I wrote this back in January, but I thought it was worth revisiting in
the light of Charles Arthur’s recent feature on blogging and also the
arrival of a new media network in Handpicked Media.
I have updated it, but my original view hasn’t really chnaged
Over the last six months or so much has been written about the
apparent demise of blogging. The story runs that fewer people are
blogging, blog networks are struggling to attract advertising and high
profile bloggers have ditched the format and are using other social
media tools such as Twitter.
The latest media company to put blogging under the microscope is NMA.
A piece in this week’s issue written by Greg Brooks rehashes much of
what has been written online, but then adds a uniquely British spin.
So for example he asks Dela Quist from email company Alchemyworx who,
surprise surprise, thinks that brands shouldn’t waste their time
blogging but look for other formats – err that’ll be email I am
guessing. Then Jamie Riddell of digital agency Cheeze adds that other
platforms have replaced blogging.
The rest of the piece is, IMO, actually a really useful summary of the
blogosphere and its conclusion that the blog market is evolving not
dying is something I can concur with.
In fact I would go beyond what Brooks is saying and argue that we may
be at the start of a renaissance in blogging.
Firstly let’s have a quick look at those death of blogging sacred
cows. Yes, fewer people in the US and Europe are blogging these days,
but the quality and breadth of topics covered by the blogs remains
high. People who two years ago dabbled with blogging are now using
other social media tools which they probably feel more comfortable
Secondly a few high profile bloggers have dropped out – most notably Jason Calacanis
the founder of Weblogs Inc which developed one of the world’s uber blogs in Engadget.But almost all the other key
commentators in tech and media are still blogging. And as for
Mr.Calacanis, let’s just say that he’s always up for a good publicity
stunt and his quitting blogging announcement did brand Calacanis no
harm at all.
Thirdly commercial blogging is in rude health. There are still big
money acquisitions going on, most notably The Guardian’s purchase of the media focussed Paid Content group, and most of
the blog networks (Gawker and B5 to name but two) have reported
very healthy rises in ad revenue for 2008. Gawker, in particular has
tightened its belt and cut costs for 2009, but come the recovery its
owner Brit Nick Denton will be in a very strong position to take the
business forward or perhaps to sell it. He’ll be able to command a
huge price for it if, as has been predicted, we see a serious cull in newspapers and magazines in 2009 and 2010. Blog networks are able to produce a lot of high
quality content relatively cheaply and that’s a luxury that
established media brands with all their associated costs are finding
it very difficult to replicate.
Also people are still launching new websites and networks. In addition
to Handpicked 2009 has also seen the arrival of Midas Media and,
closer to home, Anorak Media.
Where I think we will see a blogging renaissance in the UK could be in
local and channel content. The economics of producing regional
newspapers are looking shakier every day and already a number of
journalists have lost their jobs. Some of the savvy ones are producing online content for their geographical area. It might take time to
build an audience and advertisers (in most instances commercial blogs
take the best part of two years before they develop a large enough
readership to monetise) but if the journos stick with it they could
soon have thriving businesses.
In the channels people who have been blogging for a few years now are
starting to reap the rewards. A good example of this is David Murphy
who through his blog, MobileMarketingMagazine
has solidified his position as an authority in his chosen channel.
David told me that he is not only making money through advertising,
but the blog has lead to all sorts of opportunities from speaking at
conferences through to consultancy. Any freelance journalist worth
their salt now needs to be looking beyond the traditional fees they
get from publishers. If they can capture a channel in the way that
David has they can attract that all important revenue from additional
As for the concept of Twitter killing blogging – well look back over
your tweets – how many of them have alerted you to blog posts?
Probably quite a few. Twitter feeds off blogging and in many ways
provides the blogger with a very potent way of exposing their content
Finally blogging software is now evolving. Brian Gardner and his Revolution concept has enabled
WordPress bloggers to keep their blogging sensibilities but develop
sites that looks more like traditional websites. There are some great
examples on how this can be used and in time they will finally blur
the boundaries between what is a blog and what is a website.
At the heart of blogging is a very simple CMS that enables anyone with
an idea and a passion for a topic to create content. That is such a
potent weapon for any wordsmith that it I am sure it means that
blogging will be with us for a very long time.