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From his home office in Lower Hutt, Richard MacManus is living the blogging dream.

His daily blog on technology issues - Read/WriteWeb - has enough readers around the world to generate a full-time income.

"At the moment the advertising on the site is sustaining me and paying the mortgage, so to speak," says MacManus, who quit his job as a web manager to become a fulltime blogger in August 2005.

Professional blogging today has the lifestyle allure share market day trading had a decade ago. Although some try to make it a career, few succeed.

There are more than 50 million blogs in existence. Read/WriteWeb attracts more than 600,000 page views per month and is linked to over 4000 other blogging sites, making it the world's 51st most popular blog, according to blog tracking website, Technorati. To put that in perspective, popular New Zealand blog Public Address was last ranked as the world's 12,099th most popular. The authors of a new local global warming blog, Celsias, this month announced that after less than eight weeks their site had "zoomed from obscurity" to a Technorati ranking of 39,610.

"It took me about three years of quite hard work on the blog to get it to that point where I was able to make a bit of money," MacManus says.

"You have to put in a lot of energy and a lot of time. It's not something that's going to happen overnight."

His advice to budding professional bloggers is to pick a niche topic they are interested in and know about.

"Then just start writing. It will take a while to find your voice, but in the end what attracts readers is being knowledgeable about your topic and contributing original and thoughtful commentary."

He says becoming a force in the blogosphere involves "engaging the community" by posting on other blogs to help build an online reputation.

"The really popular blogs are the ones where readers can tell the author is passionate about the topic."

About 50 per cent of Read/WriteWeb's readers are in the United States, with the United Kingdom providing the next biggest audience of 7 per cent. Less than 1 per cent of the site's visitors are from New Zealand.

However, being based in New Zealand appears to have helped the site's popularity. Feedback posted by readers suggests MacManus's international perspective on technology is a feature of his writing they enjoy.

He has never lived in the US but has done consultancy work for Silicon Valley technology firms and says that region remains the hub of web-based business development opportunities.

There is no reason a New Zealand business couldn't produce the next YouTube, he says.

"I think if a New Zealand company did come up with the next big thing they'd probably find themselves having to go out into that world [Silicon Valley] to get the funding and the networks."


Blogging Tips

How to make money as a writer on the web:

* Choose a niche topic you are passionate about.
* Write unique content with flair and authority.
* Raise your profile by posting to other related blogs.
* Don't give up the day job in a hurry. Building a readership base (and a website advertising income stream) can take years.