BLOGSCANNING by Robert Janelle

Janelle-92X185Flip.jpgSocial media is not a product. It's a vehicle where you can inadvertently make money.

Ways to make money from passion
From SCAN's Print Edition

Web 2.0, social media, the social web, blogging, podcasting, video casting ─ these are all hot buzzwords to use when discussing an online business. But a bigger question to ask when throwing buzzwords around would be “Is there really any money in this?”
That was among many topics of discussion at the second annual Podcamp Ottawa, a gathering of local podcasting enthusiasts. While everyone in attendance was passionate about podcasting (creating a blog in audio form), were any ’casters making any money directly from recording thoughts on their respective areas of expertise?

The short answer is no. But there is a longer answer as well. Most involved in the discussion found business success from having products and services related to their podcasts, but not from the recordings themselves. Creating new media doesn't seem to be paying anyone's mortgage, but it can add value to an existing business.

Take Ottawa author Charles Hodgson for example. Mr. Hodgson has written several books on etymology and promotes them online by recording himself daily reciting the origin of a word at Despite working some advertising into his podcasting and the blog it's hosted at, he acknowledges that there's little revenue there.

However, recording nearly 900 podcasts has proven worthwhile as a vehicle to bring awareness to his books, driving more sales than if he wasn't using social media.

As with any form of media, advertising is certainly a potential method of bringing revenue. That said, pretty much everyone sitting in a circle around the red-carpeted room at the National Arts Centre was wondering if it was really worth the effort and potential annoyance to readers/listeners/viewers to bring sponsors on board.

“Social media is not a product,” says Jester Creative co-owner Susan Murphy. “It's a vehicle where you can inadvertently make money.” Ms. Murphy says she views blogging and podcasting as more of a way to drive potential clients to her media production business than a way to make money in itself. “I've built a business around having the blog, making connections and money from having a social media presence,” she says.
Among the podcasting group, acting as a new media consultant is a popular way to bring in an income from a passion. Well-known podcasters like PodCamp organizer Mark Blevis have been able to find work advising companies on new media strategies.

Essentially, writing a good blog or recording a quality podcast becomes a portfolio to show potential clients how the medium can be used well. In that case, Mr. Blevis puts a strong emphasis on quality. “If you're marketing your content creation ability, you need to focus on quality,” he says. “When you become good at something, it's all people want to talk to you about.”

To the new media savvy web user, it's obvious that many companies and organizations need the assistance but with so many consultants out there, I can't help but wonder just how many more are really needed.

Yet in a time of economic uncertainty with daily reports of layoffs at major corporations, those with a passion for new media may be developing a skill set that can help save their job. As more organizations are seeing the need to have a presence on the Internet, the person in the company who knows her way around the social web and knows how the tools work can be the one everyone turns to for guidance.

Of course, embracing social media is hardly useful if it’s just for the sake of getting into the latest trend. “If you're going to take social media to an organization, it has to solve a business problem,” says Mr. Blevis. After all, why spend money fixing something that isn't broken?

Bob Janelle is a freelance journalist who has plied his trade at the Citizen and Kingston’s Whig-Standard. A bilingual grad of Algonquin’s J-School, where he won awards for both writing and photography, he is a self-confessed video game addict.

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