Blogging is Dead
(Long Live Value Blogging)

Tombstone

Hugh Macleod has written a nice riff about the death of the blogging A-List. What he’s really saying between the lines (in my estimation at least) is that the early bloggers who gained pseudo-celebrity status because they were, well… early, are dwindling in relevance, at least in blog format. And Hugh’s thoughts are a great reinforcer to the fact that the A-List doesn’t matter when it comes to your success anyway.

Hugh’s premise is based on this statement taken from Robert Scoble’s blog:

One trend that bloggers don’t want to talk about? A number of my blogging friends have seen their traffic go down lately. They assume that their readers are off in social networks. I think they are absolutely right.

Let’s talk about Twitter, Pownce and Facebook for a bit, shall we?

I’ve stifled more rants about Twitter since it broke out at this year’s SXSW than just about any other topic. I call Twitter “Revenge of the Cat Blogger” due to the inanity of following the mundane details of some stranger’s personal life. I may enjoy and respect people like Scoble and Chris Pirillo, but what they’re having for lunch is of no interest to me (unless they’ve invited me to join them).

But really… thank goodness for Twitter and the new and improved knock-off Pownce, because these applications give people a more appropriate venue to do this type of stuff. And these applications are great, as is Facebook, for people who actually know each other. I can certainly see the networking opportunities as well.

Want to also track the errand schedule of some so-called A-Lister?

Hey, it’s your life.

So, does this mean blogging is in bad shape? Nope. In fact, the opposite is true.

Blogs that provide true value by teaching, informing and offering unique perspective are thriving. TechCrunch and Problogger are not going anywhere but up, people. Scott Karp’s Publishing 2.0 is prospering, Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits has grown to over 12,000 subscribers in only 6 5 months, and Copyblogger is doing ok, too. These are just a few examples of publications that are outside of the traditional media sphere, and yet are building viable niche audiences.

In truth, the real opportunities for building authority and buzz through social media have only just begun. You simply have to look and see where things are going instead of where they’ve been.

Value will always be key. And you’ll find that the migration of pure social chatter off of blogs and onto social networking applications is a good thing for the rest of us who are looking to build businesses powered in whole or in part by blogs.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Copyblogger is doing more than okay I’d say! ;)

    Anyway, blogs are just another CMS basically. I think the lifespan and popularity of a blog has nothing to do with the fact of whether it is or is not a blog. Instead, I think it relates more to what it has to offered and how well it is organized.

    Additionally, there are plenty of blogs that are organized to appear more like “article” sites and less like weblogs, such that those who are not fond of blogs are still willing to use the site when its content is good enough to draw them in.

    Long story short, I agree with what you’re saying here. Blogging is not dead or dying by any means; it’s more a game of offering valuable content.

  2. The great thing about success is its not always how you judge your success. It could be in RSS subscribers or traffic. Some blogs just make money by existing and creating sales of products.

    SEOBook gains in relevance daily just by selling a product. To me that’s huge.

    Great piece Brian :)

  3. Absolutely! It’s great news to aspiring content providers. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the race… but how much value you’ve created in the process..

    Thanks Brian for the validation…

    Cheers, Ellesse

  4. The problem with a lot of the A-list bloggers is that many of their blogs went from being interesting/relevant into shameless diaries of self-promotion. “I’m speaking at [whatever] conference”, “I’ve just launched….” or any of that garbage.

    About six months ago, I decided to follow a number of A-list bloggers, but quickly unsubscribed from all their feeds – unless you’re stalking these people, there’s little worth reading on their blogs.

  5. Yep :)

    Relevance is everything – and with relevance comes value, and value, readers.

    Long live value blogging! :)

    Thanks, Andrew

  6. My quote that started this whole thread was misunderstood. The bloggers who told me their traffic was going down were NOT “A-listers.”

    A listers I know are seeing their traffic go up, me included. Why? Brian nailed it above.

  7. The value of Twitter is not in following the errand schedule and lunch menu of some A-lister. The value of Twitter lies in feeling connected to your friends and colleagues in a much more immediate, casual and low-investment way than other social mediums like email and even IM. Anyone who has more than about 50 Twitter friends is missing the point.

  8. First, Twitter has improved my site traffic by a factor of almost 40%. While everyone else is talking about lunch, I sneak in the occasional, “Do you think social networks are stupid?” with a link to my blog. Sure, I do chit-chat as well, but it’s driven traffic, in my case.

    Being that I do a certain amount of shameless self-promotion on my blog, I took it to heart when I read Gerard’s comment. It’s a good point to make. When the blog becomes a blog about the blogger (that repetition is hurting my head), it’s probably turned a corner.

    Another great post, Mr. Brian. Thank you.

  9. Blogging is certainly not dead.

    Copyblogger has grown from 6000 subscribers to over 19,000 in just the short time I’ve been reading it (congrats!). Countless other blogs have become popular in the same time frame.

    Have things changed from what they used to be? Certainly. That’s what happens with marketing, and business in general. Since the advent of the internet so many paradigms have been broken and so many mediums have been invented that it’s nearly impossible to keep track.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with your distillation though, providing value is key. As long as you provide value to someone, you’ll continue to grow.

    Also, I think the value of blogs has been reaffirmed lately if anything – look at Google’s purchase Feedburner.

    As always, great article Brian.

  10. I agree if it means we’ll be free from entire blogs devoted to the nuances of people’s personal, yet average lives.

    It does depend on who the people are! There’s definitely a market for material about celebrities. If someone’s been successful in business, I’ll happily digest their shared wisdom on a blog even if it does mention their favourite ice-cream and plans for lunch. They have to get the balance right between showing who they are and offering something of value.

    An “auto-biographical” blog is as good as any other in my opinion if it teaches me something.

  11. I saw some stagnant growth in my blog but I was able to break free with a post that made it to the home page of Slashdot. I’m confident that my blog is, in no way, dead and has only started its growth.

    As well, the answer is not to compete with the social networks, but to join them and supplement your readership through them. It’s a great means of syndicating your blog.

    Great post!
    Doug

  12. Obervations about Twitter are interesting. I was a little lost as to its attraction/business benefit but reading this post and comments has been helpful.

    I agree with what you say about value. If blogger audience numbers are dropping to reflect readers truly seeking value blogging, then that’s good news. More than enough people like that out there as you indicate referencing Copyblogger and others like TechCrunch.

    Excellent post!

  13. So are social networking sites the realm of the personal, whilst blogging becomes the realm of the professional?

    Its interesting though that people choose to use readership as their main metric. Not how engaged people are, nor how motivated, nor their loyalty. Perhaps it’s actually the metric that need to be examined…

  14. Blogging’s not even close to it’s peak as of yet.

    In fact, we’re still in the early adopter phase.

    The fact is, blogging’s leading the way for ALL websites, not just frequently updated ones, trending towards more interactivity with their visitors.

    Every time a useful new widget or plugin is introduced, we get that much closer to the top of the heap.

    The only problem I have with Twitter is when bloggers put those stupid thangs in their main RSS feed.

    Start a tweet feed or I’ll unsubscribe from all you twits.

  15. There is no doubt that social networking has remarkable future beyond our boldest dreams, but I think that blogs are just a different media, a different communication channel.

    They will not die! I am sure that they will grow and evolute, but they will not die! How could I know?

    When the blog-sphere have started its phenomenal growth, what have happened to CNN.com (for example)? Is it dead now? No! They just have added blogs as new media channel. :)))

    The blogs are not enemies to social networking sites. They could be friends!

  16. It’s all communications. And it boils down (whatever the medium) to GOOD STUFF. Or, another way of putting it, value – esp. over the long haul.

    Good content with produced by an interesting personality with a useful focus will always find its way to the top.

  17. I agree with what Gerry said- when I first started blogging, I blogged unaware of the so-called celeb-bloggers. Then I started noticing them as people nominated me for stuff on Bloggy award type thingys.

    I then noticed that all sleb-bloggers nominated other sleb-bloggers and anyone new got ignored. the horrible cliquey-ness bugged me. And yes, I found myself unsubscribing their blogs as time went by anyway, as they were all about how fabulous they were and how many book/magazine deals etc they got. If they had started blogging with that standard of writing in the first place then they’d have no readers at all.

    Also a lot of these so called A lister think they are above commenting on others’ blogs and replying to comments. Just who do they think they are?

    Also I haven’t a Scooby Doo what twitter is, and I care even less. Sounds annoying.

  18. I completely agree with this, Brian. The A-list has never really interested me. I do read kottke and plasticbag (Tom Coates), but only because they tend to have a lot of links to interesting articles.

    Of course, the same content could probably be found on Digg, Reddit, and other similar pages, so I suppose even the A-listers who do little more than link to other content are fairly irrelevant these days.

  19. Ah nuts, I just got going on my personal blog and now the world is moving on? I’m not allowed on myspace because my wife thinks its for pervs. I’m on facebook, but I don’t think she knows it yet.

  20. PS: I twitter: Woot, MacLeod and Dickman.

  21. Somewhat off point, I suppose, but…

    “what they’re having for lunch is of no interest to me (unless they’ve invited me to join them)”

    …because they might share some with you? Or maybe you (hypothetically) went somewheres like the Salt Lick, where it’s always served family style?

    Or wait, maybe you’re like me. I’ll admit I’m always curious about what my lunch partner is having because I have this deep rooted fear that they are going to have something better than me…

  22. Brian, you are right about the value. It’s not just blogging, any medium can prosper if it provides value either to a large audience, or a selected audience. I’m not aware of many A-list bloggers, but if their traffic is plummeting it could be because they became to smug perhaps.

  23. I’ve been waiting for someone to say it, but haven’t wanted stick our blog’s proverbial neck out to do so–especially since we’ve gone from a Technorati ranking of 42k to the top 5,000 in just five months. In fact, we asked our readers to re-subscribe before we seriously committed to blogging back in January. Why? To make sure our audience was engaged. We don’t want our insights to feel like spam–ever.

    The irony is that it only goes to show that you can’t rely on Technorati rankings to assess your blog’s value to its readers. If that said it all, we wouldn’t be regularly be getting more traffic and comments than some of the “A-list” folk. So, yeah, successful blogging definitely is a function of time. It’s a long-term strategy, and something best left to those with something to say. Otherwise, we all just contribute to what Nick Carr (of Rough Type) calls the “echolalia” of the blogosphere.

    Also, it makes sense that a lot of top blogs are dropping in rank since marketers were some of the first to take blogging seriously. Now, all types of blogs compete. But to write it off to social networking… That’s almost laughable. How about the fact that there are more blogs? How about the fact that most”A-list” bloggers aren’t nearly as good as Scoble?

    And so it goes… readers tire of the tactic lemmings, the no-context-linkers, and the no-comment re-posters and move on in pursuit of value.

    So… Viva value blogging! (Long live Copyblogger!)

  24. Lemme try this again…I think coComment ate my comment.

    I had a riff on blogging I’ve since forgotten, but I can remember that I said this:

    Twitter is a status message social network.

    Pownce is a file-sharing social network.

    Trust me, my disappeared comment was awesome.

  25. I just heard that as of RIGHT NOW fewer new blogs are being launched. But for the remaining millions of blogs, there is lots of ‘success’ to be had without being in the top 100 or even in the top 1,000. It’s that long tail………..

  26. About Social Sites – Markus behind the PlentyOfFish has noticed the decline of traffic as well – all due the rise of those social networking sites

  27. I think another potential issue could be the increase in the number of quality blogs in your niche.

    My traffic in the Personal Development niche is going nowhere but up.

    But the more blogs that enter this already congested niche, the more pressure there will be to provide true value blogging — my goal from day one.

  28. My reader numbers have grown slowly and steadily. I guess it has held up with those folks who like slightly unusual old and new music.

  29. I agree with you, Brian, and I think its great someone took the time to voice a positive perspective.

    For about a year and a half I’ve been blogging and since the day I started I can remember hearing Godin talk about Cat Blogs and everyone else with him.

    Media like Twitter are called Social Media for a reason, they encourage social activities and because of that blogging can continue to grow in the direction its going. As a learning, leading and communications tool.

    Great post.

  30. the title scared me.

  31. The first time I ever knew that blogging was hear to stay and had a place in not just the personal, but also the professional world. I was listening to a speech by Jonathan Schwartz, Sun CEO. He said if he filtered out all Sun employees, he had 20,000 readers on his blog. My brain sifted for all time at that point about blogging.

  32. What is this. I just got here and now I’m dead already.

  33. The follow on point is how do you really measure value in blogs. I like zen habits and can see why that is going so well.

    Perhaps the length of time people spend on your blog is significant. The rolling monthly average on my site is just under 12 minutes and 22.4% spend more than 15mins on the site.

    I think that is perhaps one of the best measurement indicators – what do others think?

  34. How about this…Blogging will die if people don’t clean up their act. I agree, value Blogging is in demand, but not in supply. That’s why I decided to start a series of quality blogs, with my main theme site as the jump-point for this. It will take a bit, but it’ll be my contribution to quality Blogging like this site is. I always say be part of the solution not part of the problem. Thanks for the value your Blog continues to provide!

    - Michael Erik

  35. The blogging A-list is dead? Damn, that sucks, since I just finally made it on there (barely).

    Heh… I was saying this two years ago. When I published my list of Top 10 Most Practical Blogs from Entrepreneurs, a lot of people were really surprised that most of the A-list entrepreneur bloggers weren’t on the list. But what I said at the time was that I hadn’t included those on the list because “entertaining and informative though they are, they tend to be mostly about that entrepreneur’s business and whatever other topics they find interesting. I stuck to blogs that are more generally relevant and practical for entrepreneurs.”

    With the proliferation of blog availability, it’s inevitable that blogs that focus well on microniches are going to be far more successful in the long run than those that are all over the place topically.

    My advice — if you want to blog about your other interests, just start another blog.

  36. That’s my take, too. Blogging has matured, found it’s place in the overall business communications and marketing spectrum and is evolving as a tool to do just what you said, teach and inform. The cream is rising to the top and I’m sure we’ll see the continuing emergence of new stars on the horizon.

  37. Well, 3 years later it seems as if blogging is not dead yet. It also seems that social networking and social media sites have indeed made blogging better, as you predicted. Pretty cool stuff to get to read this now. Well done!

  38. You’re got your point! None of bloggers nowadays are purely blogging. Blogging becomes a job now, it’s been commercialized!

  39. There’s a sticky line between block and CMS. It’s one in the same, it’s one in purpose & sometimes not. It seems to me that if done well; a blog is very much a lasting resource on the internet. All blogs can easily become a business, a powerhouse community & a storehouse of information and learning via posts(articles). Thanks for the thoughts!