The blogging world is changing and unless you change, you’re going to be left behind.
Before you launch your new blog, you’d better have a long, hard think about what you’re getting yourself into. The days of publishing new, fresh and insightful posts have gone. The days of starting a new niche blog every couple of months have gone. The days of making money with a blog have gone.
You missed the train, buddy.
Blogging is dead. It has ceased to be. It’s not tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk and it’s definitely not pining for the fjords. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. It’s kicked the bucket. It’s shuffled off its mortal coil.
However I have had a look around the back of the shop and I might just have found a replacement for you.
It’s called blogging.
Confused? You will be…
If you’re not a fan of Monty Python then you’re probably already confused so do yourself a favour and go off and read the Dead Parrot sketch and I’ll see you again in a couple of minutes.
OK, so let’s carry on shall we?
No matter how beautiful your blogs plumage is, you’ve got to start making some changes really soon otherwise it will soon become an ex-blog. The way people interact with blogs is changing and, as a blogger, it’s vital that you understand this. Whilst some of the statements are above are bordering on the sensationalist, there is also more than a hint of truth in each one.
Over the last few months I’ve seen a definite shift in the way people write and use blogs. I touched on this briefly in my last post and it prompted some interesting discussion in the comments section. The conversation carried on over at Blog Blokes place in his post about the end of blogging where we looked at once prolific bloggers who now either post infrequently or not at all. People are dropping out of blogging at a rapid rate of knots so the question has to be Why? One of my commenters suggested that it was natural selection – survival of the fittest – and there’s some truth in that but I see it as also being about a change in reader expectation levels.
People had much lower expectation levels of blogs say 3 years ago whereas today they expect – demand – to be entertained/educated/enlightened.
When I started blogging a couple of years ago it was the norm for people to post at least once a day and, in a number of cases, more than once a day but that seems to have changed over the last 6-12 months. I previously joked that perhaps people had run out of things to say which explains why folks have moved away from posting multiple times a day. Certainly there is evidence that those blogs which continue to post more than once a day are now using guest authors to keep up the post volume. Skellie seems to post on ProBlogger more regularly than Darren Rowse and let’s not even start with John Chow. Does that guy ever post anything any more apart from posting pictures of his latest restaurant trip?
Maybe blogging has gone full circle and we’re back to writing about our cat and what we had for lunch.
No, I think it’s more about the expectation levels. There are millions of blogs out there vying for attention and unless you’re consistently writing outstanding content, posting every day could kill your blog. A couple of years ago I used my feed reader in a “set and forget” mindset. I’d subscribe to a site and then rarely unsubscribe. Provided the author wasn’t writing something that I vehemently disagreed with, I’d stay subscribed. Today if someone doesn’t deliver within a few posts, they’re outta here. I simply don’t have the time to wade through 20 posts to find that one golden nugget.
Maki gets it. He used to update Dosh Dosh on a daily basis. These days he only posts a couple of times a week but, rest assured, those posts are nearly always packed with great content and useful information. Every time I see a new post from Maki, I’m all over it like a rash whereas there are others in my feed reader who I haven’t read for a couple of weeks. Unless I see something that educates, entertains or enlightens me in the next couple of posts, I’ll probably ditch them.
When Aaron Wall made changes to his SEO Book program, I was concerned about whether the quality of his posts would drop as his focus shifted to his new venture. In the article I said that I felt Yaro Starak had dropped the ball after he launched his Blog Mentoring project and Yaro responded by saying
Fair enough Mike. People come and go and their perception of any blogs content changes regardless of the blogger…I remember speaking to Darren [Rowse] one time and he said he felt like he had an entire new audience every 12 months since old people move on and new people subscribe.
I thought this was a fair point and it has probably been bouncing around in my sub-conscience for the last couple of months. Now regardless of whether you make money with your blog or not, I think it’s important to view your blogging ventures as a business. It helps you maintain a focus and direction. In most industries there is an accepted churn rate or attrition rate. Your customer base is constantly changing. New customers come. Old customers go. So long as you maintain a customer base at a level to sustain your business, you can continue to turn a profit. With your blogging business, it’s very similar. Your RSS subscribers may well be remaining stable or increasing each month but that doesn’t mean that it’s the same people subscribing month on month. I unsubscribe from your site and someone else subscribes. The numbers are the same but the faces are different.
Blog Churn or Blog Burn?
With every passing hour, another couple of hundred new blogs are created. The authors of those blogs, unless they’re scraping content, are starting off with all the best intentions. They want their blog to be a success. They want people to read their blog. They think that within a couple of months that they’ll be vying for a spot in the Technorati Top 100.
They’re going to fail.
They’re approaching it in the wrong mindset. The chances are that they’ve been sucked in by the blogging hype created by the “experts” or the garbage they’re read in the latest “get rich through blogging” eBook. They see blogging as a quick way to make a buck or to get that elusive book deal but the advice they’re following is outdated. They believe that they can roll out a series of pillar articles, drop by a few blogs to leave a comment and get some Stumble Lovin’ and the job is done but things have changed.
In today’s blogosphere it takes you a couple of years to become an overnight sensation.
The signal to noise ratio is such that there is no longer any long term future for the mediocre. Last year you might have got away with it. The year before you would probably have got a rabid following but today? No chance. The days of rolling out new content every single day and expecting people to lap it up is so 2006, darlink.
Over the last two years I’ve seen a number of blogs appear, gain a lot of traction and then get sold off for big dollars. You can see the obvious attraction of blogging when you read about a 9 month old blog that has just sold for $20k. The problem is that the new owner doesn’t write in the same engaging way as the previous owner so, in most cases, the blog fizzles and dies. Why? Because people tend to subscribe to people, not blogs. As a result, how many big dollar blog purchases have you seen in the last few months?
With the saturation of blogs, people have become more selective with what and who they read. You’ve either got to deliver with every single post or you’ve got to be able to relate to your reader on a personal level. The successful bloggers are those that follow these rules. They’ve recognised the shift in blogging and have adapted to the new way of working. It’s all about the Four E’s:
The Future Of Blogging
The evolution of blogging has seen a shift from single authors to collaborative efforts. Every blog in the Top Ten of the Technorati list is written by multiple authors. TechCrunch started out in 2005 as a place for Michael Arrington to share his passion for technology start ups. Today it has 790,000 RSS subscribers, a team of full time bloggers and a seven figure turnover. Now you may be thinking that if Arrington can do it, you can do it too but the fact is that the way people interact with and view blogs has changed since ’05.
Going back to the post by Blog Bloke, he suggests that the rise of social networking and services like Twitter could be contributing factors to the demise of blogging and he’s got a point. Blogging was shiny and relatively new when TechCrunch started but today there are so many more diversions out there that you’ve got to be seen to be doing something different to capture attention.
So where is all this going? Well in my opinion we’re going to see blogging fracture and splinter. To a certain extent it’s already happening but the difference is that this time some media whizz will come up with some snappy buzzword and, before you know it, we’ll be at the start of the new age of online publishing.
There’ll be Buzzword A content produced by large multimedia companies employing staff writers who roll out 15-20 articles a day, get regularly quoted in Time Magazine and be regarded as the superstars of the Internet. Then there’ll be Buzzword B content which is made up of websites run as a co-operative by like minded individuals all focusing on their passion, knowledge or expertise of a specific niche. Nomadic writers will sell their content to the highest bidder and attract a cult following who slaver at their every word. Syndication methods will evolve to allow the reader to differentiate between Buzzword A and Buzzword B to deliver laser focused content straight to their desktop. Buzzword A publishers will sneer and look down on the Buzzword B writers, all of whom secretly want to be A-listers in spite of their public name calling and accusations of selling out, and, in the middle of all this, will be the one man band who, having been freed from the shackles of expectation and any over hyped buzzword, will continue to write about the things that interest them.
It’s blogging, Jim, but not as we know it.
Preparing Your Plumage
The future of online publishing is changing and whether you agree with where it might end up, it’s difficult to deny that the blogosphere is fragmenting and shifting its focus. Recognising that fact is the first step to getting yourself ready for the next level. The key thing is to stop what you’re currently doing and ask yourself some serious questions.
- What am I doing?
- Why am I doing it?
- What do I want to achieve?
You’d better be really thinking about your answers because you’re going to live or die by the decisions you make over the next few weeks. Are you going to embrace the new age as part of a collaborative venture or as a standalone? Do you see yourself as the next Michael Arrington? If so you’d better get your arse in gear because time is running out. Planning to make money with your blog? Well you’d better have a crystal clear objective in mind and not deviate from it because in the new age you don’t get a second chance.
Someone once said that Internet years are like dog years. 1 year in real time = 7 Internet years. I think that’s probably a fair reflection of online time. Putting things off by a couple of months online is akin to letting your business stagnate for a couple of years without doing anything about it. You wouldn’t do it, would you? You’d react and adapt to shifts in your market as they happened so why should your blogging business be any different?