How Much is a Blogger Worth? A Sponsorship Model’s on the Horizon

The recent scuttle-butt over Huffington Post’s position against paying bloggers points up a bigger issue about the creative wellspring that the RenGen is channeling. Simply, there is too much content out there. And not all of it is crap. In fact, by sinking hours into their daily blogs, a new legion of writers is emerging. Attuned to the crisp, plucky style of the web, these bloggers have created impressive audiences. What’s more important, is that they’ve sharpened their skills to rapier effect and HuffPo has figured that out. So has main stream media. A fellow blogger emailed me last week and asked me if she should take an offer from Business Week to convert her blog into and BW-branded blog. I asked–What’s in it for you? Notoriety, expanded audience, imprimatur were all good answers she gave me. Any money? No word yet. For now, bloggers may be relegated to a class of hobbyists who add spice to the established media. The real journalists get paid for their pieces. But as the influence of the blogosphere grows, its organizing power may see the rise of a reverse cartel that sets pricing for intellectual property, not just eyeballs. Bloggers will start collaborating on price setting and will factor in the tangible (so much $ per word) and the intangible (prestige of the author and ability to draw an audience worthy of advertisers). Transactionally, it will resemble a sponsorship model, where a sponsor pays to make certain quality media available to readers and create an emotional bond with authentic community spokespersons.