At least not just blogging. Or so this article says. Here’s another reason why selling information (content), on-line or otherwise, won’t be very successful. If there is one thing that has to be present in a business model it’s scarcity. The one thing common to selling furniture, gold, cookies, CDs, software, licensing patents etc., is the scarcity of the thing you’re selling. Gold is a great example. I can’t think of something less useful, less desirable and not even very pretty, than gold. Yet it’s ridiculously expensive. Gold’s value is artificial, it’s a historical accident (gold was valuable because it was scarce in nature and as such was a great substitute of money when money didn’t yet exist). We, as a society, perpetuate this historical accident. It only works because we all play the game. Now, salt is different but also demonstrates the crucial aspect of scarcity. Today I can get all the salt I’ll ever need to consume in my lifetime for less than $100. You might not know it, but there was a time (a long time ago) when salt was terribly expensive because people didn’t know how to produce it. It was scarce. Or you might have heard that around the time Columbus lived it was worth to make a very expensive expedition to get spices from other continents. The same thing that you’ll get at QFC for a few bucks. Scarcity again.
So what is the problem in the business model that assumes that people will pay for content, say for the ability to read blogs? The problem is that there is no scarcity. There are too many blogs, too many newspapers, too many sources of information, too much music etc. They’re all fighting for our attention but we just don’t have the time to consume them all, even those that are free. In fact, the problem we’re facing is the opposite: we would be willing to pay for something that would filter all the available information and present only the stuff that we’re interested in.
So why should you blog? Well, some people just like to blog. More business-oriented people might treat it as a great advertisement medium. Joel and Dave are masters at monetizing their blogging. They use blog to differentiate themselves from the faceless competition. Treat blogs as a self-promotion medium. Show how smart you are and build personal reputation. Treat it as an opportunity to create weak ties and network with similarly-minded people. Inspire other people with your blog and get inspired by them.
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