I’ve discussed the economics of blogging before, and Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008 report has provided some interesting data to add to the discussion.

According to Technorati’s survey, the mean avenue revenue for bloggers who are monetizing their blogs is more than $6,000.

Impressive, right?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Technorati notes that this number is skewed by the (very) small number of bloggers earning more than $200,000 per year. The median annual revenue, which is a more accurate measure, is actually $200 for US and European bloggers and $120 for Asian bloggers.

What type of effort does it take to earn that money? According to Technorati, the mean annual investment amongst bloggers who display advertising is $1,800. The median is $50.

I, of course, would be interested to learn how Technorati defined “investment.” Based on its numbers, it appears that Technorati did not factor in the cost of bloggers’ time.

After all, the median annual investment claimed by Technorati – $50 – certainly cannot include the value of the time a blogger spends writing posts.

Even if we assume that a blogger’s time is reasonably only worth $25/hour (a low value for anyone with skill and experience in my opinion), Technorati’s numbers would indicate that the average blogger invests only two hours of time over the course of a year.

Not likely and unfortunately, time is the greatest investment the average blogger will make.

But moving on, it’s quite clear that there’s both good news and bad news for those looking to make bucks blogging.

The good news is that money can be made blogging. The bad news is that there’s probably not a whole lot of it.

According to Technorati, the mean annual revenue for a blogger in the top 10% of those surveyed is $19,000. For most individuals, this isn’t enough to keep the bills paid (especially if one has a family).

Yet for part-time bloggers like yours truly, such an amount may represent a nice little revenue stream that can be put into savings, pay for a few toys, etc.

So what does all this mean for the blogging “industry“?

In my opinion, a few things:

  • A healthy dose of pragmatism is needed. Prospective bloggers probably shouldn’t plan on quitting their day jobs and blog networks shouldn’t promise unlimited upside potential when it comes to revenue sharing arrangements.
  • Employment is a good option. If an individual wants to write for a living, trying to pay the bills as an independent blogger is going to be tough work. Taking a salaried position as a blogger (or “reporter”) is, however, a potentially better alternative.
  • For many, blogging can realistically become a hobby with benefits. Operative word: hobby. Earning some spending money doing something you truly love is always a good deal but trying to pay your bills doing something you truly love (or don’t love for that matter) is often much, much harder.

At the end of the day, Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008 report is valuable because it has provided a realistic quantitative perspective on the business of blogging.

As the blogosphere grows up, this type of data is important to both observers and participants and I hope that more data like it will be collected and analyzed.