The Economist recently published the results of a survey of the blogosphere that revealed that – gasp – “the rate of growth of blogs has slowed in many parts of the world.”
My take: Content creation is hard. Great blogging is tough. And the rewards remain fleeting.
So that’s why I’m calling it, on the eve of Real Estate Connect 2010:
The death of the real estate blog. July 9, 2010.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
For every Phoenix Real Estate Guy, there are likely umpteen dozen soulless me-too real estate blogs in any given metro these days. Many are filled with meaningless “market reports,” meandering “community updates” – and most were last updated many moons ago.
These blogs float like drift nets on the web, hoping to snare the clueless web visitor who stumbles in through some long tail Google search.
And where it was once possible to get decent search ranking for a blog post, it is becoming harder and harder to do it solo.
We now see content farms like Demand Media starting to flood the search result pages. They use sophisticated algorithms and large networks of low-paid “producers” to create single pieces of keyword-rich pages they can load up with advertising.
Demand alone (through a network of sites like eHow) is cranking out over 4,000 pieces of content a day. And AOL (through its Seed.com initiative) and Yahoo (through its acquisition of Associated Content) are going to get into this game too.
These guys have industrialized content production.
Just like big agribusiness decimated the family farm, the content farms are beginning to seriously challenge the humble business blog for position.
To be sure, like in the real world, some hobby farms will continue to eek out an existence. But in the real business of blogging for Google traffic, the big guys wil be hard to beat.
So what can we do about this? Here’s a few ideas:
Go Social. Facebook (through Facebook Pages) has become a legitimate publishing platforms by bringing to the table a massively engaged audience. If blogging for Google traffic is like casting a drift net, social sites like Facebook are like casting in ponds full of fish.
Best of all, It’s quick. It’s easy. And it’s cheap. Start-up costs are negligible so there’s room for rapid iteration. Witness the growth of “365 days in Community X” pages.
Tumblr is another emerging platform with an active, engaged community that’s well worth exploring.
Start an email newsletter. We’re bullish on email (hence our own 1000watt spotlight newsletter). The inbox is intimate, personal and perfect for immediate one-to-one conversation. Startups like Letter.ly are pushing the barrier to entry in this space even lower.
Create video. Try new media. Video blogging & podcasting in particular are poised for a big surge (or resurgence, in the case of podcasting). New devices like smartphones, tablet computers and Internet-enabled televisions are making it easier than even to consume this media everywhere and anywhere. There’s a reason why the big blogs are making significant investments in video.
I realize this topic is a controversial one, and my stance is a little bold. I debate this position fiercely even with Brian and Marc. And frankly, I still believe there’s room for a company “blog” (like this one). Blogging software continues to move in interesting directions.
But where there once were many, it seems now there are few. Beyond a few pioneers who’ve stuck it out, I don’t see much that’s new out there.
So the real estate blog as we knew it is dead. Which means the category as a whole is ripe for a rebirth.
Personally I can’t wait to see what you come up with.