Thursday, August 04, 2005

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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?"
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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?
  27. 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.

-- Jack Krupansky

21 Comments:

At 11:31 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would suggest that you get a Penguin. A penguin, a wise bird indeed, could provide you the patient companionship needed while toiling at your blog.

The Penguins and I wish you well in all your future endevers.

Gruntwilligar T. Honkenoffski

 
At 12:39 AM EDT , Anonymous yian said...

Penguins!? You must be a Linux fan!

Seriously though, Jack, you probably just need to put in more efforts and give it more time. Your blog has a super generic look, and maybe that's why people aren't stopping by and read them... they just assume it's a boring blog because it doesn't "look" interesting.

 
At 11:45 AM EDT , Anonymous Jack Krupansky said...

I have no objection to sprucing up the appearance, other than the fact that I'm about as non-visual, non-graphic, text-oriented as a person can get. Any aesthetics would have to wait for sufficient income so that I could afford to pay someone to do "the aesthetics". And even then I'd have to pay a second person to tell me whether the first person really did a good job.

Thanks for the good advice though.

-- Jack Krupansky

 
At 8:03 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty self-defeating to me. "I didn't make money in 6 months, so I'm never going to make money." ... "I'm not going to update appearance until I get successful, even though I can't get successful until I update appearance."

You've already made up your mind that this doesn't work, so why are you trying to rationalize?

 
At 11:57 AM EDT , Anonymous Jack Krupansky said...

Money was not the objective per se. I was a little more open-minded than that. I was hoping that blogging would open up some new collaboration opportunities. I gave it six months to see what developed, and I found the return on investment to be negligible. It's called "Cut your losses."

As far as appearance... to be honest, Blogger looks fine or even better than fine to me and my eye simply is unable to discern why any other blogs look better than Blogger. That's not to say that only blogs aren't better, but simply that achieving better appearance is beyond my personal ability. If I wanted better appearance, I'd have to pay (or barter) someone else to do that work for me, and even then I'd be incapable of directly judging whether they were doing good work. Additional effort is a non-starter for me.

Another thing on appearance: personally, I'd rather not work with anybody who is obsessed with appearance. I do content. If somebody is unable to look past superficial appearance and unable to focus on actual content, then I'm not likely to want to work with them.

In any case, thanks for the feedback.

-- Jack Krupansky

 
At 12:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Jack Krupansky said...

... and the purpose of rationalization is to provide a peek behind the curtains to enable others to learn from my mistakes and experiences.

-- Jack Krupansky

 
At 7:30 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack, I think you are missing a few important points while making the situation more complicated than it really is, to suit your argument that blogging is worthless to you.

Regarding the "aesthetics" of your blog: you're making things more complicated by suggesting you have to pay one person to redesign and another to "verify." This is silly. You can most certainly see what is a quality job and what isn't. And by picking your contractor wisely, you won't have to worry about the quality. Assuming that we're going to take a pat answer is a little insulting to the reader.

Also, having a template that is "good enough" or assuming that people will fit into YOUR idea of what YOU want to work with you seems to be counter-productive to garnering collaboration. Isn't the very purpose of business to cater to the CLIENT'S needs -- not yours?

You say: "personally, I'd rather not work with anybody who is obsessed with appearance. I do content. If somebody is unable to look past superficial appearance and unable to focus on actual content, then I'm not likely to want to work with them." But if your blog looks like a hobby, how do you expect anyone to take you seriously? It's not a matter of looking for people to collaborate who aren't "superficial," it's about making your blog look like something professional that people would gravitate to. If I look at your blog and think "Hm, this guy isn't even willing to put out the modest effort to move onto its own domain and design a sleeker, more professional-looking site, then how do I know he's worth my time?" The aesthetics, unfortunately, are what draws your reader in. Your content is what keeps them there.

Second, it's important that you realize that Blogger is really not the appropriate platform to launch a quality blogging operation that aspires to greatness. While Blogger is a great tool, it is not a professional-looking, or operating package. And the lack of a domain name on which to host your blog makes any blog appear amateurish or at the very least hobby oriented.

While you may have been using this as a "test phase," you really can't expect to get out of a test phase until you shift into high gear. Your blog needs to appear more professionally, on its own domain name and using a software that can handle a more complex system.

There are abundant resources on the internet that will walk you through this process -- although I expect you would probably be able to do just fine, considering that you run a couple websites already.

Also, I question why you don't integrate these blogs into your business websites? The blogs shouldn't necessarily stand on their own, but should be a part of your total business package. I may not completely understand your business model or niche, so forgive me if I'm misunderstanding. But my feeling is that blogs are part of the equation, not the answer to it.

 
At 8:19 PM EDT , Anonymous Jack Krupansky said...

I don't disagree with everything you've said (Anonymous at 5:30 PM), but I do note that if I had known that all of this effort was required to get a quality blogging operation up and running, I would not have even bothered to start blogging to begin with.

I don't completely disclaim aesthetics, but simply note that it is beyond my own personal aptitude. Just tell me which options to click in Blogger and I'll try it, but aything creative in the graphical and layout sense is way beyond my aptitude and ability (or patience).

At some point in the future I might want to integrate blogging within my existing web sites, but very low cost and very easy to use tools would have to be available (e.g., a plug-in for Microsoft FrontPage), and that is not the case today. I'm sure some people will claim that it already is "easy", but when I look at the complexity of some of the supposedly quality blogging sites, I hardly see them as being "easy".

As far as the idea that aesthetics attract people and content keeps them, that may be true for magazines and television, but that flies in the face of wisdom that I think *does* make sense for web-based content: content is what causes blog or web site to pop up in search engines and draws the reader to the page to begin with. Whether aesthetics is then necessary to keep them coming back to the blog is where the dispute over aesthetics arises.

Besides... a lot of people "live" in blog aggregators which strip off so much of the blog aesthetics and present relatively raw content anyway.

-- Jack Krupansky

 
At 12:15 AM EDT , Blogger hassan said...

Hi :)

You have a great blog! I'll make sure to visit regularly.

If you want your blog to get higher in search engines, why not try Link Metro, you can over 100 new links to your blog every single day, for FREE!

 
At 11:10 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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I have started a blog directory and would like to personally invite you to post your blog. Its free and will help you in your search rankings.

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At 4:32 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 7:06 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice blog enjoyed it :)

Keep up the excellent work! and i bookmarked u!

so cant wait for ur next post! :)

Thanks!!

 
At 10:50 PM EST , Blogger Goji Juice said...

Hello everyone! ... sorry I'm a newbie, how does this blog thing work? I bought some products from this store: www.eBookLovers.com but too dumb to figure out. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

 
At 12:13 AM EST , Blogger Jason said...

I am new to blogs myself and have found your site helpful. You have lots of points for me to think about. I do wonder about the look of the site. People come for the content not the fancy stuff. Blogger is not done by a pro but I thinkit looks fine. I have never left a blog because it was plain. i do hope to see a few more post from you.
Good luck
Jason
http://mlmwealth.blogspot.com

 
At 4:13 PM EST , Blogger Brandon said...

In terms of not making your blog successful, you would have needed your own domain, and blended your adsense ads...with just a few visitors a day you could easily make more than $1 a day.

If you are interested I have more free blogging tips at Vooed Business Marketing

Brandon

 
At 2:18 PM EDT , Anonymous Tim said...

Jack, I'm sure others have pointed out that it would be better if you had your own domain and a better template. I have my blog, www.mymoneyforest.com, hosted on Dreamhost which offers a one-click install for wordpress. It's quick easy and cheap. Also, I'm not sure what the focus of your blog is because it's domain is jackkonblog.blogspot.com. That's not descriptive nor narrow and "jackkonblog" is not a very effective keyword. Hopefully things start working out better. I've been blogging for over a year and my site went from zero to PR5 in about 4 months. You can do it too. You should probably start with 1 blog, not 5. I can't imagine how time consuming it is to build readership, inbound links, and content for 5 blogs!!! Whoa!!

 
At 2:03 PM EDT , Blogger portallanguageservices.com said...

Your website colors are depressing and your Google ad is not blended... Why not an ad at the bottom too?

My site isn't perfect either but I'm constantly trying to improve it and get better results.
I went from $4.50 in google ad revenue in June to $16 in July through optimization and increased content. How can you build a following and a brand without having your own domain name?

Christopher,
http://plseducation.com/wordpress

 
At 6:19 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a newbie in comparison and still learning. I've been blogging since 2003, just a hobby, acuriousity of sorts. I was an Art Illustrator for 11 years. I've had my own .com and it is highly overrated. A blog's heart and mind is the publisher. I'm very visual and this is an asset and a liability. Most things are both.

There is a balance that comes with time. You sound as if you have burn-out. You followed a lot of advice and most was probably good, sound advice. Nevertheless you have to know your limitations and no one can navigate or advise you in something as personal as that.

You have been a source of knowleges and probably leadership to a lot of people. But the investment you put in was too much too soon in all probability.

Sometimes we approach blogging like kids let loose in a candy store. We eat because its there and because we can.

One thing I noticed about blogging is that it is being propelled by the same capitalistic engines we all know so well from the business world, creating classes and ghettos.

We are defining places and the people within them and deciding their worth based on what they have. It seems we have learned nothing therefore from the brick and mortar business attitudes that fuel what so many of us deride as being capitalistic hierachy.

Blogging has surprised the world of Journalism, Politics and Economics. It was the free bloggers that did this and opened the door for those who are now .com successful.

Bottomline is it indeed takes time for a blog presence to grow and for us to mature as publishers. It is amazing that anyone is able maintain multiple blog publishing and stay in the loop.

Everyone knows the idea of being both writer and editor is insanity. To be the publisher as well is downright impossible.

But-- blogging manages to succeed because of the amazing tools available to assist us and make the workload easier. Blogging itself is still in its baby stages. What you and others have been are trailblazers. From a professional standpoint, I believe you need to work on a few avenues that interest you, that you enjoy and improve a couple of blogs eye appeal.

There are many ways to do that without a large monetary investment. Improving the face is easy. You have something else far more priceless-- passion and the ability to transfer what you think into words. I hope you will not give up just yet. But if you do, I know you will do well wherever you go because you have fire.

You cannot purchase in a box on-line. As my uncle use to tell me, choose something you enjoy doing and do it. Don't give up, keep working on it and you will be successful. Simple words from a man who lived a simple life. Now define success.

 
At 12:21 PM EDT , Anonymous Jack Krupansky said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

I am continuing to blog, off and on, but not treating it as some kind of really big deal important thing.

Here's an amusing paradox: of the six blogs I have (half of which I don't post to very often), the one that gets the most attention is the one that interests me the least, this one! Go figure.

As far as visuals, I have very low visual or spatial aptitude and very little interest in that side of the equation (I'm an idea, concept, and abstraction guy), so I'll just have to muddle along with 0% visual contribution and whatever visuals come automatically from the blogging tools, until the day that I actually have the resources to pay someone to do the visual cleanup. Don't hold your breath on that score.

Again, thanks for the very thoughtful comment.

-- Jack Krupansky

 
At 5:04 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, a blog is just a website and blogging software is just a Content Management System that enables you to publish something. Anything you put on your "website" you can put on your "blog". Its all just web pages. Tons of what you call "websites" are built on Wordpress on the backend.

Its all just fancy names for the same thing. There is no where else to go on the Web except making Web pages and presenting content people want to see. How you do it is just semantics.

Danogo.com

 
At 4:57 PM EDT , Anonymous Mohammad said...

Yes, dull template indeed.

Definitely need a makeover.

But you write well.

It's a petty you're not motivated to continue anymore.

Anyway, good luck on your future endeavors.

-- Mohammad

 

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