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The Blog Establishment in the New York Magazine

The Blog Establishment in the New York Magazine

new york mag cover
The A List of the Blogosphere make the cover of the New York Magazine with one very long story here.

A couple of choice quotes, highlights (and they are hard to pick, a lot of interesting reading) and my thoughts:

-David Hauslaib, who writes Jossip leads the story (congrats David)
– David is then used as an example of how hard it is to break into the A-List:

By all appearances, the blog boom is the most democratized revolution in media ever. Starting a blog is ridiculously cheap; indeed, blogging software and hosting can be had for free online….If you launch a witty blog in a sexy niche, if you’€™re good at scrounging for news nuggets, and if you’€™re dedicated enough to post around the clock’€”well, there’€™s nothing separating you from the big successful bloggers, right? I can do that. In theory, sure. But if you talk to many of today’€™s bloggers, they’€™ll complain that the game seems fixed. They’€™ve targeted one of the more lucrative niches’€”gossip or politics or gadgets (or sex, of course)’€”yet they cannot reach anywhere close to the size of the existing big blogs. It’€™s as if there were an A-list of a few extremely lucky, well-trafficked blogs’€”then hordes of people stuck on the B-list or C-list, also-rans who can’€™t figure out why their audiences stay so comparatively puny no matter how hard they work. ‘€œIt just seems like it’€™s a big in-party,’€? one blogger complained to me.”

My thoughts: rubbish. I’ve seen people make the same accusations about the Problogging crowd as well. Say you wanted to start a CPU company, AMD and Intel are already in this market, you are going to have to work very long and hard to get ahead, if you can at all. Same goes for blogging. Yes, its hard to get to the top, but isn’t it hard to get to the top in any field? and getting to the top doesn’t always mean big money either! You can make a lot of money without even being listed on the A List, B List or C List, fame doesn’t always equal success

“Internet studies have found that inbound links are an 80 percent’€“accurate predictor of traffic”(Page 2)


When Shirky compiled his analysis of links, he saw that the smaller bloggers’€™ fears were perfectly correct: There is enormous inequity in the system. A very small number of blogs enjoy hundreds and hundreds of inbound links’€”the A-list, as it were. But almost all others have very few sites pointing to them. When Shirky sorted the 433 blogs from most linked to least linked and lined them up on a chart, the curve began up high, with the lucky few. But then it quickly fell into a steep dive, flattening off into the distance, where the vast majority of ignored blogs reside. The A-list is teensy, the B-list is bigger, and the C-list is simply massive. In the blogosphere, the biggest audiences’€”and the advertising revenue they bring’€”go to a small, elite few. Most bloggers toil in total obscurity.

Um, and this is a problem why? Haven’t these people heard of Long Tail theory? The blogosphere is not a socialist state, but it is a state in which we still have, mainly, equality of opportunity because anyone can join it. Only blogs and bloggers with the ability of appealing to the widest audiences will reach the top, but this doesn’t take away from any other blogger, because we aren’t all interested in gossip and gadgets are we? I read blogs that might only do a couple of hundred page views a day, and to me they are valuable. That’s niche-marketing and Long Tail for you.

In the gossip- blog arena, Gawker is the graybeard, having launched in 2002. With 4,790 sites now linking to it, Gawker towers above the more-recent entrants such as (with 1,549 links) and Jossip (with 814). In politics, the highest is Daily Kos, one of the first liberal blogs’€”with 11,182 links’€”followed closely by Instapundit, an early right-wing blog, with 6,513. Uncountable teensy political blogs lie in their shadows.

They were there first, the links are tracked over all time and do not represent the values of the other blogs because new blogs will always be behind on links given they started later. Look at things like the percentage grow of links for example, your Perez’s of this world are growing far faster than the old folk who have been around much longer.

– Peter Rojas, described as “the cheerful, skate-punk-like editor of Engadget” gets a run on Page 3. As he tells the mag, he works 80 hour weeks, that’s the dedication you need to get to this level

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Since blogs set their own ad rates, each one offers a different value proposition, [Henry] Copeland [of BlogAds] explains. A gossip blog like Perez Hilton has a huge readership’€”220,000 page views daily’€”but since the audience is broadly based, the rates are very low, costing $202 to run an ad for one week. Meanwhile, a smaller blog might have only 10,000 visitors daily’€”but if it’€™s a lucrative, tightly focused niche, the blogger could charge much higher rates per visitor.

Got to give it to Henry, he’s 110% right.

– Page 4 covers the different blog models, multi-author blog (Boing Boing is the example), the wide model (Weblogs Inc) and the boutique approach (Gawker Media). A good read for those people looking at understanding various blogging models, even if it does miss a key point with Weblogs Inc., (which I won’t repeat here).

– I love this quote:

“But as his critics note, this is precisely what you’€™d say if you wanted to scare other people away from competing with you. ‘€œWhen Nick said you can’€™t make money at it,’€? says one of his frenemies, ‘€œeveryone believed him.’€? Denton and partners, veterans of the dot-com boom, sold their last company for $50 million, so . . . why would he need any more money? ‘€œBut that was just his strategy, and it works.’€? One terrific way to stay alone on the tall side of the power law is to discourage anyone else from trying to climb the curve.”

Yet one can understand why the tiny blogs are so hungry for approval. A single mention from an A-lister can provoke ‘€œfirehoses of traffic’€?’€”as John Battelle describes it’€”that can help pluck a neophyte blog out of obscurity. (This has even happened to me. I run a small science blog’€”avowedly C-list, a pure vanity project’€”and the times that Boing Boing or Gizmodo have linked to me, my traffic has exploded.) When Gawker linked recently to a posting at Blogebrity, it nearly tripled the smaller site’€™s traffic, from 1,200 visitors a day to 3,500. Even a link from a smaller, B-list blog can help a struggling newcomer. In his first two years blogging, Trent Vanegas’€”the 31-year-old creator of the gossip site Pink Is the New Blog’€”barely rated 200 visitors a day. Then in January 2005, a few medium-size New York blogs’€”including Ultragrrl and Thighswideshut’€”gave him a shout-out, and his traffic doubled. The virtuous cycle began, and today he has 1 million page views a month, VH1 is calling to use him as a commentator, and he’€™s fielding job offers from E! and Bravo.

It’s true….one link from one blog can lead to bigger and better things.

Read the whole thing here.

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