Friday, February 09, 2007

The Blog Market

MyDD recently had a good post on the way political blogs are changing as the market for their product matures. Forgive me for the econobabble. Sometimes it is needed, especially as it describes something which actually happens and which constrains the way bloggers operate.

That MyDD post noted that almost all the much-read or highly-ranked political blogs on the left are now team blogs, and that many of them offer other services in addition to blog posts. They are like little news offices, a one-click-service to all your daily needs on the net! The only exceptions to this are Atrios and Digby, and even these two divines have some extra help. In short, it's impossible to run a newsroom on the energy of one person writing all alone, and it's twice as impossible to run a newsroom on the energy of that one person which remains after a dayjob has been done.

This is just a fact of life. But where does it leave the kinds of blogs I have, the kinds which are mostly about one or two people writing down their thoughts? It leaves them in a different league.

That isn't necessarily bad. Just as many more people read the New York Times daily than read Shakespeare daily, a small blog can have interesting and important things to say and thus retain a niche in the market. What makes it all more difficult is that the monetary rewards from blogging are in the advertising income and that income, mostly, accrues to those with most readers. Not that blogging makes anybody rich, but having advertising income pays for broadband and subscriptions and perhaps a conference trip or two, and all that makes it easier to explain this blogging hobby to the Stern Internal Accountant in the blogger's head.

What am I trying to say here? That the future of political blogging seems to me to lie in the corporate form or at least in the form of team blogs. There might be exceptions to that rule, but it will become increasingly difficult for the Lone Blogger to break into the market. Not impossible, but increasingly difficult.

Of course most bloggers aren't interested in the idea of "market penetration". But what is the sound of one blogger typing if nobody reads? Now that's a koan for you.