Making lots of money – particularly $50 million – is a difficult thing to do with an advertising-supported online business, The New York Times tells us today. Apparently, you need to get lots and lots of people to come visit your site all the time.
This is (very) old news for anyone who has made a serious go at monetizing online visitors through some sort of website, whether it be a blog or online magazine or fancy-fandangled web 2.0 media operation.
Just as thousands people start a novel and never finish it each year, thousands of people (probably) start blogs every day without reaching that final goal of filthy riches and e-caviar dreams. And just as a tiny percent of aspiring novelists ever complete a polished final draft, an even tinier percent actually go onto have it published by a sizeable press and make significant return on all the time and sweat that was poured in.
The same is true of bloggers and website publishers. Quite simply and brutally, it's just that hard. There's a bit of a heated discussion today between Tony Hung and Jason Calacanis, two of my favorite online folk, over on Tony's Deep Jive Interests. Part of the argument is over the notion of "A List bloggers" versus "blue collar bloggers": whether the two groups actually exist, and what the latter group can and should do if they want to make the esteemed ranks of the former.
Trying to find some common ground between the two sides (I know, to be a well known blogger you're supposed to be provocative, but I usually trend toward a consensus and Big Picture take on things) in saying that one thing that everyone can agree upon, if you want to be a successful blogger, is that "hard work, hustling, great ideas, consistency, original reporting etc." is key, "AND there are some natural advantages that some current A Listers used and use to their advantage, and there’s nothing wrong with that."
Obviously, most people and even most website publishers aren't seriously trying to grab $50 million in yearly revenue. People are online for many different reasons, with different goals and aspirations. Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 is disturbed by the fact that the current online advertising marketplace is such that only the top online media properties, such as CNN and Yahoo, are able to charge premium prices (akin to other forms of media) for premium ad space.
Probably a big factor will come when advertising reaches a tipping point and budgets are increased online as competition increases for valuable and targeted space. Even then, it's likely that only the best and brightest and the most cunning will make big money online, with the rest content to pick up a few bits from Adsense every now and again.