Working with words: Students earn cash through blogging

By Conor McAteer / Staff Writer

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When Aditya Thawardas began reading TalkAndroid, he didn’t think he would become one of its writers. But since April 2013, Thawardas has been writing for the blog, which focuses on the Android operating system and phone market.  

“It’s not like a normal job where you go in and have hours,” Thawardas said. “It only takes about 15 minutes per article. That averages out to about three articles a day, which isn’t hard at all. It’s a good way to make money.”

Thawardas isn’t the only one to take advantage of the blogosphere to punch in and earn some extra cash. According to a 2012 study by Nielsen Holdings N.V., an American global information and measurement company, blogging is increasingly popular. The report found more than 6.7 million people around the world publish blogs, and another 12 million write blogs using their social networks. Of the bloggers, roughly half are part of the 18-34 age demographic. 

Bloggers are also well-educated, the study said. Seven of 10 bloggers have gone to college, a majority of whom are graduates. 

Before writing for TalkAndroid, Thawardas, a junior marketing and finance major, was a fan.  He later submitted an application and writing samples, and joined the staff two weeks later. 

To get paid, Thawardas is responsible for writing and publishing an average of 17 articles per week, each roughly 200-300 words in length — his pay each month differs depending on the uniqueness of his articles.

“Normal articles [that] I write are just summarizing news content,” Thawardas said. “But the unique ones can be a list, like ‘top ten apps for the football season’ or something like that. They [pay] more for those. They get more hits.”

Talk Android currently has nine writers who sign up for stories through a Google Doc set up by the site’s editor-in-chief. 

Thawardas said the blog gives writers a base pay between $200-300 each month. On top of that, if a writer chooses to write a “unique” article, the writer is compensated with $50 for each of the first two in the month, and $100 for each additional “unique” articles thereafter.

Getting paid isn’t dependant on how many hours he works but by how many online posts he can produce in a period of time. Thawardas said that, while his job is unusual, it’s a good way to earn extra cash.

Thawardas is lucky to write for an established site — for blogger Robert Ward, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, money can be harder to come by. 

Ward writes for the science section on Inside the Athletic Grind, a sports blog which launched this year. 

“The science [section] is really more informative,” Ward said. “Like, how much water you should be drinking a day [or] if you have a game at 9 p.m., you should be carb loading from 8 to 12. Stuff like that.”

The site’s Twitter account has more than 3,200 followers but, because the blog is young, Ward said it’s a ways away from being able to pay its writers.

The blog has sponsorships and joint ventures with some companies, but the deals are still in their beginning stages. 

“The money we’ve made so far just goes back into the site, but we don’t have enough to pay each one of our writers,” Ward said.

To pay its writers, Ward said the site would have to have advertisers that could be relied upon on a monthly basis.

According to Ward, while he is solely listed as a writer on the site, because he knows how to code, he has to deal with the overall management of the site as well. 

“We haven’t had anyone advertise on our site yet. We’ve had offers, but they’re offers from companies that have nothing to do with sports,” Ward said. “We kind of want to stick to the sports side of it and not have just some random advertisements on our site.

Despite the blog’s current inability to earn money for its writers, Ward said blogging has more than just cash benefits. 

“If you just wanted to blog, you could set it up through your Gmail,” Ward said. “And, in terms of how it could benefit you — I think it’s a lot better to have an actual URL to your name rather than just a Facebook page. It shows you have a little more value.”

While anyone could potentially start independently blogging, Pitt writing professor Katie Booth worries about the less formalized level of journalism that blogging attracts.

“I think there’s a move away from traditional journalism, away from traditional interviewing and research and hard stuff, like actual observation, and towards commentary. And that’s alarming,” Booth said. “I think commentary without work is lazy.”

But Booth does acknowledge the potential benefits that blogging can have in the future job market, like how blogging allows writers to defy traditional genres of writing, and pre-approve an audience for particular works.

“I think blogging has a lot more room for narrative and experimentation that gets edited out of a lot of other writing,” Booth said. “I think that’s important.”


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