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When Did Blogs Sell Their Souls to the Devil?


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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 06:38 PM

I've had the state of blogs on my mind for awhile. Finally, as I began to lose my way for my own blog, I began to look at what others are doing and their incentives for doing so.

The incentive seems to be money.

Are the days of online journals and diaries as labors of love gone? Have blogs become spam weapons of choice?

I wrote When Did Blogs Sell Their Souls to the Devil? today. It was the saddest post I ever wrote.

Is this just a case of Kim's blog time is up, or is there hope for blogs that just wanted to be for fun or a personal outlet?

#2 rmccarley

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 07:31 PM

A blog is just a web site. So it'll be used for many things. Since there is a way to use them for money, that's where the most attention will be. But that doesn't mean there aren't others out there still doing it *just because*. You just need to cut through the clutter.

#3 EGOL

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 08:51 PM

I don't turn on comments in my blog. If I did it would turn into a place of controversey. My readers are "right" and if I allowed some of the opposition a chance to post they would stink up the air. So, you blog is your blog. You can run it like a forum or like a bully pulpit. Each will attract a different group of folks. So the choice is yours and if folks don't like it they can take it off of their readers or link to you in ridicule :D

#4 Ruud

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 09:01 PM

is there hope for blogs that just wanted to be for fun or a personal outlet?


Certainly! Find one personal blog, follow their blogroll (they still have one) and you can spend hours reading the inner-thoughts of teens ("blood stains on the roses of my road"), stay-at-home parents sharing ("I felt her move today!"), young lovers talking ("*** was here this weekend; I don't know why we didn't make it before but..."), etc.

Blogspot is full of them, Livejournal is loaded. Most of the times when I see a real domain name it's a teen (usually with a freaky but great, well done layout).

In fact, I believe that the fast majority of blogs are personal ones. Married to the net by its commercial hip as we are, we just don't tend to see them as often as "normal" people do?

My personal blog is really fun to update. "Today we hung the Christmas lights outside", that kind of thing. It's for my family in Canada and Europe :D

Of course, reading about someone is preceded by an interest in that person. Failing that, the writing itself has to be of such quality that it generates an interest in the author. That appreciation of the person either through familiarity, quality of writing, or simply the passing of time is rare.

And that is where condescending tone of voice comes in, isn't it? "The reality is that many, if not most weblogs are boring personal drivel and poorly written pabulum from the hoi polloi."

#5 Jonathan

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 09:46 PM

The new blog owner must accept comments. They must generate revenue from their blogs and in their blog feeds. Those who do not succumb to these two laws, I have learned, can not possibly call themselves a blog.

The people that say such a thing are wrong.

Pay no attention.

#6 cre8pc

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 09:49 PM

I've been reading what people have been saying about blogs and blog ownership for months now. One of the things that really seemed to make many people sit up and take notice was

Jakob's Blog Rules List. For weeks my usability feeds were overwhelmed with responses, jeers and cheers for what he wrote.

I'd already seen blogs referred to as "conversations" and the idea promoted that one-way conversations are not what blogs are for. This came as real shock to me, since blogs started out as exactly that.

Now, blogs can be Different Styles (7 to start with on this resource)

It was refreshing to read someone refer to "no income":

"The blogger, who typically derives no income from his activity and who answers to no institutional authority, is far less constrained. Some bloggers, however, are less free than they once were." (Source)

Compare that with:

"If you're blogging professionally, it's important to remember that it's a business (even if it can be fun!)" - Andy Hagans, Blog Business Startup Rules


In fact, it was on the new Performancing site that I learned that my site doesn't meet the criteria for a "professional blog."

There are some things I really reacted to on that site, such as poor usability being when someone puts archives on their blog.

I didn't realize that people turn blogging into a business and will go out in search of how to create blogs for the sole purpose of generating revenue, as in Andy Hagan's The 3 M's of Pro Blogging: Multiple Monetization Methods I hadn't given blogging for bucks much thought and apparently I missed the ship.

Chris Garrett eased my mind with Selling Your Expertise He wrote:

Some bloggers have an aversion to advertising so the instant-gratification of Adsense and Chitika are not available to them. If you have an audience and expertise though there are other avenues available.


Still, a review of the whole Performancing site has a message that says, "You aren't a serious professional blogger unless you intend to make money from your blog."

I've read in blog comments on various blogs the debate about comments. Essentially, comments are viewed as the rule and if a blog doesn't include them, they can't call themselves a blog. I've seen that refrain often.

There's another site about making money with blogs called ProBlogger

I went there to see if there was any kool-aid for me to drink. For the first time, I felt encouraged. There's maybe even a name for what I'm suffering from, after writing in my blog for over 3 years - blogger block.

20 Types of Blog Posts - Battling Bloggers Block has a lot of good ideas in it.

A lot has changed about blogs in the 3 years since I launched the Cre8pc Usability and SEO blog.

Whatever I end up doing with mine, it will be because I want to have something to offer, not something to sell.

#7 bragadocchio

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:17 PM

Finally, as I began to lose my way for my own blog, I began to look at what others are doing and their incentives for doing so.


You need to see some other blogs. :D

Here are a few, on a number of different subjects -

Eeksy-Peeksy

I don't know why this is compelling, but it's honest and thoughtful, and so it focuses on the mundane. The little stories like this one make it worth coming back to.

Abada Abada

I feel better about the world knowing that there are people like jessamyn in it. No comments.

Rebecca's Pocket

Rebecca doesn't have comments either. And she doesn't talk about herself much on her blog. But you know what she's thinking about by what she decides to link to, and what she says about those links.

Plep

More of a link blog than anything, but some very interesting links. And some great blogs (very many of them too) in the blog roll.

#8 kensplace

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:19 PM

I still get a large number of "real" personal blogs submitted to lsblogs, ones written by normal people, not companies, or professional writers.

I have seen a steady increase in the number of obvious spam (splogs) blogs that are submitted, I probably reject more blogs than I accept on some days.

Some business blogs can be interesting, especially when the blogger injects something different into the blog, something to mark it apart from the million and one blogs that are just trying to sell a product or service.

Some blogs are not really blogs in my opinion, but cleverly marketed websites that just masquerade as a blog as its the "in thing" to do.
These are usually the type of blogs that get huge exposure, and are massively advertised and plugged left right and center. They are written for one purpose, not to please the reader, but to gain money, or fame, or both.

I prefer reading a blog because it has something interesting, or useful to say, and I dont care if its written by a known name, or a single mother in a bedsit. Its the quality of the content that interests me.

One thing to remember is that there are no rules as to blogs, all the people who are claiming that you have to do this, and you have to do that, are basically talking out of somewhere the sun does not shine out of.

A blog is a just a log on the web, comments are optional, format is up to the user, as is the content and style. You can do it for pleasure, business, love or lust. There are no rules saying you have to do it a certain way. Blogs are not for what other people "want" them to be, they are what the writer wants them to be.

If the writer wants to invite comments, thats a personal preference, and just as valid as someone who does not invite comments. Making money is optional, some people do it for money, some dont.

The press has jumped on blogs big style, and its a hot word at the moment, meaning lots of people are writing articles about blogging, and telling people what they can and cant do. It also means lots of people are setting up rubbish blogs thinking it is a get rich quick scheme. Its not, in fact its probably the fastest way for a firm to lose credibility if they jump on the bandwagon, and dont actually put any effort into there blog.

My advice is to ignore what people say is right and wrong with your style of blogging, and just do what you want to do, its your log on the web - not theirs.

#9 bragadocchio

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:22 PM

What Ken said. :D

#10 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 10:30 PM

I think it can be any of the above, all of the above, or none of the above. I don't allow comments, even though I've been begged often to include them. I decided I didn't need the headache of dealing with the spam and whatever else would demand more of my time, so I don't allow them. I do have adsense and various affiliate links on the site, but the amount of money that makes me would buy me a cup of coffee once a week (maybe). I started the blog hoping to help spread some of my knowledge around, especially to newbies. It somehow evolved into spouting the same old news that could be found elsewhere, and when I bored myself, I decided to stop reporting on the news, and go back to its origins...me passing along tips, theories, and tools. That means I don't post nearly as often anymore because there's only so many of those I can possibly come up with. But it is what it is...and it's mine to do as I want with it. And that's how it should be. So do what you want with yours Kim, and fuggedaboud what anyone else thinks it should be.

#11 cre8pc

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 11:00 PM

A round of beer (or tea or wine or water, whatever) for everyone!

:glasses:

I'm learning a lot!

One thing for sure, I spend wayyyy too much time reading SEO industry blogs. How refreshing to see that the kinds of blogging that I've admired and respected still exist, and with great pride and power too.

Ken, your perspective is immensely helpful.

Now I'm wondering. Is what I've been reading, about the new age of blogging and emphasis on business, revenue and conversation blogs not the future of all blogs, but is one segment?

And if a segment, can all types of blogs live in the same blogosphere, or has a sort of tribal thing begun where blogs are judged based on what side of the fence it falls (money/marketing vs personal/informative)?

#12 AbleReach

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 02:59 AM

Now I'm wondering. Is what I've been reading, about the new age of blogging and emphasis on business, revenue and conversation blogs not the future of all blogs, but is one segment?

Whenever it seems like there's only one way to go, get up and stretch a bit. Life has lots of perspectives, too many to see at once. We humans occasionally miss the forest for the trees.

Why not stretch your own envelope?

The niche you thought you were part of is getting you down? Where do niches come from, anyway? Perhaps someone or something started a trend. ;-)


Elizabeth

#13 send2paul

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 03:21 AM

Kim - hi :D

Blogs. Don't ya just love em?

Back in November 2002 I started a blog which lloked like this: My First Blog. Later on it morphed into it's final shape: Blogging With Dr P.... I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with the blog. Making money off it was never my first intention. And, as I guess with most people whose first daliance with the internet is via blogging, then the novelty of seeing your words in print , (rather like vanity publishing), was the thing that kept me just writing anything.... literally :)

Quite quickly I wanted to read what other people were blogging about - and wanted to let people know what I was blogging about. So I went down the road of pimping my blog (!) by joining webrings/blogrings etc etc. That was fun while it lasted - until it became a bit of a chore to keep-up-to-date with people.

Over the last few years I also found a tendency for some people to stop blogging altogether for various reasons - usually personal stuff. And at one time I removed my "reading list" off my blog because over a space of two months half of them had vanished! ;)

My blog, (which I've not really spent a great deal of design time over), now is a place where I post exactly what I want, when I want, about anything I want to. I have comments. Search engines find me for all sorts of things (!) - and people leave comments. Sometimes I'm a very active blogger - then sometimes I'm not - usually because I'm spending more time building websites to make money off the net ;)

Don't lose your way on your blog. Take a break. Blog when you want. It's there for your own personal enjoyment - and if other people like it - that's cool as well :)

#14 garlicguy

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 10:04 AM

Kim, I was rather glad to read this particular blog of yours for several reasons:

1) Personally, I deplore the notion that everything a person does should be done for financial gain, whether we're talking about blogging or any other endeavor.

2) I've had your blogsite on my homepage since February of 2005 and, since it is one among very few that I ever look at, I've often wished that you would write more often. Your topics and themes are important ones and your voice is usually quite clear and distinct from a lot of the 'noise' out there.

The above is meant to encourage you to continue blogging. I suspect there are many more out here who, like myself, eagerly read everything you write, but seldom come to the forums to discuss. So don't sell out, it's not about the money - it never was.

And FWIW, thanks for your support. :wink:

#15 bwelford

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 11:23 AM

Welcome to the Forums, garlicguy. :wave:

It's great when people visibly indicate their support. Although many bloggers, me included, write because they have something to say, it's always nice to hear the splash as your stone drops down into the well.

#16 cre8pc

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 01:10 PM

It's great when people visibly indicate their support.


I agree! Andy Beal made a very public statement on his blog when he saw my blog post. I was stunned and tears came to my eyes (yes, it's true. I was really moved.)

There can be times when one spends so much time doing what they do, and they really have no idea, other than traffic logs, if anybody really cares.

When Nick handed Threadwatch over to Aaron, a slew of feedback erupted. It was likely a real eye opener for Nick to see what people really thought about his site, but he had to leave and sell it to get some people to talk.

As for Garlicguy, the fact that he joined these forums to respond to my blog post is remarkable and appreciated. (But, if I allowed comments on my blog, he could have just used them.) I know him somewhat - his character, ethical business practices and such. I didn't know he liked my blog and now I know.

PS - The case of HeyGarlicHead BBQ sauce I ordered arrived safe and sound - and very fast! We're handing his product out to friends during the holidays. It's THAT good! ;)

So, are comments worth adding to get an "How am I doing" check, or is the risk of spam and possible embarressing comments not worth the trouble?

#17 AbleReach

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 03:09 PM

Adding a "How am I doing" link? Ha. Answer = good.
Try "Comments" or "Discussion."

As a very Southern long-departed great aunt used to say, "Every mornin look at your beautiful self in the mirror, give a wink and a pat on the tookas, and say 'Well, ain't I somethin!' Do it yourself, 'cause y'all don't know if anyone else is going to get around to it."

And of course (!) adding comments is entirely up to you. Entirely.
1. Will it help you? (on a personal, inspired and interested level)
2. Will it help your blog (not even a close second - there's no Kim's blog without Kim)

The info and tone of cre8asiteforums was what made me bookmark and come back.
Your blog was a tipping point in deciding to join, and stay.

Elizabeth

#18 randfish

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 03:46 PM

Kim,

As you know, I enabled comments on SEOmoz, but I used a forced membership system so you have to join up to be able to post. It's done two things that I really like:

#1 - Since it's no blogger or wordpress or any other common format, it gets no auto-generated spam

#2 - It lets the blog become a 2-way conversation. Many of the topics that I post are subjects I'm interested in and would love to post to a forum (although it would get pretty old to have me posting 3-6 new topics a day on stuff I find engaging). The blog with member comments is the perfect medium for me. I couldn't be happier with it.

Just because a bunch of "business" bloggers are talking about how to blog doesn't mean they're right, wrong or worthy of being listened to. If we paid attention to the dichotomous information spouted across the web, we'd be paralyzed by conflicting advice. Go with your gut - it's gotten you this far!

#19 garlicguy

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 09:49 AM

It was the little old "Discuss this topic" button at the bottom of this blog that got me over here. I personally find the blog with comments forum to be the most useful as a participant.

#20 bwelford

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 10:26 AM

I don't really think blogs with comments work. I do add comments occasionally but it's more to show the author that someone somewhere likes what they're doing. In fact today I'm still adding comments to a blog on Sitepoint about cold calling, which is one of my interests, but it is a bit unnatural. The to-and-fro just doesn't go as well as in a Forum. :(

#21 Brad

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 12:07 PM

Aww, Kim, don't doubt yourself! :D

The thing with blogs is there ain't no rules. If people like what you are doing or you like what you are doing then that is a good thing to do.

A couple of random thoughts:

1. I do think you should enable comments even tho they are a pain in the rump at times. I'll tell you why ... before there were blogs there were e-zines. An editor once told me that the biggest reason most free e-zines die is because the starve for lack of feedback. The editors and writers eventually give up because they think nobody is reading, nobody cares, or that their articles and stories are so bad that nobody wants to say anything. How sad that is. But a blog script solves that problem, in part, by letting the public show that they are reading and what they think, that they can spontaniously say "I liked this" or "thank you, I'm not alone" or even "nobody cares Kim!" :( . For the record, I don't think it will take anything away from the Cre8 forums here, but it will let your readiers give you crucial feedback and encourgement.

2. I think some of your most powerful posts have been when when you commented on - what kind of web do we want to build here? - in general and the state of the web. I guess what I'm asking is, why does your blog have to be about SEO or even Usability?

3. I was just looking through a bunch of old Geocities sites that have been around forever. You know the kind - the ones that have been around since 1996, have primative navigation, jaggy graphics and look "quaint". The ones you see many designers/SEO's make fun of or hate because they are outranking their slick casino site :twisted: . Those terrible Geocities sites were like a breath of fresh air to me - they had something to say and said it well without plastering banners and Adsense all over or trying to get you to buy some dodgy product. So who cares if they look quiant or have jaggy gif's if their information is still good? There are already to many overly commercial voices in the web and blog world. One of your strengths is you are writing because you have something to say and aren't just doing it for rankings, respidering or the money angle. Good thoughts get better when they are shared.

General Stuff:

I'm seeing some blogs used to post serialized fiction stories. This is great, since learning HTML was hindering a lot of voices.

Here's a unique blog you really should see:
http://psychokitty.blogspot.com/

#22 Casey Dubya

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 01:51 AM

Kim,

It's evident that nearly everyone on this list is and has been knee deep in blogging for the last... well, for a very long while.

So here's a fresh perspective from someone who's very new to blogging... I've only started posting on blogs in the last year and have been doing my own blog (Wordpress- *gasp*) for only a month or so.

I live for blogs with real content. Where people speak as if they live and interact in the same world I do. Your blog keeps me coming because the person shines through. Regardless of what anybody says, if I had to classify it I'd call it a professional blog despite the fact that your personality shines through it on nearly every entry.

But here's where we part ways- I don't see anything wrong with folks who want to make a dollar off their blogs. I respect that you don't do it yourself- you and many of the moderators and regular posters here are purists in that sense. But why knock someone who legitimately uses their creativity and professional skill set to attract more income? Surely, I don't think it's worthy of thinking them in league with the Dark Prince, do you? Myself, I've spit the difference with a splash of adsense that offsets costs and doesn't ruin the chic and sophisticated look of my site [straight face mode: on].

Today information is a true commodity and I can't imagine that it somehow lessens somebody for "selling" it. I've had friends for years who have done the affiliate thing, the e-book thing, and the adsense thing and they remain my friends and maintain my respect because they put out a quality product; something original and insightful that you really would like to read.

Reading between the lines (and risking a rather sizeable presumption), I believe some knob out there has said something that hurt you regarding your blog. "Pish and tosh", says I. You have a great product that shows that you put real time, talent, and treasure into it and I don't think anybody who seriously follows what you write would think otherwise. Just be careful of not giving those who choose to advertise the same lattitude you deserve for making your choice. "In league with the devil" makes for great copy but it is a bold color with which to paint.

Done with the ramble... thanks for this post.

Casey
<mod edit>link removed - Tim</mod edit>

Edited by Tim, 16 December 2005 - 08:34 PM.


#23 Ruud

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 01:56 AM

Hi Casey! Read your post with great interest. You have a way with words if I ever saw one. But I mainly wanted to take the time to respond to welcome you to Cre8asite Forums. I surely hope to read more by your hand!

#24 manager

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 05:27 AM

The incentive seems to be money.

I think “seems” is a key word here. :)
The same thing could be said of forums. For example, when Crea8asite starts to carry advertising, it may seem to be motivated by money, however it is clearly not the case.

TreV

#25 Captain Obvious

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 01:39 PM

I had a blog, but it seems as if the only people that made comments were asking why I didn't have the news or sport scores and similar things. Because of that, I got tired of telling people what a blog is (or used to be) and let it go.

#26 cre8pc

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 02:35 PM

Today information is a true commodity and I can't imagine that it somehow lessens somebody for "selling" it. I've had friends for years who have done the affiliate thing, the e-book thing, and the adsense thing and they remain my friends and maintain my respect because they put out a quality product; something original and insightful that you really would like to read


In the end, after giving this considerable thought and listening to all of you, as well as spending gobs of time over at Performancing.com, I've relaxed a bit about all this.

Selling info for the sake of "just selling to make a buck" is something that I don't like much, however, if the content is delicious, I'm happy to buy it, or click an ad, or resell it as an affiliate myself.

I hated to see the spirit of blogging go corporate, but even at that, there's some political blogs, for example, that are corporate-like but also really darned fun to read.

Isn't it funny how it all goes back to the content? If its good, and we like it, we can live with most anything, LOL

Lest I forget, I thank each of you for a great conversation!

#27 AbleReach

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 05:07 PM

Isn't it funny how it all goes back to the content? If its good, and we like it, we can live with most anything, LOL

Yes. All the SEO, brilliant eyetracking studies and GUI reworking in the world cannot make up for lack of substance. That gives me a guidepost, no matter how strategy and style changes along the way.

Elizabeth



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