Ah, the end of blogging (yes, RS McCain doesn’t think that it’s dead, either). Here we go again, I guess: I’ve been doing this gig since 2002, 2003, and every so often somebody puts up an article about how the medium is doomed, or how the entire paradigm is going to change, or something. Entertainingly, the examples of blogs that the authors use are invariably ones that I’ve never heard of, which should make you thoughtful about how good a handle on the entire medium said authors actually have.
Anyway, Stacy in the link above makes the obvious point that people are succeeding and failing at this endeavor all the time. Speaking as one of the survivors of what seems to be a rapidly shrinking Old School of political bloggers (Class of Post-9/11), I’ll include my own observation: the winnowing process isn’t really random. It seems to target disproportionately the folks with the grandiose visions; the folks that like to talk about “New Media paradigms,” or whatever this week’s buzzword is. The folks that survive the winnowing process are the folks that have either instinctively or knowingly figured out the ground rules.
I get asked the question sometimes, How does one become a successful blogger? It’s a kind of embarrassing question, partially because there’s something wrong with a system where I’m an example of a successful blogger – but mostly because usually there’s not really an answer that the questioner wants to hear. That’s because said answer is depressingly simple: Be good at writing, and post a lot.
That’s all there is. Write well, put up a lot of content, you eventually become “successful,” if by “successful” you mean “somebody gives you money to do this.” I call this the “Schlock Mercenary” model, after the popular space opera webcomic drawn by Howard Tayler. And it is popular, even if you’ve never heard of it: it makes Howard Tayler a living, which is the brass ring for webcomic artists. Its historical background is even being used for a published science fiction series by popular SF writer John Ringo – which is an entire quantum level above “brass ring.” And the reason why Howard can make money off of his webcomic is not just because he’s good at webcomics. He makes money off of his webcomic because he never misses an update.
No excuses, no apologies, no explanations about how various computer equipment broke or domestic emergencies intervened; Howard has a buffer of strips in place to compensate for the unexpected, and new ones go up on his site at 11 PM Eastern Time, come Hell or high water. It’s reliable. And it’s good. So people support it. And that’s how the game works: treat webcomics – or blogging – as work, do it well, and you get results. You can have fun at it, but you have to remember that people don’t get paid for fun; they get paid for work.