From Blogging to Business

How to find entrepreneurial success in social media

ABenton2

Angela Benton turned her pastime into a career by founding Black Web 2.0.

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.”

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ACROSS THE WEB
  • C. Bailey

    I’m proud of y’all. It’s so nice to see young black people succeeding especially in these hard times.

  • http://Nesheaholic.blogspot.com LaNeshe

    I would love to make blogging a part time career.

  • Renita Burns

    @ LaNeshe go for it and keep me up to date on your progress!

  • http://www.legaldataservices.com R. Mullen

    Congratulations on a fine article! The Twitterverse is FULL of black women expressing an opinion and being heard on substantive issues.

    Check out LaShandra Henry [ @sistasense ], as well. She’s building herself a web empire with child in tow!

    Check out Ory Okolloh [ @KenyaPundit ] brilliant Harvard Law grad from Kenya, who has changed the way the world responds to conflict in Africa.

    Check out Danielle Belton [ @BlackSnob ], who sends laughs and news about DC life, all the way back here to Cali.

    Check out Maisha Walker [ @maishawalker ], who is writing up a storm on digital topics for Inc Magazine!

    Me? I’ve been “working the web” actively since 1995, just very low key. While building a law practice, after 2 years in Japan, i decided that tech was MUCH more interesting. Built one of the first hand-coded client portals in existence.

    Since I discovered the benefit of Twitter, I’ve been sounding off at @MullenAR and about 20 other Twitter accounts to service around 200 domains on a PHP-handcoded framework in ADDITION to about 30 WordPress blogs.

    Inspired by Harvard big sister Carla Harris, I’m leaving the shadows in 2010, including moving forward with blacktechnologist.com, blacklawletters.com, ninaitwa.com, mediationafrica.com and about 196 more domains that combine my interest and experience in law, Japan, Agile for Lawyers (which I am pioneering) and ADR issues, so stay tuned!

  • http://www.thechocolatefashionblog.com Olayinka

    It’s great to see so many black people getting into blogging. It is a great way to get information out there and be environmentally friendly. Check me out TheChocolateFashionBlog.com We’re totally diggin’ our fellow bloggers!

  • http://www.msoynetwork.com LaShanda Henry

    This was a great article. I’ve been following Angela Benton – BlackWeb2.0 for awhile now. Thank you R Mullen … after reading this article, I was shocked to see my name in the comments section. Sistasense.com is one of my main blogs and I’ve been blogging for years. Adsense is a nice part of my revenue stream, among other things and blogging has its perks! If not for my black parenting blog and creating the black moms club social network, I don’t think I would have gotten the opportunity to go to the Disney Mocha Mom Mixer last year! Blogs are great for pleasure and profit … you just have to learn how everything works and not do a trendy blog in the hopes of making millions or get frustrated because your don’t understand traffic. Learning is a big part of the process and it does help.

    Again, great article.
    LaShanda Henry | Founder of the MSOY Network

  • http://www.kacey.theaspenshops.com Lisa

    Hello,
    I am new to all of this. I know it takes dedication and hard work before you see the funds roll in. I am reading and researching and doing it daily. I can also be successful as the next person. Thank you for all your input. I wish you all the best!! And keep making the money.

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