Saying that blogging can be a venture is like saying that Jerry Bruckheimer productions would be action packed without Jerry. Business 2.0 explores the idea a little further in Can Blogging Ever Become Big Business?, but I have to give the question a resounding no.
Blogging lacks the leverage that was once present in media. Traditional media always had substantial infrastructure which lended to its stickiness. Localized branding, heavy investment in production and distribution capabilities, and lack of competition (particularly in recent years, due a spate of merger and acquisition activity), all made traditional media the avenue from which authors could make their stand. A contributor had no other place to channel his or her energies, with the exception of the independent press (which is and always will be seen as lacking in credibility, and lacking in distribution). Media could use that investment to leverage the capabilities of its contributors, and could easily scale that investment to numerous contributors.
Blogging has potentially unlimited competition, few barriers to entry (in fact, entry is free in many places), and the internet virtually guarantees that someone will be heard, sometime, someplace. The only determinant of a blog’s success is the quality of the content (something traditional media has not needed to worry about until now). And the quality is replicable, and mobile. The value of a blog can disappear with one slip of the tongue, or one migrating author, making it of suspect value. Without predictability of results, there is little investment opportunity, and little in the way of venture to be had.
Blogging is a product of the new media generation, one that wants for participation. It is the participation that provides the value, and I believe there will be numerous “micro-cycles” in blogging, whereby one blog is supplanted by another in popularity and that “participation.” Blogging is beginning to usurp traditional media at blazing speed, and I have seen nothing to suggest that new blogs cannot supplant older ones just as quickly.
If you want to blog, then blog. If you think there is an aggregation play here, go for it. But don’t cry when you value walks out the door to the next shop, or your competition kicks your butt in a single afternoon.
Don’t expect blogging to make you wealthy. Do expect it to make you tired.
It seems I am not the only one thinking this way. Catch some recent comments from the Slashdot crowd in: The Rise and Fall of Blogs.