BLOGGING BUCKS: How central Iowans are benefiting from one of the oldest social media tools

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People write blogs about everything from having babies to making meals. And while web logs have been around since the late 1990's, experts say there are still big benefits to one of the oldest social media tools.

The blogosphere is full of people sharing their knowledge of certain subjects like politics, sports, entertainment and anything you can imagine. And, from moms to business owners, experts say keeping an online journal could be an important key to success in this economy.

Sitting at her computer in the living room of her apartment, Jenna Goodwin says this is just another day at the office. She says, "I've been trying to write my experiences being pregnant with twins."

The mommy blogger started writing "For the Love of Baby" when she was pregnant with her second daughter four years ago. She says it was a way for extended family to watch her kids grow. Now, she has 200 e-mail subscribers, 10,000 twitter followers and up to 3,000 readers on any given day. She says, "Definitely, I didn't know I was that interesting kind of thing."

She says companies noticed her writing and started sending her products to test. She now works from home by writing reviews and even tweeting about trips. She says, "I've been sent to Florida. That was a big one. I got to meet Larry the Cable Guy and go to the Tooth Fairy 2 set."

Goodwin says she puts in several hours a day to make a few hundred to a thousand bucks a month, thanks to advertisers paying for space on her blog. She says, "I know some bloggers throughout the United States. I know one makes $4,000 a month. I'm definitely not to that potential yet, but I know it's possible."

And Goodwin isn't alone. While most don't do it to make money, thousands of people post blogs in central Iowa every day. Millions of public blogs exist around the globe. And, a growing number are dedicated to businesses using the tool to build a brand.

Michael Libbie with Insight Advertising Marketing and Communications says, "Any business must have a blog because it helps you get found and it expands your voice."

Llibbie shares his voice in five blogs and helps others do the same through his business. He says it doesn't take much to start, just a little time to write a post at least three times a week and as little as $7 a month to set up a site that looks professional. He says, "It's your calling card. It's just as important, or more important than your business card, so it's got to look nice. It's got to be clear, and it's got to be without a whole bunch of stuff on it."

Libbie says businesses will see a return on investment through increased sales and interest because a blog is one more place for customers to learn what you're about. He says, "I know our clients who have listened to me and have incorporated social media and blogging into their media plan had double digit increase in their business during the worst part of the recession." He says it's not all because of blogging, but it's an important tool to building a business.

Goodwin says, "There's definitely opportunities that come once you put the effort into it." Goodwin says she's glad she's putting in the effort, as she blogs from home for some extra bucks to help support her growing family. Goodwin says it will take some time, if you want to make money by blogging. She says you have to be yourself in your posts, build up a following and then let it grow from there.


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