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Wired’s senior editor Paul Boutin has climbed aboard the 'blogging is dead' train, pointing to Jason Calacanis’ decision to quit blogging as a primary reason to bail out.

The article starts: “Thinking about launching your own blog? Here's some friendly advice: Don't. And if you've already got one, pull the plug.”

His main reasons?

#1. Blogging is impersonal. Many of Technorati’s Top 100 blogs are written by a team of professionals.

#2. Search engines don’t give as much easy love to blogs as they did in 2002.

#3. Comment trolls are still comments trolls, and there are more of them.

#4. “Text-based Web sites aren't where the buzz is anymore.”

#5. Scoble focuses on pictures and Twitter.

#6. Twitter.

I think he’s got it badly wrong.

First off, the Calacanis thing, and forgive me Jesus but I’m going to start referring to him as 'JC'. Now, JC hasn’t actually quit blogging, he’s simply posting less often. In fact, he has posted FIVE TIMES to his blog since officially ‘retiring’ from it in July, in favour of an email list.

The email list is a good idea for somebody like Jason. It allows a couple of things to happen. Mainly, it prevents people from having a discussion on JC’s blog. This is an anti-blog ethos, in a way, but it makes sense if you enjoy the kind of profile that JC does. Why? Because it forces people to discuss his news offsite.

It is therefore a very smart move, from a PR / linkbait perspective, as was evidenced earlier this week when Erick Schonfeld at Techcrunch published one of Jason’s emails about the Mahalo layoffs, to JC’s (presumably) mock outrage. The Techcrunch article a) generated almost 200 comments, b) influenced at least 14 other blogs to write about it. And here I am, referencing it!

Smart, smart, smart, even if he did this simply to avoid #3. The man could attract a crowd in a desert.

So can every blogger stop blogging and start emailing their readers? Sure, if they have enough demand among readers to hand over email addresses and revert to one-way messaging. But should they do this? No, because it won't work. Why? Simply because most professional bloggers are not in the business of vanity publishing, unlike JC! We’re not dealing with the same thing here. A one-sized rule does not fit all. Most of the top blogs, as Boutin has alluded to, have to make money to cover costs.

Back to Boutin’s six 'quit now' points from
his article.

#1. Time is money. Quality content takes time to produce. Content costs. There’s nothing wrong with micropublishers using blog platforms such as Wordpress to launch publications. Boutin seems a little bit precious about the meaning of words like ‘blog’ and ‘blogging’. A purist, perhaps. Point is, if your blog does really well, generates millions of impressions / dollars in ad revenue (eg Weblogs Inc), then why wouldn’t you make the most of it? 

#2. Search engines don’t give as much love to any site as they did in 2002, because there is way more competition out there. In 2002 there were about 40m sites. In 2008 there are about 160m, if this data is to be believed. It is harder for everybody. Add to that the fact that web folks are more SEO savvy these days, and it’s kind of obvious. But - by and large - emails, pictures, Twitter pages and videos will not rank as highly as blogs.

#3. Why not own the trolls? Is it better to allow the trolls to wade in on third party sites then, as per the Techcrunch example listed above? One of the fundamentals of blogging is to allow readers to comment and further the discussion, on your own site. This cannot happen in an email. But it will happen on other sites, no question about it. It is harder to police what people are saying about you on other sites, than to deal with them on your own site.

#4.Wrong! Text-based sites kick the ass of image or video sites. Google can read and index text-based web pages. It cannot make as much sense of non-text pages. This will change in the future, for sure, but don’t hold your breath. Text rocks. And that’s why a search on ‘Jason Calacanis’ on Google returns pages of text-based results.

#5. Scoble is Scoble. JC is JC.
These people are bona fide internet celebrities. The same rules do not apply for the average blogger, nor the majority of the pro blogs featured in the Technorati 100. Calacanis did not make his millions via Weblogs Inc by blogging about Jason Calacanis.

#6. Twitter is great (but it is limited). I use it and find it very useful. The search tool is excellent, for a real time snapshot of what’s going on, and for finding interesting people / discussions. But make no mistake: it is no Google, and it is no replacement for a blog. Twitter is defined by its limitations, particularly the maximum 140 characters permitted in a ‘tweet’. And while Twitter can help raise your profile, there needs to be a point to raising your profile (not least because your Twitter page won’t directly make any money for you, just as it makes no money for Twitter). So why are you Twittering? What are you hoping to accomplish?

All in all I don't think a simple 'quit blogging now' statement is valid. It holds about as much weight as me saying magazines should shut up shop because of the iPhone. Or because of cupcakes, for that matter.

Chris Lake

Published 24 October, 2008 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Peter Young, SEO Manager at Mediavest

Completely agree Chris. I personally think perhaps blogging has peaked or is close to peaking, however that is not to say that people/corporations should not blog or start blogging - much as I woudn't turn around to someone and say dont advertise on radio, cos spend in Internet Marketing is considerably more and spend in radio is decreasing.

At the end of the day, blogs are still a highly visible and influental medium and if nothing else, it is a very quick (and easy) way of getting web visibility.

Long live the blog !!!

almost 8 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

It's horses for courses surely... the email + Twitter thing works well for Jason, but it wouldn't work for Engadget in the same way. It would destroy Engadget.

Each to their own, but blogging isn't dead as a medium. Bad advice from Paul on this occasion.

almost 8 years ago

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Paul Chaney

What this tells me is that blogging, email, Twitter, etc. each serve a purpose and have a place in the larger business communications/online marketing spectrum. Blogging adoption may have slowed, but it's far from dead.

This reminds me of what the "email is dead" crowd was saying a few years ago when RSS began to peak its head over the digital hedgerow. And, well, email is still strong while RSS struggles for mainstream adoption.

As my mom would say, "A place for everything and everything in its place." There is a place for each tool, though not everyone needs to use everything certainly.

almost 8 years ago

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Peter Young, SEO Manager at Mediavest

Thought this may be worth adding to the conversation. According to Forrester Research in the states (http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/digital/e3icc3b73373ecfd4ebe949400894165ce6)

"Adoption rates vary by the type of activity. For example, Forrester found large growth in participation among those reading blogs and writing product reviews. "Spectator" rates jumped from 48 percent to 69 percent. Likewise, those identifying themselves as "critics" increased from 25 percent to 37 percent." (Spectator and Critics refer to their social technographics)

It went on to say

"Rates of content creation have slowed considerably. Those publishing a blog or personal Web page saw incremental growth: 21 percent versus 18 percent. In fact, blogging grew just 10 percent, well behind the 39 percent growth in starting a social network profile. Still, blogs remain a highly popular form of social media: 48 percent of respondents said they have read one, a nearly 50 percent increase from 2007."

Doesn't sound like a dead sector to me.. what about you?

almost 8 years ago

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Matt Ambrose, Copywriter at The Copywriter's Crucible

Blogging = content marketing, online PR, brand journalism, relationship marketing and organic SEO. As a business tool blogging isn't dead or dying, it's evolving.

I blogged about it myself this week (I hope you'll allow the link if you think it adds to the conversation):

http://copywriterscrucible.com/copywriter-pr-writer-or-brand-journalist-you-decide/

almost 8 years ago

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Kari Rippetoe

All I have to say is if Calacanis or Scoble jumped off a cliff, would you?

Seriously, too many of us base our own actions solely on what the upper-blogosphere and Twitterati are doing. End of the day, we have to keep doing what works for us, not necessarily everyone else. Isn't that a marketing fundamental?

over 7 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Good dissection Chris of the BLOG POSTING / link bait by Boutin at Wired.

But when I read the article http://www.wired.com/entertainment/theweb/magazine/16-11/st_essay I didn't get that excited about it since to me it read that he is talking about personal blogs with no commercial purpose rather than business / professional blogs.

He's right - setting up on FB/Linked-In for personal use is a much better idea today than creating a blog. But he's entirely wrong to use JC as an example since his is a commercial blog!

So we should relax. Problem is many businesses who are still not blogging yet because of the FUD will just see this as another reason not to.

over 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Hey Dave - he kinda lays his cards on the table in that third paragraph, where he talks about pro-bloggers, referencing the Technorati 100, and blogging being 'impersonal'. He seems to make the distinction there, but doesn't make the statement that 'personal blogs' are dead. And as you say, this is bad news for some companies yet to start blogging.

Linkedin+Twitter might be enough nowadays for a personal profile-raising exercise, and with a bit of email added on you can get around the 140-character constraints of Twitter, so personal 'blogs' could be replaced... but I question the wisdom of it.

This sort of fragmentation would - in my view - be better channelled into one Google-friendly site. It's so easy to do, so why not have the best of both worlds? It doesn't have to be an either/or proposition...

over 7 years ago

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Amit Aggarwal

Audience fragmentation also needs to be considered. A highly targeted blog aimed at a core audience (which may be small) can still be effective at getting your message out there, whether it's personal or corporate. For me, the challenge has been integrating the benefits of the long-form blog with other social media in a way that reaches my constituency (i.e. clients who buy my company's products/services). Why abandon a format that still hasn't hit maturity?

over 7 years ago

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