Okay, this is going to be a controversial article. There are many passionate bloggers around and I run the risk of creating a stir. But I know there are a lot of bloggers who are asking this question and wonder whether their blog is going to make it or not. To be fair, there are already a small minority who blogs for a living and even a smaller minority who are big bucks bloggers. But for this article, I’m addressing the majority.
First, the question should be more precisely written: Can blogging be used as a primary means of business activity to earn a living?
The biggest problem with blogging is that it is running against the huge juggernaut called Google. As I wrote in “How does Google make money if it gives away stuffs for free?”, Google’s business model depends on making information free abundant. Unfortunately, blogging falls right into what I called the Google Trap, which is, as I wrote in my book,
… in Google’s ideal universe, information (collectively) is free and abundant, but consumers’ attention (for each individual information provider) is scarce. Each feed of one another in a positive feedback loop—to attract the attention of consumers, businesses are forced to give more and more information away, which in turn causes information to be more abundant (collectively), which in turn makes consumers’ attention even more scarce (for each individual businesses), which forces businesses to give yet even more information away.
You may be able to get away from the Google Trap if your blog happens to fall into a very rare niche where you have completely no competition. But for most bloggers and potential bloggers, they don’t have that luxury. Consider the fact that there are already hundreds of millions of blogs in the world, covering all kinds of topic. This is a very clear indicator that the Google Trap is working very well to push down the price of information (to zero). If you’re thinking of blogging for a living, you better think twice. The Google Trap is a big bonanza for consumers, but it is a big pain for artists, writers, musician and other creators. The Google Trap has brainwashed a huge swathe of the online population into expecting information and content to be free. They will be extremely resistant to the idea of paying for your work.
If you need more convincing, look at the newspaper industry. Warren Buffett, the famous investor, will not touch newspaper stocks. Why? Because the Google Trap is at work in that industry. The only big business that has the courage to take on the Google Trap is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. They are now experimenting with charging for newspaper content and bracing for a colossal fall in the number of online readership of their newspaper content. It is a huge gamble they are taking. If they succeed in reversing Google Trap’s brainwashing of the consumers, then they will win.
Meanwhile, the Google Trap is resulting in the quality of free information drifting down. As I wrote in “How will junk content undermine the fundamental basis of Google’s business model?”, Google is doing something about that. If they fail spectacularly, News Corp will win big time.
Now, you must make this clear: I’m not saying blogging is useless. If this is so, you wouldn’t be reading this blog in the first place. There is a place for blogging as long as it is part of your overall grand strategy. If blogging is the strategy of your business, then I think your business is in trouble!