“I should write about it on my blog”. In an age where the internet has and is still growing leaps and bounds, it’s no surprise people are taking to blogging as a new way of voicing their opinions, talking about and sharing news. Whether its opinions on the developing news or the latest gadget or book review, the topics vary a great deal but unlike the West, where even the general public turn to blogs, India still has some catching up to do.
Being a blogger in places like the US and UK is seen as a full time job for many who take to writing for a living but here in India, most do it either as a pass time or a part time job. A survey from 2012 by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that more Americans earned their primary incomes from posting their opinions than Americans working as computer programmers or firefighters. Of the 20 million bloggers in the US, 1.7 million profited from their work, 452,000 of them as their primary income. What’s more, three out of every four bloggers are college graduates.
Censuses are yet to consider blogging a full time job. Though websites like blogadda.com and indiblogger.in, that promote the blogging culture, list thousands of Indian bloggers, actual stats on the numbers using it as primary income don’t figure. This hasn’t however stopped new comers from earn anything from between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month. Well seasoned bloggers earn anything from two to ten lakh a month.
One of India’s pioneers in blogging New Delhi based AmitAgarwal remembers a time when blogging was only just beginning back in 2004 when he decided to create a portfolio online. With an engineering degree in computer science from IIT Agarwal worked with companies like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.
“Initially I had created the blog only as a portfolio for prospective work in terms of outsourcing work. People then started taking interest in what I was writing and that’s what started the entire career in blogging,” he says adding that it took between six months and a year to properly establish himself.
His blog Digital Inspirations (labnol.com) where he still writes, deals with how-to- guides on computer software, gadgets and apps. He has since his blog also written columns for The Wall Street Journal, Outlook Magazine, CNN IBN, CNBC TV and The Hindustan Times. His monthly income as of today is around 10 lakh, making him the highest earning blogger in the country. He has even published ebooks including The Most Useful Websites.
The most obvious ways of making money comes from advertising. Offering space on a blog well known and popular among people is the most popular means of earning cash. Based on the number of times a user clicks and views an ad, the blogger earns a base amount. He says that while advertising and tie up’s with companies are the best way to earn the money, another rather unethical way is by being paid to write positively about a company in exchange for money.
A trend he has begun to notice is of the old timers slowly fading out of the blogging sphere and taking to micro blogging sites like Twitter as an alternative. “The reasons for this trend may be many but blogging does require a lot of effort and ultimately you have to be compensated for it. Maybe people find Twitter easier to manage. But yes, the newer generation is taking an interest in it,” says Agarwal.
Goa based Anuradha Goyal is an avid traveller, blogging for ten years writing mostly about her travels and book reviews. Apart from her blogging, she is also an innovation consultant and has even authored the book, TheMouse Charmers, which looks at India’s digital entrepreneurs including names like flipkart.com, caratlane.com, makemytrip.com and shaadi.com.
For Goyal, here most recent means of income has come from a tie up with Goa Tourism to help promote Goa as a tourist destination.
With the coming of the internet, many new avenues have opened up, she says but maintaining a blog is much like running a magazine or a publication.
“It's like running a paper on your own. You do the researching, editing, writing as well as promoting your website all on your own. This way I don’t have to run behind editors for story approvals. With blogging, I have full control of what I write,” she says.
A relatively easy affair, wordpress.com and blogger.com are some of the easiest avenues to start a blog. From there, bloggers usually switch to a .com or .net extension that costs anywhere from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 3,000 a year.
A classic example is of Anusha Yadav’s Indian Memory Project. In 2010, Yadav a professional photographer by profession decided to collect stories of the past by collecting photographs from before 1990. Facebook was her first choice. Hundreds contributed their old photographs and stories on the social networking platform which then forced her to take it to a blog.
Thus was born the indianmemoryproject.blogspot.in site. In a couple of year’s time, she had the indianmemoryproject.com site with donations from benefactors and well wishers. Today, she curates each story that she receives and publishes it to the website, though she insists she doesn’t earn a living from it.
“I don't earn a living from the Indian Memory Project archive. I earn it as a photographer, design consultant and work that I do now as a curator, because of the archive. I have never thought as my work as a blog even initially. It just used the technical functionalities of one - it organises content well,” she says.
Roshan Radhakrishnan is a doctor by profession, but at the end of a long tiring day of nagging patients and medical complications, writing is what he enjoys most. His blog godyears.com earned him the Best Creative Blog award from Blogadda last year. For him, blogging is more of a hobby than a reason to make a living out of.
“I have written amateur screenplays involving my classmates and batchmates right through school and even college days while sitting in a dissection hall. I’ve had regular penpals and written long letters whenever I wanted to express myself during school and college days. In some ways, I think blogging was a natural extension of that – a need to write to express myself better. So when a classmate settled in USA told me of this new ‘thing’ called blogging and suggested I give it a shot, I decided why not? I honestly did not think I would last more than six months,” says Radhakrishnan. But nine years on, the doctor still writes everything from movies and books to life lessons, school memories and being a doctor in India.
While topics for blog posts can range from anything to anything, it’s the target audience and their interest in it long term that matters most.
“Anyone who can write, can blog. But it’s getting the target audience hooked on to it that matters most,” says Agarwal. He suggests sharing the link among friends and family as well as on social networking sites to be helpful.
Goyal on the other hand insists that while India is trying to catch up with its counterparts in the West, the move is rather slow. “Right now it can’t really be seen as a full fledged career option but we’re getting there. The West has more online activity. Though the technologies available here and there are the same it’s the popularity that differs. There, if a person writes a blog there'll be a hundred people reading it, but here if I write a blog maybe only 10 people will read it.”