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Beyond how to make money at blogging

May 8, 2017

Miranda Sings

Miranda Sings, right, poses for a photo with a fan.
Photo: Gage Skidmore (CC)

The other day, an audience member asked me a familiar question: How do people make money by blogging?

The better question these days is: How do people make money being YouTube/Instagram stars?

Both queries are essentially the same. We examine a popular but strange hobby and try to understand how it becomes profitable (or often, how weirdos are making tons of money at it). Ask random kids what they want to be when they grow up, and at least a few will pick a popular YouTuber or an Instagrammer (none of them will name a blogger).

In answering the question, I pointed out that a handful of YouTube stars have played in Birmingham during the last 12 months to thousands of young, adoring fans.

Video: Miranda Sings performs “Where My Baes At?”
in January at the Alabama Theatre.

Miranda Sings, the YouTube persona created by Colleen Ballinger, represents the top 1 percent of online celebrities. She played a packed show earlier this year in Birmingham as part of an international tour. In addition, she has a book, a concert DVD, a Netflix series and assorted merchandise.

It’s safe to assume Ballinger is making at least six figures off her nearly 8 million YouTube subscribers.

She did it through working hard and developing a unique voice. Add luck and timing, plus a winning combination of talent and savvy, and she’s a genuine star.

Over on Instagram, a few breakout personalities are known as influencers. They make money through sponsorships and endorsements to their millions of followers.

Chasing money and stardom is as old as mass media. The overwhelming majority do it for fun as a hobby. The top 10 to 20 percent make some money, maybe even a living at it. And that 1 percent is the tier of breakout stars.

While most of us won’t hit that jackpot, we can achieve great things on the medium of our choosing. It takes planning, dedication and a stand-apart identity to make it happen.

Yesterday, it was blogging. Today, it’s Instagram and YouTube. And tomorrow, who knows …

• • •

Learn more about digital influence in
the Birmingham Blogging Academy newsletter …


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