Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Giving up the blog

Today, Charles Wright, one of Australia’s best known local bloggers, cast a big, dark shadow over the potential of blogging as a professional endeavour when he revealed that he was about ready to give up the blog.

If ever there was an Aussie who had the capacity to make blogging pay the bills, it’s Wright, a veteran newspaper tech journalist and popular columnist. Last year, Fairfax, the media company that publishes Wright’s weekly tech column started paying him to also pen a blog called Razor, which has run on the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age websites (one of Australia’s biggest web destinations) for the last eight months or so.

Razor is about to come to an end. Wright said on his Bleeding Edge blog that the amount of money he’s earning blogging versus the time it requires, means it’s not a sustainable endeavour. He wrote that he’s hoping the fact that Bleeding Edge is now his sole blogging outlet increases traffic and therefore ad revenue. If it doesn’t, he’s set to give up blogging altogether.

As far as blog practices go, Wright has done everything right. He’s got a Big Media outlet from which to publicise himself and his blog. He’s getting a steady income to pen one blog, which one would think, might cross-subsidise the research time required to operate his independent blog. Charles has even managed to build up something of a community behind his blog by attaching a Forum to it, which is popular and well-trafficked. And let’s not forget that he blogs about tech, the most profitable blogging category and as a veteran journo should be able to pump out copy much quicker than your average blogger.

Yet, at the end of the day, the “three of four hours” per day it was taking him to sustain his blog meant that he wasn’t able to spend the time doing the writing that kept the bills paid.

Now, a bunch of you out there will say, so what if some journo can’t give up his day job and become a full-time blogger. Blogging is all about giving the ordinary people a voice, yeh! Cameron Reilly, for example, wrote yesterday:

“What matters is that people now have a way to communicate their ideas quickly and directly to a global audience. What matters is that you don’t need $100 million to have a voice. What matters is that there is more diversity in media today than there was five years ago.”

All those things are great, but for the blogosphere to prosper, it needs a foundation of professionals who set a certain level of standards and whom become the hub of a blogging community. In tech, you get that, but it’s build on an artificial platform because you’ve got a bunch of people, who are either very passionate about the blogging medium and who’ll blog even if the rewards don’t justify the investment or you’ve got people blogging primarily as a marketing exercise.

Unfortunately, those underlying principles don’t translate for many other categories.

On the other hand, Entertainment is a thriving blog category because there are a number of big, professional sites out there who form that hub of the blogosphere from which the don’t care’s or the wannabe’s can leverage.

So the fact that Charles Wright is on the verge of giving up blogging IS a big deal. We need our professionals. Blogger’s without an agenda who can generate content equivalent to what Big Media produces. Because, the fact is, people with something else to do will tire of blogging if the rewards aren’t there. The more successful you are as a blogger, the more time it eats up and there needs to be a payoff that scales with that time and effort investment. Until then, I still maintain my pimple on the greasy back position.

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Filed under: Blogs

4 Responses

  1. Mark Jones says:

    Have a look at his most recent post, Phil. Now he’s talking about a subscription model. Regardless, none of his financial analysis should be a surprise. The only guy I know making decent money from blogging in Australia is Darren Rowse. And he’s done that by running *multiple* blogs. If you’re going to make serious money from blogs, there’s a good argument to suggest you need to jump in with both feet. Hybrid models are hard to sustain.

  2. nicheplayer says:

    All those things are great, but for the blogosphere to prosper, it needs a foundation of professionals who set a certain level of standards and whom become the hub of a blogging community.

    Hmm. I dunno. Sounds like Old Journalism talking. I mean, isn’t the blogging phenomenon largely predicated on the search for the outrageously new and innovative? This “foundation of professionals” would only exist to be overthrown. Again and again and again.

  3. LOL. You are using Charles as some kind of benchmark? That’s pretty funny.

    Blogging isn’t journalism. Blogging is just people talking. We don’t need “professional talkers” to show us all how to do it. We don’t need money to tell stories. Humans have been telling stories since the dawn of time. This whole idea that you need to get paid to tell stories or you’ll stop is completely bogus.

    And, anyway, as Doc Searls has often said, you don’t make money with your blog. You make it because of your blog.

  4. […] There’s been an interesting discussion/progression of thoughts over at Aussie Charles Writght’s blog (Bleeding Edge) over the last week or so as they’ve searched for a business model for their blogging (originally spotted via Squash who has some thoughts on it too). Here’s the progression of posts on the topic over the last week or so: Charles wrote on the 15th of this month that they were in the process of closing down the ‘Razor’ blog which he’d been writing for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – mainly because of the time it was taking and the low return in terms of income in comparison to other forms of writing that they could earn money from. […]

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