How does a blogging business work?

I received a query from a grad student who, as part of an assignment, is analyzing my Ask Dave Taylor blog as a business. Interesting timing as I just went and talked at The University of Colorado, Boulder’s School of Journalism about the business of blogging (see A Class of Future Journalists and Only One Blogs? and especially the scathing debate in the comments).
I thought that my response might be of interest to others, so I’m publishing it here too…
adt thumbnailHi Dave. I am currently taking Blogging 2.0 at [[major university]] and need to research Business Blogs. I am doing my “analysis of a Blog” on your blog and wanted to ask you two questions and have them answered by tomorrow midday if possible. (My assignment is due tomorrow evening.)
Great. I look forward to reading your assignment when you’re done. Hopefully you’ll have some insight and suggestions on ways I can improve things!
First, It seems like you do quite a bit of advertising for different companies. Is it free or are you compensated?
All advertising involves a financial relationship, whether it’s free products for ads or money changing hands. Most all of my ads are through an advertising network run by Google called AdSense. You can learn more about it at http://www.google.com/adsense if you’d like.
Other ads are typically performance based: I don’t get paid to run the ad, but if someone clicks on it and buys the merchant’s product, I receive a small commission on the sale.
My blog Ask Dave Taylor is a business venture: I have put thousands of hours of my time into creating and maintaining the site and it’s supported by advertising and adjunct revenue sources. It pays my mortgage and lets me feed my kids, so that’s all good.
Secondly, If I were to consider advertising on my blog what would be the best and easiest way to start. (The blog was also created for school but I’d like to continue after the class ends.
The first thing to realize is that it’s really darn hard to earn more than a few dollars/month on a blog. You have to work at it for years, produce good content, and write about something interesting to an audience that is also likely to buy related products or services. In other words, if your blog is “money saving tips” it’s not going to make as much off ad revenue as “best high-end fashion purses”. Make sense?
Having said that, I am a big fan of AdSense, as mentioned earlier. If you have good content and put the ads front and center, hopefully you can make a bit of money and get enthused to push further.
Good luck!

6 comments on “How does a blogging business work?

  1. Short and sweet answers… Dave Taylor, you’re truly an inspirational blogger. I remember reading Askdavetaylor when I just got an internet connection!
    Love your ideas! Another fan of yours – Sid

  2. realistic answers dave, too many people think once they have a great follower base they can start making some money of their blog, I use adsense and without knowing what your croud is looking for you can really mess up on keywords.

  3. Short but very truthful answers. As you’ve said, bloggers need to produce good content so people would visit their blogs. If for example I have a stable job yet I am a frustrated writer, can I use my blog to earn some money? Or do I have to devote a lot of time to keep my blog active?

  4. Great post. Very illuminating answers. Thank you for sharing those wonderful information. I am sure this post would help a lot of bloggers out there. Writing may be a passion for them and that passion can help them earn some money. It may be for their site or other things. Starting a blog is a bit difficult, but that’s just how it is. You first have to write interesting posts to attract readers to your blog.

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