Write Articles, Not Blog Postings

To demonstrate world-class expertise, avoid quickly written, shallow postings. Instead, invest your time in thorough, value-added content that attracts paying customers. —Jakob NielsenWrite Articles, Not Blog Postings (Alertbox)

It’s been a while since I checked out Nielsen’s site. His overall point against blogs — which we can sum up in the old saying “nobody buys the cow if you give the milk away for free” — assumes that you’re in the business of selling cows.

Nielsen himself churns out an article about every two weeks, which he gives away for free. Usually the articles are self-contained, but sometimes they are a teaser for a full report, which he sells. Those reports are themselves teasers for his speeches and conference workshops, which are themselves advertisements for specialized consulting services.

I don’t disagree with anything he says… but I’m not going to stop blogging, because I’m not in the business of selling cows. I already have a job — teaching new media journalism and other courses at SHU. Were I in a publish-or-perish environment, I would have to make a lot of adjustments, not only to how, when, and why I blog, but how I spend my summers (in the library or at home with the kids?).

I have advised people who were thinking of jumping on the band wagon that if they or someone else in their organization doesn’t already love writing, or if they can’t hire someone with writing skills, it’s probably not worth it to add a blog. Yes, we need the one-in-a-thousand experts to lead the way (putting professional talents and R & D funds to work solving highly technical problems), but everyone is an expert in something — not always something that makes money. That’s OK.

The internet became the cultural force that it is now because geeks decided to give digital stuff away for free. They made tools with the idea making content creation easy, and they revolutionized society in the process. Without free digital culture leading the way, digital commerce would be nowhere.

So keep coming back here for milk. I’ll keep telling you where I’ve found good milk elsewhere. And if you’re looking to buy a cow, I’ll point you to ones that I think look good. I hope you’ll return the favor for me.