Oct 3, 2010

#YMS2010 - Day 2

Picture by Osama Romoh
Today we finally got to discuss what we came to discuss: Blogging! We started with group work: Three tables, three moderators, three topics:

What are your reasons for Blogging?
Is "Blogging" a Profession? and
Who are your readers?

I was moderator of the profession group, which meant...
sitting still at one table and discussing the topic three times over with different people. This was more interesting than it must sound now, as new points were raised all the time. For starters, earning money through a blog doesn't equal being a professional blogger. And while a well-written blog might lead to occasional freelance jobs, promoting technical gadgets or cosmetics alone will hardly provide you with enough money to support yourself. According to Markus Beckedahl there are only about ten German bloggers who live off their blogs: By a combination of selling ads, receiving Flattrs and giving workshops. Yet with a non-working PayPal system in Egypt, for example, much better and easier solutions for digital payments are needed. Julia Seeliger told us how virtual money was already in use in Taiwan, and about the problems governments are facing trying to regulate its circulation. "We certainly don't have success stories like in the US here in the Middle East. Here, blogs never become box office hits that make millions", adds Suad Alkhawaja from Bahrain, "Our blog readership is much smaller than yours, let alone the Americans'."

However, more and more young artists are starting blogs to get in touch with their audience. Amira Taher is optimistic with regards to the development of the Egyptian blogosphere: "Already, there are books being printed from blogs, and bloggers are being paid for interviews by TV stations like Al Jazeera." Not in Palestine, though, like Asma Al-Ghoul tells us: There, Al Jazeera won't pay bloggers in exchange for information. Also, as the advertising business is practically non-existant there, this option must be ruled out as a source of income as well. "But travelling to conferences like this one is worth a lot, too", she adds.

As any affiliation with companies or organizations can make a blogger prone to constrained reporting, the decision to accept funds from them should be well thought-through in any case. If you value your independenc as high as Jamal Ghosn from Lebanon, keeping your blog as a hobby might be the better way to go.

The majority of both Arab speaking and German bloggers will have to keep on dreaming of making a living from blogging for a while now anyway. But not a long while, as Hardy Prothmann foretells: Soon an actual German job market for bloggers will emerge - and experts urgently needed, as community expert Teresa Bücker confirms. As journalism schools still focus on print journalism, Since there is no proper training for bloggers. Qualified people are rare. To solve the problem, German the German regional newspaper Rheinzeitung invented a traineeship for bloggers only. This has the big advantage that the aspirants' oevre is available in its totality for everyone to read already, as Tarek Amr from Cairo points out. (Tarek himself, by the way, has only made a total of $100 from advertising revenue in the last five years.) No wonder long-established print journalists are looking down on competition crawling out of their Web 2.0 networks. But watch out for the Digital Bohème trap! It was Julia again who very well summed up how the once stylish movement that was aiming at revolutionizing the working world from home and co-working offices, quickly imploded: Too few business plans and no employers who ensured the bloggers' health insurance - two name but two of the problems most of the digital bohemians were facing.

Undoubtedly, though, a blog is a heavy stepping stone into the working world. The media business especially.

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