Each year a few clear patterns emerge among content producers and marketers. As the net changes, so do its dynamics, and so do the best ways to make money.
In the past we’ve had the year of the blog (when blogs made their first big splash), the year of article submissions (before article submission succumbed to over saturation), the year of the linkbait (when the search engines got smart, and organic links became a necessity), and so on.
2007 is turning out to be the year of branding and consolidation. Not that branding and consolidation haven’t been important in the past. But I’m seeing clear signs this year from several independent corners of the web that the dynamics of the web (probably thanks to a combination of information saturation and Google’s push to measure quality indicators) have put pressure on web publishers to consolidate content and build brands. This is a real world observation.
The days of easily squeezing dollars out of AdSense by putting up an article on thirty different blogs, every 2 days, is on its way out. Why? Because with thirty different blogs, the economics of time and money are no longer in place to do proper SEO on each one, and because of information saturation, you can no longer rely on the Search Engines to send you enough free traffic to get the clickety-clicks that you need. The skinny is this: the time and effort required to make this model work is going up, while the monetary returns are going down.
Ok. So how should you respond
If you’re a single individual (not a company) and you own lots of blogs, don’t despair. Take your five most successful blogs and ask yourself “which of these three do I enjoy the most.” Keep them and focus all your energy on them. Maybe focus all your energy on just one to begin. Whatever feels right.
Then consider all of your other blogs. Would they consolidate smoothly into any of the three that you’ve chosen to focus on? If so, consolidate. If not, then muster up your will-power to sell them off. By selling off your worst performing blogs, you will feel a huge burden lifted from your shoulders, will gain capital to leverage and focus in the direction of your focus blogs, and will gain the freedom to finally create some great works of monetizable art.
The key is to stop thinking of blogging as a chore, with content to crank out, and start working on only a few projects that you’re passionate about. You know, the one’s that make you proud. The one’s that excite you. By doing this, you’ll naturally create great, brandable sites.
I say all this perfectly aware that there are some brands that aren’t worth creating from a monetization standpoint, so if you’re in this for at least partially for the money like most of us, then you should definitely stick with monetizable niches.
Why this is a good thing
In my view, the movement towards consolidation and branding is a great trend for the overall health of the web. The dynamics are now in place so that bloggers have more incentive to create a few great blogs rather than lots of tiny, borderline spammy blogs. When humans are able to focus their energies on one or a few creative projects, the end result is almost always a better work of art.
And that’s what you should be doing. Put your energy into making great, brandable works of art. By standing out in a vast sea of mediocrity, you stand a much better chance of surviving as a problogger earning a full-time wage.