Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Goat Riding into the future

It's a bit of a slow weekend content-wise, which I suppose is to be expected considering that the playoffs are supposedly on-going right now.  (I wouldn't know, the only piece of a game I saw was when I was at the Monarch Tavern on Friday afternoon enjoying the best Jewish deli in the city of Toronto.)

I'm going to do something that is probably a little taboo - I'm opening the curtain and letting you into the underbelly of blogging.*  Apparently we shouldn't do this sort of thing because if you the reader discover that there's actually money involved in the blogging process, then you might a) get mad at us for some reason or b) leave us high and dry to make your own blog so you can earn a few cool hundreds while slaving laboriously for hours a day writing something that only a handful of people will read regularly, spiralling into a pit of depression as you question your own self-worth after you fail to catch on with the majority of blog readers out there.  Ahem.  I digress.

(*Mixing metaphors like "opening the curtain" and "underbelly of blogging" would be just one of many reasons why I haven't been able to get a job writing professionally, but that's the way the cookie rolls, baby!)

Anyway, it turns out that there's actually money to be made with blogs!  Take Deadspin for example.  These guys at this point probably command seven figures in advertising revenue on a yearly basis.  That's a ridiculous sum for doing something that is essentially merely a hobby.

Most blogs make far less than that.  I knew one Cubs blogger who bragged that he was going to get his ad revenue up to $20k a year, which I thought was flat-out insane considering that we had a similar level of readership and we never came anywhere near that figure.  (And, then again, while he may have, his blog became a walking advertisement for ticket brokers and the content got lost somewhere within the unrelated links that were littered everywhere)  That income figure used to taunt us from a tall tower which we had no chance of climbing.  And I'm sure a guy like Al Yellon, who at the best of times has roughly 10 times our regular readership (and currently is coming in at a little more than double) is raking in the extra income, although his site's affiliation with SB Nation might mean that he's personally receiving a pittance, a small percentage of what his website might be worth.

You might be asking how a blog does it.  Well, generally speaking, we are contacted by Ticket Brokers who want to buy up text ads on our blog.  At this point, I've been doing this for almost five years and I still don't know how they come up with the figures they deem acceptable, nor do I know the amount they'd actually be willing to pay.  But on a lesser-known blog with a small-but-growing readership, you could probably pocket $500 a year for advertising with half a dozen different companies.  On a larger blog like GROTA, we could probably rake in a couple g's doing that - and maybe even more - but for the last couple of years, we've tried hard to reign that type of thing in.  Here's why:

Text link ads are The Devil.  In the growing blogging industry, the vast majority of blogs out there really have zero idea how much advertising could be worth and the Ticket Brokers know it.  Worse, legitimate companies tend not to want anything to do with websites that uglify themselves text ads.

Companies that advertise on legitimate websites won't advertise on smaller ones with text links.  Serious companies with serious advertising capital will not take us seriously if we have that ugly sponsorship section telling people where they can buy Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox tickets.  And while it's certainly cool to pull in a few cool hundreds that way - that'll buy a trip to Chicago or a couple of jerseys, at least, right? - nobody really knows how valuable blogs are because they're quick to say yes to the first cash offering they get.

You will notice, however, that we do have some text ads on this blog.  We're very grateful to the companies that we've brought in this year, because they essentially paid for our redesign, but you will also probably notice that, compared with other blogs that advertise we have far fewer of them.  It's a deliberate choice.  We're trying to ween ourselves of text ads all together.

In the coming season, we're going to try a few things that I haven't seen any other baseball blogs do.  Wish us luck with it, not because we want to make a living off the blog but because with 5 or 6 people working here, it's good business sense to keep them happy by any means possible.  Like, y'know, paying them and stuff.

So, in conclusion, if you're thinking about making a blog and are looking to rake in the money, I would caution you.  It's a ton of work, the money is comparatively little, and unless you know the actual value of your blog - and I submit to you that nobody, us included, knows that - then you're going to kill your site's value by undershooting it.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award