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How I made over $2 million with this blog

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 by Dave Winer.

On Twitter early this morning I said something provocative. "I've made over $2 million from my blog and Dan thinks blogs can't make money. He needs to get out of the box more often."  Permalink to this paragraph

I was referring to Dan Lyons, who had written a piece in Newsweek that said among other things: "While blogs can do many wonderful things, making huge amounts of money isn't one of them." Permalink to this paragraph

I agree. Blogs don't make money. But people with blogs can. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

Dan, this is not a fairy tale, I got the check and it had seven figures. But this isn't one of those pitches to get you to buy a book or a video or to come hear me give a lecture. I've made a lot of money with this blog, and may make a bunch more, but I'm not going to show you how to do it. But I will try to get you to change the way you think about blogs and other social media. Permalink to this paragraph

Let me start by asking a question.  Permalink to this paragraph

Assume you run a business and you advertise. How much money did you make from your advertisements? Permalink to this paragraph

Presumably your ads make money, otherwise why are you running them? Permalink to this paragraph

Now in figuring out how much money you made from the ads, did you look for ads on your ads? That makes no sense of course. Why would anyone try to make money by putting an ad on an ad? Permalink to this paragraph

So when I told you I made over $2 million with this blog, why did you immediately look for ads? I can save you the trouble -- there aren't any. And in the 12 years this blog has been here there has never been an ad on this blog. With a caveat, unless you count me talking about my products. Because I do talk about my products here. I try to stay as balanced as I can, but of course I tilt toward the positive. I have a bias -- I wouldn't have made the products if I didn't think they were good. But like all people with real products I know they're not perfect, sometimes they're imperfect, and I try to be honest about that.  Permalink to this paragraph

Now -- how did I make more than $2 million with this blog? Permalink to this paragraph

Well, I ran a commercial company for quite a few years, UserLand Software, and I used this blog to talk about what the company was doing. We had reasonable sales -- probably over $1 million while I had the blog. We never took out an ad, or hired a PR firm. All the promotion ever done for the company was done right here. So let's count half of that $1 million toward the total.  Permalink to this paragraph

Then there are the consulting gigs I've gotten over the years I've been running the blog. None of them directly resulted from pitches I made here, I never said "Hire me to tell you how to build your product, or work with your community, or serve your users," but the posts I've written here have served as a calling card, a way of keeping my name and ideas on people's minds. Over the years, that's a few hundred thousand. Permalink to this paragraph

But the real whopper was the deal where I sold weblogs.com to Verisign for $2.3 million. Again, a product that never had an ad, never had a PR campaign, the only way anyone heard of it was through this blog.  Permalink to this paragraph

So we're already over $3 million -- and all I did was what any blogger does -- talk about what I'm doing. And that's the role of a blog, it's a way of communicating what you're doing. Companies, consultants and authors need to do a lot of communicating, and blogs allow you to go direct, and be more efficient, less diluted. People get a real feel for who you are and how you think and what you're like as a person.  Permalink to this paragraph

Why would I ever let someone else hitch their "message" on this -- it would get in the way of me making money! ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

If I had any advice to offer it's this -- get in the habit of communicating directly with the people you want to influence. Don't charge them to read it and don't let others interfere with your communication. Talk through your blog as you would talk face to face. You'd never stop mid-sentence and say "But first a word from my sponsor!" -- so don't do that on your blog either. I can't promise you'll make any money from your blog, and I think the more you try the less chance you have. Make a good product and listen to your customers to make it better, and use the tools to communicate, and you may well make money from the whole thing. To expect the blog alone to pay your bills is to misunderstand what a blog can do. You'll only be disappointed like Dan Lyons was. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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