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Has blogging got a future?

“Is Blogging dead?”

A serious question raised some time ago by American Internet entrepreneur and blogger Jason Calacanis. Calacanis says it quite frankly during an interview last year: “There are a lot of stupid people out there ….and stupid people shouldn’t write”. He feels that the blogging system has to change to stop the above group from writing. I honestly thought we lived in a society with freedom of expression.

I have written about blogging and expertise in the past and a question that comes to my mind is the following? How important is it to ‘know’ about the topic you blog about? And if it is important to be knowledgeable or even an expert how “extensive” should your expertise be?

An answer to this question goes back to the essence of what a blog is and why people blog. There are many different types of blogs. Some are informative, some are educational and some are just fun. Deep down it does not matter – point is that anyone can start a blog and use it to publish his or her thoughts. People have a voice and a blog is a means to express that voice.

Our motives to blog

It is not hard to start a blog but publishing a blog does not mean that anyone reads it. Even that may not be important to some people especially if they write for family and friends. For the entrepreneurs amongst you this may be slightly a different scenario. Your audience is more important and the size of your readership could make your blog a success or not. But does no readership mean the blog is a failure?

If I have a look at my own blog, things seem to have changed. I started ‘Blogexercise’ for myself to dabble at blogging and to learn all aspects while engaging in the blogging activity. A great opportunity I still think! Initially I did not think too much about readers and the blog was no more than a mode of expressing myself and my thoughts.

Then however, I started to get comments and followers. Feels great by the way! I am by no means an expert in blogging as yet but I am on my way to becoming knowledgeable. So by now you could say that readership could have more impact. Well in a certain way it does but it still has no influence on me writing posts and researching the world of blogging. I still go my own way and occasionally take some comments in mind and combine them with my content.

That makes it more interesting and I am somehow addressing issues that others may have regarding blogging. And that is what experts do, don’t they? So my question is the following: ‘what is against that’? Why does Jason Calacanis have such an outspoken opinion about large amounts of bloggers being too stupid to say something worthwhile’?

Calacanis reckons that nobody cares for insignificant news anymore – if you blog you will have to be an expert otherwise nobody cares. That may be, but such a view could also lead to missing out on opportunities and not having a go at something. After all Jason Calacanis must once have been a new kid on the block just as many novice ‘stupid’ bloggers out there.

Just to get a perspective….

Too busy to blog

Another month has gone by and I feel busy – almost too busy to write regular for my blog. I have a number of projects on the go and feel slightly pressured. Fortunately I am a faithtful person and once I have committed to something I stick at it. So my blog won’t stop or be neglected but I may have to moderate the amount of postings.

I wonder why it is so hard to continue things that we start or to prioritise in the most effective way. Like everybody else I live in a house that needs maintaining, cleaning and organising, meals need to be cooked and shopping has to be done. Whether I like it or not these things do seem to demand more priority. Otherwise things get out of order, become unorganised or just don’t function. One of my daughters does not agree with this point of view and does not understand why I feel the need to attend to above chores. Could she have a point?

Priorities, duties – do we have a choice?

Unfortunately I have standards and our life would fall to bits if I would not see to them – something my daughter does not realise although she thinks she does. She may need a reality check and share a house with a very neat and organised person! Because of these rather demanding chores though, things I like to do are under pressure. And one of these things happens to be blogging.

Last night I read an article about the world’s most famous blogger. It is not only the most famous, but also the most successful and very likely the most popular blogger – Perez Hilton. He must have been one of the first professional bloggers around. He chose a topic that most people are intrigued by whether they like to admit it or not. The topic is celebrities and all their where-a-bouts.

Some make it happen

Perez Hilton makes it his job to find every newsworthy piece of information about famous people and blog about it. One thing in this article struck with me and that is that he spends almost 16 hours per day on his blog. He has to force himself to sleep for more than 4-5 hours. I immediately felt a whinger as I certainly don’t spend 16 hours per day on my blog. I don’t even spend 16 hours per day working at least not in an earned capacity.

Even with that amount of hours spent on the blog it still took him more than a year before he started earning money from his blog. And that was with the help of mainstream media who helped him promoting his blog as they were intrigued by this new way of distributing information.

Perez Hilton was lucky to be one of the first ones to blog about celebrities and it attracted a lot of media attention. He is aware that he had a ‘bit of luck’ but he reckons that the key to his success is sheer hard work. And to be honest the 16 hours and the nine million views per day speak for themselves! He loves what he does and he loves working for himself.

Slightly frustrating because it makes me wonder how long it will take me to get my blog from the ground. I will be able to spend a substantial amount of hours less than him and the time of ‘luck’ has been and gone. It has all been done before and most blogs get ‘lost’ in the enormous amount of blogging activity out there. It takes a serious ‘thinking out of the square’ to get your blog up to the top. I believe that it is possible though and what matters most is the belief that you can create great content. Then you may have to put in the hard yards.

A great challenge but I do wonder who does Perez Hilton’s cleaning, sorting and organising.

When is selling acceptable?

Offcourse there is a fine line between creating awareness for a certain service or product and hard sell. I have not really figured out what I find appropriate myself.

When you post something on your blog it is out there for everyone to read. In principle anyone can comment on what I write, express their opinion and I suppose flog their wares. One could even debate that – when I am publishing the message, I may need some help regarding the topic I am writing about.

That is where the crucial point is to my opinion. I am not inquiring to get advice – I am only elaborating about something on my own blog. Maybe it is the nature of the game. After all when I am watching a film on TV I am not asking for dozens of ad breaks and yet I get them presented on a platter, over and over again. It doesn’t stop me from watching the film. Although I hate the ads and will very likely utilise the breaks to get a drink or have a toilet stop.

Another one is going to the cinema where you are the target of its sponsors. The other day I discovered that you even get bombarded with messages enticing you to come to the cinema – while you are already sitting there waiting to watch a film. Now that is what I call wasting resources! What about promoting refreshments after the program has started? Do they really want people to get up, go and buy popcorn and disturb fellow film lovers?  I don’t get that!

Advertising and blogging

For some they go together and for many others it may raise their hairs. The general consensus seems to be that bloggers need to take care not to alienate followers by suddenly adding ads to their blogs. It is recommended starting with advertising if that is what you have in mind. You can debate this and as the blogger you could have the attitude – you lose some, you gain some! After all when your blog is popular, it would be silly not to benefit from sponsors and AdSense.

I am planning to use various types of advertising on my blog in the making ‘EasyDone Gourmet & Style’. I am not making a secret of that as my aim is to make it a source of income. But as the type of person I am, I want to make sure that the blog looks attractive even with ads. That is one of the reasons that I start a blog with my own domain and hosting. You have more control over what the end product looks like.

At the time being I am consulting a techie to build my blog and a designer to make it look nice because I can’t do that myself. It is an investment as one has to do when starting a business. I find it very important that I have input where the ads are being placed and even what they look like. I certainly don’t want flashing ads and pop-up boxes which are hard to close. My blog is partly about style and that includes the advertising. It all needs to be attractive – it’s the whole package!

The preparation process may take a bit more time than I intended to but when the blog finally looks the way I want it, it will be out there. And I will have a beautiful, stylish office to go every day!

Who doesn’t like a ‘good old rant’?

In a previous post I have talked about different roles a blogger can have. Some like to educate, show and tell, others prefer to entertain and make people laugh and there are some who just want to have a ‘good old rant’.

What kind of blogger are you?

I have not really decided what my role is– it could be a mixture of several. I am a bit of a ranter and I have very likely annoyed people with various tales of criticism regarding a simple cup of coffee or a shop assistant. Australians can come across as a laid back bunch and my ‘Dutch’ bluntness combined with several years of ‘Swiss time keeping’ experience makes me sometimes a tough nut to crack! But it works in two ways – some people may not see where I am coming from but it is the same for me. I don’t see why I have to tolerate another badly made coffee and pay over 4 dollars for it. As if it is a privilege…

The opportunity to ‘speak out loud’

One of the reasons that social media and in particular blogging may be so popular is that we all like to have the occasional criticism, whinge, whine and rant. And what is better than doing it online ‘anonymously’ without having to face anyone?

Another thing I like is educating people – showing people ‘the how and the what’ of things. Looking at my working life, there has been a lot of educating. About wines and food, health, counselling and home and garden design. And at the moment about ‘blogging’. My blog ‘Blogexercise’ was totally unintentional and came about rather spontaneously. I had been planning a blog about several topics but I felt that I needed to explore this blogging business a little further before I wanted to commit. I have decided I prefer to self-host my blog and that requires a little more preparation.

So ‘Blogexercise’ is a bit like having an ‘apprenticeship’ – it enables me to train on the job and it is helping me. I am learning a lot and I have started to enjoy blogging about this topic. So much that I like to continue – not only for myself but also for others. Since I started blogging about ‘blogging’ I have come to the realisation that many people do not have a clue what blogging is and how to go about it. And ‘the educator’ in me has thereby found a grateful audience for those who like to have a go at it themselves.