Bloggers are a rare breed. To be so intensely passionate about something that you have to write about it (whether you’re getting paid for it or not) is not commonplace. This passion was on display at Social Media Club Sydney last night, with a real sense of excitement and buzz in the air from a packed audience waiting to hear how they can monetize their babies (otherwise known as their blogs).
On the panel were the following esteemed bloggers and personalities:
In a free-flowing discussion, the panel took questions from the audience, covering a broad range of issues concerning the monetisation of blogs, with inevitable detours into other timely debates which are impacting bloggers at this time.
Here is a snapshot of some of the topics that were discussed, along with brief summaries of key points that were emphasised on each topic:
The Dreaded Paywall – Patty Huntington mentioned that ‘paywall’ is perceived as a dirty word amongst bloggers, and briefly described her experiences with implementing a paywall on her blog.
Blogging leads to other forms of paid work: There was discussion both from the panel and on twitter (#smcsyd) to view blogging as a way to establish your expertise in a particular field, which can lead to paid work such as speaking, consulting, design work, or even a job offer. Rather than trying to make money directly from your blog, view your blog as a hub for your content marketing strategy.
The dramatic changes in the Australian blogging landscape over the past five years: Including the courting of bloggers by brands, and the maturation of blogging business models.
“Self-publishing is the future of journalism.” A quote from panellist, Daniel Kjellsson, which ignited the debate below.
Journalists vs Bloggers. A ‘war’ that keeps on giving. Just when you think the debate has finished, it kicks off again.
Challenges facing content aggregators such as FELLT.com: People realise the value of their content, and then realise they can publish their own content independently. If they choose this route, they then need to acquire the skills to market their product, which is their writing, in not too dissimilar a fashion to today’s freelance journalists.
Disclosure: If you’re being paid or otherwise compensated by a brand / organisation for reviewing a product, place or the like, the overwhelming consensus is that you should disclose.
#BloggerProblems: free cardigans and champagne don’t pay the bills.
Full time bloggers: How many of them are actually out there? Is full-time blogging the goal? Will we see more full-time bloggers in Australia in the next 12 months?
Media using bloggers as expert sources: Bloggers being quoted in newspapers and magazines as subject matter experts.
Affiliate links: The consensus was that if you use them, you should disclose this. You’ll get found out otherwise, and this makes some people upset with you.
Strategy: Find a popular niche and blog about it: This was universally panned – “You can’t be the niche if you aren’t the niche!” -Karla Courtney.
ProBlogger: One of the most successful and prominent Australian blogs, covering the topic of monetising and optimising your blog. It was noted on twitter that there was a peculiar lack of references to ProBlogger before it got a mention from Matthew Gain. The book which was recommended was, ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income (not an affiliate link!). Darren Rowse is the man behind ProBlogger.
Australian bloggers are operating in fascinating times. On one hand, bloggers are receiving more attention than ever before from brands wanting to leverage their audience and following. On the other hand, they are grappling with the issues facing them as they seek to monetise their blogs without selling their soul, or perhaps even more painfully, losing their credibility and the respect of their audience.
The take-away for me is that real artists ship. Focus on increasing the quality of your writing. Educate yourself and learn new skill sets. This way you can continue to bring new insights to your audience, keep the people entertained, and maybe even make enough dough to keep you in the finest Topshop / Topman gear, Ray Bans and Havianas all summer long (sipping a beer from your sponsor, VB - yet another shout out to @servantofchaos).
A thought to leave you on is from Daniel Kjellsson, “If you try to build a blog on a topic you’re not passionate about, you’re an idiot.
Footnote: The recollections above are subject to my own (questionable) memory. If I have quoted or attributed in error, or otherwise sinned, please let me know and I will stop watching NBA highlights on YouTube to correct said errors. A big thank you to the organisers of Social Media Club Sydney for a most enjoyable evening.