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Bloggers Don't Outnumber Lawyers, Yet

Though blogging came on the scene just a decade ago, a recent survey claims that 452,000 people say blogging serves as their primary source of revenue, according to a recent Wall Street Journal story, posted in its entirety at Media Channel. By comparison, that same survey shows that lawyers account for 555,770 jobs within the United States.

So what makes blogging so popular? For starters, the barriers to entry are low. In contrast to lawyers, who must toil three long years for a degree, anyone can start blogging with an Internet account and access to a blogging service. Of course, not all of these bloggers are actually making money at it -- and those who do earn the larger amounts often aren't freelancing. According to the article, professional bloggers who work for companies are typically paid between $45,000 and $90,000 a year. Bloggers who freelance may get $75 to $200 per post or can serve as "spokesbloggers" who are paid by advertisers to blog about a product (thought the FTC may soon be cracking down on that spokesblogging practices). Some bloggers earn ad revenue from their sites, though it takes about 100,000 unique visitors a month to generate an income of $75,000 a year.

Though the story is intriguing, I have some questions about how the survey categorizes "paid" bloggers. For example, let's say that a mom stays home but runs a hobby blog and earns a few bucks a month through affiliate deals. Would she be classified as a blogger whose sole source of revenue comes from blogging? Likewise, is a college student who gets paid $25 for a few blog posts also considered a "paid" blogger? In short, the category of what constitutes paid blogging seems awfully broad. At the same time, the figure for lawyers -- 550,770 seems quite low. The figures I've seen show that there are over 1 million lawyers in the United States and even accounting for those who are retired, in academia or judgeships, 550,770 seems on the low side for the number of currently practicing attorneys.

The Wall Street Journal piece concludes with this commentary:

It is hard to think of another job category that has grown so quickly and become such a force in society without having any tests, degrees, or regulation of virtually any kind. Courses on blogging are now cropping up, and we can’t be far away from the Columbia School of Bloggerism. There is a lot of interest now in Twittering and Facebooking -- but those venues don’t offer the career opportunities of blogging. Not since eBay opened its doors have so many been able to sit at their computer screens and make some money, or even make a whole living.

Will the number of bloggers and blogs continue to grow in coming years? I don't think so. Instead, I see a move toward consolidation of quality blogs, with smaller, less-original blogs (the "me too" blogs or reference-type blogs that merely echo content from other bloggers) falling out of favor or displaced by Twitter. Though there will always be a place for small niche blogs with unique audiences, I think that opportunities to blog for profit will decline.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 21, 2009 at 04:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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