Blogging and Value

If the market is open, there’s a strong likelihood it will be positive – and indeed it was, with the S&P 500 up another seven points. That may not seem like much, but yesterday Janet dog-faced ‘Yeller’ Yellen, stepping aside from her assigned duties of regulating the money supply, suggested that social media and biotech companies were overvalued. The market fell, only to recover completely as of today’s close. Just anther buying opportunity, because let’s be honest, the left has been calling web 2.0 and stocks a bubble forever and they keep being wrong. Their credibility is shot, so Yellen, for all her fame, only got the S&P 500 to fall all of three points yesterday. Rich, smart people rule the world. This is is the state of America today and for all of eternity. Those who suffer the misfortune of betting against America, which includes shorting the stock market and treasuries, will be doused and lit ablaze – or at least they will lose a lot of money.

Matt Forney of mattforney.com celebrated his 5th blogging anniversary. From what I gleaned from some of his posts, he has a measured, soothing writing style. Instead of WRiTInG likE ThIs!, he releases the torrent of ideas swirling in his head in trickle, instead of like an uncapped fire hydrant. The one thing that struck out is how one of his 2013 posts, The Case Against Female Self-Esteem, went super-viral a few months ago, and yet his blog, for whatever reason, doesn’t get many comments for his latest posts. He writes:

This year was also the one in which my writing exploded into the mainstream, when “The Case Against Female Self-Esteem” went viral on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and a million other sites. On October 8, I busted my previous single-day traffic record by getting over 80,000 hits, then broke that record the next day when I got just under 170,000 hits. In fact, I got so much traffic that my web host shut my site down for nearly a full day due to all the havoc the whiners were causing. My article also inspired countless death threats, tear-filled responses and impassioned YouTube rants.

I estimate he probably got up to a million hits from that post alone, but his most recent post got only got five comments. An earlier time he want viral, he got 2,000 comments. Another time, as recently as April 2014, he got over 200 comments for a post about the ‘manosphere’ being dead and how we all killed it, but where did everyone go? The problem is viral content seldom seems to translate into a return readers. Out of peer pressure and curiosity, they click and skim, but don’t stick around. While Matt does seem to think of himself as a minor celebrity, for comparison, earlier versions of this almost unknown, insignificant blog got around 1-5 comments per post.

Many blog gurus pride themselves on good writing, captivating titles and pretty pictures, thinking it will make a difference or believing that this is what readers want. Maybe it does a little, but perhaps all that stuff is overrated. Jon Morrow of boostblogtraffic.com wrote two notable posts, one about the importance of being smart when blogging and the second about the necessity of good writing. I don’t doubt these help, but it doesn’t explain the the success of celebrity and recreational blogs, which usually lack those attributes.

As a thought experiment, imagine someone has ‘rain man’ like abilities to predict the day-to-day direction of commodity prices, but is otherwise barely literate, can’t write beyond a 3rd grade level, and outside of his specialty of picking commodities – has the intellectual depth of a wading pool. He knows nothing about history, art, philosophy, etc. He decides to start a blog to broadcast his picks. Even though his writing is atrocious and riddled with every conceivable error that would make smart bloggers want to punch the screen, he would be a very popular blogger. Millions of people would flock to his blog to make money, including even the smart bloggers. Scientists, doctors, lawyers…everyone – because who doesn’t want effortless money, like in case you get sick, retirement, or want to add-on to your home? By providing value in the form of 100% accurate commodity predictions, he becomes popular, terrible writing notwithstanding.

Consider HBDchick. Her blog entries are a concatenation of uncapitalized ‘sentences’. The rest of the grammar is correct, but for reasons unknown, she refuses to use capitalization, and yet her blog is very popular. Maybe she has so many good ideas and is in such a hurry to post them that she cannot be bothered with capitalization, but that doesn’t explain how the rest of the grammar is correct, including dashes and a very through array of references mixed with the text. Her blog breaks all the readability rules the gurus tell you about, and yet she has a very large and devoted readership. How does this happen? Perhaps people gravitate to authority, of which she clearly is for HBD matters. Maybe people find it useful, like they are getting information that isn’t readily found elsewhere. Or they feel like the are part of a special social group.

Untimely, success at blogging boils down to creating useful value or name recognition and less about finesse and viralness. Or maybe other factors such as cultivating a movement, as the manosphere and HBD has done. A celebrity, like the savant commodity trader, doesn’t need to write well to succeed at blogging. But you don’t need to be either to create value. The question is, how will you create value?

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