Blog Monetisation at Social Media Club, Sydney

It was a welcome return and a good, vocal crowd at the Shelbourne Hotel, for the topic of Blog Monetisation at Sydney’s Social Media Club event. A panel comprising bloggers, agency folks, digital publishers, journalists, PR and digital strategists kept the conversation going and got the crowd tweeting.

Hannah De Milta from Rocketman Media moderated the panel featuring Karla Courtney from Tiny Times, Daniel Kjellsson from, Patty Huntington from Frockwriter and Matthew Gain from Edelman PR.

There were a large number of fashion bloggers on hand to learn the secrets. ALSO be sure to check out this wrap up by Francis McCarthy.

Blog Monetisation – Social Media Club, Sydney

In a welcome return, Social Media Club, Sydney takes on the challenging topic of "monetization". The panel for the evening, hosted by Rocketman Media's @HannaDeMilta featured fashion bloggers @pattyhuntington and @karlacourteney, PR guru and man about town @matthewgain and publisher @danielkjellson

Storified by Gavin Heaton · Mon, Oct 08 2012 20:38:44

Hanging out at #smcsyd – looking forward to the discussion.Aylin Ahmet
@byrongreens: #SMCSyd oldest woman in the room – have been wkg in online since 1995 – where's my gold watch.Christine
Blog monetisation event about to kick off at #SMCSYD. Speakers: @pattyhuntington @danielkjellsson @karlacourtney and @matthewgainTara Sena-Becker
#smcsyd Social Media Club Sydney gets underway. It's been a while… Burrowes
How long have you been blogging? In 5 years we've seen a lot of change @HannahDeMilta #smcsydGavin Heaton
Even selling straight ads isn't that useful says @karlacourtney #smcsydGavin Heaton
Loving Karla at the #smcsyd funny and insightful @karlacourtney Mayhew
"The challenge is finding a way to monetise in a way that has ethics." @karlacourtney #SMCSydSmarterBusinessIdeas
Missing #smcsyd to try and finish writing an essay. #lastminute hope it’s a good night!Dave Phillips
Look to advertising as well as network syndication and paywalling says @pattyhuntington when it comes to monetization #smcsydGavin Heaton
The most fashionable #smcsyd crowd,ever.cenkbaban
#SMCSYD @pattyhuntington talking about her 2 income streams for frockwriterSocialMediaClubSYD
Advertisers only interested in blog uvpm – not return visits #SMCSYD @pattyhuntingtonCameron Stead
At #smcsyd hoping that a successfully monetized blog = a successful blog. Whether you want money or not, we all want an audience, right?angela stengel
Bloggers can be more influential than a magazine says @danielkjellsson #smcsydGavin Heaton
Plenty of discussion about "cash for comment" or "cash for coverage" through the night.
Should bloggers be paid? #smcsydKaty Daniells
Should bloggers be paid for time and effort? @matthewgain talks about smaller audiences and content #smcsydGavin Heaton
conglomerate has come up twice tonight. the label paradigm for bloggers #smcsyderietta
#smcsyd idea that individual blogs scale to revenue making models somewhat naieve – possible for minority not majority – blog is part of mixChristine
"Display ads aren't working for big media as well as bloggers. It's more about paying a blogger for expertise or engagement" #SMCSydSmarterBusinessIdeas
Need to think beyond simple monetization says @matthewgain – need to understand niche expertise available #smcsydGavin Heaton
#smcsyd please note hundreds of journalists made redundant b/c content companies don't think they are worth paying forChristine
"Bloggers are sometimes the most expert people in their field". But just as often not… #smcsydTara Sena-Becker
If your blog starts just for you and you later can make money from it, isn't that a win-win rather than being dishonest? #SMCSYDAdam Welch
It's about transparency, says @karlacourtney. Does your blog audience know you're being paid to post? #SMCSYDCameron Stead
RT @HarrisSmyth: RT @HarrisSmyth: #smcsyd please note hundreds of journalists made redundant b/c content companies don't think they are worth paying forDae Levine
Marketers care more about readership than engagement, but do readers engage less because blogs are monetised? #viciouscircle #smcsydNaomi Brooker
#smcsyd monetization derived from connection to audience and/or scarce or exceptional expertise – blog or silo for subject across platformsChristine
Should bloggers be paid? Some differing opinions on the panel. If its authentic & valuable for readers, why not? #smcsydSarah Peacock
There needs to be an exchange of value
The conversation shifted to encompass journalism, journalists and agencies. Perhaps there is even a role for consulting companies in this brave new world. The underlying theme remained not just blogging as a business, but on fair value. 
@servantofchaos media planning agencies will need some serious rehaul of their sources and sales model #smcsydFrederic Chanut
Is self-publishing the future of journalism? #smcsydTracey Yong
Question: are bloggers overlooked by big brands when it comes to media placement? #smcsydGavin Heaton
A blog is an excellent platform to establish expertise for consulting firms, which in turn can lead to new business. #smcsydFrancis McCarthy
Traditional media agencies overheads are too high! #smcsydKaty Daniells
That just happened: "Self-publishers are the future journalists." @danielkjellsson #SMCSYDAdam Welch
Chanel should go with @FELLTau over @vogueoz – self publishing is the future … you said a mouthful there @danielljellson #smcsydTania Debono
“@TraceyYong: Is self-publishing the future of journalism? #smcsyd” only if you are an old school VANITY PUBLISHER or exceptional expertChristine
@blurboz @blurbbooks @bronwen you'll love this: @danielkjellsson said 'self-publishing us the future of journalism' #smcsydJosephine Sabin
It was a little hard to hear some of the panelists due to a "dodgy microphone". Sometimes it was easier just to hear comments when shouted out. Or sent via Twitter 😉
Quick poll: Who else is in favour of ditching that dodgy mic? #smcsydFrancis McCarthy
Can I suggest we turn the volume up to 11 at #smcsyd can’t hear at the backScott Rhodie
@ScottRhodie I'd support that but crank it to 13 even #smcsyd hearing ftwAdam Sparke
Audience is quiet because it's hard to hear #smcsydGavin Heaton
Patty Huntington spoke about the experiment of using a paywall on her site. This elicited a lot of conversation amongst the audience but didn't get a lot of coverage in the cut and thrust of the panel. Patty responded later – indicating that traffic dipped initially but has now stabilised again.
#smcsyd @pattyhuntington you mentioned viewers getting around the pay wall, but how did it affect your site numbers?Annabel Jenkins
A blogger making millions is a while off yet – a reasonable steady income is the first step #SMCSYDTheRemarkablesGroup
Again we returned to the topic of expertise, payment and payment in-kind. 
You don't pay bloggers for their reach, you pay them for their engagement and expertise #SMCSYDElise Phillips
Bloggers can be journalists. Journalists can be bloggers. However more often than not there is a big difference #smcsydScott Rhodie
Some bloggers can take the monetisation and 'perk' aspects to the extreme… How do you keep it authentic? #smcsydAdam Sparke
RT @TaraJSB: RT @TaraJSB: "Bloggers are sometimes the most expert people in their field". But just as often not… #smcsydCarly Findlay
What constitutes full time professional bloggers? #smcsydKaty Daniells
There aren't a lot of full-time bloggers. I don't think that's the goal for most bloggers. A blog is a hub for content marketing. #smcsydFrancis McCarthy
#SMCSYD can think of a number of Australian "bloggers" who've carved out careers in their field of passion; their blog as their launch pad..N
athalie Swainston
There are full time bloggers making a living like @problogger @mumbrella etc – but they have a sophisticated approach #smcsydGavin Heaton
Some of the FELLT bloggers earn a full time income from blogging. Figures not disclosed #smcsydVivian M. Yang
"Bloggers are just small business people, like freelance journalists" Thus need to be request that same respect @pattyhuntington #SMCSydSmarterBusinessIdeas
@neesha_a we need 2 b apart of this RT @mumbrella: #smcsyd Social Media Club Sydney gets underway. It's been a while… Le
Patty asks the million $ q's – who actually makes a full time living from blogging? #smcsydTania Debono
I think if you can combine topics you are passionate about into blog(s) and make money from it… Do it! #smcsyd Gotta love what u do…Adam Sparke
Blogging can lead to other forms of paid work: speaking, consulting, design work. #smcsydFrancis McCarthy
RT @natface #SMCSYD can think of a number of Oz "bloggers" who've carved out careers in field of passion; their blog as their launch pad..Nicole Blaess-Smith
Surely as soon as bloggers turn to non genuine recommendations the point is lost? #smcsydKaty Daniells
Much of the discussion and questioning focused on elements like blogger outreach (agency side) and the merits or otherwise of sponsorship, ads and ad placement. Folks like @ProBlogger and @Mumbrella have much more sophisticated business models in place and have been able to successfully grow and develop audiences and shift across niches to varying degrees. Some good lessons from the US market as well as the local market to be investigated.
@brookemorrison @matthewgain plenty of ways to showcase expertise, shift audiences etc. Good digital strategy helps here #smcsydGavin Heaton
But is it appropriate to compare the US blogger landscape to ours? #smcsydTanya Chadha Phull
A blog needs to be niche is order to be successful in advertising, says @karlacourtney #SMCSYDCameron Stead
Audiences can be global 😉 RT @tanyaphull: But is it appropriate to compare the US blogger landscape to ours? #smcsydGavin Heaton
loving #smcsyd tweets … interesting debateSoph
The topic of "what is a blog" seemed to invigorate the audience and the panel. Sites like have become powerful media properties in their own right – but what can be learned from this? Is it a blog? What is the approach and how is it different from the approaches of the bloggers in the room?
#SMCSYD how do you define a blog? Is @mumbrella a blog?SocialMediaClubSYD
In the US blogs are required to be transparent by law #smcsydKaty Daniells
How do you define a blog? The lines are almost too blurry to tell #smcsydNaomi Brooker
Considering most publishers are struggling with monetization we should be careful about following a failing model #smcsydGavin Heaton
Building a publishing platform involves a digital strategy. Too many bloggers jump in then think they can monetize. Not that simple #smcsydScott Rhodie
. @mumbrella a blog because you're big? Thoughts? #smcsydAlexandra Mayhew
Who needs to be *at* #smcsyd when your feed is filled with the hashtag?! Thanks @ScottRhodie @servantofchaos @katydaniellsNehad Kenanie
blogs are now taking a more professional standard these days then yrs ago, & can be compared to traditional media @matthewgain #smcsydTania Debono
Your company's blog content is probably comparable to traditional media. The power of traditional media but in your hands. #SMCSydSmarterBusinessIdeas
#smcsyd did I just hear Daniel invoices 20k a month for a blog with 300k visitors month? #pleaseconfirm cc @danielkjellssonerietta
@A_Mayhew we happen to use a blog based platform, WordPress, but our commercial strategy is old skool publishing built on a brand #smcsydTim Burrowes
POV: Blogging is more to do with attitude. Do you aim for engagement or broadcast? #smcsydGavin Heaton
Blurred lines between blogs and traditional media; how do we define a blog when traditional media is using same techniques? #smcsydn2n Communications
Is it a blog when you just takes everyone else's pictures eg collage bloggers or one that has original content??? #smcsydTania Debono
You know what most blogs lack. Professional photography and good subbing #smcsydScott Rhodie
@Whereisannabel @natface @StylingYou and @HairRomance are examples #smcsydTheRemarkablesGroup
#smcsyd yes unique content is driver IF it is exceptional – in the 90s we called content curation AGGREGATION – weave the threads – be greatChristine
#SMCSYD blogging as the source versus Tumblr where you reblog other people's content via @karlacourtneySocialMediaClubSYD
Bloggers answer to their audience. If you fail your audience you're on your own #smcsydGavin Heaton
RT @servantofchaos: RT @servantofchaos: Bloggers answer to their audience. If you fail your audience you're on your own #smcsydAdam Sparke
@the_cakeface #smcsyd NO, blogging is original content otherwise just use Pinterest or tumblr.Kimberly Nissen
@servantofchaos Responsibilty lies with the blogger and the brand to keep a balance for readers #smcsydTheRemarkablesGroup
Is having a @tumblr blog really a blog? Sure is! #SMCSYDrach currie
Definitely! RT @rachcurrie: Is having a @tumblr blog really a blog? Sure is! #SMCSYDTanya Chadha Phull
And then that age old debate surfaced … journalists vs bloggers …
Journos v bloggers: 'journalism is fact checking & fact checking and getting right of reply' says @pattyhuntington #smcsydJosephine Sabin
If you are a good enough writer, can create unique content and deliver insightful information your blog still may not succeed 🙁 #smcsydScott Rhodie
Where does the line now begin/end when blogging becomes citizen journalism becomes news source? #smcsydAdam Welch
Only in some cases 😉 MT @roneo: Journos v bloggers: 'journalism is fact checking & fact checking and getting right of reply' #smcsydGavin Heaton
Because no matter what people need to be able to find you content. Tight SEO strategy is important #smcsydScott Rhodie
Want to make money out of your blog? Look to traditional publishing – sell something physical/concrete. New media, old tricks. #SMCSydCitizens of theWorld
Good example in the photog vertical: @52suburbs did a great job monetizing her photo blog (published a book, toured an exhibition). #smcsydJosephine Sabin
@rachcurrie yep! Love @tumblr – share what I find interesting from others as well as my own thoughts. Chaotic nature of it is fun #SMCSYD :)Roslyn McGinty
Let's face it – the age of the "Paid Post" is over. #SMCSydCitizens of theWorld
Advertising on blogs doesn't work- working with brands & gaining recognition to a wider audience is the key #smcsydTania Debono
#smcsyd journalism is also OpEd where we are talking about big $$$ rather than journeyman – own the field, have an insightful perspectiveChristine
Exactly. Personal branding. RT: @FrancisMcCarthy: Blogging can lead to other forms of paid work: speaking, consulting, design work. #smcsydJosephine Sabin
@ScottRhodie @rachcurrie @tumblr Visual storytelling at its best 🙂 #smcsydTanya Chadha Phull
And as the lines blurred, we returned again the personal nature of blogging. Do people start a blog to be successful or do they start from the passion and work from there. 
"I've never met a successful blogger that actually set out to be a successful blogger" @FELLTau founder @Danielkjellson #smcsydTania Debono
I never met a successful blogger that set up to be a successful blogger. #smcs
ydVivian M. Yang
I have! RT @VivianMYang: I never met a successful blogger that set up to be a successful blogger. #smcsydGavin Heaton
There is huge potential for bloggers to make an income for off-blog activity – eg in ad campaigns & brand ambassadors #smcsydTheRemarkablesGroup
#SMCSYD most successful bloggers don't set out to be successful bloggersSocialMediaClubSYD
"Not every blogger wants to monetize their blog" #smcsyd @HannahDeMiltaVivian M. Yang
Digital Buzz Blog was never created to be monitised – the passion for the subject needs to exist first #smcsydKaty Daniells
And then the $64,000 question came from the audience!
How much money are we talking about? Great question from the audience #smcsydGavin Heaton
#smcsyd most of the time blogs start out of passion and during the journey the blogger realises she can make money out of the contentcenkbaban
#smcsyd audience Q&A: "how much money are we talking about?" #bestquestionevererietta
Of course, no one wanted to own up to that answer!
RT @katydaniells: RT @katydaniells: Woah….she asked the question that you're not supposed to ask….$$s #smcsydJames Coyne
And in a cloud tinged with embarrassment the conversation shifted to the concept of burnout. How do you keep it fresh? How do you keep going (almost full circle to the questions at the beginning around length of time blogging).
How many bloggers experienced blogger burnout in the last year? #smcsydTanya Chadha Phull
#smcsyd blogger burnout… I know that feeling!Alexandra Mayhew
Yep, definitely a victim of "blogger burnout". More like 3 weeks than 3 years though… #SMCSYDTara Sena-Becker
Thinking of starting a blog? RT @rocketmanmedia: the challenge is finding the niche and filling it with content @karlacourtney #smcsydMark Woodrow
If you don't get blogger burnout you're just not doing it right #SMCSydCitizens of theWorld
@pattyhuntington likens the blog to art. One blogs because of the passion for subject, the desire to create. #SMCSYDAlexx
Teacher burn out is WAY worse TRUST me #smcsyd #blogging #tbexCaz Makepeace
Blog burnout, defiantly can relate to that one! #smcsydJarryd
So … it seems that this monetisation issue is rather complicated. What is the value to the blogger? What is the value to the brand? What about those media planners who sit in the middle?
Oh man, you can get free cardigans? #smcsydGavin Heaton
Love how the Internet disrupts existing power structures. journos v bloggers, blogs v trad online media. old becomes new again #smcsydJosephine Sabin
News journalist have the hardest job in media which is why there isn’t a lot of news bloggers compared to the ‘other’ areas #smcsydScott Rhodie
Bloggers vs journos – many mainstream media are threatened by online blogging leaders – check your stats who is reading your work #smcsydTania Debono
POV: often blogging is an investment in your own brand that you'd otherwise have to pay for #smcsydGavin Heaton
Monetising your blog doesn't have to have anything to do with traditional paid media. #smcsydMsCritique
YES –> @danielkjellsson: "Monetizing a blog doesn't have to have anything to do with advertising" (and rarely does!) #smcsydNathalie Swainston
Advertising comes from brands looking to push their product. The growth of non-news media stems a lot from ad growth #smcsydScott Rhodie
It's called "new media" for a reason #smcsydHair Romance
During Q+A the topic of disclosure came up.
#smcsyd basic legal advice on disclosure bloggers? CashForComment – audience wont trust you & mediawatch will ridicule you as they shouldChristine
POV: If you sell out you'll become less interesting and lose you're readership #smcsydKaty Daniells
You'll get burned either way says @karlacourtney on product disclosure. Sounds like good advice. #smcsydangela stengel
Disclosure: the cash for comment debate-disclose or be burned. if you sell out you will become uninteresting & lose readership #smcsydTania Debono
Isn't there an element of audience education on how blogs operate, and bloggers are funded, same with marketing or PR? #smcsydAdam Welch
In my opinion, disclosure should be mandatory. #smcsydTanya Chadha Phull
With great integrity comes great *potential* dollars, followers, engagement. #SMCSydSmarterBusinessIdeas
Comparing blogs to magazines in relation to disclosure is bullshit. Just because mags don't doesn't mean we shouldn't #SMCSYDElise Phillips
The UK and US have disclosure nailed #smcsydKaty Daniells
You don't need disclosure here – you will be found out and taken to #alanjonestown #smcsydGavin Heaton
Disclosure laws in Australia needs to be implemented but how does do you police this ? Says @matthewgain #smcsydTania Debono
AGREED! If you want to be seen as credible and professional, this —> RT @tanyaphull In my opinion, disclosure should be mandatory. #smcsydNathalie Swainston
Does Australia need disclosure laws for sponsored blog posts like the US/UK? #smcsydn2n Communications
Photo: #smcsyd the panel talking about the broad (and at time divisive) topic: The Age of Monetisation… Sabin
#smcsyd why ask non lawyers legal questions – the intl approach is industry self regulation not legislation – refer ACMAChristine
Disclosure or no disclosure, I just ASSUME a lot of blogs are influenced (to say the least) by PR and freebies. A little jaded… ##smcsydTara Sena-Becker
Journos must disclose junkets, why not bloggers? #smcsydAdam Welch
There should be more honesty and openness in declaring who supplies holidays/gifts/products to both bloggers and journos #smcsydScott Rhodie
To be fair, there are some agencies + orgs who *are* ethical + demand disclosure from "their bloggers" regardless of post sentiment #smcsydNathalie Swainston
@danielkjellsson says never did he receive freebies as he did in traditional media. If bloggers must disclose, why not trad. media? #SMCSYDAlexx
Agreed… "@AdamDWelch: Journos must disclose junkets, why not bloggers? #smcsyd"Adam Sparke
If blogs need to disclose their sponsors, what about print magazines? Advertisers? PRs? 'Story sponsored by'? #smcsydTara Sena-Becker
Sometimes the lines blur – if you are given a new phone do you disclose every tweet? #smcsydGavin Heaton
Photo: Tonight’s panel… #smcsyd (Taken with Instagram at Shelbourne Hotel) Sabin
When do bloggers need to disclose not only their freebies but also their income from ads on brand influenced videos or content? #smcsydAdam Sparke
RT @StufThatIBought: RT @StufThatIBought: Very few people make straight cash from their blog, but it's like an online portfolio to make money elsewhere #SMCSYDAdeline Er
thinking of starting a blog?… Don't give up your day job! #SMCSYDDene Gambotto
“@AdamDWelch: Journos must disclose junkets, why not bloggers? #smcsyd” non-disclosed gifts limit $10 at Fairfax – less than a good lippyChristine
If in doubt, disclose – @matthewgain #SMCSYD #bloggingCameron Stead
Fashion and news never sleep – @pattyhuntington. Amen sister #SMCSYD #fashionCameron Stead
@karlacourtney you can tweet and present? Awesome 😉 #smcsydGavin Heaton
In my years in PR I have found some bloggers feel ‘entitled’ to freebies and more… #theotherside #smcsydScott Rhodie
Same… "@ScottRhodie: In my years in PR I have found some bloggers feel ‘entitled’ to freebies and more… #theotherside #smcs
yd"Adam Sparke
You can call me entitled all you want but there is no reason to put brand content on my blog without payment #smcsyd #personalbloggerZoey Martin
#smcsyd much of this discussion reminds me of FREE press – timeout London is now FREE to keep advtg revenue per distribution – also bad payChristine
@HarrisSmyth you'd be lucky to get a beer for that #smcsydAdam Welch
A tale as old as time… RT @ThangNgo The bloggers vs journos argument comes up again… #smcsydMi Casa-Su Casa
@matthewgain If in doubt, disclose #smcsydTheRemarkablesGroup
Proof if proof be needs be… @sullmcintyre #smcsyd 😉 @ Shelbourne Hotel Swainston
Someone has chips! #smcsydGavin Heaton
No one mentioned the elephant in the room. Darren Rowse (@ProBlogger) is Australia's leading blogger – and has been able to grow a global audience and a massive online following across social media channels. And then Cenk had to bring it up! 😉
#smcsyd interesting not to hear @ProBlogger mentioned in a topic about blog monetisationcenkbaban
RT @cenkbaban: RT @cenkbaban: #smcsyd interesting not to hear @ProBlogger mentioned in a topic about blog monetisationThang Ngo
was thinking same thing "@cenkbaban: #smcsyd interesting not to hear @ProBlogger mentioned in a topic about blog monetisation"Adam Sparke
Yes @problogger casts a silent shadow over this entire topic 😉 #smcsydGavin Heaton
@servantofchaos is there any other kind of shadow? 🙂 #Silent #smcsydDarren Rowse
#smcsyd @matthewgain good on you for mentioning Darren from @problogger he's a success storyThang Ngo
No love lost between @pattyhuntington and @danielkjellsson #smcsydKaty Daniells
Really great panel tonight. Thanks #smcsydTracey Yong
Not just own brand co's 2 RT@servantofchaos POV often blogging is investment in your own brand that you'd otherwise have to pay 4 #smcsydChris Paine
Great folks here (even though I'm present too)! #smcsyd Kjellsson
@TheRemarksGroup reading the chatter from #SMCSYD thanks for making me feel confident I can eventually make money from this blogging caper!Angela East
Food for thought. #SMCsyd. In the interests of full disclosure, this tweet was brought to you by American Apparel.kayleigh
@servantofchaos 'Someone has chips' is the funniest tweet I've seen tonite but it doesn't exist unless u take a pic of it @SMCSYD #SMCSYDSimonLeong
@matthewgain Loved your contribution at #smcsyd esp abt how the lines btwn traditional media & blogs r blurring. Wished you spoke more!Vivian M. Yang
My takeaway from #SMCSYD tonight – Making money on your blog via ads is a pipedream. Instead, use your blog to build your profile.Ryan Tracey
RT @mumbrella: RT @mumbrella: #smcsyd Social Media Club Sydney gets underway. It's been a while… Carver
Talking to few bloggers today at #smcsyd I came to the realisation that in order to love my job I had to be a little nuts. Try to tell bea…Frederic Chanut