Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Catching the Blog Bug

(A slightly edited version of this post was published in Sunday Inquirer Magazine, September 30, 2007. Click here and here for the SIM pieces. )

In this digital age, when people meet socially, they exchange mobile phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Now, they have begun to swap web and blog addresses, too.

Having a blog is a badge of honor among serious internet users. It is like saying: ‘I have my online home; you have yours. I visit you; you visit me.”

As they read and comment on each other’s posts, bloggers form friendships and build an online society like no other. This is known as the blogosphere where members converse, share ideas, join forces for some common cause, arrange to meet face-to-face, and, yes, differ and bicker.

Bloggers are arguably the crème de la crème of Internet users. Their demography reveals they are young (15-35), highly literate, and upwardly mobile. They are perceived as an influential group that can persuade, mold public opinion, sell products.

Big business is waking up to the power of bloggers to inform and influence. Globe Telecom began the trend of gathering bloggers in product launches and other events. SM Hypermarket elevated it a notch with blogger parties, a blogging contest, and blogsites of its own. Product development and marketing staff of food companies are known to monitor food blogs to feel the customer pulse. Restaurants like Portico and Max’s Fried Chicken invite bloggers to sample their menu and ambiance. Meanwhile, the number of businesses placing advertising spots on high-traffic blogs is growing.

Blogging power was palpably demonstrated recently when a newspaper columnist, earning collective bloggers’ ire with her elitist remarks against OFWs, buckled down, apologized and offered to resign.

Already questions are being asked of blogs as a new medium of “citizen journalism.” Will they threaten paper-and-ink newspapers and magazines? Will they push out more traditional websites? How much more impact can they make on doing business?

Blogging wasn’t too respectable in the late 1990s when the first blogs appeared. Back then, a blog was little more than an online diary or journal of events. It was at first dismissed as an easy, sleazy way of publicly revealing or promoting oneself.

Today, there are an estimated 200,000 Pinoy bloggers -- from about 40,000 a year ago -- and hundreds of different kinds of blogs. Many are still very personal and journal-like. Some are philosophical, political, family-oriented. There are blogs for every hobby or interest imaginable: sports, music, entertainment, food, home, arts and crafts, fashion and style, health and fitness. There are individual and group blogs or networks; business, professional, technology, and advocacy blogs.

Many bloggers are frustrated writers who find instant gratification in blogging. “I am oh-so familiar with rejection slips,” admits one newbie blogger. “Now I am my own author, editor and publisher.”

There are, of course, blogs and blogs and those that have made it. “Making it” may mean differently to different bloggers. It may mean making big bucks out of blogging, winning a prestigious award, or simply being read by thousands of loyal followers.

Any “A list” of local blogsites will include yugatech.com by Abe “Yuga” Olandres, widely regarded pioneer and master among Pinoy bloggers. Blogging since 2000, he owns many other sites and portals that earn income for him. Bloggers and readers log on to his pinoytopblogs.com for an objective ranking of the best blogsites by popularity and category.

Another blogging pioneer is J. Angelo Racoma, who talks about making money from blogging at The Jspot (racoma.com.ph). He knows whereof he speaks: he left a comfortable 8-5 job to blog fulltime. He now works from home as editor-in-chief of an international blogging network, which enables him to hire his kababayan as bloggers, researchers, and web designers. The Racomas are a blogging family – from the matriarch, Dine, 49 down to the baby, Alan, Jr., 11.

Connie Veneracion, who quit lawyering for mothering, founded pinoymomsnetwork.com this February and parlayed it months later into a widely-read electronic magazine run by about a hundred members who exchange mommy stories. Connie, who began blogging in 2003, is also the author of two food blogs, pinoycook.com and pinoyfoodtalk.net.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, may be a come-lately, but her months-old aboutmyrecovery.com won last year the first ever blogging category of the Philippine Web Awards which used to recognize websites only. She writes about bouncing back from the loss of her young son and translating grief into positive energy through various advocacies, including support for the bereaved.

Olandres, Racoma, and Dado are all professional bloggers who have succeeded in monetizing their blogs on the basis of readership volume. Olandres, however, warns “blogging is no get-rich-quick scheme” and that “blogging is for everyone but earning from blogs is for a few.”

The inception of the Philippine Blog Awards (PBA) this year was an unmistakable signal blogging has finally come to its own. According to Jayvee Fernandez, award co-organizer and another master blogger (abuggedlife.com), blogs are judged by a panel representing both mainstream and the new blogging media, on quality of content, consistency in sticking to niche topics, frequency of blogging, popularity, and design.

PBA’s plum “bloggers’ choice award” was won by Market Man of marketmanila.com authored by a semi-retired management consultant who writes about “overspending in markets and food shops,” “chopping vegetables for therapy,” and cooking up a storm in his kitchen with a six-burner Viking stove, three refrigerators, and 200 cookbooks.

Here are other winners of the first ever Philippine Blog Awards in various categories:

Personal: misteryosa.com (views and reviews of a Filipina)
Home and living: Wifely Steps at toni.marikit.com
Socio-political: philippinecommentary.blogspot.com
News and media: Inside PCIJ at pcij.org.blog

Fashion and lifestyle: Bryanboy: Le Superstar Fabuleux at bryanboy.typepad.com
Technology: Leon Kilat: The Cybercafe Experiments at max.limpag.com
Business/Entrepreneurship: Reflections of a BizDrivenLife at ngkhai.net/bizdrivenlife
Entertainment: retzwerx.com (Filipino entertainment at its best)
Sports and recreation: whoridesavespa.com (all about motorcycling with a Vespa)
Travel: Ivan About Town at ivanhenares.com (personal travelogues in 46 of 81 Phlippine provinces).

Janette Toral, e-commerce guru, who blogs at digitalfilipino.com launched her own “Top Ten Emerging Influential Bloggers” awards last June which recognized new bloggers based on endorsement by peers.

But long before A-listers began to blog, there was Lauren Dado, the first known Pinoy blogger, who published an untitled journal in 1996, when ready-made blogging platforms and templates were unheard of. She created her site from scratch, at 10, with self-taught html language. Now 21 and an IT professional, Lauren still blogs at laurganism.com.
Lauren Dado at 10 (left) and at 21 with mom Noemi (right).

17 comments:

lazarus said...

Blogging has really gone a long long way. Are friendster blogs included in the stats?

niceheart said...

Wow, miss anna. Journalist ka na rin pala. :) Very informative article.

Bloggers rule !

auee said...

"Bloggers are arguably the crème de la crème"

naks :-)

Nicely written, Anna. You're getting so much exposure na din ha. Congratulations!

Chateau said...

It's nice to be able to read the article all over. I look forward to more of your articles on SIM. Meron pa di ba?

Hey fellow-fans, watch out for more! :)

Major Tom said...

Wow, this is a classic piece on blogging and very informative too. Congrats for being published on SIM
for this and I think it is yet another feather on thy cap (while of course I expect you have been published
so many times before).

houseband00 said...

Don't you just love sleazy self-promotion? =)

PS
You do know I am joking. =)

vernaloo said...

I wonder who was the first ever blogger in the world...and where is he or she now.

rowena said...

Hi Myrna, this blogging bug has bitten me and I don't mind. Am so happy I've discovered this new world. Now, I've gained so many friends like you, am so honored. I hope I can continue blogging til my hair turns gray, ha ha ha.

exskindiver said...

teka.
i read this the other day,
and i did not realize that YOU wrote it.
and i was wondering why the writer did not talk about my favorite blogger,
annamanila ;-)

galing. congrats on the piece.

ann santos said...

hi! this is such a great article about blogging! congrats! :)

rowena said...

Hi Myrna, you have another award, please get it on my site. Cheers!

intsik said...

hi dear! missed your post1 naku at marami na nga palang award-giving bodies dito ano. heheheheheh

isa lang naman ang naging objective ko: makapagsulat. It turned to be therapeutic. it turned to be a community of friends. it turned to be a good way of spending internet time.

more importantly, it is my way of connecting to people. salamat at naging ka-knonek kita! salamat din sa mga papuri mo sa ilan sa mga post ko.

alam ko, ang iba nito ay medyo outrageously funny and direct! hahahahahaha

salamat pa rin!

Gypsy said...

"Bloggers are arguably the crème de la crème of Internet users."

Wow, ha, kasali ako dyan!!Ehem! Who wants my autograph??? Hehe...dyok...!

Jerry said...

Chockful of interesting highlights about blogging. I didn't know there are so many Pinoy bloggers!

Heart of Rachel said...

Hi Annamanila. Blogging has opened many doors of opportunities and friendships for me.

Thanks for sharing about these blogging highlights and the inspiring people in the blogosphere.

Toe said...

Congratulations on this article Annamanila! Good job! :)

On the other hand, there are some people naman, when I tell them that I have a blog, they say, "What's that?" :)

diogenes said...

Nice :-)

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