Vancouver blogger Rebecca Bollwittt shows her latest cheque from Google.

Most people think of blogs as hobby web sites where people talk about their kids, hobbies, or local restaurants. And while that’s certainly true of a lot of blogs, some Canadian bloggers are actually making some reasonably decent money from their writing.

Tod Maffin explores the world of blogging… for dollars.

* Note: This piece originally aired in 2007.

In Vancouver, a conference is underway. It’s for computer programmers who are writing applications for the social media web site Facebook.

But at the back of the room, one of the delegates is eyes-down on her notebook computer, typing furiously. Uploading photos. Refreshing blog posts.

Her name is Rebecca Bollwitt and she’s a LiveBlogger — one example of how the hobby of blogging is starting to become real business.

Here’s how LiveBlogging works. A blogger is at an event, usually one that’s sold out, and covers it in real time on their blog.

CLIP: “What I do is I have one blog post that’s open and I just keep editing and saving, editing and saving, and the reader just refreshs and new content pops up.”

In Rebecca’s case, she started doing it about a year ago. That’s when the musician Matthew Good asked her to live-blog a private concert he was holding.

CLIP: “So he wanted me to live-blog it so that people on the Internet could leave comments and ask him questions and stuff for those who couldn’t be there because it was a private show. So then since then, I just started attending all these social media conferences, and I thought “Hmm, I want to take notes, but why don’t I just blog it. It’s a social media-blogging conference, so I just started liveblogging those – I just put little timestamps and if I can find links for whoever’s speaking I put those on there too. Yeah it just became a hobby, except tonight it’s taken a new step!”

And that new step is money. She’s getting paid to be at this conference and blog about it.

Blogging has long been thought of as a hobby. Something people do when they’re bored, or just to keep friends in the loop about their lives.

But these days, blogging can turn into real cash.

Rebecca sells ads on her site, for instance — from 25 to 100 dollars, depending on what size you want your ad, and where you want it to be on her page. And her blog, mostly about Vancouver, is highly ranked in the all-important Google search.

Google itself will PAY bloggers to put ads on their sites.

And the money comes remarkably easy. The blogger spends a couple of minutes telling Google what kind of ads they’re willing to display, Google spits out about a dozen lines of computer code, and the blogger just pastes that code into their blog where they want the ads to appear.

And that’s it.

Google starts sending them cheques. The more people who click on the ads, the more money Google will send you. And you never have to touch that code again. There are people who spent about two minutes putting that code in place three years ago, and they still get cheques from Google every month.

Google likes blogs because they’re targetted. There are blogs for people who love pugs. Blogs for extreme quilters. Blogs for men who like to take baths. Okay, truth be told, that one’s mine.

Needless to say, Google’s customers — companies, mostly — want their ad to appear on web pages that are related to their product or service.

As for how much money… it depends entirely on the blog’s traffic. Some people earn more than $10,000 a month, thanks to the hundreds of thousands of visits they get.

On my blogs? I earn about….12 cents a day. ‘Cause really, only my mom visits. Thanks mom!

For CBC Radio, I’m Tod Maffin.