significantly smaller audiences — and smaller revenues.

Still, not everyone aims to make cold cash from their ventures. Some writers, such as Ottawa’s Dani Donders, have accepted clever product placements on their sites but struggle with the implications of taking ads on personal blogs. In the corporate world, blogging is increasingly used as a marketing strategy to attract new clients for companies such as iotum, an Ottawa-based communications software company.

In Ottawa, and around the world, bloggers realize their financial potential in myriad ways.

If you were born in 1982, the distant future is marked by your 35th birthday. That’s when Dave Peralty thinks he might stop blogging professionally and try teaching computer courses at a community college.

Before his move, Peralty worked from a modest one-bedroom apartment on Riverside Drive where he spent most of his days scanning blog summaries, experimenting with new gadgets, dealing with advertisers and writing blogs. He has never met his boss, Jacob Gower, in person. He estimates that he makes an average of $15 per hour.

Success, however, can’t be measured in dollars alone, Peralty insists. Through his work, he’s become chummy with famous online personalities: “I have Darren Rowse on my MSN list,” he says, referring to a famed Australian blogger. “Sometimes I can’t believe that I’m talking to people like that one-on-one.”

Peralty also writes for the startup Canadian blogging network, dailypixel.ca, run by Ottawa resident James Cogan. Cogan is banking that companies will buy exclusive sponsorship rights on his blogs, and the Canadian video-sharing site he hopes to launch on dailypixel.

A very cool article, and it is so weird to see my name mentioned in an article in a local newspaper. Here’s hoping it is the first of a few times with my name in print.

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