Blogs are dead, again, according to people around the web. Even a friend of mine, much of whose reputation was built on her blog, has proclaimed that blogs are dead. But I disagree.
The “blogs are dead” argument is the same as the “books are dead” argument, is the same as the “radio is dead” argument, is the same argument as “email is dead”. How many times do we have to face this bullshit? Every time there’s a shift in human behaviour, that’s how many.
It’s not that the medium is dead.
It’s that lazy and inattentive practitioners are dead. And occasionally because the technology shifts (i.e. radio to on-demand streaming).
Allow to me to qualify: By “dead”, I mean “dead in the water”.
If you believe that by creating blogs you are immediately attracting traffic, building an audience, and leveraging influence, then you are going to be sorely disappointed.
Blogs are not now—arguably never have been—the centrepiece of any kind of influence. Especially not if you’re relying on them to generate income for you (e.g. via advertising).
Blogs now are a mishmash of all kinds of medium. They are creative and informative outlets. Some websites, like mine, and like Seth Godin’s, are entirely blog sites. That’s by choice, by the way.
But do we expect that most of our readers are coming back to our blogs every day? Hell, no.
The blog is a way to reach casual readers now, most of the time. And, just as with the “email is dead” argument, I’m going to say something sharp:
Of course it’s dead, if you’re boring as fuck or don’t know what you’re doing!
By “don’t know what you’re doing”, I mean, “using it to build an email list”.
Email lists are now, and always have been—even in the Great Depression—the most prized elements in any outreach, pattern of influence, method of gaining sales.
An email list ought to be the prime focus of any online content.
It doesn’t matter if you use your blog for pleasure (as I do), or for sharing important information (as the Emergency Law Blog does), or for sharing podcasts for casual readers and listeners (as Brutal Pixie does). It doesn’t matter if you’re producing albums and want to build a relationship with your listeners. It’s the email list that is your pot of gold.
For example, even if you were to argue that videos are superior and that, for visibility YouTube is a much better channel, it’s still the subscriber base that matters.
This is a fact of publishing. It isn’t where and how you publish that matters; it’s how many subscribers are in the game with you. Even in newspapers that’s a real thing: Circulation numbers are counted on numbers of subscribers, not on numbers of sales (such as in retail outlets).
The challenge that the blogosphere has isn’t in being visible. It’s in being relevant. And as a publisher and content strategist myself, allow me to point out that this has always been the issue in any kind of publishing.
If you scratch an itch, solve a problem, make people smile, plug a gap, [insert analogy here], your blog (or book, or radio show/podcast) will never be dead.
But you will be, if you fail to capture and build relationships with those who visit.
In summary: Blogs are not dead. But if you just blog and don’t mindfully build the subscriber base of your empire, you surely will be.
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