Monday, June 16, 2008

My escalating blog obsession

Addicted to blogging
After 15 years of writing for magazines I lusted for the opportunity to pursue my own interests with no editorial policy to dictate my style and subject matter and maybe, just maybe connect with an audience of like-minded people in the process...

The other day I was tinkering with my fledgling blogs and I began to think about why I was doing this. For me this is only the beginning (cue maniacal laughter…), I have a number of other blogs planned – I have no idea if they will succeed or fail but that’s the beauty of blogging: there is no huge capital outlay required – only enthusiasm, time and a willingness to immerse yourself in an area of interest. And whether they succeed or fail is a subjective concept rather than an accountant’s decision.

And that’s when it struck me. This blogging popularity explosion represents an incredibly significant moment in human history. For the first time anyone, anywhere has the potential to self-publish to a vast audience with virtually no capital outlay.

Well a ‘theoretical’ vast audience anyway, or so I’m discovering…

Weirdness on a grand scale

Back in the old days, when you wrote for a magazine or newspaper it was often hard to gauge the popularity of your material. The process lacked the immediacy of blogging where, using tools like Google Analytics, you can actually see how many people read your article, their country of origin, what colour underpants they are wearing and how long they stay (ok, maybe not the underpants thing but I’m sure Google are working on it).

I’ve recently learned that the latter is referred to as the “bounce rate:” a somewhat brutal concept that seems to exist purely to remind you how insignificant you are…

At the moment a typical Google daily chart for me reads like this: 3 people from Germany came to one of my sites and stayed for 0 seconds (they obviously confused my name with that of the Schoffel ski apparel company), I’ll also have people from other exotic parts of the globe, many of whom no doubt wondered how the hell they ended up here.

But, amongst all of these there will be some people who stayed for a bit (ok 2 minutes 10 seconds according to Google Analytics…) and read my stuff. And for me, if even a few people get something out of it then I’m happy.

Make no mistake blogging can be a scary, ego-twisting exercise. When you start you have no idea if anyone is going to read your stuff and learning how to raise your online profile is an art form in itself.

The demise of the old-school publisher

When I started writing for magazines back in the early 1990s the publishing world was a very different place. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television were the undisputed kings. Despite the desktop publishing revolution of the late 1980s, you still needed a LOT of loot to publish anything on a larger scale.

For the most part I was fortunate to write for editors with a lot of integrity, the sort of people who would never bow to advertisers by masquerading advertorials as editorial.

But I also saw plenty who had no qualms about kowtowing to advertiser’s demands and ultimately letting down their readers and destroying editorial credibility.

Now bloggers are picking up readers who are disillusioned with the jaded mainstream press.

The rise of blog networks

I’ve also noticed that while some of the old-school publishers are struggling with the transition to new media – some enterprising bloggers are carving out their own blog publishing empires by forming blog networks and affiliate sites.

Some of these have the cynical stink of old-school media but the beauty of the internet-based blogging medium is that it’s very hard to establish a monopoly.

So why do you blog?

I’m new to blogging and I find the prospect exciting, daunting and incredibly addictive. But I’m curious – what makes other people want to blog?

Are you the SEO obsessed type who wants to make a buck out of it or do you do it for love, or to make a difference or to get out a message or…?


  1. It seems like blogging is exploding in popularity at the moment - but as far as I can see it just underlines the fact that there are millions of people who have very little to say. I'm not referring to blogs like this that offer useful information but the pretentious blogs where people attempt to inflict their ill informed ideas and opinions on everyone else.

  2. I may be a novice to blogging, but from what research I've found, it seems to me the very opposite of the latest anonymous comment. A lot of people have a lot to say-it's just the fact that it's already been said at one time or another, in one form or another. Good bloggers find a way to make it sound different. The others are just average. To me, blogging seems meditative. It's a release to blog. Feels good.

  3. Yep I'm with you Cassidy. For the most part I think the reason blogging is so popular is because it gives people the freedom to write about things that interest them. There are some cynical blogs out there but you can usually spot them a mile away. Thanks for your insight!