Is The Era Of The Amateur Blogger Over?

from the love-not-money dept

Megan McCardle ponders the future of amateur blogging and wonders if we're seeing a transition to a world in which most high-traffic bloggers do that as their day jobs, and the line between amateur and professional becomes sharper. Megan actually points to two trends that seem mutually exclusive. On the one hand, she says that almost all the economics bloggers (which is her area of focus) she knows have been snapped up. On the other hand, she wonders if we're getting to the point where it's a lot more difficult to "break in" to the blogging profession. But clearly these can't both be true. If media organizations have snapped up all the good bloggers in a given category, then there's presumably pent-up demand that could be satisfied by any ambitious amateur who can prove herself to be up to the task. The great thing about the blogosphere is that you don't need a "big break." You just start writing, and if your work is good enough, other bloggers eventually notice you and start reading you.

But don't professional bloggers have an unfair advantage because they can do it all day? There's certainly some truth to this, but it shouldn't be over-stated. Lots of people have white-collar jobs that allow them to take blogging breaks on a regular basis. And it's not necessary to churn out 20 posts a day in order to build up a strong readership. If you can do one or two really sharp posts each day, that's likely to be enough to get people noticing your work. Moreover, having a day job often gives a blogger unique insights. One of Techdirt's contributors, Tom Lee, is a working web developer, and I think this is clearly reflected in the technically-savvy posts he contributes to the site. One of the great strengths of the blogosphere is that it's not limited to people who sit around blogging all day.

But the most important thing to keep in mind is that "breaking in" isn't really the point, and probably never will be. As I'm sure Megan will agree, blogging is not a good way to get rich. People almost always start blogging as amateurs, and they blog first and foremost because they enjoy doing so. Someone who didn't enjoy blogging simply couldn't bring themselves to devote the amount of time it takes to build up a widely-read blog; there are much quicker and easier ways to earn some extra cash. On the other hand, if someone does enjoy it, it doesn't matter too much if they "break in" because it's a fun hobby whether they're getting paid for it or not. I don't think this is a temporary artifact of blogging's early days; it's likely a permanent feature of the Internet's democratization of communications. There will always be a large number of amateurs creating online content and a smaller core of professionals, with a relatively fluid line dividing the two.

Filed Under: amateur, blogging, professional

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  1. identicon
    John Wilson, 30 Apr 2008 @ 6:55am

    Blog maturity

    I've always known that professional bloggers existed out there though in the minority.

    What's changed is that readers have their filters in place now to try discriminate between the amateur and the professional in the same way we can tell the difference between "advertorials" and journalistic content.

    I'm not saying that well written, literate content is an employed blogger, incidentally. Some of us do pretty well without getting paid simply because we write well.

    Traditional media, meanwhile, blurs the line between reportage and blogging by insisting on both from their employees. A prime on line example is CNET where writers often wear both hats at once.

    Top notch content doesn't come from just paid bloggers, often it doesn't. It doesn't just come from white collar workers. It also comes from blue collar folk who have their own unique insights to offer.

    My academic training, way back when, as a historian and continued interest in that field finds blogs fascinating as the journal of our times and culture similar to letters and diaries of the past. Similarly my growing interest in theology and spirituality kicks in when I see people reacting from moral and ethical positions whether or not I agreee with them.

    There's plenty of room for both the pro and amateur and always will be.

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