Monday, June 25

Outsourcing Blogging - it will become a trend!

Since early last month, the whole journalism industry especially in the United States started buzzing about the 'invasion' of outsourcing, citing a case that was purported to be among the first of the many potential threatening trends for many full-time local journalists. I ended my take on the issue with a scenario where no on-site journalists would be employed anyway, in the case of over 70-million blogs out there today representing a powerful force of mostly (99+%!) independent or micro publications. With so many bloggers publishing between one to two blogs each, one could guess the number of microworkers in indy journalism industry to be about 1 every 20 Internet users today, or ~5% (and increasing fast) of worldwide Internet users!

Technorati, a leading community of bloggers and a web engine that scours its millions of members' blogs in its April statistics further revealed the shocking numbers like, 120,000 new weblogs are created every day (that's1.4 new blog every second or well over 40 millions new blogs a year to boost the growth in number of blog sites at well over 50% in 2007 alone) and 1.5 millon blog posts are published every day (~17 posts per second).

Seeing these shocking numbers, some journalists of the mainstream media would respond: "Aargh, more junks for the tangled Web!". True indeed as the bulk of these blog posts and websites would fall under the category of splogs (spam posts), 'engrished' (in butchered English language) and duplicates (plagiarized/pirated content from other sites, particular of the mainstream news agencies like Reuters, AP, ANN and Bernama or mega broadacasters/publishers like CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, WSJ, CCTV, Al-Jazeera, MTV, Media Prima, Utusan, Karangkraf etc.)

It's commonly known however that for decades, the mainstream media including the big names like Reuters have been outsourcing news reporting to independent journalists and to various partners throughout the world. 'New media' companies like CNET and for instance have also been outsourcing content creation to hundreds of independent journalists since their inception year. Slashdot and Dmoz Open Directory (and sister sites like MusicMoz, Chefmoz etc) further took the outsourcing concept further to pool content from the entire Internet crowd, i.e.'crowdsourcing'. As well, Wikipedia took advantage the similar collaborative model and soon later, successfully trounced the former kings of encyclopedias like Britannica and Microsoft/MSN Encarta. [Gone to the higher extremes today, many media hosts let the individuals themselves publish their own content directly for free as observed at today's leading websites like Myspace/Friendster/Orkut/MSN Spaces/Yahoo 360, Wordpress/Google Blogger, YouTube/Imeem, eBay,, Digg/Topix/Newsvine, LinkedIn/Xing/Ryze/Ecademy etc. but original non-commercial journalism content concern us more in this post]

Most Internet users would insist that Wikipedia, Slashdot, CNET Blogs, Topix/Newsvine and YouTube are no junks! These sites with loads of original contents by hundreds or thousands dedicated contributors (or a lot more in the case of YouTube) have become some of the most relied reference networks/resources for many including for academic work and business. In fact, there have also been many cases in US court sessions where Wikipedia has been cited for definition references. Even journalists for the mainstream media often flock to sites like Slashdot and YouTube for their hot stories.

And the millions of bloggers, will soon realize, if not already, the power of outsourcing for turning their modest online creations into something more meaningful or influential like CNET, HowStuffWork and Wikipedia (a long shot, but possible for smaller niche of subjects) or in the case of local scenes, MalaysiaKini (maintaining its solid mark in local journalism), The Cicak/CJC Media Network/Project 010 (flourishing -- fresh in the market), NSTP's Monsters Blog (fading? -- after all, these mainstream media companies are mostly controlled by political parties, with many prominent politicians having just openly expressed their fear of blogs) etc.

A closer look in Malaysia: well known blogging personalities like Jeff Ooi, Liew Cheong Fong, Kenny Sia, Irfan Khairi, Fione Tan, Terrence Smith etc. seemingly have yet to majorly outsource the content creation for their respective blogs, although such outsourcing activities are starting to be buzzed around. Still, Samsul Zamzuri for instance, a recently featured blogger in the New Straits Times, mentioned collaborative activities between him and partners from around the world for maintaining several of his web sites. Gobala Krishnan, another featured blogger in the same NST article published last month, also openly advertised freelancing positions to grow his blog empire with sites that specialized in topics like internet marketing (at his self-named website), internet technology (e.g. VoIP and WordPress CMS), music & entertainment news (i.e. offering trivias on artists like The Rolling Stones, the Beastie Boys, Prince, Marvin Gay etc. while also lashing out a few: like Metallica), and network marketing.

A good start, would you say? It's more like a tip of the iceberg for what oursourcing or crowdsourcing would offer for bloggers especially or for entrepreneurs in general.

BTW, if you're wondering how much a freelancing blogger/webmaster/internet marketer can ultimately earn, try peeking at Paula Mooney's list of blogger's salaries - quite a number of Malaysians made it to the list of 120 individuals with their claimed/estimated yearly income, starting with Shamzul Zamzuri at #10, Gobala (#34), Victor Yusop (#47), Paul Tan (#49), Liew CF (#59) , Chan Lilian (#64) and MenJ (#67) in the world! -- Shamzul who has been blogging since August 2005 however openly denied the gross estimation put at up to well over US$300,000 making him a clear Internet millionaire every year (in Ringgit Malaysia, that is), claiming that he actually makes more like 20% of such amount which would still be higher than salaries earned by many entry-level engineers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, business managers etc. who work full-time on various company sites throughout Malaysia -- not too bad for someone working from home, eh?

If you'd ask me why we have so many Malaysians ranking high in the list of wealthiest bloggers / micro-netpreneurs, I'd say perhaps we really do have many of them. After all, according to Alexa, and confirmed by Friendster's PR, Malaysians do supply the biggest traffic (20+%) to Friendster, one of the leading social network in the world, and members numbering over three million (7% of Friendsters). Many other social network and sites/forums on money-making information are also flocked by significant Malaysians as their audience -- Pajamanation is more of a business network, or more specifically, a business consulting marketplace for home-based work/business, rather than a social or infopreneurial network, but still promotes "make money online" (or on the Internet/from home) and hence also enjoys this Malaysia-centric audience exceeding 20% according to Alexa (The real traffic is more like 7% though). A true SEO-aware blogger, Chan Lilian even pointed out in her blog on how she prestigiously get here 5xmom site to be in the first page of Google search for "make money" (searched over 100,000 times per month in Yahoo Overture network alone). OR... We Malaysians, in the overhyped spirit of Malaysia Boleh, just love to brag, thinking that those tax agency men from LHDN will be quite slow in catching up to collect their share out of Internet-driven revenue (unlike say, US counterpart, the IRS that seems to be very effective at catching up with tax evaders). You do realize that get-rick-quick schemes and illegal HYIP operators are actively being pursued by the government men, right? Soon, it'll be bloggers and website operators. A note of advice: If you blog for money, you'd better register yourself as a business entity with SSM and do file tax report to LHDN every year -- closing in soon to end date of 30 JUNE (for individuals with additional non-salary earnings) this year!

FOR BLOG OWNERS OUT THERE: Would you or would you know outsource your blog writing?

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