For many people the idea of starting a blog is to just get your thoughts “out there”. The hope would be that people would read those thoughts but that isn’t necessarily always the goal. Just having something to say, or maybe nothing of significance but still the drive to say it, is enough motivation.
Then something happens that changes your perception. You get comments. Feedback starts dribbling in. People react, both positively and negatively. Links start appearing praising or denouncing your opinions. At this point you recognise an important element of blogging; blogs have influence.
This influence is vitally important to keep in mind.
As a small example of this on my photography blog I had posted a review, perhaps an overly short and harsh review, of a photo printing service attached to an incredibly popular photo sharing site (you know the one). This morning I woke up to a message in my comments from a representative of the company offering me a reprint.
Obviously there is a good chance that had I emailed their customer service department I would have been offered the same, I have no reason to doubt their customer service is top notch. Had I just emailed the customer service representative and kept my opinions private though I would have been failing my readers. As it happens this wasn’t a quality control issue, it is a flaw in the product and the blog comment confirmed there is no other result possible. While the company will not like it I think warning readers to stay away from the item is the only thing I could do. While my blog has not the reach to do anything to the companies popularity at least there will be a few hundred people who do not waste their $50 on a sub-par product. What gives what I have to say more impact over and above my subscriber count though is all those readers
- have their own blogs
- are very active in the photography communities
- are exactly the target market for those products
- love to talk about (boost/trash) products and services
My audience might be small but it is laser-targeted. Think what would happen if I had the readership of one of the top 100 blogs? (Which is why I am not naming names right here, I have done enough damage, heh).
Recently there has been a meme going around about Techcrunch having “only” 53,651 subscribers. The idea seems to be that in the blogosphere this is thought of as a great achievement but that audience isn’t so hot in the context of the wider population of the internet.
I say, think again. It might only be 50,000 people but those readers are early adopters, sneezers, influencers, whatever you want to badge them they are important folk. If you want to start a viral effect those are the people to target. Bloggers are in a prime position to reach an incredibly potent audience.
The mood seems to be that blogs are not worth the high esteem granted them while ever the audience is not mainstream. I would say that blogs are important precisely because their audience is niche.