Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Biz

The business of blogging (from FDL) --
... 
The fashionable explanation is that “Twitter and Facebook have passed them by.”  Hogwash.  There has certainly been a consolidation of blogs for survival at places like Daily Kos and Firedoglake, but that means traffic has gone up, and not down.  If it was still possible to keep blogs afloat, news outlets (blogs and otherwise) wouldn’t be dropping like flies.

The reason increasing numbers of blogs can’t keep the lights on is simple –  Google.  As I wrote on Bytegeist recently, news advertising revenues (both online and off) have tanked since 2000, and that money is going straight to Google, who passes pennies on to news outlets for every dollar they receive.  Every news outlet from the New York Times on down is struggling in its wake.  Because Google has eliminated the competition by crushing it or swallowing it up with nary an antitrust peep from the FTC, news outlets (including blogs) are forced to take whatever they want to give. 
Premium advertising has historically gone for between $8 and $12 per CPM (thousand impressions) at online news sites, and Google charges similar rates.  But last month at the height of election advertising, when ad revenues used to be at their highest and provide the money that political news sites would live on for the rest of the year, Google passed on a mere .42 cents per CPM to FDL and many other outlets.
This part of Freedlander’s article gave me the biggest chuckle:
What’s left of the Netroots say they aren’t finished yet. They point to the handful of candidates for office this year that they got behind, like Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, as proof of their relevance—never mind that most of the Democratic establishment lined up behind them as well.
Freedlander doesn’t say who said that, but both Warren and Baldwin — candidates that the netroots certainly have stood by — have refused to even take the calls of advertising representatives of the blogs.  And you can add Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown to that list.  (And, as John Amato has noted, the unions too.)  If you’re giving money to these candidates, their ad dollars are going straight to Google in exclusive deals through their expensive DC consultants — many of whom mark the ad rates up 100% and skim the bulk of your donation rather than buy direct from publishers. 
...

-- has always been opaque to people like me.

As a free agent existing at the outer galactic rim of blogging, I am vaguely aware that these interaction go on, just as they go on behind the closed doors of Liberal radio and Liberal teevee.    But they come into my little hut through the internet's heating ducts and coconut wireless, like someone else's mommy and daddy arguing about divorce property settlements in the penthouse upstairs.

Since I started doing fundraisers, my business plan has been pretty simple: write and Photoshop like a fiend and then, along the way, periodically ask people to support what I do.  No ads.  No strategy where I kick you one day and ask you for cash the next.  No slides shows of nipple slips and celebrity diets designed for no purpose other than to drive up my hit-counts and increase my ad revenue.  No opaque financial dependencies that you don't know about but that constrain my ability to write what I please and whatever I please.

Me, from 2010:
I have watched the tides go in and out on blogging. Watched the organic material of the Great Primordial Blogging Sea organize itself into ever larger, more complex organisms, with ever more complex metabolisms and business plans, which -- when you pop the hood -- still depend heavily or entirely on "aggregating" something called "content". 
In much the same way a blue whale "aggregates" krill :-) 
Me? I'm still Tom Bombadil...
Since Day One I've been here on the edge of town, running my single-shingle, pie-and-coffee shop , serving my own hot, home-cooked essays with a scoop or two of hand-made graphics. 
One post a day, every day, more or less. 
Sometimes rock stars drop in, zipping between between here and there. I welcome their patronage, but they get what's on the menu like everybody else. 
Sometimes tiny mobs of angry people show up. 
Eventually they go away.
Then, after the transient ups and downs, life goes on.
One post a day.
Every day. 
More or less. 
And while the service is sometimes sloppy ("Waiter, there's an apostrophe in my s'oup!") like 'em or not, they're mine. 
What I do isn't "Candide", but it is an honest stick, and if I can sometimes hit the sweet spot between the sensibilities of Bradbury ("You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.") and Nin ("The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.") then I can step away from the keyboard feeling I've done my job.

In the end, this little blog of mine may be a poor thing.

But it is mine own.




21 comments:

Grung_e_Gene said...

I may climb to no great height but i will climb alone! MISTER TAMBORINE MAN! ! !

the salamander said...

Bravo Bravo Bravo .. and Never Say Die ...

Bisham said...

I guess this means I'll never learn any "weird tricks" discovered by a simple bushman to lower my energy costs by 80% and insure my car for less than 10$ on this blog. Fine.

Capt. Bat Guano said...

Poor in $$ but rich in insight, brutal truth, humor, some of the finest Photoshop in the tubes and intelligence. Ya can't find all of that just anywhere. And I love it. Thank, you, thank you, thank you.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

It doesn't surprise me that this is what's going on.

It's what corporate America does, and has been doing.

I don't love the HuffPo, but there's where he ended up after being exiled by the Washington Post. I recommend this book review of his.
~

Ufansius said...

And a fine poor little political blog it is, too - one of eight on my daily read list, in company with Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, RT and The Guardian (Salon's on there too, but dropping fast to the bottom, and thence to...).

Gaseous Gray said...

Yours is among the half-dozen or so blogs that I MUST READ every day. Your writing is insightful, and your Photoshop is wonderful. And your podcasts with Blue Gal never fail to put a smile on my face. I'm a fan.

Fiddlin' Bill said...

I agree 100% and follow the same philosophy.

Anonymous said...

You are on my daily must-visit list. You give me courage to keep on keepin' on, a rare voice of reality with no spin. Thanks.

RossK said...

Hmmmm....

If Driftglass is Tom B.....

Does that mean that BlueGal is...

Goldberry?

(if so, cool)

.

La_Randy said...

I also consider your blog to be a must read and will pay the effing writer what I can afford this year!

chicago dyke said...

the deep irony is of course how many of these poor, benighted victims of the juggernaut that is Google were all about crap like "blog amnesty day" and other consolidation moments in which at the time lesser bloggers where shut out of the revenue stream, so the "big blogs" could stay open... and in favor of the powers that were, who were using popular blogs to accomplish the goals of the 1%. for all i have issues with that formulation, i thank the occupy movement for giving us such a useful shorthand, and mock people who thought they were part of it, for so long, because they were the last to get booted. heh. it's a hard old world out there, innit? well, if you don't own your own jet, you're about to figure out just how hard that is. and that includes all the suckers making phone calls for the O right now... trust me, when he's reelected, as he will be, the last person on his rolodex will be a progressive who worked her sorry ass off getting him reelected so he could confidently destroy SS and medicare. which he will.

Rehctaw said...

To FDL, GOS, HuffPo, Salon et al...

You say you're unhappy?
You blame it on ME?
I can't make you happy,
You don't LISTEN to me!

I rarely read commercial blogs.
I shop local. rely on referrals.
I refuse to listen to whining babies.


La_Randy said...

Keep up the good work, sir!

LasrMacomb said...

Good on you for the clarity of your vision!

But a nipslip now and then wouldn't kill your blog. Shakira's ass hasn't hurt TBogg. Just sayin'.

blackdaug said...

Nestled among the many reasons I wish I wasn't so broke lays the heavy sigh that I haven't been able to cough up any more than I have for your little shop of horrors.
Needless to say, you are way up on my list of Powerball giftees....as soon as I hit it..any day now...
because, on many levels..You cant win if you don't play!!
Play on Playa...

Bustednuckles said...

My heart bleeds purple peanut butter for the motherfuckers.


If some of these so called Big Dog money making Bloggers had a lick of sense our Mr. Drifty would have been approached with an offer he couldn't afford to pass up long ago so I have to think some of these hoity toity nose in the air sonsabitches ain't quite as clever as they think they are.

Make no mistake, some of these big blogs rake in some serious fucking dinero and have actual payrolls and full time employees, I know this for a fact and have seen it with my own eyes.

All I can say about Driftglass is that he has some serious integrity that matches his prodigious talent and I am damn glad he feels the urge to work as hard as he does to put out some of the best writing there is for us to enjoy.



If you have a couple of extra coins to rub together in your pocket these days please consider donating a few to our gracious host.
Electricity and internet access require real currency of the realm and it seems the very least we as appreciative readers could do is to help defray those costs when we have the chance.



in the wind said...

We appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

If I new my donation was keeping you from posting a few nip-slips....

blackdaug said...

That reminds me:

P.S.: Side boob

It had to be said.

Comrade Physioprof said...

You're the best, bro. I love you, man!