This morning I had a long chat with Rory Cellan-Jones from the BBC about the state of the UK blogging industry. In particular Rory wanted my thoughts on a recent TechCrunch post about why blogging is failing in the UK.
Very few UK bloggers are making the kind of money that US blogs make – the industry is much less mature over here and the potential target audience is much smaller if you focus on UK traffic alone. Shiny is one of the leading examples but rather than celebrating this people compare them to Gawker and think they have “failed”.
Ironically, it’s Shiny Media which stands out as one of the few successes, and Ashley Norris appears to have upset some of his former colleagues by his musings. The current managing director Chris Price told me,”We’re turning a small profit,” though he admitted it was not on the scale of US blog networks.
And perhaps comparing Shiny with businesses like Gawker Media and Huffington Post tells us something about different ambitions on either side of the Atlantic.
Patrick Altoft certainly thinks so. He gave up his job at an insurance firm when his blogs about the mobile phone world started making serious money, and he now runs a blogging consultancy. He thinks too many UK blogs are too focused on the UK with too much on their local market: “That’s what the UK bloggers are missing – you’ve got to make it relevant around the world.”
We also discussed how much more effective US bloggers are at leveraging social media:
But Mr Altoft says it is their use of social media like Digg and StumbleUpon to promote every post that gives the American blogs an edge, particularly those focusing on technology. “If you’re on the front page of Digg, that guarantees 50,000 hits. The likes of TechCrunch and Gizmodo are there every day – you’ll never see Shiny there.” He says the American blogs are much more “professional” about manipulating sites like Digg so that their stories get plenty of votes.
In the end it’s all about content:
But Patrick Altoft’s best point comes back to what is at the heart of good and successful blogging. “You have to develop your own niche, you need to break news, you need to write stuff that nobody else is writing.” He’s right. There is a huge amount of information out there – and little time to absorb it – so once readers judge that you are the destination for orginal stories and well-written analysis they will keep coming back, and advertising revenue will follow.