Some of you may have come across Chris Guillebeau’s 279 day guide to success as a blogger. For those of you who don’t have time to read it, here’s the short short version.
First the obvious parts:
- Being a successful blogger takes a long time and is a lot of hard work.
- Even doing that won’t make you boat loads of cash.
- You need to stay disciplined in your posting.
- Get other sites interested in you through reviews, guest posts & media connections.
- Use primary market research.
Now the interesting parts. Chris’s position is that Adsense ads suck, because you’re trusting Google to figure out what’s contextual. If your site links out to stuff, you’re telling your visitors that if they trust you, they should trust this ad, and that link is being driven by an algorithm that could well be wrong.
I would argue that most people understand the weak trust link when they see Adsense embeds, but it follows that a weak trust link means that the advert is going to suck at being effective anyway. I’d not thought about this before, and it’s definitely worth considering.
Chris’s solution for monetisation is the freemium model – a blogger’s product is information, so why now charge for some of it. It’s not going to work for everyone, but Chris has made it work for a non-targeted blog, so that’s encouraging.
In reading it, a few quotations stuck out:
- “I work harder than most people I know, and the other unconventional success stories mentioned in this report do the same.”
- “I derive too much emotional validation from the daily state of my network. When lots of people are subscribing, the comments are up, and the links are rolling in, I feel great. When the numbers are down, I feel bad.”
Right there is the real reason Chris’s blog has been so successful – he clearly works his ass off.
The worrying parts
Interesting fact: a lot of the most popular blog content is about how to become a popular blogger. The whole hook of Chris’s report is on how to be just a successful as Chris. I’m not disputing his incentives at all, but when you strip away the excellent graphic design and verbiage, that’s what it boils down to.
Here’s the problem. Folks read his report because they want what he has, but for whatever reason (family, the day job and so on) they can’t invest the time needed to actually DO it. If they did, thousands of super successful blogs would start to spring up. It never happens. Even if it did, since global web attention is a stretchy-but-limited commodity, as supply increases, price goes down and folk spend less time with one individual blog.
I’m not saying it’s a pyramid scheme – Chris isn’t charging, isn’t benefitting, and in fact, licensed this report with CC-BY. But some elements are there – one successful guy at the top and a lot of people who want but can’t attain the same success.