For Angela Benton, a layoff two years ago gave her the opportunity to explore a new pastime that quickly blossomed into a thriving career. Noticing a void in the blogosphere, Benton started Black Web 2.0, a site that analyzes emerging Web trends as they relate to African Americans. She has since parlayed her brainchild into consultant work, speaking engagements, and other branding opportunities.
“When I started the blog, EbonyJet.com had just launched, and I wrote an article on the new Website from a design perspective,” Benton says. That post, along with constant fresh content, quickly propelled Benton from a hobbyist commenting on Web developments, to an industry expert.
Riding the social media wave has given the masses a chance to reach out to peers, fellow enthusiasts, and those with similar interests. For African Americans, this has been even more critical as blogs began to offer the opportunity to shine a light on issues and perspectives often overlooked by mainstream media. And many have been able to capitalize on their blogs by monetizing their Websites and branding themselves.
“A lot of people try to write a blog in a certain vein that may not be of interest to them,” says Maurice Cherry, founder of the annual Black Weblog Awards, which recognizes highly trafficked and popular black bloggers across a range of subjects including gossip, fashion, and cooking. It’s the authenticity that makes most blogs stand out and create the branding opportunity. “Not only will this give you a more authentic voice, but if it’s something you enjoy, you’ll be more apt to continue doing it.” Cherry adds.
Able to leverage her blog on hip-hop from a feminist perspective, Starrene Rhett’s vast knowledge of the culture and music has led to a number of freelance writing jobs. Since launching GangStarrGirl.com, after being laid off in January from a hip-hop publication, Rhett eventually became a guest blogger at HoneyMag.com, an online magazine for young women of color, Roc4Life.com, a social networking site for music mogul Jay-Z’s Rocawear clothing line, and BET.com.
The Road to Revenue
Aside from branding, there’s another side to industry that has wooed many to the blogosphere: money. Niche content has some sites seeing green, with a growing number of bloggers generating advertising revenue, according to Technorati’s 2009 “State of the Blogosphere” report.
The average salary for a full-time blogger is about $122,222, according to the report. Part-time bloggers didn’t fare too bad either, earning $14,777 per year.
Black Web 2.0’s Benton has been able to reap the benefits of an established brand by turning her blog into a revenue-generating site through advertising, licensing, and consulting work. Content became so in demand that Benton recently hired a managing editor and maintains a staff of three to five contributing writers, while she still works on her blog full-time.
While Benton would not disclose how much revenue her Website generates, she says that unlike other blogs, advertising makes up a fraction of its income, or 20% to 30%, with consulting making up an additional 20% of revenue, “and the rest is licensing.”