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?