The Year of Branding and Consolidation: Why Bloggers Are Trying “To Do a Few Things Well” In 2007

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.

9 thoughts on “The Year of Branding and Consolidation: Why Bloggers Are Trying “To Do a Few Things Well” In 2007

  1. I don’t think people should feel to guilty about it. Crap Pays after all, it just doesn’t do any other good.

    I could sell crack and that would pay the bills, but it harms people. If I pump junk, I can pay the bills, but I do not harm anyone.

    Junk doesn’t help your website nor does it help your readership, but in the grand scheme of things its not really harming anyone (IMHLO- In My Humble Libertarian Opinion).

    It is however important to avoid junk, for the motivation and productivity reasons you mention. It can drain you a bit and make things a little stale. Everyone has to start somewhere and crap even web crap can work as fertilizer. There’s actually a successful virtual web model for this at Entropia In this incarnation of the metaverse people start out by literally walking around in VR picking up crap and selling it to people that need crap to grow food and things or burn it for energy (renewable source of energy even in VR). In some ways its not similar to the feudal system in SecondLife where lords of the land lease out space to become real estate tycoons in a world of attack dildos and strip clubs on every corner.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I came to the conscious realization earlier this year that I pumped junked once in a while without realizing it (in the past). As a result, my productivity has actually lowered this past season because I now have this fear of writing crap.

    Time to do some productivity exercises and meditation.

  3. I’m involved in the industry but I’m not encouraging people to push junk. I’m trying to redirect things towards quality, but with a compensation incentive that rewards for quality.

    That’s where Adsense and sites like PPP get it wrong -(despite the fact that when you look at Google’s bottom line they are getting it very right ~ on the surface I think PPP is spending more than they are earning which is very internet 1.0 of them)

    I do believe that early information that a blogger creates is valuable and I do not think they should have to wait too long to capitalize on it, if its quality stuff. That’s a big IF. I’m trying to establish the incentive(phase 1) and the training vehicle(phase 2) to capture people’s attention and show them how to make money early on without pumping junk.

    Not an easy task, but I think it can be done. The thing is many people that pump junk are rapidly learning that its a hollow existence. They rapidly starve to be able to write ‘something fun’ and that is where the opportunity and the big money is. Insert image of Dr. Evil here with pinky to lip

  4. Brett: Let’s hope that latter bit doesn’t happen. Metrics show fewer active blogs, anyway. And dormant blogs will likely start to lose relevance in Search Engines. Despite my own mistakes, I highly recommend you start with one blog and make it really good. Don’t expand until you’ve reached some measure of success. My own definition of that is PR5, for lack of any better personal definition. When it comes to down to it, that probably means little to some people. So it could # of subscribers, amount of daily traffic, number of unique sites linking to you, etc.

  5. Lots of wisdom in this post, but the reality is that for new bloggers Paid to Post monetization programs trump Adsense hands down.

    New bloggers are launching websites like mad. Why try an earn a few bucks from adsense in 6 months on a single blog on a domain, when you can earn $100 per blog on a domain every day of the week.

    Repeat and multipley. Have a higher PR? Then increase your earning rate.

    By my estimates (probably too conservative) close to 500,000 articles were written for paid to blog companies by bloggers in the last 12 months. At an average of $8 per article, that’s a small blogger economy/industry of $4 million per year and expected to grow to at least $20 million in the next 12 months. Anyone and I do mean anyone can do it in literally 30 minutes with no money or experience at all

    I am not endorsing it, but the immediate gratification opportunities like Adsense of old, are definitely alive and strong. Its also having an impact on the older model. You have probably each felt it directly.

    I am an active participant in the industry and kind of a gonzo journalist as well. Reporting on the thing that I am actively taking a part in both as a blogger, an advertiser and an owner of one of the companies paying people to blog in this industry.

    The challenge for this industry, just like the challenge for the old adsense model, is to help people see and realize the benefit in putting out good work, good content, entertainment or something useful. The new industry allows for super instant gratification in the form of blog monetization. As a business developer I know that this is a very good thing. Any business needs to focus on break even points and marginal revenue and profit. This industry enables almost instant break even points and decent margins.

    However, every blogger participating tends to hit a plateau. There’s only so much you can write in one day. So I think 2007 is definitely the year of bloggers purchasing about 2 dozen domains, like darts, throwing them at a wall to see which ones stick and then come mid 2008, we might see some shake up unless something new comes along to provide that instant gratification all over again.

  6. definitely, not all art is monetizable. That’s why I tried to qualify at some spots with “monetizable art” – art that is monetizable.

  7. Ahmed: it is if you learn to monetize the reputation – something I’m still learning

  8. you know this is eerie – last year I had the same thoughts – that this year (2006) is the linkbaiting year but next year (2007) we’ll see people consolidating – selling off fringe sites, focusing on a handful of key projects (or like a few people I know, just one big project).

    Good to find out I’m not the only crazy one.

    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.

    The solution is to pick up article packs on a dozen subniches surrounding one main niche and make one big site from them

    And art is not always money Ryan.

    But then again, art brings in reputation, and that IS money.

Comments are closed.