2 Weeks in the Blogosphere

November 30th, 2004 by Bob Bly

While I am a rank novice in blogging, I have formed a few initial impressions.

I?d like to share them with you now, and pray these don?t get me into more hot water in the blogosphere:

1. For a solo practitioner (freelance copywriter) like me, my time is the only thing I have to sell.

Therefore, I am concerned that, since for me time equals money, my blogging is costing me a lot of money ? with no visible ROI other than fun.

2. Bloggers ? both those who have blogs and write the journal entries, as well as those who read blogs and write the posts ? seem to have much more free time than I do ? or more energy (probably the latter, though I work a 60+ hour week).

I am amazed at the detailed posts some of you guys make, or that you go look at, read, and respond to blogs so often.

3. I am beginning to suspect that the blogosphere, or at least the marketing segment of it, is much smaller than I originally imagined.

There seems to be active blogging from a small core of hardcore marketing bloggers ? about two dozen individuals.

4. In marketing and small business blogs, those who read and post to them seem to be individuals or other small businesses.

It doesn?t seem to me that the big players ? e.g., marketing directors of Fortune 1000 companies ? are active bloggers.

5. Some of you guys love to argue and are, by your own admission, contentious. On the posts on this blog, both Rick Bruner and Paul W. attribute to me statements I never made, and pick fights that no one else has started.

Am I accurate here? Or way off base?

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 2004 at 12:55 pm and is filed under Blogging. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

83 responses about “2 Weeks in the Blogosphere”

  1. Rick Bruner said:

    Oh Bob.

    First of all, what words did I put in your mouth? You responded to me in your comments that you “never said” that blogs were good for direct marketing, but that’s clearly what you were writing about in DMNews, a publication for direct marketers and your expertise being direct marketing and your writing about “Will [blogs] help sell more products and services?” and whether “a business blog has gotten [any marketer] a positive return on investment.” If that’s not holding blogs accountable to direct marketing standards, then I don’t know what you’re writing about.

    As for the size of the blogosphere, I am in the midst of conducting some research with comScore, the preliminary findings of which suggest that some 35 million Americans, or 20% of the online audience, currently read blogs. As for how many marketers are blogging, believe it or not I do have better things to do than compile a list here, but there are way more than 2 dozen marketing bloggers. I’m sure there are hundreds.

    As for being busy, we’re all busy. I would agree that the recession was definitely an important ingredient in the “perfect storm” of the blogging boom, but many of us are busy and still make time to blog because we’re addicted (less TV, less leisure reading, less sleep), not to mention fewer emails and memos replaced by blog posts to the same and larger audiences. As for executive bloggers, a few (as I’ve noted before) include: Jonathan Shwartz, president and COO of Sun Microsystems; George Soros, billion financier and philanthropist; Mark Cuban, billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks; Richard Edelman, president and CEO of the world’s largest PR agency; Alan Meckler, CEO of Jupitermedia; Seth Godin, one-man-marketing-sensation and ex-direct-marketingologist, to name a few.

  2. Tim Palmer said:

    I basically agree. Like Rick, I think you have underestimated on 3, but are right in saying it’s not huge. As for 1, I think jury is still out. While not a direct marketet myself, but someone who has an interest in marketing, I had never heard of you until a blog I read mentioned your blog. You are already spreading your name – which can lead to good things.

  3. Jim Jankowski said:

    For me I’ve started blogging as a way to market my home based business. Blogs are free, easy to create and easy to promote. Just what a small business owner is looking for in a marketing program. Also by responding to posts, you get your own site presented. The best in viral marketing.

    As far as ROI, I never heard of you either, Bob, until I saw your blog referenced on http://www.entrpreneur.com. I look forwared to hearing more which might even lead me to taking a look at your services.

    I feel blogging is a way the little guy can get themselves known. And, hopefully I can get known before the big guys muscle me out!

  4. Jim Jankowski said:

    But maybe I should concentrate on just getting my URL right!

  5. Debbie Weil said:

    Bob, I am also amazed at the detail and length of many of the comments in response to your first posts. Way overkill. One of the things I work on with my blog coaching clients is how to *minimize* the time they spend writing their blog… while *maximizing* the ROI they’ll get from it. And yes, the ROI will be branding, media exposure, lead generation… not direct sales. One of my clients would like to get a book contract out of his blog. A reasonable goal, I think.

  6. David Berkowitz said:

    Bob, I’ll agree with the gist of your post. The blogosphere does have millions of people, but it does feel like I keep running into the same folks, including a couple who’ve commented to this posting. But there’s nothing wrong with that. For some of these commentators, myself included to a degree, part of their personal brand is that they’re active in this kind of thing (blogs, social networks, other new media innovations). They’re the people who speak, while many, many more do fine just listening. Okay, so it’s a little inbred. Our kids should still turn out alright.

  7. Derek Scruggs said:

    For you, blogging should be 30 minutes/week, tops. You already write articles for DM News.
    Assuming you have reprint rights , just take those exact same articles and post them on your blog with a “comments” link. Ad Google AdSense to the mix (which, btw, can be tested and optimized just like any DM tactic) and you’ll soon start making money just for doing the ordinary pr exposure work you now do for free anyway. You may be one of the lucky few who gets paid by DM News, but I’m sure you know that most columnists in trade mags do it for free. Google AdSense is a godsend for that side of the business.

  8. Joel Heffner said:

    Bob,
    I noticed in your Blog that you have no references to your own site, articles, books, etc. That’s one of the best things about Blogs…you can create links to your own work. Some folks (sheltered as they may be) may not know that you have written about 50 (excellent) books. Others may not know that you have some very nifty advice in the form of articles, such as the one on how to get over a slump. If you don’t mention stuff to buy or at least read…Blogs won’t be very effective, for you. In addition, I have noticed that my Blog (on blogger.com) gets Google to index on my site…everyday! That’s another subtle advantage of a Blog. Finally, who knows someday maybe a man will land of the moon…and write a Blog there to. :)

    Joel

  9. Shelle Castles-Melton said:

    Hi Bob! I’m with you on this one – although I do have two blogs. One is for personal reasons because writing is therapy for me (my husband is leaving for Iraq in January and it helps to write about it) and the other is my business blog. I have to say, I get quite a bit of work/subscribers/interest from my business blog that then follow the links to my actual business website. So for me? It’s worth it. But note, that I do NOT post every day or even every week in my blogs. Like you – my time is money. I see big benefits in blogging in the future as blog sites are gaining notariety in the general media which means that the average Joe may find himself on an AP wire story because he was blogging about the presidential elections. It happened. So, is it worth it? Right now – yes and no. In the future. Quite possibly yes. JMHO… Shelle – who has wasted too much time here.. LOL

  10. Dave Barnes said:

    Bob,

    You need to view your blog using FireFox as your browser. I think you will find the type very difficult to read.

    ,dave

  11. Andrew Denny said:

    You already send me your email newsletter, and you already write a lot for it. Why can’t you just publish it by blog instead? Blogs are a publishing system, not a literary concept.

    I tried to unsubscribe twice from your newsletter, but the darn thing keeps coming! I don’t have control over your newsletter subscription, you do. And you haven’t made it easy for me to unsubscribe (I use email redirections and your newsletter doesn’t tell me what I originally subscribe as, so I just curse and mark it as spam in my gmail account.

    I do have control over your blog and I’ve subscribed to it via RSS, which is great, because it’s me that controls the subscription. But you aren’t using links or pictures, just a stream of diary text, and it currently doesn’t have the useful information your newsletter contains.

    Hope this helps as feedback. Keep on blogging! I’ll say it again: blogging is a publishing method, not a form of writing. There’s no reason why you can’t publish your newsletter via a blog. You’ll have to rewrite/reformat, but you do that with computer screen vs. paper anyway. Don’t you?

  12. Michael O'Brien said:

    Bob — You’re right on target with your comments. I had a blog on marketing communications for a few months, but I got tired of dealing with the deluge of spam in the comments — and the number of flames hurled my way for no logical reason .
    I’m with you — my time is better spent billing out my services! I think a e-newsletter — like yours — betters reach your target audience than does a blog.

  13. Robert said:

    Blog on Bob. Please accept my two cents about the “art form”: from Robertopia.com. You’ll recognize some of the names referenced, I think.

  14. John Dumbrille said:

    Your suggestion there is a lack of jizz in the Blogosphere – all talk etc – may be a little right, but I suggest Doc Searls, Seth Godin and others are steps ahead of you. Seems your POV is – writer Danielle Steele has a better ROI than Richard Ford.
    Blogging is about impact, and not necessarily about hoovering up the spoils.

  15. David Garfinkel said:

    Hi Bob,

    It all depends on your business model. I agree with most
    of the post-ers that for you, extensive blogging would not
    be a good use of your time.

    For me, it is. I’m posting 5-6 days a week to my World
    Copywriting Blog, and I see it as an investment in the
    future more than a return-on-investment vehicle for now.

    I personally think it’s a much better way to promote on
    the Internet than with email newsletters and conventional
    Web sites alone.

    David Garfinkel

  16. Toby said:

    Hey Bob – does all that mean that you’re out of here or still in the game?

    Toby

  17. Scott Thompson said:

    Bob – I’m one of your biggest fans — reading your books and articlaes for years. I think you are underestimating your time doing a blog. As a Bob Bly fan, I’m glad I just found your blog — I did it accidentally, doing a google search on something specfic I was looking for about marketing and copywriting. My point: your blog showed up (and I wasn’t looking for you..ha). Ummm, but the fact this blog came up on search, had I not of known of you, I might have well visited your web site promoting your services. Proof positive: blog efforts work — you show up on web searches that you might have not otherwise. That’s worth the time (whatever time you can afford to put into — 10 minutes a week for a fresh post?). Blog on, Bob Bly (that’s alliteration, no?) :)

  18. Jay Lipe said:

    Bob-I’m relatively new to the blogosphere, but here’s one thing I’ve noticed: Blogs are a great way to test headlines. From the responses to my posts, I can see which subject lines generate enough interest so that an “open” occurs.

    Sure, my blog #’s are nothing compared to some of the heavy hitters out there. But I’m still able to get immediate feedback on my marketing efforts, content and approaches.

    To me, there’s nothing more valuable than market feedback, and a blog gives me just the right tool for this….

  19. David Burn said:

    Getting yourself into hot water with the blogosphere is the very thing that brought your name to my attention. I know you’ve written lots of books and such, but I did not know that until your DM News article blasting blogs. I do not read that periodical. I read about it on a blog.

    Now to ROI. I know you’re not a branding guy, you’re a sales generator. But this blog isn’t about sales (at this point in time), it’s about building the Bob Bly brand. The better you do that here, the more inclined I will be to actually buy and read one of your books.

    As to who are these bloggers and where do they find the time, I won’t speak for the rest, but I will reveal that I have way too much time on my hands as an under-employed copywriter. Therefore, I’ve decided to build my brand (AdPulp) to the best of my ability, and in a place where people care enough to find me.

  20. Jim Kukral said:

    I just think the blogosphere is really spread out, and that most blog readers, don’t even realize what blogs are, or care really. They just like the niche specific content.

  21. Paul Woodhouse said:

    So basically, it doesn’t make you any money; it takes too much time; it’s over-hyped; only the little guys are doing it and you can’t handle argumentative types?

    Other than those old chestnuts, don’t you just love blogging?

    Or am I attributing statements to you which you haven’t uttered?

  22. Anita Campbell said:

    Hi, I found you through Tinbasher. Interesting post and comments.

    However, I believe you may be making a hasty decision on number 4. Give it time to experience the blogosphere. You can’t tell who reads blogs from the face of them.

    Many people assume that the comments on a blog reveal the popularity and readership. I would suggest that is one measure for some blogs, but it doesn’t apply at all to other blogs. For instance, some of the largest blogs (Instapundit) don’t even have a commenting function at all.

    It’s all a question of the blog’s purpose and style. Some blogs have a lot of community, with regular loyal readers. Other blogs get a ton of inbound links, and not just from other blogs, but from influential business sites and very popular ezines.

    I’ve noticed an interesting dichotomy. Some of the sites with the most comments have surprisingly small numbers of inbound links, and vice versa.

    It really boils down to who is perceived as a thought leader or opinion leader. And that is a complex question that can’t be answered from looking at the face of a blog. You have to look at server traffic logs, inbound links (and not just links from blogs), subscribers to the blogs’ ezines and RSS feeds, emails, media requests, comments — the whole mix.

    Oh, and you have to look at ROI — does it lead to compensation? And there’s no way that a third party observer can measure a blogger’s ROI from a casual outside-in view.

  23. BlogKits said:
    Bob Bly Hates Blogging
    Or so it would seem, more below. Pete Blackshaw over at ClickZ gives his take on blogging in 2005. Blogs absorb flak, yet stay on track. Expect 2005 to open with a predictable slew of fashionably righteous articles de-hyping…

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