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Monetizing Blogs: An African Perspective

Is it OK to monetize your blog in Africa and not the US?A few days ago I started an “Africa” tag at 1000tags. Since that time a small discussion has been brewing over at Black Looks about monetizing your blog. It’s an interesting an sensitive subject within the blogosphere that I have seen addressed a couple times within the African blogging community in particular.

I’m guessing here, but I’d say that 90% of bloggers come from developed nations where the writers make a living elsewhere and don’t need to supplement their income through their blog (notice I said need, not want). These bloggers blog because they feel their need to share their thoughts and insights with whoever might stumble across and read their blog. This is the general background to the idealistic viewpoint of a “pure” advertisement-free blog – White African falls into this camp. Read Seth Godin’s piece to get a better understanding of the history of this mindset.

Oluniyi brought up a good point though, especially for “the other 10%”:

You can’t avoid monetizing your blog, if you don’t have any other means of survival. Here in Africa, poverty is still very much rampant and folks would hold on to anything, just to survive. I’m for monetizing blogs. At least, the additional income would help offsetting some of the bills one incurs for being online.

So, is there an argument for trying to monetize your blog when it truly supports the writer being able to blog at all? I think so. If you make 1000/= Kenya shillings a week and it costs you 100/= shillings to get online and blog at an internet cafe/shop, then any small amount of advertising revenue that you can bring in makes sense.

It’s an interesting debate, one that I’d love to hear others chime in on. Thoughts?

12 Comments

  1. Confession time: I hope to be able to generate enough revenue from the traffic my blog brings. I need money for higher education.

    So, I earnestly write quality write-ups, hoping to hit the limelight anytime soon. If I have enough income, there would be no need for monetizing my blog since I already have other streams of income.

    Until then, the struggle continues… 🙂

  2. Sometimes I don’t think things through very well; actually one reason that I like blogs is to get a more rounded view of ideas.

    I’m an American in the USA. I didn’t consider monetizing my blogs because, well, it’s so lame. But one of the reasons I’m doing a blog in the first place is so I can talk in at least a half-informed way about blogs with African friends. And a main reason for wanting to discuss blogs with them is for the money-making potential.

    It’s not just advertising: Blogs can be a way to inform about small projects and keep donors up-to-date. Blogs can be a way of presenting resumes to a larger audience. Blogs can be a way of organizing economic activity within communities. There are lots of other ways too. In short I always assumed that blogs could be a vehicle for economic empowerment. And I assumed that bloggers outside of Africa with an interest in Africa would be eager to support this.

    I think it’s fair to say that Sokaria at Black Looks, while not wanting to have ads on that site, doesn’t make any judgment about bloggers who do–indeed she wrote about your post. And I for one commend you for writing about the subject and opening up the discussion.

    This is a more complicated subject than I had presumed. But both inside and outside Africa there are lots of people very interested in the economic empowerment of regular Africans. Blogs can play some role in this.

  3. Hey Big Guy- do you have any info on the incoming famine in Kenya? Any first hand knowledge? JL

  4. I have no problem with people trying to make a few bucks off their blog. especially if publishing a blog takes a chunk of your money. I have Internet at home (I’d have it even if I didn’t have a blog) and at work, so other than time, my blog costs me nothing. In fact, I see the research I put into writing things well worth the pay-off.

    One thing, though, that I try is when I see a blog with ads that’s published somewhere in the developing world, I click on every ad they have. I can’t imagine buying anything off those ads, but if they get a few cents thrown their way for me clicking on it, it’s worth it. And because we here in the US don’t have any South Africa Telkom-style bandwith restrictions, the only cost to me to click on those is about two seconds for the new window to open and for me to close it again.

  5. Monetizing blogs is simple capitalism which can reward those that make the effort…why not? Mine is not monetized simply because I haven’t made the effort to keep it interesting enough to generate the traffic, but to others with the focus to do so, why not?
    I’m not sure why there is even a debate on the “ethics” of this issue….

  6. What kind of content would you like to pay for then? As for Kenyan blogs, I think I’d spend something on Bankelele’s, The Cock & Bull Stories as well as Thinker’s Room.

  7. For me, it’s all about content. The Kenyans on JKE’s list are all top writers within our little niche in the blogosphere, that’s what makes their sites compelling.

    Personally, if a blogger decides to monetize their blog I have no problems with it. I do however appreciate it if they do it in a controlled manner, with good looking ads that stay out of the main content areas of the blog. A good example of this is BoingBoing and
    Signal vs Noise.

  8. Now if all of you could buy from my blog. It is not about monetizing the blogs,it is needing more money to supplement the meagre earnings.

  9. John L, there is famine in the North Eastern Province in Kenya not the whole for Kenya. You can also check out http://www.eastandard.net for details

  10. JKE: Thanks for the positive comments.

    It takes a lot of time to put together for material for a blog, and it would make it worthwhile if there was some revenue to support the site.

  11. I’m doing research for my class… what other info can I find here about this subject?

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