gapingvoid's thoughts on blogging, 2010

[“Poor Imitation”. The cartoon I sent out to the “Hugh’s Daily Cartoon” list a day or two ago…]

It’s been a while since I last wrote about blogging to any great length, but here are some random thoughts, in no particular order:

1. Blogs work SUPERBLY if you have great content. It’s when they don’t that people bitch & moan about the medium. That was true ten years ago, when I started blogging, and it’s still true today.

2. Great content is really, really hard to make. That’s why so few blogs have it, but that’s not the medium’s fault. The same is true for any other media.

3. It’s OK to sell something on your blog. We’ve all got a living to make. Besides that, your blog is your own personal property. If people don’t like your content- whether it’s selling something or not- there’s no law saying they have to read it. They can go somewhere else. When people complain about my own blog’s long-running commercial agenda, I just think, “Dude, you’re about a decade too late. That ship sailed A LONG time ago.” Besides, I LIKE selling stuff via the blog. Sure beats making cold-calls.

4. No, I’m not keeping up with your blog. Like a good friend said to me a couple of years ago, “Man, I don’t even have time to read the blogs of my good friends anymore.” Ditto with me. Heck, it’s hard enough keeping up with my good friends’ Twitter streams.

5. Time to quote Shirky again: “So for­get about blogs and blog­gers and blog­ging and focus on this?—?the cost and dif­fi­culty of publishing abso­lu­tely anything, by anyone, into a glo­bal medium, just got a whole lot lower. And the effects of that inc­rea­sed pool of poten­tial pro­du­cers is going to be vast.”CLAY SHIRKY in 2004.

6.  Facebook? Twitter? Who cares? The latter two are easy. Like I implied earlier, blogging is hard. Writing is hard. Getting other people to read it is the hardest bit of all. “It’s the content, Stupid.”

7. My faith in the power of blogging is still as strong as ever. That doesn’t mean I find it any easier.

8. Focus and Continuity are key. I had so many projects going on these last years, I always found it hard to focus. What was gapingvoid really about? Cartoons? Marketing? Self-promotion? Self-expression? It seemed to change on a daily basis. Now that, besides writing books, my business is pretty much focused on two things i.e. making art and selling it, I feel more calm about it all. And gapingvoid’s new unofficial tagline, “Remember Who You Are”, helps keep me focused on the kind of work I want to be making long-term, and why.

9. No, it’s not too late to start blogging. “But the Blogosphere is so crowded now, it’s too late to get first-mover advantage”, I hear you say. Perhaps. But it’s only crowded in the middle and the bottom. There’s always plenty of room at the top. People’s need to be informed and inspired by the good stuff is insatiable. But, as I implied, it has to be good, it has to be more than good in order to get there. Nobody has time for mediocre drek. The world is just too interesting and competitive now.

10. I don’t intend to quit blogging any time soon. It’s become a central part to what I do, that’s just reality. I’ve pretty much always done my own thing on gapingvoid, making it up as I go along. Some stuff gets traction, some gets ignored, that’s just the nature of the beast. The only big change I’ve made to my shtick recently is that I no longer post new cartoons on the blog, just old ones. You can find out why here.

There are 100 million blogs out there already, so a big Thank-You for reading this one. Seriously. Rock on.

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  1. Oh, Hugh… that was superb!!!

    I landed here via Brian Clark’s twitter (@copyblogger). It is absolutely clear why he tweeted your post!!

    Thanks for this absolutely to-the-point list of valuable thoughts.

    Saludos from Argentina,

  2. Just want to pop by and sell hello and say your blog is probably the only one i will you have said there are sooo many out there and good content is key. I’m not inspired lately. Would love to hear more about your wine as i collect Calif wine and would love to hear more. Thanks for keeping my attention.

  3. Amen to gapingvoid on that one. God bless the content-rich blogger; after a while, no one else matters.

    Except, style helps too. Sure makes the medicine go down. But even then, style alone won’t do it.

    God bless content. ReTweets don’t do it, folks.

  4. I love it when someone makes my job easier, which you just did. I have the demanding task of helping clients step up to that SUPERB content you mentioned. Boy, is it a minefield just showing them what I mean. “Yes, your writing is passable. No, it will not sell you or your product on the web.” So, I wonder, will this slowly translate into good viable incomes for excellent writers? That would be a sweet side effect, hm?
    Anyway, I’ll be showing this post to a lot of people. I wrote a manifesto that touches on these points and other aspects of web citizenship, but everything we entrepreneurial types write gains worth by (appropriate) juxtaposition. Glad you wrote it.

  5. Good stuff, Hugh.

    Yeah, it’s basically about the ease of personal publishing. That is a game-changer. That said, as you point out, publishing quality content is not that easy, and no doubt never will be. It’s real work.

  6. Second try on this comment. Thanks for making my job a little bit easier. SUPERB content is difficult to explain to clients who can write “passable” content. (“Yes, you write well, no, this will not sell you or your product on the web.”) I wonder if we will eventually see more viable incomes for excellent writers as a result of this dynamic. Hm?

    In my manifesto I talk about this dynamic and other aspects of web citizenship. But for all of us social entrepreneurs, the more ways this stuff is articulated the more sense it actually makes.

    Anyway, I’ll be pointing lots of folks to this article. Glad you sat down and wrote it.

  7. […] gapingvoid’s thoughts on blogging, 2010 Published: February 4, 2010 Source: Gapingvoid ["Poor Imitation". The cartoon I sent out to the "Hugh's Daily Cartoon" list a day or two ago…] It’s been a while since I last wrote about blogging to any great length, but here are some random thoughts, i… […]

  8. Yaro Starak tweeted this post…and while jumping here i saw your thought no. 9 and after reading it, there’s nothing else to say! Thank you Hugh, thank you Yaro!

  9. Love point #3 and I wish people would get over that. I sell banner ads and I have who page dedicated to the stuff I like that I recommend people buy. I am not selling out because I sell or push things to buy on my site… I am just selling.

  10. Content was king, is king, will be king – time and again I need to remind myself of this wisdom and you have done it again, with grace. Getting easier to publish = more competition and we cannot whine about it. And hearing that good content never becomes easy to generate is reassuring, coming from a prolific creater like you.

  11. Good content and a solid platform requires hard work, persistence and patience. To be successful these are inseparable. For me personally, with holding down a day job and working seven hours in the evenings, I constantly remind myself of this and that it doesn’t happen overnight. Its great to read posts like these to help fuel the drive.

  12. I know the world has been blogging forever but I haven’t had the guts to publish anything I write. Ignore Everybody and other works from you was a big nudge. Hell it was a push from the edge. I got started. I don’t know if anyone reads what I write but I LOVE working on the content. It is therapeutic on SO many levels. I’m extremely grateful to people like you, Clay Shirky and of course Seth Godin :)

  13. I landed here from a tweet and boy was it worth it. You hit the nail right on the head. I was speaking to a bunch of people in Oslo yesterday trying to get them to focus on producing content rather than worrying about the tools. Darn, this would have helped!

    Great stuff! Blog on.

  14. […] gapingvoid’s thoughts on blogging, 2010 – Hugh MacLeod serves up a dish of analysis with ten observations about blogging (he’s been doing this for years).  Bonus:  you might also want to check out Remember Who You Are.  (By the way, we’ve got ten thoughts from Hugh coming up here on Monday, so please check that out!) […]

  15. […] The revival of the Argenta blog prompted discussions about writing.  Hugh MacLeod ’s very timely post reminded us that good writing is difficult, regardless of the […]

  16. This rings true in my experience: “There’s always room at the top.”

    Surviving the pack while getting to the top is the hard part.

    BTW, really like your latest pieces for Valentine’s Day.

  17. […] more pithily: Great content is really, really hard to make. That’s why so few blogs have it, but that’s not […]

  18. I love the fact that you understand the difference between “medium” (singular) and “media” (plural). Write on!

  19. […] fact, Hugh’s thoughts on the state of the blogosphere today hold a key for the future. Creating good blog content is hard, which is why so many people have […]

  20. I am new to the world of blogging and am enrolled in a new technology course where we have been discussing some of the very items on your list. I enjoyed your thoughts regarding the importance of great content. While blogging has changed communication in that anyone can become a writer through commenting on someone else’s blog or creating their own, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are providing quality content. It is up to the user to seek out great quality content sources, and it is clear readers of your blog believe you are one of them. The recognition that great content is also not easy to produce is appreciated as well.

  21. […] Nevoia oamenilor de a fi informați și inspirați de chestii bune este de nesăturat. (People’s need to be informed and inspired by the good stuff is insatiable.) – Hugh Macleod […]

  22. […] la articolul ăsta, că autorul le zice bine: blogurile cu conţinut bun, util, nou nu vor muri niciodată. Ah, că se […]