Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The impact of blogs

Everyone and his brother in the mainstream media is doing an article about blogs, and the effect they have. The latest is by Trevor Butterworth, in the Financial Times, and to tell the truth it isn't all that interesting -- apart, that is, from one statistic.

Butterworth explains that most blogs have very few readers. Only two blogs get over 1 million readers a day, the 100th most popular blog has only 9,700 readers a day, and the 1,000th has under 600.

Now that was really interesting, because the GOB currently pulls in between 500 and 600 readers a day. Last week, to be precise, it was an average of 534 per day, with 653 page views per day. That definitely puts things in perspective, for me at any rate -- especially when you remember that, in the same article, Butterworth tells us that there are 27.2 million blogs.

As for the power of blogs... Well, here's an instance, not quoted by Butterworth but made known to me by David Frauenfelder, over at Breakfast with Pandora. There are, of course, blogs about everything, and David's is about food. David recently found himself underwhelmed by an article in Food and Wine magazine which was somewhat dismissive of food blogs, and other bloggers felt the same. And you can find out what happened next in a summary on Paperpalate.

David's view is that magazines like Food and Wine are on the way out. Recipes, he says, are like music, easily read and traded on the internet. 'I see a time where POD cookbooks and recipe compilations will dominate the market.'

Trevor Butterworth also looks into the question of whether blogs make any money, and the short answer is that most of them don't. Should you be interested in how a blog might, in theory, develop an income stream for you, you can find some suggestions on Darren Rowse's Problogger site. The suggestions have so far prompted 87 comments.

Unfortunately none of the suggestions holds the slightest appeal for me, and the status of blogging was made abundantly clear to me by an 86-year-old aunt, only the other other day. The conversation went like this:

Auntie: How do you fill up your time now that you're retired?
Me: Well, I do quite a lot of writing. I run a thing called a blog, on the internet.
Auntie: Oh. And is that very remunerative?
Me: No. I've never earned a penny from it.
Auntie: Oh. Well in that case it doesn't count.


Lynne W. Scanlon said...

Give it away? Not if I can help it! Free? I hate that word!

I wrote a Soapbox column for Publishers Weekly about this very subject last August. The article was called "Slaves to the Galley." In the article I told readers that I had met with success by emailing reviewers with a eye-catching subject line, an image of the book jacket, a sample chapter, a very brief author blurb and ONE PARAGRAPH of strong, strong promo verbiage, rather than send the book. The response? Truly interested reviewers contacted me for the book or I got a thank you for not wasting their time by sending a book in which the reviewer had no interest or I heard dead silence.

The email was a mini-spam (150?) to a Bacon's list of reviewers in the area of women/health. Many of these purchased or subscribed to lists consist of email addresses to "reviewers@xxxx.com," which sounds like a big waste of a book and money to me, and were that money for books and shipping coming out of my pocket, I would not do it. But traditional publishing houses use a lot of prayer-based marketing. I'm not denigrating the impact of bloggers and the folks who write reviews in the smaller venues, because they/you/we have an impact, but to get a six-page spread and a cover image of the authors in a top pregnancy mag makes my day...and provides a little job security!

Give it away if you must, but know to whom you are giving it.

Good Morning from New York City.

Anonymous said...

Another interesting threat/opportunity for the mainstream media is the rise of community news aggregators like News Bump.

Walker said...

Bear in mind that if you use sitemeter, "visits" doesn't equal "unique visitors". If somebody visits twice, that's counted as two visits. I don't know if I'm typical but I visit once some days; two or three times on others. A long time ago when I used Blogger and had to rely on sitemeter, anything between 25-100 daily visits would come from myself. (Returning to read & post comments, theme maintenance, etc.)

Paul Perry said...

The majority of writers make no money. I can't see that bloggers (who KNOW they are not making money) are in any way inferior.
As for having fewer than 500 readers.. plenty of modern novels havn't reached that number. Even a couple of prize-winning ones, I suspect.

DF said...

Breakfast with Pandora appreciates the link, GOB, and I would like to add that posts on comparative mythology, writing, publishing, and good stories in general make up the bulk of my posts, not food.

Blogs may never make any money, it's true. But to echo Paul, I had an unsolicited article accepted for the mainstream print magazine Tastes of Italia, and they refused to pay for it. Most of my print publication has been non-remunerative, whether popular or scholarly, and I have been publishing for more than a decade.

In any case I appreciate the strengths of a good food blog, and in aggregate I much prefer them to food magazines.

A while back an editor for Wired magazine wrote a book arguing that the 21st century would be the century where content would be king and people in creative professions would make a killing. Has anyone read that book?

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