Today Hendry Lee from BlogBuildingU starts a series on building a blog that grows in 2009 that we’ll feature here at ProBlogger Blog Tips over the coming 2 weeks. Make sure you subscribe to ProBlogger to get the full series.
Just another day, one particular news item caught my eyes again. Every year, I always look for the so called Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies so when it appeared again, I can’t resist but take a look.
I know, the Hype Cycle for 2008 had been released in July 2008, but after looking at the diagram after browsing through my RSS feed items recently, I noticed something particularly interesting. To be exact, there is a technology half-way pass the Trough of Disillusionment phase, labeled as Corporate Blogging.
Although corporate blogging is different from “make money” blogging, I noticed a few similarities in current perception about blogging.
By no means, I am an expert that understands everything in the hype cycle thoroughly, but based on my years of observations in the blogging industry, this post describes some of my thoughts.
At the same time during this time of the year, seems like it is a good idea to get your house in order and prepare a plan to move forward in 2009.
But before that…
What is Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies?
Before I get started, allow me to elaborate quickly about the hype cycle. Basically, this report is a yearly view of current technologies defined in visibility and years to mainstream adoption.
According to Gartner, although this is not always the case, new technologies tend to gain momentum quickly as the result of the excitement involved with them. The sad thing is, as the name of the report implies, part of the growth is due to inflated expectations.
Depends on the technology, it may eventually reach the peak. When this happens, the phase Trough of Disillusionment starts. Adoption slows down tremendously but as the technology proves itself, it becomes more visible again but now at the rate that is much slower than when it was introduced for the first time.
Note: Corporate blogging disappeared from the hype cycle in 2007 — don’t know if it existed in the paid report — but reappeared in 2008. For four years, it has been progressing slowly in the Trough of Disillusionment phase.
If it doesn’t accelerate any time soon, it should get pass that stage on to the Slope of Enlightenment in 2009 or at the latest 2010. Certainly we are in interesting years of blogging, especially corporate blogging.
Corporate Blogging and Niche Blogging
Corporate blogging and niche blogging are two different strategies, although they may share the same tactics. For instance, for corporate who are looking to extend their reach by blogging, they may use search engine optimization to get their content found in search engines.
Some marketers and bloggers claim there is no such thing as corporate blogging. Companies who are going to blog should have made sure they are not speaking to the audience while hiding behind corporate walls. It must be a message from an individual, much like a personal blog. We are not into that discussion in this blog post though.
Most importantly, both of them use the same technology to get the message out and reach readers. For this reason, when blogging at first went from a personal publishing platform to a professional publishing tool for business, at least the hype impacted both side of the blogging applications.
If case studies from the corporate world almost concluded that every company needed a blog, many of the so-called “gurus” in Internet marketing approached blogging as the cure to make money online for everyone, including a newbie.
Due to the fact that a blog lets anyone to get their content up online too easily, they claimed that everybody was able to follow a step-by-step system and just magically make money, even automatically.
Both of these, in my opinion, were in the hyped-up phase — either in the first or second phase.
Let’s Sum up Those Years…
Blogware amazes a lot of web publishers because of its simplicity to get content online. Because this is one of the biggest challenges for people who want to make money online, it sounds like an ideal solution.
No longer would you need to hire webmasters or wait for weeks just to fix a few typos on the web sites. Add to the fact that virtually the cost of getting published was nothing but a few bucks to cover hosting fee.
During those times, early bloggers also bragged about blog software as being search engine magnet. It was like if you blog, magic would happen to your domain and blog in terms of search engine visibility and traffic.
Of course, this is only part of the myths that were circulated around at that time.
Soon, people found out that they could get into search engine index in 24-48 hours by pinging major blog services. That sounded perfect and with a bit of a twist, blog and ping method was born.
Before this, webmasters have to wait for weeks, if not months, just to get their sites in Google. With blog and ping method, the inclusion was like instant.
Also during those years, bloggers may get tons of inbound links by creating splogs on Blogger.com. Several programmer took it to the next level by scraping web content and RSS feeds, scheduling those contents, and making the entire blog publishing process automatic (auto-blogging).
No wonder, people actually believed that a blog was the be-all and end-all solution to web publishing and making money online. With so much traffic, they could just slap up AdSense — I mentioned it to represent all ad networks — and made crazy amount of money without lifting a finger. It truly happened for a few lucky “publishers.”
Note: It is not my intention to make the story lengthy, but I’d think it should be obvious right now how the industry was stirred up with misconceptions about blogging.
On to the Next Phase…
But the above situation didn’t last… because ad networks are smarter. They have to be. Advertisers didn’t want to waste money on unproven sources of traffic. As the customers of those ad networks, they deserved better services.
Now AdSense advertisers are able to pick web sites in the content network (with site targeting) to display their ads. Just one example of features that change the scene big time.
Also according to Gartner, technologies are moving at different speed and not necessarily always to the right side of the diagram. But for blogging, this was true, at least so far.
As bloggers realize they could not build business around uncertainty, some of the smarter ones changed direction. At last, the basic principle of making money had been proven once again. In order for money to exchange hand, bloggers have to provide value.
People who get it decided to stick with the technology. After all, a blog is just a tool. I like to use the analogy of hanging a picture on the wall to illustrate the point.
Unless you know what to do (hang a picture) and where to hang it, you should not hold a hammer yet. If you want to cook, hammer is not the right tool to do it.
A blog also is not an answer to every publishing and marketing problem.
Blog evangelists are real bloggers who understand the tool thoroughly. As they continue to discover new things, the entire make money blogging industry soon will enter the Slope of Enlightenment phase. In fact, looking at the amount of quality content published, I think it has already entered the early phase, which in this case is faster than corporate blogging.
What Does It Mean to You
If you heard from people in forums or other places that making money is no longer possible right now or in near future — with a blog or any other means, avoid them. Certainly they distract you more than they help.
Being around these individuals may be unhealthy financially. They also kill your dreams.
It is true that in 2009 and beyond everything will become harder. If all you’d do is quoting a few sentences from other blogs and add one short paragraph of comment, that no longer works. Bloggers who add little or no substance are forced to give up and quit, but that doesn’t mean it is too late to make money blogging.
In the future, not only more people will use Internet frequently, they will also spend more money online rather than offline.
Yes, even during the so called hard times. Although not every site is doing better, online sales generally are going strong despite the economy. A lot of people still spend money and they are shifting the trend from offline to online shopping to save on gas and to avoid the queue.
In the next posts in the article series, I’m going to do my best to show you the strategy you could use in the upcoming years to achieve your blogging goal. My intention is two-fold:
- Describe actionable and doable plan that allows you to start, build traffic and turn your blog into a real business.
- Help you create a plan that is recession proof so instead of nosediving, your business actually thrives.
Two big things to chew on at the same time, I admit. But the results hopefully will benefit some readers who are just getting started, or plan to take their blogging business to the next level.
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Hendry Lee helps bloggers overcome strategic and technological challenges in starting and growing their blogs. He also writes about make money blogging on his blog Blog Tips for a Better Blog – Blog Building University. While you are there, download your free eBook and subscribe to his blogging e-course where he reveals his secret about blogging and content writing!
Follow Hendry on Twitter (@hendrylee).