I can see how the constitutionally timid might find this piece by Roland Piquepaille on ZDNet to be a bit demoralising. The economic weight of the blogs
what exactly is the economic impact of the millions of blogs? Let me provide some answers, like a research company would do, except I haven't seen many studies about this particular aspect. And like the research firms, my estimations below are almost certainly wrong. In this column, I'll look at the different actors of the blogging world: the companies that sell publishing tools; the advertising market; the consumer market; and the impact on companies.
He goes on to point out that blogging software and hosting companies make a pittance, advertising revenue is derisory and direct income is miserable to OK. He concludes with:
As a summary, the blogging phenomenon is just marginal economically speaking. But bloggers themselves are different because they're writers, they have a voice and they're real customers of real products.
Damnation with faint praise and hard to argue with, but wrong. He can't help but look at money as the measure, but in a knowledge economy, the flows are NOT monetised most of the time, he'd have had the same problem assessing the economic weight of voluntary work, or "women's work", on the other hand he'd be committing economic suicide if he suggested that it stop.More to the point he would get the same answer to the question, "what is the economic weight of environmental services provided by the planet?" Standard economics treats it as zero, and we know that is a lie.
In fact the business world is laden to the gunnels with value assessments based on thin air. The economic weight of your brand, your goodwill, even your client base is mostly prestidigitation and BS, and blogs are in the same arena. But even so, it would be nice to be able to answer Roland with something more than "he just doesn't get the net dahling".
Fortunately, the net, and the blogs, come to the rescue almost immediately in the inestimable form of Johnnie Moore who turns to a completely different delivery vehicle and asks, essentially, the same question. The value of the book in you
Bingo! Writing a book is, as Johnnie points out, a waste of time, as long as you count only the direct economic and financial return on investment of that time. But there is a powerful economic process at work as you improve relationships with clients, strengthen your brand, build your PR and TahDaaaaaah!! Charge Higher Fees.
Periodically, people inform me that I should write a book about... well whatever it was I was talking about that they'd probably heard enough of. I dare say this happens to a lot of us.
I find this suggestion easy to resist because I know how hard it is to write just one chapter of a book. I rationalise that writing books is a waste of time, based on purely anecdotal evidence from one or two disillusioned authors I know.
But I have been given pause for thought by this survey: The Business Impact of Writing a Book. This is based on a survey of 200 authors of business books. Here are a few fab facts. I always take these sorts of percentages with a generous pinch (huh?) of salt, but looking at the whole report, a coherent picture emerges.39% of authors reported a strong or very strong influence on improving relationship with current clients
84% of authors reported a strong or very strong influence on brand improvement
74% of authors reported a strong or very strong influence on publicity and PR
53% of authors reported a strong or very strong influence on their ability to charge higher fees
Said clients and business partners almost certainly haven't read your burblings and prognostications, and couldn't understand them or apply them if they had. It doesn't matter because what they are buying is not information but the glamour of being published, and the reputation that goes with someone plunking down a buck to print and distribute your bon mots. Publishing a book is the Air Jordans, the chunky gold necklace, the pierced nipple of the business world.
Now there is not much glamour in blogging, anyone with a net connection can do that. But it has a real business value. It lets me think outside my head where potential clients can see what I know, see how I think and behave, not just for a few hours, or on a carefully edited page, but every day, for months. I need only a couple of people every year to grok that stuff and think its a good idea to give me some work and the economic weight of the blog gets a serious paunch.
And it lets me join in conversations that I would never have access to any other way. I was talking to a mate last year and mentioned that I was on Dave Isenberg's blogroll. Turns out he knows about David and the reaction to that was worth bottling. I can't trade on my links and trackbacks, but that doesn't make them worthless.
I'm having lunch next week with Mark Bradley at the Australian Technology Park, if I had just cold called him and suggested it would be worth his while having lunch, I'd have expected to get the bums rush. But he's been reading my stuff for a while, lifted some pieces for his podcast and in the last week or so I've recorded a couple of pieces for him. Now we have lunch to talk shop.
The economic power of blogs is like the mechanical power of ivy, it takes a while to smother your house and tear it to bits, but don't doubt that it can, and will, do it.