After reading Jon Lesser’s weblog entry, The Business of Blogging,
and his “Four Primary Business Models Followed by Most Weblogs”, I wanted to discuss
my feelings regarding how the weblog medium is morphing into
something more than just a “daily-updated website”.
Weblog is a Dirty Word
Our company is named Business Logs, which is in part a way to move the thoughts of business executives away from associating “weblogs” with “personal ranty dialogs run by teenagers” — a stereotype that LiveJournal and others helped perpetuate — and into the mindset of a weblog being a viable communication medium they need to embrace. You probably won’t hire us to develop a weblog if you still feel as though “weblog” is a dirty word.
A Communicative Exchange
A weblog can be thought of as a two-way communication device, where authors
publish material, and readers give feedback. This is no different than
the human communication model of one person speaking, another listening,
and then the listener offering their feedback again to the speaker. This
cyclic communication model applies to various mediums, and a weblog is just
another version of it.
Traditional forms of media are one-way communication devices. Dan Rather
informs viewers about the news of the day, and millions of people sit back
on their couch and soak it all in. He doesn’t take your calls. He doesn’t check
his cellphone for SMS-messaged questions from a guy named John in Nebraska. He tells you what is on his teleprompter, and that’s the way it goes.
A magazine or newspaper is a slightly modified version of a one-way communication
exchange. Readers can voice their thoughts in the form of “Reader Mail” or on the
Editorial pages. However it may take weeks for your opinion to reach the newsstands,
so if it was related to time-sensitive information, tough luck. A magazine or newspaper
is not an instantaneously updated feedback device — it was never supposed to be.
A Twist on Traditional Media
Now people are taking the weblog medium to the next level by publishing magazines
online. This turns the traditional medium upside-down by introducing
a feedback mechanism which is a sure-fire way to work with your content on a whole different
level. Now you can publish your magazine articles a few times per week,
and interact with your readers at the same time. Jeffrey Zeldman et. al. were some of
the pioneers of this magazine-as-weblog format with A List Apart.
Now there is Boxes and Arrows and
Digital Web taking up the medium as well
just to name a few.
You can start a magazine too! Find a topic you know a lot about, find some writers
who are desperately seeking an outlet for their knowledge and creativity, put up a website
powered by the weblog software
choice, and you’re done. Now fill it with content,
add some pages in there for your “editorial staff”, target your audience, and if the mix
is stirred just right you may have a hit website on your hands.
You can start out by using Google’s AdSense advertising to generate some revenue, and then
when you start pulling down a few dozen thousand uniques per month, you can move up to
some other type of advertising that is more lucrative. Split up your advertising revenue
amongst your writers (keeping more for yourself though, it was your idea!), pay for your
hosting, drop some money into web advertisements, send out press releases, tell your friends,
send out emails, comment on other weblogs, and guess what? You may actually be
profitable at some point soon.
Sounds too good to be true? Nope, it happens everyday.