Are newspaper columns about blogs dying dying?

Are newspaper columns about blogs dying dying? (Or, “Top 7 recommendations about blogging — and not blogging”) Irony, aside, a Chicago Tribune columnist asks, “Are blogs dying?

It is always difficult for me to follow the dot-connecting that must take place to compare the dotcom bust (a collapse of a financial market) with a Gallup poll showing what percentage of Internet users know they’re reading weblogs.

Also, as I see having a weblog more akin to having a telephone or email than to launching a major media property, I think it’s a mistake when anyone attempts to place mass-media business metrics to defining success or failure of a weblog.

As someone who has maintained a blog since 2001, and who also publishes magazines that collectively have over one-million subscribers, let me suggest something to would-be bloggers out there: If you believe the size of your audience is the measure of success, don’t blog. If you think how many people link to your site is the measure of success, don’t blog. Blog because you want to have a voice in a conversation. If you run a business, blog because one day, I promise, you will be glad you have a place to respond when the conversation is about you. Blog because there are two or three people who actually matter in your life or work, or who share your passion for a particular topic. Blog because once or twice a day, you see an article or joke or something that you forward by email to a group of people. (Hint: stop emailing them, post the links to a blog and tell your friends the address of your blog.)

Don’t let any Technorati feature — and I’m not referring to a specific feature as I can’t keep up with them — define your authority or popularity or pecking order. In fact, if you want to enjoy blogging, get rid of all the metrics code on your site and never look at your stats. (Okay, I’m lying about that one, but check the stats only to see who’s linking to you.)

A couple of weeks ago, someone who owns a firm that manages phone systems for small businesses told me that he didn’t want to start a weblog because he didn’t want to “compete” with the 30 million blogs “out there,” — that the level of “discourse” on 30 million couldn’t be that high.

I then said to him, “I could apply the same logic and come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t have a business telephone. That reasoning would lead me to forego having a telephone because I’m competing with 300 million other “telephoners” and the level of discourse of all those phone conversations can’t be that high.”

Let me try this again: When you set up a weblog, don’t think of it as launching a “publication” or any other “mass media” and don’t measure success in terms of “size of audience.” Think of it simply as having a place on the web to easily post messages, photos and other digital files. Think of it as having something like email, but you don’t send it out — however, your friends or associates can “subscribe” to it, if they want to. Don’t make this too complicated or you’ll end up like that poor Chicago Tribune columnist.

For the vast majority of us, having a weblog is like having a telephone, it’s nothing remotely like launching a business that can fail.

Update: I just realized, I could have made this post in another format, so here goes:

“Top 7 recommendations about blogging — and not blogging — included in this post”

1. Don’t apply mass-media metrics (size of audience) in measuring the success of your personal or business weblog.

2. Don’t let any Technorati feature — and I’m not referring to a specific feature as I can’t keep up with them — define your authority or popularity or pecking order.

3. Set up a blog for the same reasons you have a telephone or email: You need a means to join in a conversation.

4. Set up a blog so you can easily post messages, photos and other digital files accessible by anyone on the web — or by only a private group of people who you allow to access your blog (i.e., your employees or members of your family).

5. If you run a business, blog because one day, I promise, you will be glad you have a place to respond when the conversation is about you.

6. Blog because there are two or three people who actually matter in your life or work, or who share your passion for a particular topic.

7. Blog because once or twice a day, you see an article or joke or something that you forward by email to a group of people. (Hint: stop emailing them, post them to a blog and tell your friends the address of your blog.)

Technorati Tags: ,

Forget about the technology and make it easy for people to subscribe

John Jantsch: (From Duct Tape Marketing Weblog) “Forget about the technology and make it easy for people to subscribe in a manner they already understand. Now, having said that, I’m not saying that you can’t cater to the “cutting edge tech crowd,” you can, but make sure that you also cater to the AOL, MSN, MyYahoo and “can’t you just send me an email” crowd.”

Technorati Tags: ,