What: Wall Street Journal is hosting an e-debate between Alan Meckler, chief executive of Jupiter Media, and Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc. (now part of AOL, a dvision of Time Warner) The debate is about can bloggers make money and a living off their blogging efforts. […]

What: Wall Street Journal is hosting an e-debate between Alan Meckler, chief executive of Jupiter Media, and Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc. (now part of AOL, a dvision of Time Warner) The debate is about can bloggers make money and a living off their blogging efforts. Jason says yes, Alan says no.

What it really is: A cheap way to generate page views for WSJ. Alan says no, because blogs are putting the hurt on his business, and he did not get a piece of the action first. Jason says yes, because he has many million reasons to say so.

What it really is #2: A debate as important as arguing why April comes before May.

Question to ask: Can blogging networks pay between 50 cents to $2 a word to their contributors and make money?

Bottomline#1: Bill Tai, general partner at Charles River Ventures in a chat pointed out that that “publishing is a few moguls make a lot of money off the people who love to write.” I think in some ways, that is not going to change, with or without blogs. What is not going to change is that people (like yours truly write) because they love to write and have something to say.

Bottomline#2: From a business perspective, I think Cynthia Brumfield has the best response... “blogs are much more akin to old-fashioned, high-priced dead-tree newsletters. Newsletter publishers (how quaintly archaic that terms seems) used to target niche markets, put out a steady stream of insiderish content ignored by the consumer and trade press and charge through the nose for it. Now, however, blogs are starting to fill that niche.”

  1. If you’re a writer you don’t do it to make money… I never have. However, if you work hard and create a brand you can make money. GigaOm, boingboing.net, and PaidContent.org are the perfect examples… they’ve become real brands and they could sell for real money at some point.

    The same is true for directors… you can spend your money and make an indie film and hope it becomes something huge, or you can sell your idea to a studio and have them mess with it. If you go with a studio you give up control but it’s not your money. If you do the indiefilm it’s your money and you are in control. Different models for different people at different points in their lives. Some writers/directors want to get a check every two weeks and sleep at night, some artists want to risk it all and wake up in a cold sweat at night wondering about the bills and deadlines.

    The blogosphere is just another set of options for writers… now they can work for “the man” (WSJ, NYT, B2.0), themselves (with the support of Adsense, AdBrite, Battelle’s thing), or a boutique studio (i.e. Gawker, WIN).

    More options for the artists is always a good thing.

  2. I’d argue that a properly done blog should be like a really good, ultra niche magazine: high quality content, news, reviews, tips, photos, conference reports, etc. And that such a blog can easily pay the author a living. I know hundreds of bloggers doing just that, outside of networks, and with far less pages than Jason’s talking about.

    Hell, I know bloggers making 500K on blogging full-time. And we have a number of bloggers approaching 2K/month blogging just 4 hours a day.

    We’re not yet, as an industry (blog networks) hitting 1$/word. But we will. The industry, such as it is, is less than 2 years old. Hitting 10c/word as an average after 2 years (which we’re doing) is pretty damned good. Not good enough to hire star writers with, but good enough as a first step.

  3. By the way, Om, see you in a few weeks at Mesh! Really looking forward to your session. Willy you be at the speaker’s pre-conference bit on Monday night?

  4. Jeremy

    i am looking forward to seeing you at the MESH as well. it will be ton of fun. hopefully we can swap ideas at that point. i think it is good to get a non-US perspective on this whole thing as well!

  5. Jason,

    sometime you say really pithy smart things on other people’s blogs. for that I am pretty grateful.

    i agree, more options for writers is a good thing, and not a bad thing. i hope we can sift and find real gems. take for instance dave zatz, who is smart and informed. blogging got us guys like zatz. and nothing wrong with that


  6. I’d argue that Alan Meckler has been trying to blog for a couple of years now, and he still doesn’t know how to do it. His posts are little more more than summations from on high, with all the personality of a bic pen.

    I’d argue that Doc Searls said it best recently when he recapped, “you don’t make money with your blog, you make money because of it.”

    Sure, there’s the ad revenue, and that’s nice, but the amazing thinking, creativity, and writing flowing across so many good blogs — and the links and professional networks developing through those things — hold even more promise than sidebar shout-outs.

    I’d blog whether I was making money because of it or not–and I wasn’t making money blogging back when I started.

    Would Alan Meckler be blogging if it wasn’t tied to money? Doubt it.

    That’s the rub, isn’t it.

  7. Jeneane: Spot on. My blog landed me a book deal, helped found 3 companies and has landed me half a dozen jobs (and many I turned down). The “soft” benefits are far more lucrative than just the dollar figures.

    Om: It’ll be the first conference of its kind in my old city. I am so pumped it’s unbelievable. I’m actually in town almost all month with other related events. Idea swapping is where it’s at, and there are few places that are more fun for idea swapping than the old T-Dot.

  8. ps: the biggest soft benefit to me is the networking. That’s far more valuable than any jobs or books or ad revenues. The sheer amount of fun I have every day is what makes blogging a “land of opportunity”.

  9. For what it’s worth, Calacanis pays most writers $4 a post.

  10. Ok, anybody reading my FREE blog has DOUBLED his money TWICE in the last 18 months…first on OmniVision from $12 to $25 and now with Level3 from $3.30 to $5.22…I want to get IN on this being paid to run my mouth!


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