In September, 1999, Brad L Graham could not imagine billions of blogs (web journals) when the blogosphere comprised just a handful of them. Now, according to blog search engine Technorati, there are over 112 million blogs in the blogosphere, which swells by over 175,000 blogs every day.
Around 1.6 million blog posts on almost every topic that you can imagine (or probably cannot imagine) are added every day to what Technorati calls the World Live Web.
With the immense potential of sharing views and creating public opinion, blogs are not only being tapped for publicity and brand promotion, their successful monetisation by displaying advertisements has allowed bloggers to turn full-timers from being hobby-bloggers. Though a significant number of bloggers abhor making money from blogs, it's becoming widely popular.
Amit Agarwal, who turned a full-time technology blogger in 2004 after quitting a well-paid job with a Fortune 500 company, started from a free-hosted blog on Blogspot.
Equipped with an engineering degree in computer science from IIT, and five years of work experience, Agarwal wanted to turn a freelancer. A technology blog, he thought, would be a nice place to get some assignments.
"I never thought blogging would be a source of income, my idea was to get freelance software projects after clients discover me via the blog," says Agarwal.
Digital Inspirations, his blog on computers and personal technology, didn't really perform the way Agarwal wanted. It outperformed, but in a very unexpected way. It opened up an entire new arena of blogging for Agarwal that gradually started paying him far more than what he used to get as pay cheques.
Though Agarwal isn't comfortable sharing the exact figures, he says his annual income from his blog is in six-figures in dollars. According to a post on his blog, he hints that he used to earn over $1,000 a day from Google Adsense, an adserving programme, about two years ago when his blog got some 1.25 million page views per month. Today his blog gets over 2 million page hits every month.
But the money doesn't come off your blog without the effort. Like any demanding profession, Agarwal puts in 10-14 hours on weekdays, blogging from his SOHO office in Agra.
Unlike Agarwal, PC, a Delhi-based blogger who keeps his identity a secret for his readers, puts in just few hours a day for his blog that attracts in excess of 350,000 page views.
PC shares computers tips and writes about blogging and ways to generate money from blogs. He too started from a free Blogger account which was then shifted to his own web address (Quickonlinetips.com) after a year of overwhelming response from readers.
Although a large number of successful Indian bloggers are techies or computer enthusiasts, there is hardly any need for in-depth technological knowhow for being a successful blogger. A computer with Internet connection and some basic computing skills are enough.
It takes just few minutes to set up a blog on a free blog-hosting site like Blogger and Wordpress. Alternatively, one can look more professional by purchasing a domain name (web address) and hosting space for Rs 2,000-3,000, or get a blog set up on a turn-key basis for as less as Rs 10,000-15,000. But getting the kind of recognition and readership to live off the blog requires consistent hard work and patience.
"To build a successful blog, one has to be very consistent and try to share something original everyday. That's the toughest part," says Amit Agarwal. This consistency in generating quality content for blogs can happen only if you are passionate about what you blog, says PC.
Ashish Sinha's passion for startups, VCs and products reflects in his blog. This IIT, IIM passout, whose full-time job involves product management, puts in a minimum of four hours daily for his blog Pluggd.in, creating content and staying updated with the latest in his area of interest. Even though the income that he generates by blogging might just be pittance compared with his pay-cheque, Sinha works persistently for his blog.
"The idea is to carve out a niche and build an authority. The money will follow in time," he says.
"The major benefit has been the recognition," Sinha says, adding that the blog has made him lot richer in terms of knowledge.
Sakshi Juneja, a bollywood blogger, says, "For me, blogging is primarily about writing things you are passionate about. A hobby taken very seriously. Getting paid for it is incidental." She not only gets