Monday, November 28, 2005

And the Turkey and the Stuffing and the Football and the Poker

So yeah, good Thanksgiving vacation, all the way around. We were at the in-laws for most of it, which was pretty nice, as I was basically trapped with a laptop and nothing else to do but play poker and work on assorted projects, while watching much football.

Still running pretty well at the tables, but I've been playing with fire, playing 20/40 6 max. The swings are a little outside my comfort zone, plus I also, umm, sort of suck at short handed play, so I'm probably going to just cut and run while I'm ahead.

I have to admit that I was pretty surprised by the news than Nick Denton had decided to shut down Oddjack. I was obviously a fan (to the point of drawing heavy inspiration from the general thurst of it at oddsnark) so I'm not the most unbiased of observers, but it seems odd to just pull the plug like that.

I'm not even going to pretend to be anywhere near Denton's league, as either a blogger or businessman, but I think it's an interesting business example of attempting to monetize blogs.

People do indeed make money blogging. 'Tis a fact. But if you look at many of the profitable blogs and bloggers out there, the majority got there by doing something they enjoyed, first and foremeost, which resonated with other people, to the point that traffic grew large enough for the blogger to begin to profit via affiliate links and ad sales.

But the initial genesis of many successful (in a strictly financial sense) blogs is pretty simple: people blogging about something that interested them, which they could write about well, which they were willing to devote many hours to, for no reason other than they enjoyed it, with no eye whatsoever to ever profiting from it. Do that for a few years, do it well, and lo, you suddenly have lots of traffic, and behold, you find ways to monetize that traffic.

It's interesting, then, to see attempts to replicate that, as far as creating sites like Oddjack. I won't pretend to know the real motivation, but on the surface it seems pretty straight-forward: jump-start the profitable blog evolution process by hiring good writers in a hot niche, who will create loads of quality content that many people are interested in, that will profitably sell tons of advertising and/or sponsored links.

The only thing missing in the above recipe, that you see in other profitable blogs, is the time factor. Most successful blogs have been around for years and years. Or, according to Denton: "The moral of the story: it's easy to launch sites; much harder to make them popular."

Pardon my French, but, umm, no shit. Especially when you give them narrow, unrealistic windows of opportunity to be "made" popular. And when you define "popular" as "produces (insert very large number) of dollars of profit each month."

I guess I just find it a bit surprising that uber successful blog barons would operate in such short-sighted ways, especially after a lot of heavy lifting and foundation work has been poured. I'll be the first to admit that a difference of opinion there is likely the reason that I'm decades way from being financially independent and working a crappy day job I hate, but part of me can't help but think that's a jacked up way of approaching the Web, and content, and ways to profit from that content.

Just because something doesn't immediately make you $126,192,187 in profit doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, or invest time and money in it. That's ignoring part of the beauty of the business model of the Web in general. I still make money, each and every month, from sites I built back in 2000 and haven't updated in three years. Very tiny sums of money, true, but reasonably decent sums when you add them all up.

Aside from dollars and cents, it's just sort of generally disappointing that entertaining sites like Oddjack (which provided income for entertaining writers) can come and go so quickly in this day and age. On the one hand, it's cool that blogs have evolved to the point that sites like that could even be created in the first place, but on the other, it's sort of disappointing to see them created with such a narrow, pecuniary benchmark for success.


Grinder said...

I was amazed at the number of people that make 6 figures blogging as pro bloggers. They have 7 or 8 blogs.

Who knew - There are not many REAL blogs out there that actually have content AND publish in a timely manner.

MANY blog for a week and . . thats it. The numbers of blogs that you hear published are way on the loose side.

But - I'm just blithering away - nevermind.

Drizztdj said...

I'm sad to see Oddjack go, its off-shoot views at different forms of gambling and putting all the news into one spot was a good daily read for myself.

Ignatious said...

excellent post, scurvy. i was pretty surprised myself - since when is 6 months a proper barometer for success? to me, it just seemed like they (the higher ups) didn't know what they wanted oddjack to lacked focus, imho.

but i'm no nick denton. so wtf do i know.