Friday, January 12, 2007

Is Blogging Dead?

An online forum recently asked this question--without anyone giving much of a response. In my last few entries, I've been writing about some of the insight from Bob Bly's new book, Blog Schmog which is a skeptical and practical look at blogging and business. People love absolutes--you must do such and such as a writer. For example, some people are saying every writer must have a blog. Others say every writer must have a website. Others say every writer must have a newsletter. The answer from my view is much more gray rather than black and white. You can have these things if they fit into a larger plan and purpose. To create a website or a newsletter or a blog without a larger plan for it, just doesn't make sense to me.

BlogschmogDirect marketing is the world where Bob Bly lives and breathes and succeeds every day. He asks, "Are blogs effective marketing tools on a widespread basis? Not according to MarketingSherpa. "Call us cynics," says an article in Sherpa. "Blogs may be hip and trendy, but they don't do diddly-squat for most people's businesses." A page later, Bly says, "Blogging is not a particularly potent marketing tool, and creating a blog for most businesses is strictly optional. No business "needs" a blog. Most businesses probably shouldn't waste time and resources creating one. Although blogs can incrementally increase sales of products and services, their ability to generate online revenue is insignificant when compared with proven online direct response marketing methods such as e-zines and e-mails."

Then Bly gives two areas where blogging has value as a marketing medium: "First, blogs can in many instances significantly improve a site's ranking in the search engine, thereby driving more traffic to that site. Second, blogs can be effective as part of an integrated program to establish one's reputation as an expert in a particular field. Therefore, blogs can help consultants and other businesses that sell expertise (either as a stand-alone service or in support of a product) increase visibility and credibility among the target audience."

Whether you blog or not, it's a choice and hopefully your reason for doing it fits into a larger plan. I agree with Bly's conclusions (or I wouldn't have done this work to include them in my own entries about the Writing Life). The bulk of my writing day is involved in other aspects of publishing such as writing books or writing for printed magazine articles.

Blogging isn't dead but it's good from my view to stand back and look at the effectiveness and the potential results from it. You can make your own decision about whether you want to jump into it or not. Just don't feel pressure from the "everyone is doing it" mentality.

If you want to capture the editor's attention, you are much better spending that same energy toward a quality book proposal or a quality fiction manuscript or a series of printed magazine articles. Then you have built a body of work in the print world which will gain attention from editors and potentially provide you other opportunities.

7 Comment:

At 8:39 AM, Blogger brian Left a note...

Great posts. I've really enjoyed the reviews of Bob Bly's book. These are questions, as a writer, I've been asking myself. I've been blogging for a few years now, but I'm starting to think it's taking away time from working on larger print projects. I'm trading the long hard work and satisfaction of writing for the instant grat.

Thanks for posting your thoughts.

Brian Orme

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Bonnie Calhoun Left a note...

I sit on the fence about this one, especially since I'm the Director of the CFBA christian blogging organization.

I do understand your points, and I do see how spending time on gratification blogging can sap work time on 'real' projects.

I also see the success of certain networking in the blogosphere.

Great and thoughtful topic!

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Thought-provoking, as always. As you know, when I researched what some authors and editors do, for a posting on my own blog, I found that many of the busiest and most successful didn't spend much time in the "blog-o-sphere"--mainly because they were too occupied with their own work.
Bottom line, do it or don't do it, but--as you pointed out--have a purpose and a plan.

At 1:25 AM, Blogger steven edward streight Left a note...

I like Bob Bly, I was in direct marketing copywriting from 1978 to 1999, now in web marketing.

You explain it well. To "monetize" a blog or a blog media network (ala Weblogsinc.) is mostly a vain dream.

Blogs are not about making money. They're like telephones, letters, diaries, billboards, books: blogs are communication tools.

Blogs are not vending machines, though you can sell downloadable product like ebooks.

Blogs are not advertising mediums.

Blogs are shared communities of interest.

I differ from you in that I think that every business probably should consider blogging.

Blogging is story telling and its stories that get into a customer's heart and guide the buying behavior, the story the customer tells himself in order to justify the purchase.

Every CEO needs more credibility. Blog core values of transparency and etc. are good for companies to practice and display, in a blog.

Blogs can give a company a more human dimension.

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Interesting comments about blogging. Thank you. Obviously I have strong beliefs about the medium. Otherwise I would not have written almost 600 entries over the last couple of years. It is a way to share fresh stories and experiences.

Blogging isn't going away but has become ingrained into the Internet--which is a good thing in my view.


At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Thanks for sharing this about blogging. I've been actively blogging for about a year and while my focus has always been writing related, it really has become a place for me to fulfill my need to share what I've learned over the past six or seven years about writing in a teaching-style format. My heart's desire is to teach full time and since I'm not quite qualified to do that yet, my blog has become the medium through which I can do it. And, as someone who hopes to be published, I see it as a name-building venue. But, for now, it is mostly just a "vanity press" for my writings about craft.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Barbara Payne Left a note...

A blog is a powerful way to be "known" in the marketplace. It allows you to express your values and beliefs using your True Voice in a way and at a price that few other media can match. It's a place, when it's well done, where you build credibility and trust, where potential customers develop confidence and existing customers get reinforcement that their decision to do business with you is a good one.

With so much power to generate positive feelings, PLUS the bonus fact that it raises your ranking in search engines, the only question remaining seems to be whether you can afford to invest the time/dollars it takes to get it done right. And yes, it's an investment. Like all good PR, of which I consider it a master tool, it's not a quick sales-lead-generator or a direct mail bonanza.


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