9 Thoughts About 9 Thoughts

Shel Israel posted 9 random thoughts about blogging the other day. It’s an interesting list. Here are some thoughts.

1. Law of Diminishing Share

I hadn’t thought of it like that, but at first blush, this makes sense. Maybe that explains why some of the big fish keep trying to recreate the blogosphere in a manner than protects their position. On the other hand, my guess is that if you break the blogosphere into major interest groups (tech being the one most of us reside it), the law of diminishing share is mitigated. Yes Scoble and Mike and all those guys will reach a smaller percentage of the entire blogosphere over time, but the people who end up in the tech corner will still eventually find those guys. The bigger question is whether Scoble and Mike and all those guys will be able to capture the same percentage of new arrivals as subscribers.

2. The Buck’s Not There

I gave AdSense a try for about a month, and what I found is that it takes a buttload of pageviews to get a handful of clicks. I have been consistent in saying that trying to make money blogging is like trying to play in the NBA. It looks like a sweet gig, but very few people make it. In the blogosphere, unless the bloggers who control the mega-blogs get behind you and toss you a rope, you’re going to be, at most, a quick detour on their way to the bank.

3. Size Isn’t Relevance

I agree that who your readers are is more important that how many you have. One Om Malik is worth a thousand MySpace users. The fact of the matter is that, just like MySpace, the blogosphere depends on connections. All the talk about who links to who sometimes overshadows the more important function of links- serving as evidence of a mutual interest and the shared blogging experience. It’s hard not to view links as valuable in and of themselves, but I’d rather have one link from a dedicated blogger or journalist than 1000 from splogs and other non-conversational sites.

4. Give to Get

I think Shel’s three sentences sum up the process of building a blog as well as any I have ever read. Having said that, I think some of us could work a little harder at recognizing the contributions of newish bloggers. It takes about 5 seconds to add a relevant link to a post. People can say what they want, but too many people are far too stingy with their links. When you think about it for a second, that is both self-defeating and silly.

5. It’s the Conversation

I agree with the first part- I became a devotee of the Amy Gahran school of thought a long time ago- blogging is all about the conversation. Having said that, the fact that I live in Texas and not on the west coast shouldn’t be a huge impediment to becoming friends with Shel and other bloggers. Of course I’d like to see some of these folks in person, but that’s not always feasible. On a related note, I’m going to be in San Francisco in early November. I’d love to meet some of the guys I blog around with while I’m there. It will be interesting to see who takes me up on it (more about the trip in a later post).

6. Blogging is Multi-Sensory

I didn’t believe this for a long time. Now I do. Podcasting and other audio-video blog content are big now- and I’m convinced the trend is just starting.

7. Blogging is Like an Elephant

There’s no doubt about this. Sometimes I feel like the blogosphere is a warm and embracing place and other times I feel like it’s a club that I wouldn’t want to join even if I did get an invitation. The one thing I have concluded about the blogosphere is that, just like in real life, there are a lot more good talkers than good listeners. A good listener is a rare and wonderful thing.

8. ROI is Priceless

Like we talked about in my Who Do You Write For series, bloggers write for different reasons. I still contend that acceptance is a common denominator for all measures of success, but I fully agree that you can get a good return from blogging that doesn’t appear in link counts.

9. Any Blogger Can Be Heard

I don’t completely agree with this. I think the return on content investment in blogging is pretty low. Sure, if you are determined and patient, you can get a seat at the table, but it still strikes me as harder than it ought to be. Seth Finkelstein is probably the smartest person blogging today (forget about whether you agree with him and just look at the way he writes), but he has a hard time getting involved in day to day conversations. I have been blogging hard (hard, I tell you) since June 2005 (before that, I was merely using a blogging platform to manage content on my web page) and while I have scratched and clawed my way to decent link and reader numbers, I still feel like an outsider in the tech space. Most people will respond if I put a worthwhile post right in front of them, but I’m still not really part of the club. And, candidly, if I haven’t completely earned my stripes after all this time, is is reasonable to think that a brand new blogger could waltz up blogger’s hill and take a seat at the table without a lot of help from established mega-bloggers? Sure, it’s possible and it may happen, but the odds are strongly against it.

Those are my thoughts. What do you think?

Tags: ,

4 thoughts on “9 Thoughts About 9 Thoughts

  1. Kent,Two quick comments and then I’m going to bed.1) Your google ads sucked. I accidentally noticed them the day I emailed you about them. You can’t bury them in the basement next to the jaguar and expect people to find them. I bet if you got even slightly more aggressive with the placement, you would have seen a lot more clicks, maybe not enough to get you rich, but enough to take your kids to a movie now and then. Maybe more depending on how much traffic you get.I only get between 50-150 pageviews a day across 4 blogs and I am getting really close to making enough to pay my hosting bill. And that’s with the blogs being new and getting very little search engine traffic. 2) The Blogosphere is not necessarily about open 2 way conversations. If you went to a bar with a bunch of friends and were having a good time, would you be annoyed if some guy who happened to like what you were talking about decided he wanted to talk to you. Cliques are normal things. Big deal. The people you complain about not being friendly with their links are the movie stars of the little blog world. Tom Cruise probably doesn’t respond to every email he gets. I don’t imagine that Scoble, Seth, etc are going to have the time and inclination to do it either.I really like that law of diminishing share concept. I bet that when this whole blogging/online persona thing really hits the mainstream it is going to hit the long/short tail in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine yet. As well as our definitions of who the trend setters are. I bet a lot of nobodies from nowhere are going to be a lot more influential as the rest of the world gets more interactive in the internet/blogging/podcast/vcast world. Should be fun to watch.

  2. I’m appreciate that my AdSense ads were not agressively placed, and others (specifically Randy Morin) have told me that my AdSense experience is not typical. That’s why what was going to be a long post bashing the whole system got canned.Having said that, I still don’t think the typical blogger is going to get a very good return for his or her effort by tossing up some ads. Blogging is hard work and if cash is the goal, there are probably other areas (eBay comes to mind) where the likely financial return is greater. My point in this post was not that you can’t make a little money with ads, but that it’s not wise to blog with making money as a prime motivation.About the bar. You’re right- if some dude walked up and started jabbering at us, I’d want him to get lost. But if I saw the same guy all over the place and he seemed friendly and had something to add to the conversation, over a relatively short period of time he would naturally become a part of the group/conversation.I agree that the some of the people who are at the top of the blogosphere right now will not be at the top if and when blogging goes mainstream. I think Seth G. would argue that many of us will be dead of old age by then- at least as far as news goes.I fear that the bloggers who get a big identity outside of the blogosphere will ultimately be a new set of bloggers funded and directed by old media as it moves online. My worry is that old media will conscript and pervert the blogosphere into some warped version of itself.While I would love to see some new blogging stars, I hope they will be genuine bloggers/journalists and not some creation of the media.

  3. Thanks for the compliment, though “ONE OF the smartest people blogging today” would be more accurate :-).To me, that list is a case study of what I said:”Blog evangelism is very cruel, as it preys on people’s frustrated hopes and dreams.”It’s a MARKETING list – it’s deceptive by the use of emotionally appealing constructions that play on desires, yet will not fulfill them. It employs strategies of weasel-worded phrasing which imply something that will not be delivered.And the ultimate proof is that there is no point in my detailing the fallacies. He could just write a personal attack on me, to which I could not even effectively reply (i.e., be *heard* by a comparable audience). The bogospheric winner is not the one with the best evidence or most accurate reasoning, it’s who is the best demagogue.To reply to: “I agree that the some of the people who are at the top of the blogosphere right now will not be at the top if and when blogging goes mainstream. I think Seth G. would argue that many of us will be dead of old age by then- at least as far as news goes.”Did you mean me, or Seth Godin? – That point’s a FAQ, Frequently Asserted Querulousness. I call it the “Fame Is Fickle” argument. Sure, some stars fade, other rise – but who cares, if YOU will almost certainly remain in obscurity? It doesn’t refute the idea that topics tend to have a few gatekeepers of enormous influence over “discussions”, and everyone else who has to beg them to get much distribution. It’s an attempt to insinuate some sort of egalitarianism from “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” (that is, if the nobles fight over who is king, that’s somehow supposed to make you feel better about being a serf).

Comments are closed.