Bitchmeme: Do blogs deserve ads?

Louis Gray — the social media blogger who seems to be everywhere lately — has gotten the weekend blogosphere “bitchmeme” started early, it seems, with his post on how the majority of bloggers “don’t deserve any ad revenue.” According to Louis, most bloggers simply echo the posts that appear on TechCrunch and Mashable and other top tech blogs, and therefore they aren’t really adding any value, and as a result they don’t really deserve to have any advertising. He also says:

“Urged on by the success of mega blog networks like TechCrunch and spurred forward by stories from ProBlogger, or corner cases like Dooce.com, Daily Kos and others, an inordinate amount of people are hoisting ads on their blogs… in the hope of turning their daily rantings into big dollars that could possibly change their life.”

It seems to me that Louis is saying several different things here. On the one hand, he is saying that most blogs don’t get enough traffic to justify any substantial amount of advertising, and therefore they are never going to get rich, or make enough money to “change their life.” That seems fairly obvious. And while it’s probably worthwhile to let people know that the “get rich by blogging!” pitch is false, most of the people who think that will soon be in Vegas or signed up for some multi-level marketing scheme anyway, so the problem is somewhat self-regulating.

Louis also seems to be saying that for a blogger who wants to make money, copying the same content that dozens of blogs have isn’t really adding much value, unless you have an incredibly devoted and unique following. This is also wise advice (although arguably also fairly obvious). But does it follow that most bloggers “don’t deserve any ad revenue?” I don’t think so. There are lots of bloggers out there with original voices, who appeal to specific markets, and I think they deserve all the ads they can get.

Why shouldn’t they be able to defray the costs of their hosting, or their bandwidth, or their computers? That’s what micro-publishing is for. Louis says that “some bloggers act as if it’s their God-given right to write, post a few ads and start raking in cash.” I haven’t come across any of those, but he is quite right that they are mistaken. I just don’t think they’re as common as he thinks they are. And if the others can make a few dollars and advertisers are willing, then who are we to say they shouldn’t?

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