Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Blogging for love and money: the blog niche in the media universe

Not too long ago Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion posted a link to this piece about "A-List Bloggers" and how many of them support their sites with ads:

There is a myth being perpetrated in the tech blogosphere that it isn’t about the money; that the real bloggers do it for the love it. Well they might be doing it for the love of it but the money they are making isn’t hurting matters at all...

Well, I'm not familiar with that myth, but I think there's an element of truth to it: it's very hard to really make money off of a blog. That post calls the ads a "dirty little secret" but it's not actually a secret at all.

The ad thing is, I think, no big deal; blogging is work and if you can bring in some cash from it, it justifies spending the time on it more directly than what most of us do, which is use our blogs to establish thought leadership, blow off steam, make connections with other bloggers by participating in the great online conversation, and so on. (Don't be surprised if you see things like Google ads turning up here in the future; we're talking about things like that.)

What actually bugs me is this whole idea of "A-List bloggers" (and not just because I'm not one of them!). Yes, there are blogs that are much more widely read than others, because they're great, or their writers are well-known, and so forth. But isn't the whole point of blogging that it's low-entry-cost self publishing, so everybody can hop into the conversation?

Is an "A-List blog" better than those of us who are farther down the alphabet? If you want to run ads on it, sure, but if you only read the big blogs, you're essentially reading a bunch of newspapers. Nothing wrong with that, but the real power of blogging is the ability to find smaller voices that may be only talking to 100 people but saying really interesting things. And for those 100 people, those bloggers are indeed A-List.

People like to rank and list things, so the A-List is inevitable, but I think it misses the point. Many A-List blogs seem to me to be moving from what I think of as "real" blogging - the conversations among the small bloggers - into an entirely different media niche.

Nothing wrong with that, but it's just something different than what most of us do.

I watch the traffic stats for this blog closely, and we seem to have a small but loyal group of readers, and that's great. Sure, I'd love it if ten times as many people read it - and we talk about how to get more people visiting this site - but for me, at least, that's not the main point.

Why do you blog? (Why don't you?) How do you pick blogs for your daily reading?

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2 comments:

Michael said...

John,
Good post. It seems that many (most?) of the supposed A-List bloggers are forgetting their roots, becoming "mini-media empires," and thinking too much of themselves.

While I peak at Rubel, Scoble, etc., I don't do it often. I'd rather be like Hemingway and "read the blogs less traveled."

If you get a Twitter account, you'll see a lot of what I mean. It seems there, a lot or enough bloggers post so darn often -- about nothing really -- that I've removed them and don't follow them.

Yes, blogging, for the most part, isn't a money-making effort. It is an exercise to work out one's thoughts, learn from others, and strut your stuff a bit.
-- Mike

Mary Schmidt said...

Two reasons why I blog:

John Whiteside
Maureen Rogers

I would have never "met" either of you if not for blogging. And, I read your blogs far more than others for your wit, insight, and ideas.

Another reason: Indirect business development. I enjoy blogging and people enjoy reading it. If they then need some biz dev or marketing help, they're already comfortable with me and my style.

Google ads are an individual choice. "Never say never" but I don't plan to have them since I don't want to write about some scam, for example, and then right next to it, up pops an ad for the company doing the scam. Plus, I like an uncrowded, consistent look. All that said, I'm redoing my site/blog later this year so who knows what directions I decide to take.