From a time to this part, when people know that I live exclusively from writing, I often ask myself what needs to be done to open a blog and become a blogger. To be able to work with free time and anywhere. To invite you to travel, restaurants and hotels. To send you products and technological gadgets. To go to cinematographic and, on top of all that, so you finally enter enough money to live on what you do.
When I give lectures in institutes about digital content or my work in the media, then there are many hands that rise like springs to ask similar things, but in the field of YouTube (times change). And then having to tell them that any of them can do that. But that, before, should have a few small things in mind.
In the following four points I have tried to synthesize as much as possible the range of answers that I usually offer to these questions. They are not revealed truths, all of which are subject to discussion and will probably be obsolete within a period of time as short as five or ten years, but I hope that humbly clear some essential doubts and clarify not a few conceptual confusions. Most, yes, are not personal opinions, but a review of the analyzes of some of the greatest experts in the subject, whose books I will recommend throughout the entry. Let’s go there …
1. Are you sure you do not want to be a journalist?
The first confusion of terms appears when talking about bloggers. What is a blogger? The obvious answer is: a person who writes in a blog, either their own or someone else’s. Most media, even many newspapers, have already adopted a blog-type architecture; have fact become all journalists in bloggers?
Obviously, one can defend what a blogger is on their own terms. But if we look for sources, then we cannot confuse a blogger with a digital journalist. A digital journalist is a journalist who writes in digital media, in all of them. A blogger is a person who writes in a blog, whether or not journalism professional. Digital journalists exercise their work seeking an economic benefit. Bloggers exercise their work as a hobbie, as if they set up a chat with friends or acquaintances.
Not for nothing, the first blogger in history was precisely because of that, because he did not act as a journalist, but as a normal person, with whom we could all identify, and taught to confess that it may have caught a venereal disease.
2. A blogger is the antithesis of professionalization
Every time I read such antithetical terms as “blogger” and “professional” or “blogger” and “salary”, something cracks in me. Of course, any blogger can aspire to be a professional or even to live from their work. But a professional blogger or a paid job is not a blogger, but a journalist, a content editor, or any other heading that we want to use.
A blogger, by definition, is amateur. A blogger is like a friend, a neighbor, a fellow. The power of the blogosphere lies almost exclusively at that point. Until the blogosphere erupted, there were media that worked through the internet, thousands of journalists who wrote content for the Network. Why the blog, then, would constitute a revolution? A revolution cannot be defined as changing one group of people to another and doing exactly the same.
What distinguishes the blogosphere is that the spilled content are opinions of peers in which they have not mediated salaries, gifts, interests or longings by large masses of readers. It is true that a blog can maintain independence even though its author earns money, receives money, has interests or editorial lines to follow or even available thousands of readers daily. But such features are attainable in the same way as any other means of communication existing before or after the advent of the Internet.
What really happens, in a nutshell, is that an author or a medium subject to the above conditions cannot always guarantee sincerity, freshness and closeness. The sincerity because a salary or a gift can make us write unconscious opinions that do not really hold (biases occur without us noticing, so no one serves not adduce that commits). The freshness is obtained when the author writes of what they wants and when they wants, but the economic remuneration works as an incentive to do it when he does not fancy what he does not want and finally, the closeness.
The point of closeness is possibly the most important. To a larger audience in a blog, the contents are more general, more adapted to the least common denominator of the collective taste. This is the case, for example, with Hollywood’s big budget films: they should all, in general, fit into a few parameters to be profitable, such as the inclusion of a romance, a scene of action every twenty minutes, which The end is happy, etc.
The power of the blogger is that anyone on Earth, who has a computer and internet access, in five minutes, has a global communication platform, a 2.0 printer. You can write only one post a month or a year, or one hundred journals, and those posts can address such specific topics as, for example, the number of swear words in a movie, or the nicer streets in a neighborhood of a city Of provinces that does not even have a tourist office. And talk about it always, because it’s what the author likes the most. The number of readers of these blogs will be limited, because there are not so many people interested in such specific topics. But that does not matter because the marginal cost of holding a blog is close to zero, So no financial risks of any kind are being taken. A medium of communication or a professional blog, however, cannot dedicate all its entries to the same subject because then it could not be sustained. It needs massive audiences, not specific niches.
The greatness of blogs lies precisely in the fact that, for the first time in history, the demands of the most minority niches of the market can be met, even if they only mean satisfying ten, twenty or a hundred people. If the goal of blogs is to become paid jobs, they need to generate income, and if they need income, they require a large number of visits, and if they require a large number of visits then they are not content to micro-audiences, but to the same audiences as Content traditional media. In the end a blog ends up being the same as any other traditional media, but that can compete with it because it is cheaper.
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3. Being amateur does not mean doing it wrong
At this point, therefore, those who still defend the professionalization of bloggers, who should charge money for writing in a blog, that should be reimbursed an economic compensation for attending blog trips and everything else, will argue that this is the only way to produce Quality content.
If a blogger cannot be professional, he will be forced to live from another profession. If you have another profession, then you will not have enough time to dedicate to the blog, to document, to refine your prose, etc. Finally, the blogger produces amateur content and, therefore, low quality. And that does not want anyone, right?
But here we run into several base errors. As many of you know, the journalistic profession is in crisis, more and more journalists are unemployed, wages are falling, and many large media have had to close or merge with each other. Media that seemed destructible like the New York Times has tried dozens of business models to survive, but each passing day loses more market share. The reason this happens is none other than the blogosphere.
Millions of people write without receiving emoluments for it, for the simple pleasure of doing it or for the necessity of the pat on the back, on subjects that before economically exploited the great means, the professional journalists. When the mainstream media wanted to get on the Internet, they did it by charging for content to maintain the structures and salaries of the medium. But readers preferred to read free blogs before paying content, although the latter, presumably, are of better quality.
Finally, many media have opened their own free blogs. What this has caused is that many journalists end up in unemployment equally: many who continue to work do so because they have rejected their previous salary range for twenty, thirty or even five dollars per post. Unless you are a journalist with a lot of cache and with followers or with a great productivity, living of writing posts is impossible. Until recently, collaborating with a magazine with great circulation, however, reported almost a thousand dollars for a single text.
The crowd sourcing is defined as the fact outsource tasks that are normally performed by a specific group of people or community (crowd) through an open call individuals. Much of the journalism of the future will probably end up being a mix between this formula and simple citizen or amateur journalism.
So, paradoxically, many of those who have accepted these jobs are people who have never managed to work as journalists and who, through the popularity of the blog, aspire to be hired as such in the future. Others do this to monetize the visibility and reputation of working on a blog in other ways, such as giving talks or writing books.
That is to say: finally, some professionals have lost their salary 1.0 because of the world 2.0 and others aspire to recover the salary 1.0 in a world 2.0.
Many bloggers will live to write their content (although they are actually practicing professional journalists), but will be few, and unfortunately will be less and less. Becoming a professional blogger will be an improbability, as you will get the lottery. To fight for it is to fight for an equivalent and against the progress of technology. With an added: when so few are able to achieve it, less influence will have the true talent for it, and more weight will have contacts, favors or plundering, as well as other added advantages. Because the effect that occurred in the world 1.0 is also occurring in 2.0: as the number of people opening a blog increases, there are more and more amateur content that devalues professional content. More content is produced, more diverse, with more different styles, more sincere.
It is clear that many people continue to consume the press (work of journalists), but it is becoming more common to read blogs to find out. Myself, as a science promoter, I often contrast what I read in traditional media by going to certain blogs created by people who do not charge for it.
Finally, the line between professional and amateur is increasingly indefinite. Some seem to charge for their work and the others do not. But we cannot deduce the level of quality of the contents according to that parameter. Nor the time spent working on it: there are many bloggers who spend more time on specific topics than many professionals. The paradigmatic example that is often cited is Wikipedia: an encyclopedia whose range of errors is percentage similar to the most prestigious encyclopedias in the world, but has been developed by amateur users who have not even paid a penny on it. Now imagine that the editors of Wikipedia met to professionalize their activity and would like to make a living with it.
The cognitive psychologist Dan Ariely proposes the following mental experiment to evaluate the extent to which we work for money, in his book the advantages of desire. Let’s imagine that we work in a company where we have to create PowerPoint slides. Every time we finish, someone picks up our slides and throws them away, but paying us well for the work done. Would we like to work in such a place? The answer is obvious. What satisfies us the most in doing a job is that this work is recognized by others, that it sees the light, that makes us feel proud. Money is irrelevant if those points are not satisfied. Because pay is not so much a reward for work as an incentive to do things, we do not feel like doing. Not many centuries ago,
Think about blogs now. Their number is amazing, and it would seem that almost everyone has their own blog or plans to start it. (…) Most blogs have very few readers, but even writing for a person, compared to writing for anyone, seems enough for millions of Individuals are encouraged to keep a blog.
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4. Do it alone if it makes you happy
The Internet guides us to this type of free creations and not oriented exclusively to the professionalization, as defined experts like Clay Shirky in Cognitive surplus or Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, Chris Anderson in Gratis , Yochai Benkler in The Penguin and the Leviathan or Anthony D. Williams and Don Tapscott on Wikinomia. The dividing lines between professionals and amateurs blur as Jeremy Rifkin broadly explains in The Society of Zero Marginal Cost.
Blogs produce, in percentage, more trash than traditional or professional media, but also more things that were previously impossible to create because they were not profitable. Finally, if what we care about is the quality of the content, we should ask ourselves honestly, to what extent the average reader seeks that quality or has been imposed. The television programs with the most audience are not the best ones, and the same happens with magazines or books.
What the average reader seems to yearn for is that the person who tells them something is like them. That is why so many travelers look for information about their trips in the forums, where other travelers like them write with texts full of misspellings and an expository clarity of dubious quality. And the reader longs for that authenticity because he knows that he is of no interest at all. Because it’s as if a colleague explained to you on the other side of the bar table. Because many digital journalists or bloggers who think they are professionals usually write what they put in any travel guide: mere repetition of the same topics. What the blog reader looks for, however, is the experience of truth, the antithesis of professionalism, the bisbiseo or the trick of the colleague: hey, be honest, this place sucks, right?
When we celebrate the birthday of our little son, we can be happy to sing the song “happy birthday”. We know that if we hired a professional singer, he would do better than us. It would not break so much. Technically, we would surpass in every way. But we do not. We prefer to sing it ourselves. Because we know that no one like us, however much money we pay, will do so with the same love.
That means being a blogger. And I hope we never lose it. So if you want to be a blogger there is only one recipe: open a blog, write what you want, and do not mind if you do it wrong or if you adjust to SEO, or if you talk about something that only interests your family or friends. Do it if it makes you happy, if you like it. I guarantee that in the world, there will be more than one person who will enjoy your work, and I may even write you a comment to tell you. And if that does not make you happy, then you’ve got the wrong activity.
A little prospective
I am not very close to prospective because we are most likely to be mistaken when it comes to guessing where things will go. But just take a look around to warn that the blog phenomenon might even have a short lifespan and become something more sophisticated: social applications mixed with Big Data. The following reflection, in any case, is inspired by the books of Peter H. Diamandis Abundance and Bold.
Skype has demonetized long distance calls. Craiglist, classified ads. Wikipedia, encyclopedias. Napster, the music industry. YouTube begins to slash the audiovisual industry. Uber taxis or cars with chauffeur. But as time goes by, demonetization is produced by social networks of people, not companies or workers. Take the case of BlaBlaCa, which allows anyone to agree with another person a car trip, sharing expenses. Couchsurfing, which allows you to agree to sleep in someone’s house at no cost. Kickstarter has democratized innovation. Merkaat has democratized streaming video anytime, anywhere, as if we had our own television production company. Tripadvisor and Foursquare has democratized the gastronomic criticism, hotel era and any other service. What characterizes all these services is that any expert, professional or person who charges money for their services enriches them. Services are enriched and offer more information than ever before in history because of peer-to-peer collaboration. Tripadvisor and Foursquare has democratized the gastronomic criticism, hotel era and any other service. What characterizes all these services is that any expert, professional or person who charges money for their services enriches them. Services are enriched and offer more information than ever before in history because of peer-to-peer collaboration. Tripadvisor and Foursquare has democratized the gastronomic criticism, hotel era and any other service. What characterizes all these services is that any expert, professional or person who charges money for their services enriches them. Services are enriched and offer more information than ever before in history because of peer-to-peer collaboration.
Today we unzip our smartphone, we geolocation, and in a few seconds we can know the best Japanese restaurants within a kilometer, with reviews and advice from other diners, with real photographs of the dishes. Now let’s extrapolate all that to tourism and content creation. All travelers will be able to enrich some application or applications with more information, photographs, videos, tips and everything that we can dream of every square meter of planet. We will simply unveil a smartphone, geolocate them, look through augmented reality around us, and a myriad of voices selected according to our tastes and preferences will tell us what to see, what to do or what we have right in front of us. Voices like ours,
When you use your smartphone, you use a device a million times cheaper and a thousand times more powerful than a 1970 supercomputer. We have no idea what we will use in a few years, but will probably have features that will still make the digital exchange between peers more fluid and harmonious.
Now imagine what role the reporter will be relegated to (it may be that in a few years it seems even medieval or stupid to read texts written by only one person and not by the changing and adaptive confluence of all people). And later to what role will be relegated a blogger who does not write to contribute to these social networks, but to have a salary that allows them to live on those contents that millions of people will generate without charging.