Should bloggers care more about “Long Tail” economics or “Because Effect” economics?

Here’s a short business book I wrote in ten minutes. Feel free to download it to your Kindle and read it later:

Chapter One

Alex Iskold, Read/WriteWeb writer Alex Iskold today used a long post to argue there’s “no money in the long tail of the blogosphere.” Said Iskold, “It is often forgotten that money is to be made by leveraging the collective long tail, however, making money while being part of the long tail is very difficult.”

Chapter Two

On his personal blog, Read/Write Web writer Marshall Kirkpatrick today explained how Twitter is paying his rent. Says Kirkpatrick, “Earlier this week I was remarking (on Twitter) about how many of my recent story leads came from Twitter. I counted and at that time 5 of my last 11 stories were based on news I learned first from my friends on Twitter. It was amazing.”

Chapter Three

On his blog today, Doc Searls explained that the economics of blogging/twittering is more related to what he calls the “because effect” — what happens when you make more money because of something like blogging or twittering, rather than with or on something like a blog or Twitter.


I’ve never made any money on this blog, a blog way-down blogging’s long tail. However, I continue to be rather astounded by the ROI I receive due to its because effect.

The End

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  • Rex, with all due respect, you may need a little perspective here. Rexblog is far from “way-down blogging’s long tail”. This blog has a technorati rank of just over 16,000. I am not going to name names, but I just checked some fairly regularly updating bloggers who have a technorati ranks well over 1.6 million (authority 4). Assuming that the blogs I checked are the last blogs in the tail, this blog would be in the top .1 percent. 16,000 seems way off the Top 100 lists, but it is very close to the left of the long tail graph.

    How I read the article on the long tail not being profitable for bloggers is that there is not enough traffic at the tail end to generate enough revenue. That also means there isn’t much traffic to generate influence or relationship building or other “because effect” metrics.

    Now, I still think blogging is “worth it”, but Alex’s point is valid.

  • Rex Hammock

    Despite being in the top .1% (which I’ve never considered, but I’ll take your word for), I could never justify this blog if I measured its value in advertising revenue — so, looking through that lens, yes, he’s correct. However, I sometimes write proposals that are only seen by 2-3 people, and they have a huge ROI. I don’t think volume of traffic and influence are always tied together. That said, if one is to see a “because” ROI on anything, there’s going to be a lot of effort put into whatever the endeavor is.

  • Just a few more comments and the comments section will be longer than your whole book! 🙂 I agree with your conclusion, by the way.

  • I owe a large part of my career to my blog. I has often thought that was because my blog was a means of establishing myself as an authority (especially when I was working as a PHP developer).

    Still, with a Technorati rank of just under 100,000, my blog is in the top 1%. So maybe that is to be expected.

    The (now defunct) blog for my store on the other hand is much further down. If we put more work into it I am sure we could of had it be as effective as email marketing (which, for us, pales in comparison to TV and radio advertising).

    The thing is, deep down, I have to agree with you. The ROI I have gotten from is so vast I don’t know how to measure it.

  • I like this book. And I agree with ROI on blog. And Marshall has a good point, you are Techmeme, so not really in the long tail.

  • Rex Hammock

    Alex, what does that mean? I am Techmeme. I thought *you* were Techmeme? ; ) .