Making Money from Blogging: B5Media and Orble Professional Bloggers Interviewed

Making money from blogging is a very popular topic these days, today I’m interviewing two Internet friends of mine who get paid to write by the Orble and B5Media blog networks to give you an idea about what’s involved in being an employee professional blogger in a Blog network.

Rico from B5media‘s Contract Worker blog is a Filipino who rediscovered his passion for writing through blogging.

As an editor for several blogs, he’d rather you visit to find out more about them.

Cibbuano: A lucky Canadian drifter that managed to float ashore to Australia clutching a piece of driftwood.

Currently studying at the University of Sydney, he works as a freelance writer in the arts and entertainment industry. In 2006, his first screenplay, “Prenez Vos Places” premiered at the Montreal International Film Festival to generally positive reviews.

Working for the Orble network, he has written for 20/20 Filmsight since 2006; it has grown to become one of the most popular blogs in Australia, with over 5 000 readers every day.

Neerav Bhatt: For starters, I want to make it clear to readers that most professional bloggers (including me) have several sources of income besides their blog to diversify their risk and because bloggers tend to enjoy being involved in lots of projects at once.

Do you agree? What other jobs do you have besides being an employee professional blogger?

Cibbuano: I’m a full-time student, so blogging gives me most of my income, especially now that the network is ramping up and we’re trying to put out as many articles as possible.

I live like a student, though, so it’s not a life of easy luxuries… I’m pretty content with my Kraft dinner, except that Kraft dinner is exorbitantly expensive in Australia. What’s with that? What’s with all this gourmet Kraft dinner? I’ve had to switch to Ramen noodles. Drop an egg in while they’re cookin’ and you’ll be in simulated seafood heaven.

Er, so, to summerize, a normal person would definitely need a full-time job to augment their blogging. Students like me would happily accept food, or beer. Thankfully, though, the blogging industry hasn’t figured that one out.

Rico: By day I’m an online marketing professional. And obviously, I do freelance work on the side. I think only a few bloggers get to make a living only on blogging, and not even all of them can rely on it for the rest of their life. In any case, living in a low-cost country helps a lot, since I get more for my blogging bucks.

Neerav Bhatt: Both of you obviously enjoy writing about your chosen topics, do you agree that it’s much easier to be a professional blogger writing about a topic you’re passionate about?

I despair at the countless number of people who’ve gotten on the “blogging about blogging” and “make money online” bandwagons because I think they’re wasting their own time and polluting the internet with poor quality content.

Cibbuano: I’d say that there’s no point writing about something that you’re NOT passionate about. I’ve been reviewing movies for two years now and it’s only my love of cinema that keeps me from developing a serious aversion to posting yet another trailer.

I suppose the healthiest way to approach blogging is: would you do it anyway, even if no one paid you? If the answer is yes, you’re probably cut out for it. If Orble decided to kick me out into the street, leftover Ramen noodles dangling from my clothes, I’d probably wander around town until I found a net cafe and just post my reviews on Craigslist.

Luckily, I was into movies before I started up with Orble and when Jon, the owner, asked me what I wanted to write about, I spit out ‘Movies!’ so fast that a mixture of Coca-Cola and ketchup sprayed across the table. You see, we were having fish and chips at the time and I like ketchup on my chips, mostly to cover up the taste of chips.

One thing that novice bloggers don’t realize is that writing everyday gets quite tiresome. It wears out your mind. Somedays, you’ll sit at the computer and howl in frustration, disgusted at the idea of writing witty observations about the latest Harold and Kumar movie. Other time, you’ll notice that it’s sunny and bright in the real world, and you wonder what it would be like to actually go out and have a real conversation, instead of your thoughts being transduced into electrons, then into photons and whizzed at gigabit speeds across the Atlantic.

Rico: Definitely. It’s so easy to write about what you’re really into. Even if you’re making money, pro-blogging is a very demanding activity that requires genuine passion to sustain. This applies even—or even more so—to networks that require a dozen posts a day, like Gawker.

Neerav Bhatt: How did you get employed by your Blog network? Did they contact you, did you apply to a job ad placed by them, or some other way?

Cibbuano: My employment with Orble was quite a happy turn of events. The University of Sydney has an employment board and I found this ad for an online writer. Initially, before there was Orble, there was a website called Placeclick, and I’d fill in directory listings. It got me through some tough times, so I’m definitely grateful to Jon for hiring me back then. When Placeclick changed into the blogging network, Orble, that’s when things got heavy. Many new bloggers were brought on, some of whom are still with us, and Jon asked me to act as an associate editor, monitoring content and advising new bloggers.

Since then, I’ve continually posted on 20/20 Filmsight, which is my baby…. but I’ve also been writing articles on some of our highly-trafficked, but leaderless blogs, writing on a variety of topics, like videogames, science, music, recipes, etc.

Rico: I already had friends blogging for b5media, so I decided to apply more than a year ago. I actually sent my application thrice before I was even considered for the job, so I guess persistence counts. By then, my personal blog already had a lot of content, so people were able to see how I created content.

Neerav Bhatt: What are some common myths you’d like to bust about “Making money from blogging”?

Cibbuano: One of the most frustrating myths that I have to deal with is that new bloggers sometimes think that they can start a blog, write a few posts about their day, with no pictures, no links, no formatting – then fume about why their Adsense revenue is so low. Some of them even suspect that Orble is ‘hoarding’ the fortunes and giving them nothing back.

Another common myth is that, after you realize how much work it is, that it’s not worth it. We’ve had a few bloggers post with the ferocity of a thousand carpenter ants, only to burn out before 6 months and move onto something else. Google starts flooding the page with traffic and the revenue comes in, but that blogger has lost all of that.

A tasty myth: you’ll look at your stats and assume that everyone that visits your site is reading your articles. Not true. Yes, I have +5 000 readers per day. Most of them, I can tell, are just looking for pictures of sc*ntily-clad women, or have inadvertently clicked on my site in their desperate googling for bizarre p*rnography. Thanks for reading, but there’s none of that here!

Rico: Obviously, the most common myth is that blogging equals easy money. In certain ways that is true (especially if you’re blogging out of passion), but most people don’t realize that maintaining a blog requires constant effort. In other words, blogging isn’t the passive meal ticket that some people think it is.

Neerav Bhatt: Finally the question everyone wants to know the answer to … how does your blog network pay you for your writing? For example is it XX cents per word,a flat amount per article, profit sharing from ad revenue on the site you write on etc? Yes.

Cibbuano: I’m lucky since I was hired from the beginning, so my pay is hourly. I’m contracted for a fixed number of hours every week, and I take care of 20/20 Filmsight, post regularly on a few unattended blogs and offer advice and constructive criticism to bloggers. For this, I make almost a thousand per month – but keep in mind, that’s for a considerable amount of time. When I worked in a cafe in Sydney, I made more money, especially counting tips.

The advantage of blogging is that I’m basically getting paid to read, learn and practice writing. All on my own time, from the comfort of my home, or from the screaming discomfort of the University. Why does it always smell like this in the lab?

Rico: I unfortunately can’t divulge how much I make 🙂

Neerav Bhatt: Do you think your current job as a professional blogger is a long term project or do you have bigger and better things on the horizon?

Cibbuano: Since I’m at University at the moment, I’d have to say that I can’t see myself as a professional blogger, mostly because Australia will probably hurl me back to the frozen tundras of my homeland when I finish studying. Still, if I’m chipping away at a keyboard made of ice, up there in an igloo, I wouldn’t mind keeping the good words on 20/20 Filmsight flowing.

Rico: Blogging per se will always be around, or at least as long as we like to express ourselves. But I’m not so sure about the current business model, which is basically providing free content to attract traffic and thus attract advertisers. Right now I’m sure that I’ll be blogging well into the future, I’m just not sure if the tried-and-tested methods of making money off it will survive.

Neerav Bhatt: What’s the best thing that’s happened to you from your blogging? eg: VIP access to events, tech gear to review … etc

Cibbuano: Best thing about movie blogging: well, since I’ve been at it for a while, I’ve gained a little bit of a reputation in Sydney. I attend quite a few premieres and preview events, which allow me to post reviews before anyone else in Australia. I get passes to a few festivals, though I’d like to attend more, and I get a few preview DVDs. It’s a good life, I’ll tell you that, and no one benefits more than my girlfriend, who usually gets to come with me, but doesn’t have to write anything.

The other great thing about writing reviews is that, occasionally, very, very occasionally, someone will read a review and comment on the site, saying something along the lines of “I read your review, I went to the video store and watched it. It was fantastic, thanks!”

That’s almost the highest praise that a reviewer can ask for. I mean, I’m not trying to compare myself to Pauline Kael or Rogert Ebert, as I lack their breadth of knowledge and critical mind, but all I’m really trying to do is get people to watch movies that they wouldn’t watch normally.

It’s important to me, especially in Australia, where “Norbit” was one of the highest-grossing movies of 2007 (Neerav: That’s a damning indictment on the Australian movie going public), despite being critically panned. I’m realistic about the fact that very few people are actually going to see the movies that I recommend, especially since I’m quite a fierce advocate for non-English speaking films (I’ll throw a few at you: “Lust, Caution“, “Russian Ark“, “The 400 Blows“, “I Served the King of England“…. enjoy!).

Once in a while, though, I get a surge of relief when I realize that there are readers out there, reading my posts and actually thinking about them. Wonderful. Bless the internet, and all its self-healing magical powers.

Rico: Would you believe that blogging helped me locate long-lost relatives from the US? Apparently, my great-grandfather had another family there. I wrote about him on my personal blog, which showed up when my long-lost aunt was searching for him in Google. She emailed me, and we eventually had a grand family reunion back here in the Philippines.

And of course, blogging has created so many new opportunities for me. It helped me rediscover my passion for writing, win some freelance gigs, and secure review units for my tech blogs. It also got me into events for free, and I even ended up on a local newspaper!

Neerav Bhatt: Thanks Guys for taking the time to tell my readers about your experiences as professional bloggers, they’ve got plenty to take away and consider

PS You can subscribe to the RSS Feeds for Cibbuano’s 20/20 Filmsight and Rico’s Contract Worker blog

7 Replies to “Making Money from Blogging: B5Media and Orble Professional Bloggers Interviewed”

  1. This was really interesting. I am amazed at the amount of blogs out there and was wondering of how professional bloggers work, get paid, etc, Thank you for the insights.

  2. I blog and am also a freelance journalist. Writing is my passion and I enjoy making a living from it. I’ve yet to start making much money from my blog, but I’ve only just begun!

  3. I have to agree that you have to be passionate or interested in the topic you are writing about for it to work. My blog has been running for nearly two years now about Australian television and I haven’t lost interest yet which I thought I would after a few months.

    It gives me something to do in my spare time and I get to write about things that I enjoy (sometimes I make an exception where I right about something I hate, which can sometimes be interesting reading when I want trash a show, but that’s rare) and I seem to be changing the site’s look every now an then too, which I guess would be bad and could confuse people.

    I find too that I’m still learning, when I started for instance it was just a simple free wordpress account, then it started to get a little more popular a year later and I even started to have people from the television networks contact me to say they like the site or to ask if I can add their information to the audience and contestant information section of the site, so that was a good benefit too.

    These day’s the site has moved to self hosting, another learning step for me and I’m still grasping the concept of how to use advertising space (which is just Adsense ads, that’s all I know at the moment, I still don’t fully understand how to sell ads on my own, or I’m not that confident to actively do it myself) and it all helps me to improve my writing skills for when I have to do uni assignments, because with the blog I can write something I’m interested in rather than boring management essays.

    As far as I’m concerned the site is doing pretty well, not well when comparing it to others but I guess I’m happy with it and it keeps me busy.
    The only thing though is I get pretty embarrassed about the fact that I do have the blog so I tend to not tell anyone about it so people don’t rate me as a big time nerd haha, which I should try to over come in an effort to drive up viewers, but maybe that is something I can work on.
    Wow this is a really long comment I might stop right there, great interview for an insight of what goes on behind the scenes.

  4. I like hearing from people who are on the inside about what they see from new bloggers,
    like what we read here, it’s good info for all of us to get to know what is expected if you
    plan on doing it full time,speaking of pictures ,links etc. Thanks for the interview!

  5. Dear Neerav
    I have seen you on Tv news couple of days back and then I came to know about blogging thing, You must be thinking how outdated I am. Yes it is first time when I heard about about this. I want to know more about this If you have time so pl. write me back .

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