This is a guest post by Paul Mayze.
The barriers to blogging are now lower than ever. At least, that is the theory.
On WordPress and Blogger it takes minutes, if not seconds, to set up your blog. On Tumblr, adding content is child’s play (and if in doubt you can repost something from someone else).
Of course, the reality is that blogging is harder than ever. Assuming your intention is to generate a readership for your blog, setting up a blog isn’t the problem. The problem is keeping it up.
But a new breed of content publishing and curation tools is focused on tackling this issue head on.
The Issues of Blogging
With a conventional blog, you need to select a subject area that you can stick to.
You need to write regularly. You need to write posts of value that provide new information and new perspectives. And you need to promote your blog so that people know about it.
And for all the improvements in blogging technologies, none of this has changed.
Plus, the market is more saturated than ever. In 2006 you competed for attention against 30 million other blogs. At the end of 2012, that number is over 200 million.
Most successful blogs have ‘gone pro’. Few people can afford to write off this sort of time investment unless it is supporting their career in some way. Similarly, readers congregate around a small fraction of the blogs available.
With this scale of choice, heading to where the crowds are is plain common sense.
But what does that mean for the rest of the world? The amateurs. The ones who just like to write from time to time. The ones who have ideas they’d like to share, but not enough to fill a whole site dedicated to the subject. People like… um… me.
I am a dismal failure of a blogger. I have made multiple attempts to keep a blog over the last ten years. I never struggled to set a blog up. I bought domains, installed WordPress, tinkered with the design until it was just right, and posted enthusiastically.
And then a little less enthusiastically.
And then, with an audience of only me and my dog after… oh, five or six posts… I lost my enthusiasm altogether.
I’m far from alone: it’s estimated that 95% of new blogs are abandoned within the first three months. To serve the amateurs, the real challenges of blogging need to be removed. Enter crowd curation platforms…
CheckThis, for example, allows people to post independently of any structure, and instantly share those posts (or ‘posters’ as they are called) on their existing networks. Storylane and Medium allow users to create their own boards (‘storylanes’ and ‘collections’ respectively) and populate them with their own content and posts from others.
Our platform Howwwl is structured as an ‘open blogging’ platform, with users making topic boards that are open to all.
With this new breed of social publishing tools, readers vote up the stuff they like, and ignore the stuff they don’t. Then individuals filter content by criteria that matter to them, including popularity. It’s not a new concept (just look at Reddit), but it hasn’t been applied to blogs before.
Organising posts into topics also makes sense for readers. Readers mostly follow blogs for the subject matter first, and quality second. If I am a programmer, I am more likely to follow a well-written blog on coding than a brilliantly written blog on interior design.
Therefore, topic should take precedence over author. Or, to use Twitter terminology, we should put the # before the @.
The Future and Noiseless Blogging
In theory, all ‘non-professional’ writing could be brought together in one place, and filtered through crowd curation to produce the best written content across all topics. Writers get freedom and a self-selecting readership, and readers get quality and relevance.
The noise in the rest of the blogosphere will be reduced, which should be good news for professional bloggers, who will be able to use the new platforms as a means to attract new audiences and to expand their writing into new topic areas.
This feels like a plausible future to me. However, as a founder of Howwwl I may be just a tiny bit biased. I really hope you’ll be able to confirm or correct that bias in the comments.
And in the meantime – here’s to an exciting 2013 for us all, whatever blogs it may bring!
About the author: Paul Mayze is co-founder of Howwwl.com, the new publishing and content discovery network. He was formerly COO of online game developer Monumental Games and has a background in technology communications. You can follow him on Twitter at @howwwl and connect with him on LinkedIn.