In these days of friending your mom on Facebook and following @Oprah on Twitter, more and more people are turning to blogging as a means of expression, discourse, networking and, according to an article by Mark Penn in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, income. Studies cited in the article say that there are over 20 million bloggers across the nation, with 1.7 million making money from their work and roughly 450,000 blogging as their primary source of income. The total number of people blogging for at least some money is approaching 1% of all American adults, which, says Penn, "could make us the most noisily opinionated nation on earth."
It also makes for a potentially attractive new career option: Blogger For Hire. You can work from home and get paid -- $45,000 to $90,000 a year according to the article -- for your opinions (and none is too extreme in the blogosphere). The barriers to entry are very low, and if you are truly prolific, you can parlay your social media prowess into a consulting gig (aka, where the actual big money is).
The downside? There is no bloggers' union, and most bloggers have no benefits but work long, unhealthy hours parked squarely in front of a computer screen. There's no regulation in the industry either, which makes it easier for anyone and everyone to share their expert opinions, but could lead to some tough-to-answer questions down the line, as posed by Penn:
For now, bloggers say they are overwhelmingly happy in their work, reporting high job satisfaction. But what happens if they, too, lose work; are they covered by unemployment insurance if tastes change and their sites go under? Are they considered journalists under shield laws? Are they subject to libel suits? Are there any limits to the opinions they churn out, or any standards to rein them in? Is there someone to complain to about false blogs or hidden conflicts? At the recent Consumer Electronics Show, Panasonic outfitted bloggers with free Panasonic equipment; did that affect their opinions about the companies they wrote about? There are more questions than answers about America's Newest Profession.
If you truly are an expert in a particular area, or feel that your years of experience are worth sharing with others, by all means lauch your blog and go nuts. We know that blogging is an important facet of personal branding, which we have already acknowledged is important for all job seekers. Blogging can create great career opportunities by connecting you with a broader network. And the whole notion of blogging in general has come a long way in a short period of time, becoming part of the mainstream media and growing, in my opinion, into a much more valuable and productive enterprise. However, it's vital to know that despite growing numbers, blogging, for the most part, is not going to lead directly to income. Yesterday, as Penn's article appeared in the WSJ, Pink Slipped favorite Penelope Trunk -- who knows a bit about blogging as a source of income -- posted her own article (on her blog, of course) outlining the reasons it's unrealistic to assume you'll make money from blogging.
So go ahead and blog, as long as you're doing it for the right reasons and your goals aren't solely financial. Either you become good enough at it to join the ranks of those 450,000 or so Bloggers For Hire, or you gain the many other benefits of blogging without the bankroll. Either way, the internet will know your all-important opinion, and isn't that the most important thing of all?
America's Newest Profession: Bloggers For Hire [Wall Street Journal]
Reality Check: You're Not Going To Make Money From Your Blog [Brazen Careerist]
--Posted by Steven Schiff, Vault News & Commentary
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