diet coke for breakfast

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Posted by Tanstaafl
Peggy Noonan on Blogs:

But when I read blogs, when I wake up in the morning and go to About Last Night and Lucianne and Lileks, I remember what the late great Christopher Reeve said on 'The Tonight Show' 20 years ago. He was the second guest, after Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield did his act and he was hot as a pistol. Then after Reeve sat down Dangerfield continued to be riotous. Reeve looked at him, gestured toward him, looked at the audience and said with grace and delight, 'Do you believe this is free?' The audience cheered. That's how I feel on their best days when I read blogs.

TANSTAAFL is the first rule of economics. Blogs won't stay "free" forever. In fact, the really big ones aren't. Just look at Instapundit, he sells advertising, which probably covers his bandwidth needs. At some point, Blogger (owned by Google, and source of this site) will probably start charging for access, or at least putting advertisements on a side bar, banner, or footer.

That being said, blogs have an interesting potential as a business model. In contrast to most MSM outlets, a blog's operational expenses are generally negligible. The distribution cost is only the web hosting and bandwidth. In fact, the only significant cost is the labor of the blogger him or herself. For people like Glenn Reynolds, with day-jobs, that cost is already covered. Other people probably see their blog as a form of marketing. I'm sure Hugh Hewitt sees his site as a way to add to his radio listener base. James Lilek's definitely sells more of his books because people read his site and his column is probably read by more people because of his blog notoriety. That can only lead to wider syndication, better pay per column, and more writing gigs.

As a "business" blogs are still in their infancy, and as with all new business concepts (especially those driven by the internet) there is still a fair amount of shake-out that will need to take place. But that's not a knock on the "industry". On the contrary, I think that watching how blogs take shape over the next 5 to 10 years will be pretty interesting.

Oh, and as for Ms. Noonan's prediction about a newspaper putting a collection of the best blog contributions on its website: I believe that's called Best of the Web Today by James Taranto.


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