Chapter 3: Whatever Blogging
1In 2007, e-commerce types were agog at the success of American teenager, AshleyQualls. By the time she was seventeen, she was making over a million dollars a year fromWhateverlife.com, the busy pink website she designed to market MySpace page layouts. Marketis not quite the right word, though. Her layouts and ad-ons weren’t for sale. They were free. Her income came from advertising. Because Whateverlife.com gets more than sixty million hits amonth, exceeding the circulation of several of the most popular English-language teen magazinescombined, it supplies advertisers with a valuable commodity, the eyeballs of teenage girls.Qualls, or ‘AshBo’ as she calls herself, started Whateverlife.com in 2004. By 2007, she hadexpanded her site into something close to a community for girls, a go-to site where girls couldfind tutorials for making their own layouts as well as a variety of images, banners, captions, buttons, and boxes for decorating their MySpace pages. In addition to the revenue-generatingads, Whateverlife.com (with its growing staff of writers and designers) features a magazine and alink to AshBo’s blog on her MySpace page.Although Qualls’ popularity is exceptional, her profile fits the dominant one for U.S. bloggers: she is under thirty and female.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project report onTeens and Social Media provides some context: only eight percent of adult internet users in theU.S. have created a blog, but twenty-eight percent of online teens blog, and these are most likelyto be girls. Describing her site as ‘a place to express yourself,’ Qualls repeats the reason mostU.S. bloggers give for blogging, a wish to express herself creatively.
By 2007 she was earningenough from ‘Whateverlife.com’ to drop out of high school and purchase a house.