The six-month blogging anniversary celebration continues
Here are some additional points I wanted to make related to my decision to "pull the plug" after blogging for six months and not feeling that the return on effort was worth it. These points are in addition to my initial comments.
- Burnout? Not really. I thoroughly enjoy blogging, far beyond the business benefits that it produces. If I were burned out, I would simply have stopped and not even written this post.
- It's nothing personal, it's just business. Just to emphasize, I enjoy blogging, but it's not economically justified, for me. And I'm not doing it as a hobby or to relieve boredom.
- It's my perception, with no implications for the efforts of others. I fully recognize and expect that blogging works quite well for many people and many businesses. It simply doesn't work for me, from an economic perspective.
- Blandening. Blogging seems to be losing its edge and getting more bland by the day. People seem to be slipping into their respective grooves. Blogs are getting too predictable. There was some real excitement six months ago, but a lot of the energy has dissipated. Is it hardening of the arteries? Blog cholesterol?
- Too much hype. The extreme hype has always bothered me, but now it's simply sunk in, for me, that the hype is insufficient for me to economically justify blogging. Why can't we make the hype go away?
- Web pages provide most of the benefit of blogs. I'm not giving up on the web. I have five web sites and will continue to update them as I have new material that I feel is worth disseminating. People find me via my web sites using search engines such as Google, and I enjoy the email exchanges. Blogs and web feeds provide an additional level of communication, but I've not found that increment to be very dramatic at all.
- No significant search engine optimization (SEO) effect. With my very initial blogging efforts I had been led to believe that referring to my existing web site content from blogs would boost my ranking in Google, but I actually found the reverse in some cases. In any case, I got no dramatic SEO benefit from blogs.
- Need to focus more on value. Blogs seem like a great idea, but generating "value" is a more difficult proposition. Some people seem to suggest that blogs are the *best* way to create value, but I'm even more skeptical now.
- Negligible in-bound linking. Consistent with trying to boost Google page ranking, I had hoped to incrementally see more people linking to my blogs, especially over a period of months. Maybe it's simply the fact that people "link" to web feeds rather than blogs themselves. Or, maybe people simply don't find any of my content to be compelling.
- No discernible "traction". I can understand these processes requiring extended periods of time, but I'd also have expected to see *some* traction as the months tick by. My rule: No traction = pull plug.
- Enough "practice" writing; time to do the real thing. Regular blogging has certainly helped to hone my writing ability, but it's more of an exercise than "the real thing". I'm feeling a little bit of desire to do some "real" writing. Blog posts aren't particularly to best place to write full essays or even longer works.
- Time to move on to the next step or next level. I've been there and done that for six months, so I'm ready to move on. If anybody suggests that more time is needed, then my response is that there is something seriously wrong somewhere here. Six months was a good "phase". I'm ready for something new that really will take me to the infamous next level, and I'm not talking about podcasting or wikis or merely joining one of the blog "networks". Even if Jason Calacanis were to FedEx me an engraved invitation and a $20,000 advance, I'd merely yawn and shake my head and say "Is this all there is?"
- Even the most optimistic prospects aren't that appealing. Even if I had a 10 or 100 or 1,000 or even 10,000-fold increase in traffic and interest, would it really be so wonderful? Besides after an initial pop, how do you achieve sustainability? Even if Google or Microsoft or Yahoo or BusinessWeek said "Please come work for us", that wouldn't be so appealing. Admittedly, I wouldn't mind getting some consulting opportunities, but even that would probably peter out and become dull and tedious after a short time.
- I'd like to go out on an upbeat note rather than die a slow death or even a fast death. I have no desire to simply "flame out." Better to make a solid business decision and follow through.
- Be professional about it. So many blogs have seem to be stamped "amateur". I'd like to do as professional a job as I can, and if I don't feel that I'm up to being a hard-core professional at every step, then I should at least be as professional as possible about getting out.
- Not a matter of "pressure to publish". As I've tried to emphasize, my decision to stop is not based on a desire to stop, but a need to be focusing on tasks that I feel deliver good value. I don't feel like I *have* to post any messages; I want to publish them.
- Tools are still a little too tedious. As I've gotten more proficient, I've started to notice that I'm not as productive as I'd like. The Blogger interface is easy enough to use and the email posting interface is reasonably efficient, but sometimes I skip or delay a post because I don't feel that I have the extra 30 seconds to compose it and ship it off to my blog and them proofread it and frequently copyedit it as well. To my mind, blogging should be as easy as an email conversation, maybe easier.
- There's always more to learn from reading blogs, but I need to digest more of what I've already read. After a while, too much of the content I'm exposed to really does seem to simply go in one eye and out the other. I might learn just as much or more by re-reading the last 50,000 posts I've read than reading the next 50,000. I'm not talking about news or gossip, but solid "knowledge" that will provide me with value in the coming years.
- Diminishing returns. I have in fact gotten some value out of blogs, but I'm no longer getting as much value as I got from those first 1,000 posts I read. Worse, I'm not expecting the rate of return to go up, unless some dramatic improvement in the blog world occurs.
- No desire to be long-winded. I think I've probably said most of what I could say over the past six months, so why risk boring people with repetition. Just last week I though of blogging some topic and suddenly realized that I suspected that I had already blogged that topic, but I simply couldn't remember for sure.
- Focus more on my real content. My web sites and their content were starting to get neglected. I need to get back to emphasizing substantial content rather than simply blogging a lot. Blogging had become a distraction that I could not offload.
- Conflict between blogging my own content and commenting on the blogs of others. Since there was very little attention being paid to my own blogs, it seemed more attractive to comment on the blogs of others, especially since I enjoyed that process and actually got more attention to my writing that way. The problem is that every comment I post to the blog of somebody else is one less blog post of my own.
- Business efforts need to scale up (multiply) results, rather than merely limp along. I *should* have seen increasing returns for my effort, not a flat line. If you see a flat line after six months, clearly something is very wrong.
- Lack of clear goals and a "plan"; no criteria for success or failure. Put simply, I didn't know what I was really trying to do when I started blogging. Lack of focus is bad news. I had a vague idea, but enough to give great results. To some extent, I simply thought that I'd put a lot of energy into it and "see what happens", and that along the way some good things would happen. At least that was the theory.
- What does it mean to become a successful blogger? To date, I still don't have a good, solid answer, other than simply to say that you're a successful blogger if your blogging leads to success.
- What does it mean about the state of our technology if changed web site page changes cannot be easily located and reviewed? To some extent, blogs are simply an easy way to discover new content that has been placed on the web. Why can't I simple focus exclusively on authoring new content and have some automated tools or infrastructure automatically generate the blogs?
- Serendipity failed me. There are lots of things, including good and wonderful things, that you simply can't plan for and simply showing up and "being there" is the best way to set yourself up for good things to happen. Unfortunately, my dependence on serendipity simply didn't pan out this time.
That's it for now, but I'm sure I'll collect some more thoughts in the days ahead. Only 15 days to go.