Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Wednesday, 24 September 2008 16:18 UK

Making money from blogging

By Ewan Spence, Las Vegas

Woman blogging
People from all walks of life are blogging

The advertising slogan says that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But at Blogworld Expo it was more likely to appear online, either written up on a website, as a photo on image sharing sites such as Flickr, or as a video clip uploaded to YouTube.

Blogging has continued to grow in the last few years, and organiser of the Expo, Rick Calvert, was delighted at the diversity of those attending.

"Look at the topics that people here are covering - sports, politics, religion, technology, finance and military bloggers to name just a few. We have had attendees flying in from around the world, but the one thing that links them all is their passion for this new media."

It is the connections between these groups, and the spirit of sharing that was on show both at the conference and online every day, that drives the rich and diverse modern internet.

Both the individual blogger and the larger media companies are looking for ways to make the business of blogging profitable.

One of the rules of thumb that came up on the panel discussions at BlogWorld was that there is still the same amount of advertising money out there, but rather than be restricted to a few media conglomerates, it is being shared out a lot more.

Sharing culture

Larger companies are seeing advertising revenue drop, while bloggers are seeing their incomes rise.

What seems to be working well at the moment for the full-time bloggers at the Expo is affiliate marketing.

Rather than being paid to display an advert on their site, affiliate marketing only pays the blogger when their reader acts on the displayed advert.

This could be as simple a goal as clicking on the advert, through to receiving a percentage of any item the reader buys via an advert.

Amazon offers a large affiliate program, where people can receive up to 15% of the sale price of an item as commission by referring their readers to the site.

Some bloggers are keen to make money from their efforts

How well these techniques would translate to the larger sites of traditional media companies remains to be seen, but there are a number of profitable new media companies, such as b5media, that not only show that it can be done, but are actively sharing how they have achieved their success and are more than happy to help others to do the same.

This culture of sharing that runs through the blogging scene is one reason that this new medium is such a breath of fresh air to many.

Social experience

The idea of small connections building up to create something of value was illustrated by Laura Fitton, of Pistachio Consulting.

Explaining her first moments on Twitter (a micro-blogging service where people can post messages that are a maximum of 140 characters in length), she saw the initial view that presented the messages of everyone on the site - a rather overwhelming moment that caused her, and others, to come away with a poor first impression.

But once she started to tell Twitter who her friends were, and those people she wanted to follow that were in her field of expertise, then Twitter became a much more social experience with conversations between old and new friends, and it became much more useful to her.

In a short space of time, she started a new business helping companies make the best use of services like Twitter to build up their own online connections.

Making these connections is one of the hidden secrets of the internet.

Relevant media

With more sites out there providing rich media on pretty much any topic, building this web of connections can take time.

Europe-based start-up Zemanta had one of the more impressive software demonstrations at the expo.

Amazon screenshot
The blog by advertisers for bloggers who advertise

Their code, which can be plugged into the popular blogging system WordPress, will automatically seek out relevant media to any post that you are writing on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and many others.

These links are then posted on your site alongside each story, making your posts part of the ongoing and continuing conversations.

Blogging is still a nascent industry but on the strength of the BlogWorld Expo, the pioneers have put down not only a strong groundwork for those that are following them, but have also put in place a rich ecosystem that rewards openness and sharing.

There may be a wide choice of tools, all being used by disparate groups with distinct aims, but the result is the same.

Blogs help people around the world to communicate their interests and passion with others and allows people to find this information with ease.

The early years of blogging are coming to a close, and while they have been very successful, the feeling from the BlogWorld Expo is that blogging is going to continue to grow and mature into a powerful communications channel for everyone.

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