I think blogging jumped the shark in about fall of '02. If you'd like, I could pinpoint the exact date. It coincided with the debut of the Technorati blog ranking site. We bloggers are a vain bunch, and - let's be honest - we were all checking stats long before there were any rankings. But Technorati was different. It created a pecking order for blogs, and most everybody started mimicking those at the top in order to increase their blog rankings. Suddenly, you were supposed to blog a certain way. Then you could increase your ranking to a certain point that you could (gasp!) make money from blogging.
You had a lot of people blogging about blogging. Not very many people made money from blogging, but it sure did get boring.
Here's the problem: nobody gives a %$&@ about your blog stats. If you're blogging in a certain way about certain things to get a certain number of people to read your blog, you might manipulate the process a little bit. Your Technorati rank may even go from 250,000 to 249,999. But who cares?
What do people care about? Quality, concise writing by people they deem "experts" in certain areas.
- Instead of worrying about your stats, you should be worried about great writing. While there is no shortage of blogs, there is a huge shortage of quality writing. Focus on writing better.
- Instead of worrying about your stats, you should focus on your expertise. Hugh Hewitt likens it to being a sherpa leading people up the mountain. What area are you most interested in? What do you know even a little more than anybody else? If you do this and write well, you can quickly establish yourself as an expert in your field. You might not make money directly off of your blog, but I can assure you that blogging can help you increase your impact in your chosen field.
- Instead of worrying about your stats, focus on your audience. What do they care about, and what do they want to see you write about? Use a tool like Skribit to find the sweet spot between what you want to write about and what they want to read.
- Finally, BE CONCISE! I know earlier I complained about people telling you that you're supposed to blog a certain way. But it's a fact that people are very busy, and there are literally millions of blogs out there. Don't kid yourself into thinking that people have a lot of time and that they don't have other places to go!
So there you have it. Blogging jumped the shark for sure. But if used correctly, it still has the potential of being your primary medium of communication. Just because Fonzie jumped the shark didn't mean Happy Days didn't still rule...
Good luck, and let me know what you think!