photo-1432821596592-e2c18b78144f

How has the changing media landscape allowed bloggers to create revenue through their own website?

Blogging is very much an integral part of the 21st Century. Teenagers today will talk about their favourite blogger in the way that you would expect them to talk about their favourite celebrity. Sometimes it is actually difficult to tell the difference, as bloggers paradoxically find themselves being recognised on the front cover of magazines for their hard work – making the line between a blogger and a celebrity somewhat blurred.

The most dominant example being video blogger – or vlogger – Zoe Sugg, known as Zoella, who used to her internet stardom to create various different revenue streams and turn herself in to somewhat of a ‘brand’ in the ever growing internet culture.

Zoe started her blog in 2009 and built her empire from there.

Zoe started her blog in 2009 and built her empire from there.

Zoella's YouTube account has over 9 million subscribers

Zoella’s YouTube account has over 9 million subscribers

Zoella is the perfect example of how the changing media landscape can be used to generate an income, through the medium of sponsored posts and advertising, and even going so far as to charge for Instagram uploads. With Zoella being at the grand scale of money-making through blogging, it is not known exactly how much she is worth, however recently having moved into a one-million pound house in Brighton and said to be making over £20,000 a month on advertising alone – it is clear that blogging can bring in a lot of money.

Zoe Sugg on the front cover of Company magazine in 2014.

Zoe Sugg on the front cover of Company magazine in 2014.

Slightly further down the scale, is well-known lifestyle blogger, and former digital journalist Hannah Gale. Hannah’s blog used to be a hobby used in order to showcase her writing and the occasional freelance piece before her lists went viral and provided her with enough revenue to quit her job at Look magazine and the Metro in order to blog full-time. Admittedly, Hannah is not necessarily making such large quantities as Zoella, she claims that her blogging provides her with enough to maintain a comfortable life.

Hannah's blog has just under 3000 email subscribers

Hannah’s blog has just under 3000 email subscribers

It is easier now, than ever before to maintain your own website – with sites such as Blogspot, Medium and WordPress offering free domains as a basic package to those who want their own internet space. Users can also buy internet domains at small prices in order to maintain their own internet space. With sites such as ‘Go Daddy’ offering domain names for as little as £1.99 for the first year, it is easier than ever to create your own site, with different packages available to accommodate the scale of your blog.

Go Daddy even offers WordPress-specific internet domains.

Go Daddy even offers WordPress-specific internet domains.

The blogosphere – a term used to describe a collective network of blogs – wasn’t created overnight, and has amalgamated through a process of technological advancement and social movement.

Although the term – blog – wasn’t actually coined until the late 90s, the practise was still going on long before this. Digital communities existed in form of discussion boards since the evolution of the internet, however this wasn’t particularly accessible until the early 90s when Tim Berners-Lee created HTML in the form of the World Wide Web, commonly referred to as web 2.0, the idea being to use the internet to share ideas amongst groups of people in forms of discussion boards such as the already existing Usenet.

The modern blog could be associated as a development of the online diary, for example that of Justin Hall who kept an online journal for a sum of 11 years beginning in 1994 whilst he studied at Swarthmore College. Despite it coming under a slightly different heading, Hall is often recognised as one of the earliest bloggers, earning him world-wide recognition and a job at web magazine HotWired.

In 1997, history was made when Steve Gibson was hired by Ritual Entertainment to blog full-time, potentially making him the first hired-blogger.

The term ‘blog’ is thought to have originated from the simple act of updating a website which was called making a web-log. According to Wikipedia, this term was coined in 1997 by Jorn Barger, which was then jokingly turned into we-blog, by Peter Merholz in 1999.

The term ‘blog’ was thereafter used as both a noun – to have a blog- and a verb – being the action to blog.

‘Blog’ is defined in the Oxford Dictionary of Journalism as:

An abbreviation for web log, an online journal that typically displays the most recent items, or blog ‘posts’, first and which also allows readers to post comments beneath items. Blogs can include texts, pictures, video and audio. A blog is most often the work of one individual but there are some group or collectively produced blogs.

Blog hosting sites play a huge part in providing the domains for which we seek our news and entertainment from today. Such sites, directly affiliating themselves with the practise of ‘blogging’ is that of Blogspot, which has been around from as early as 1999. Created in Prya Labs, and later bought by Google, Blogspot was one of the earliest dedicated blog-publishing tools.

Later came the introduction of WordPress in 2003, which currently stands at the most popular blogging site in the web, with over 60,000 websites.

In a world where blogging has come to play such a dominant role in our media, it makes sense that companies are turning to independent blogs and websites for advertising purposes. With technologies such as Google AdSense, it is now more common than ever for bloggers to charge monthly, weekly or even daily rates for advertising space on their domain.

Search engine optimisation – SEO – allows bloggers to optimise search engines in order to gain as many views as possible, boosting any revenue generated through advertisements.

The web is bursting with blogs actually teaching people how to monetize their sites through SEO and advertising which is a paradox in itself in that people blog about how to blog!

The idea of blogging has long been thought of as a hobby rather than a job or a career, and for many bloggers – their intention was just to create a site for fun, until they built up a regular following and found themselves being contacted by brands.

Amy Liddell, a blogger and law student at Durham University, set up her blog after she received some comments on social media platform Instagram, complementing her style. Amy decided to showcase her love of fashion and beauty though her blog ‘Salt and Chic’ set up through Blogger.

amy

Amy said: “I literally just set my blog up on a whim and started writing. I never dreamed that I would end up working with as many brands as I have now.

I didn’t even realise that you could work with brands or use blogging as a business at all when I set it up.

I would love to think I could do blogging full time but I do think that you need a huge following in order to bring in a real income that you could solely live off. I know a lot of people who are full time bloggers who don’t have a really huge following but I’m not sure I would take the risk without one.”

The ever growing success of lifestyle blogs such as Amy Liddell’s could be attributed to the expanding social media culture. Blogger’s can advertise their sites on every platform, from Instagram, to Twitter, to Facebook to Snapchat.

The role of social media in allowing bloggers to generate revenue is a hot topic in the current media, thanks to the revolution led by so-called ‘Insta-famous’ Essena O’Neill who recently ‘quit’ social media, and cut all her ties with brands who collaborated with her. Essena claimed that social media is not real, and took to her Instagram account to change all the captions to her pictures to ‘honest captions’ explaining to her followers how she was paid to hold certain items in a certain way as a form of advertisement.

Sebastian Müller talks about the growth in generating revenue through individual blogs in his online journal; Monetizing Blogs, written in 2011.

According to Müller, there are several streams of revenue for individual blogs, under the headings of: advertising, paid content and affiliate marketing, donations, paid subscription, and consulting.

Advertising is probably the easiest revenue stream. Gone are the days in which companies head straight to the newspapers to buy advertising space. Companies are using more and more contemporary ways to get their products out there, many of which relying on individual blogs that bring in a relevant audience. This stream however relies on traffic – as there must be people there to see the advertisement. The more traffic the blog receives, the more the ad is worth.

The payment for this model can come in many formats, for example ‘pay-per-click’ in which the company pays for the initial ad and then pays the website owner for each individual who clicks on the advertisement link to their own site.

A slightly less known form of advertising is known as ‘search advertisement’. This is where the advertisement is found on the result of searching for the particular site and therefore are tailored to the keywords and content of the blog, explained by Müller.

Paid content and other forms of marketing are being seen more and more individual blogs according to Guo, 2008. In this model, bloggers get paid to talk about a certain subject of product, and is otherwise known as a sponsored post. Commonly seen on lifestyle, fashion and beauty blogs, companies will send products to bloggers for review in order to generate word of mouth. This model is heavily reliant on the influence carried by the writer – evidence of which can be seen in the example given above of Zoe Sugg.

This is a revenue model preferred by Amy Liddell. ” Although I do accept paid advertising, I prefer to do sponsored posts. When I do, do a sponsored post it will always be my own written content and I would never accept sponsored posts from something that didn’t fit in with the general theme of my blog.”

Although not so common in the blogosphere, paid subscription is another effective way to generate revenue through individual blogs. This is of course where readers must pay a subscription fee in order to access content, however this is most effective in blogs that offer valuable information, rather than entertainment blogs that have been mentioned previously.

Consulting is one of the more recent examples of revenue streams according to Technorati, 2009 and includes a number of different supportive activities. One example may be, a successful fashion blogger being paid to speak at London Fashion Week, or a successful blogger being paid to help set up other blogs.

Thanks to the invention of web 2.0, the internet is anyone’s game – and people can set up their own online space for very little expense. Gone are the days in which the media is a one way one-way traffic. Anyone can host their blog, and respond to other blogs and share each others multimedia. Increasingly, companies are noticing the shift and using this to get their products to the to relevant markets.

The blogosphere is set to keep on expanding and some predict that in the near future it will be difficult to detect between the glossy magazines and some fashion blogs, as well as the line blurring between professional journalism and that of a writer and his blog. Either way, it seems as though the gap is set to continue widening for those making a wage from their website.

Sources used:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34747560?ocid=socialflow_twitter&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbcnews&ns_source=twitter

http://aisel.aisnet.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1255&context=ecis2011

Oxford Dictionary For Journalists – Tony Harcup

https://uk.godaddy.com/

https://www.zoella.co.uk/

http://hannahgale.co.uk/

http://www.saltandchic.com/

http://startbloggingonline.com/

http://youtube.com/

http://www.google.com/adsense/start/#?modal_active=none

http://globalneighbourhoods.net/2011/03/sm-pioneer-justin-hall-the-1st-blogger.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/berners_lee_tim.shtml

http://cybher.com/12/2013/03/non-disclosure-in-blogging/

Untitledaesdtert

Critical Reflection on Myself as a Digital Journalist.

Untitledaesdtert

Getting the interview.

In terms of contacting interviewees, I learned the basic skills of where to look in order to contact particular companies or individuals. I used several different emails, including the company itself and personal emails, and even resorted to social media in order to gain contact with the person I wished to interview. This proved to be effective and is a skill that I will take forward with me throughout my time as a digital journalist.

I learned that the majority of the time, people are happy to give their views on issues that mattered to them, as long as you are prepared to give them a fair and frank platform in which to express their take on the subject.

Video.

In terms of video skills, this is something I am somewhat lacking in experience however it taught me the importance of being able to multitask, ie holding a camera with a firm hand at the same time as holding a meaningful conversation.

I used my iPhone 5c to film the interview, which I believe produced a reasonable quality of video. This practise seemed to prove effective as my interviewee was very nervous about the prospect of speaking on camera, and the whole experience seemed a little less daunting, and less formal when practised with an everyday phone rather than a huge camera in his face.

Unfortunately, on reflection my shot appears to be more in the medium shot range, rather than medium close up range – and therefore this is something that I have taken the time to revisit and revise in order to not fall foul of the same mistake again, allowing me to have a better idea of what shots are required of me in future assignments and my future experiences as a digital journalist.

Although I used the basic software of Youtube Editor in order to edit my interview together, I believe this practise was effective as it provided the basics of video editing in which I can build my skill set on and this allowed me to edit clips together in an easy and simple but professional format.

Unfortunately, under the pressure of getting the assignment together I made the basic mistake of forgetting a simple requirement – to caption my 30 second clip. This mistake has taught me I must write a checklist in line with the MIP in order to ensure that I don’t lose easy marks under time pressures.

Social Media.

I had some issues in the social media department. Although I still believe that the use of hashtags on twitter is still one of the most effective ways of gathering responses and information on social media, I do not have the biggest following on twitter and only a small proportion of them are in Preston and therefore have any idea of my subject matter. This resulted in my only responses tending to be from peers within the journalism course.

For future reference, I will definitely try and take my posts to areas of social media in which people will know what I am talking about, even if they don’t necessarily have me as a friend or follow me. For example, when asking views on the referendum on YBD, I could have gone onto the student union and fresher’s Facebook pages and asked people’s views on there. In hindsight this would have been much more effective practise and in turn would likely have boosted my marks in terms of social media elements.

Images.

The images I used were in fact relevant to the story in question, however in future I would only use images of buildings as secondary references rather than as main focal points.

If I were to do the assignment again, I would likely have used ‘action shot’ style images of YBD staff and customers in action for example an image of a YBD member of staff serving a drink to a customer or images of queues lining up outside of YBD’s venue Macs to show the popularity of the place and the issue.

Write up.

I feel that my news stance was strong and would definitely use this style to articulate an issue or event again, however I have taken on board feedback and on reflection I realise that I was too concerned with everybody knowing the background, before launching in with what is really interesting. If I were to cover the same story again, then I would launch in with an interesting quote to draw people in and then go back and cover the context of the issue, rather than feeling the need to cover everything in a chronological fashion.

In story two, I worked hard to ensure that the quotes from the people I spoke to, led the piece rather than me leading the piece with context. Hopefully this was a more interesting approach to take.

Data.

For data, I used Survey Monkey to conduct a basic survey about nightlife in Preston. This proved effective as I gained a high number of respondents through sharing the post on various UCLan Facebook pages in order to draw in the appropriate audience. I then used the site to analyse the results which I decided conveyed through the storytelling, rather than a graph alone as this will explain what the results mean in line with the story subject and the graph will be there simply to compliment the story in a visual fashion.

Audio.

I asked students on and around campus if they could tell me their favourite club in Preston and the reason for this, and compiled the answers together in the form of a voxpop. I feel this was effective as it was a quick and easy way to display the views of students, however I was slightly hindered by the time scale as I tended to have to use the shortest answers rather than the best and most effective.

I used Soundcloud to embed the audio into my piece which works effectively and is a good visual to add to the piece also. I would definitely use Soundcloud again.

Mapping.

I felt that mapping would have more relevance to my story than a timeline so decided to map the main student living areas in proximity to the main clubs and bars. I feel that this was effective as I used google maps which allowed me to pin point specific areas and use my own images to represent different points.

In hindsight I would’ve liked to link the map more directly to the story and my survey results in order to talk about whether proximity had any bearing on the results. After witnessing colleagues work, I would also consider using the software Storymap next time as this seems to be slightly more visually effective.

Summary.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed the freedom of going out and find our own stories to interpret in our own way, and I will most definitely take forward the software that I have learned to use in the process.

blogging

Multimedia Skills and the Modern Journalist

The work of a journalist is ever evolving, more so now than ever, due to advances in technology, the surge of the internet and the invention and ever growing use of social media. Once upon a time, the work of a journalist was to go out with a story from their editor, interview the right people, get the right facts and to then produce an article on it for the newspaper or publication that they’re working for.

Today, depending on the type of journalism, there is an expectation of multimedia skills, regardless of whether it’s broadcast, online or print. Reporters are expected to be able to voxpop, take photographs of a high standard to accompany their articles, capture video, create voice pieces or news packages for television and radio, work switch boards etc etc.

The emergence of the internet has introduced a different world of journalism. Online news is of course written differently to that of a newspaper and is the main platform for multimedia journalism. The BBC or The Guardian are probably the best example for this. Online journalism still contains the written word that it originally came from, however there is the scope to also include images, videos, hyperlinks to other sites and articles, as well as embedding social media. Often tweets by political figures or celebrities are embedded in an online article nowadays as this is far more interesting than the use of a direct quote.

These skills are crucial to the modern journalist, as it is so common on the internet. Whether they regard themselves as journalists or not, there are millions of people producing this kind of content daily, and therefore the industry needs to keep up. An example of this is my favourite blogger, Hannah Gale. Hannah genuinely is a journalist – she studied at Kings College London, and then went on to work for Metro and Look Magazine. Hannah now however is a full time blogger, and makes a decent living from this. She is self-employed and uses the same skill set that is required of the modern day journalist to run her own lifestyle blog.

blogging

f2ee4fff-6b11-417e-9c94-e7a960f6b24f-620x372

TransAsia Plane’s Engine Problems Detected After 37 Seconds

A TransAsia plane crashed into a river in Taiwan, killing at least 31 people on Wednesday.
The plane, carrying 58 passengers, set off from Taipei Airport and shortly afterwards plunged into the Keelung river.
Thomas Wang from Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council said the problem with plane’s left engine was detected after 37 seconds of the flight.

There have been 15 survivors pulled from the wreckage so far, however 12 are still reported missing.
The accident was recorded by two dashboard cameras, who happened to be driving on the highway at the time of the incident.
Emergency teams cut into the plane whilst it was still in the water in an attempt to rescue people, however television footage has emerged of survivors making their way out of wreckage, and even a toddler being pulled out alive.
A 72 year old survivor has spoken out, saying that the engines sounded wrong as the plane took off: “There was some sound next to me. It did not feel right shortly after take-off. The engine did not feel right.”

f2ee4fff-6b11-417e-9c94-e7a960f6b24f-620x372