Competition for Blogs

My good friend Liz Strauss was in the UK recently and shared a little the other day about her experience at City University while she was over there. While she was there she was asked an excellent question.

What is a blog’s competition?

Normally I come up with answers to questions about blogging fairly quickly but this one made me think. Quite a bit.

hammersBecause there isn’t one easy answer.

The reason the question isn’t easily answered is that blogs are simply tools. It would be like asking “What is a hammer’s competition?”

Um, it depends… on what you want to accomplish with your hammer.

I went looking in my toolbox out in the garage and I found a cool baker’s dozen hammers in my hammer drawer. (Yes I have a hammer drawer. Give me a Tim Allen grunt!)

Most of these I inherited from my father in law not too long ago. And I confess there are a couple there that I haven’t the slightest idea what they’re for. But I’m sure they may come in handy one day!

Depending on the job at hand the “competition” for a hammer could be a nail gun, a screwdriver, a wrecking ball, a metal stamping machine or even high explosives.

Blogs Are Tools

Like hammers, blogs are tools. Specifically blogs are web publishing platforms. And just like hammers, blogs can be used for vastly different purposes.

Depending on the needs and intention of the blog owner, the blog might be “in competition” with a whole slew of things. For example here are some things I can see a blog possibly “competing” with.

  • Traditional static web sites
  • Old media advertising
  • Web advertising
  • Search engine optimization efforts
  • Book publishing
  • Email newsletters
  • Forums & message boards
  • Old media outlets
  • Other blogs

But With a Twist

But check this out. Blogs can be integrated into a business or marketing plan in such a way that they become complimentary to any or all of the above.

That’s one of the beauties I find with blogs as a tool to support business – they can compound other marketing efforts to produce much larger overall results.

Blogs are very versatile platforms for web publishing. They’re sort of like the Leatherman of the web. They do a lot of things well and some folks can get one to replace a whole lot of other tools.

There are other folks who will still want to keep their tool box fully equipped with specialized tools. Sure they may keep their Leatherman handy on their belt for everyday use. But they don’t want to give up the precision of just the right tool for each specific job.

In the same way properly implemented blogs can be used either in lieu of, or in addition to, any of the things I listed above.

That makes blogs fairly unique on the web. And it’s a big reason why I’m not afraid of them succumbing to competition anytime soon.

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Comments

  1. Hi Chris!
    I was so looking forward to your response to this question. Excellent answer. Thank you for this. I think you should star it as a classic. This post goes down as one to teach with.

    Anyone who blogs and everyone who is curious about blogging, should know about this one.

  2. Thanks Liz. That’s mighty kind of you. And thank you for sharing that original question to get me thinking. Nothing like a little brain exercise to help you think things through.

  3. That big column of smoke you see on the southwestern horizon was my brain giving up on figuring out an answer to this one! Glad you thought it through enough to help me out, Chris.

    I initially thought of the “competes with everything” answer, but the problem is, it doesn’t ring true. It’s not like it’s a “zero sum” game – I’m not trying to get you, for instance, to come to MZM “instead of” Successful Blog. I want you to go to both! It’s only when I begin to focus on one particular niche that competition even begins to be a issue.

    Thanks!

  4. Follwed Liz’s Twitter link here, and am glad I did. Such an interesting question. Reminds me of a comment I got the other day asking, did I think blogging is an artform? That got me thinking deeply about blogging, about all its different applications, definitions, uses.

    I think you’re right on in regards to blogging in the business arena, but it’s funny that as a blogger in that niche that I tend to exclusively define blogs in those forms and forget about the multitide of other uses they have to other people. That means I tend to define success as a blogger in terms that are relevant in that world.

    But taking blogging to its larger context demonstrates its power as a tool, and I love that analogy you provide.

    As a way to express, communicate, relate, inform, share, create, collaborate… blogs can be art, or poetry, or argument, or journals; they can be transactional, strategic, effective, intentional; they can be spontaneous, personal, inspirational; they can a myriad of things, and it’s a great reminder to anyone who blogs to stop and think about what all it can be, and that you are the one, as the blogger, who defines what it is.

    When you pick up the hammer today, what will you build?

  5. Yeah Robert. I guess you could summarize my answer in about three four words: Everything and Nothing. Depending

  6. Great comment, Tiffany. I too sometimes struggle with seeing beyond the filter my own circumstances can place over my view of the world around me. It is always good when we can look at things from other perspectives.

    And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want me to try to build anything with a hammer, even with my collection! I’d better stick to blogging. :)

  7. Hi Chris,

    Great post! You did forget one competitor. A live conversation, discussion, or forum. A blog can’t compete with them in terms of richness of communication, but can compete in terms of the geographical reach (and all the other positives you’ve covered here at SuccessCreations). Like you said, it’s a tool in the drawer. The real question is what kind of experience you want to create and for whom? Then you can choose the appropriate tools and materials.

    Mike

  8. Oops! SuccessCreeations. Sorry about that. I’m flogging myself with a wet noodle as I type one-handed.

  9. Hello Chris,
    Just stumbled upon your blog today and I do appreciate your insightful articles here. I’m learning a lot from you, thanks. In our site, we’ve made the decision to blog rather than publish static pages (to communicate about recycling, in particular) because of the built-in advantages of blogging. I agree with you when you said “Blogs can be integrated into a business or marketing plan in such a way that they become complimentary to any or all of the above.” I think blogging is more effective than, say using a Squidoo lens , in creating community. Your readers can interact with you and with each other after every new post, which gives you the advantage of an instant feedback mechanism and springboard for new posts.

  10. hi chris,

    nice post, this was the first time that I am here reading your blog posts, I was doing a research on a competitors website and you can say thats how i stubmbled upon here…

    Howver, have gone through a few other post and really seemed to like your work

    And I think For a few of blogs and websites that I run I better check where they fit in the compitition too.

    Mark
    Editor

  11. I actually think that you are right and that blogs can and do compete with every of the above. Some blogs are not enough optimized – they still need enriching with interactive tools and widgets to bring the user experience out of the comments box. I am referring to voice messaging, video messaging, a killer widget of the JS-Kit Advisor type, slides, and much more.

    Someone said that blogs will fade somehow and I happen to think that those who make such statements are not savvy enough to understand the real potential of a blog. I see forums fading, because blogs already cover the communication aspect. I see the old-fashioned static web pages fading, because no one wants to go where nothing ever happens. But blogs are here to stay for a while and the winners are those who understand their power and who understand how to use it.

  12. I once submitted an article to reuters relating to ongoing news in europe, well i never heard form them. Thus blogging is an alternative for such.

  13. Hi Chris, nice post. I can understand the theme competition blogs have, but I also think they have their unqiue audience. See most people online search for information but many people enjoy reading blogs to connect with one another, share ideas and interact with one another. So while on one hand you could say the information may be competitive in say, a search engine….I find it is all part of the bigger picture of sharing information.

    What do you think Chris?

    Thanks for a very insightful post. Keep it up and enjoy reading your stuff.

    Nick ;-)

  14. Hey Chris…again lol

    Just re-read your post and think i caught the wrong end of what you were saying.

    Completely agree with you and find blogging can definitely complement any other form of web promotion you are currently doing to attract a new and hungry target audience.

    Keep it up!

    Nick

  15. Mike, I agree that there are differing advantages with different platforms such as forums. And obviously a voice conversation will allow for a much deeper level of communication. I happen to think that blogs can potentially reach more people than those other platforms. Of course there will always be exceptions.

    Recycling Mike, Sounds like y’all are moving in the right direction. I expect that over time you will begin to see those benefits play out in your favor.

    Mark, I’m curious. Was it one of your competitors or one of mine that brought you here? Either way, thanks for stopping by.

    Mihaela, I agree with you that blogging will be much more resilient than some folks give it credit for. Even so I think you’re right that there is still room for improving the blogging platform to expand our ability to interact. I especially would like to see threaded voice comments blend with the text commenting.

    Nick, it’s still a good question. Ultimately it comes down to people looking for different things. Some are just looking for quality information, while others want more interaction. The good news is blogs can deliver both!

  16. I think standalone blogs have a lot to compete with, mainly other sites. When they are used in conjunction with an e-commerce or information website, you’re right, they are just tools. I started my blog just for SEO purposes, not to attract traffic, so there is no competition in that respect.

  17. Airsoft, I know a whole bunch of folks who make very good incomes optimizing sites for search engines that could be seen as direct competition to blogs in that arena. I’m just saying. ;)

  18. I think what AirSoft is doing is using his blog to compliment his site. I have several friends who went to a seminar on promoting their e-commerce sites and they were told to blog, blog, blog. It was suggested to them to have one wordpress hosted blog, one blogger hosted blog, and one self-hosted blog all with the theme of their commece site and posting about their product/field. These blogs are supposed to create a buzz at least with the search engine spiders about their original commerce site.

  19. I believe blogs worked best when they are created to compliment a main business website. However, what I have observed is that they have become the main business website for many startups. In a sense, it has evolved to becoming more than just a publishing tool.

  20. I am here reading your blog posts, I was doing a research on a competitors website and you can say thats how i stubmbled upon here…

  21. So many factors when it comes to competition.
    The best sure know what they are doing..

  22. I hear what your saying. i’ve recently been sweating over whether to combine a blog and a forum or a main static landing page, connecting to a blog and forum or one or the other… breathe. like you say i think a blog and a forum do compliment each other but is it worth having the forum if you can just post comments on the blogs anyway?

  23. what I have observed is that blogs have become the main business website for many startups. In a sense, it has evolved to becoming more than just a publishing tool.

  24. You are right, blogs are tools, and they will always be improved. If you remember, few years ago, blogs were not very popular, you only heard of blogs on big sites such as BBC and all the news ones. Now everyone has one, and my main idea would be because of the variety of ways you can make money with them.

  25. Blogs are developing everyday more and more and it is up to us how to approach them and what messages we deliver. Many blogs are better than other.

  26. Very interesting way to put it. I guess my blog has to go a long way to even think of being in the reckoning…

    Thanks for giving a good perspective…. It really helped.

  27. Thank you for this. I think you should star it as a classic. This post goes down as one to teach with.
    Keep it up!

  28. Blogs will continue to become more popular, as a few others said. Now, if I were to compare blogs and forums, it would be difficult. Each have separate advantages and disadvantages.

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