Cloudy with sunny spells: Blogging as an enterprise

Tuesday 14 November 2017, 8.00pm HKT

B U S I N E S S

12.27pm local time, 23°C 73°F, 85% humidity, cloudy with sunny spells

IN an idle moment of bathroom curiosity, I’ve been thinking what the free blog platforms like WordPress.com should be doing as a business, considering Medium’s recent developments earlier this year.

I know, right? It isn’t the kind of thing I’m known for writing about here.

I never got round to writing this until now.

First off, I kind of suspect that Medium’s apparent troubles in January 2017 are (shall we say) significantly (but not substantially) related to that old pesky thing called money.

The problem is, the Internet has eaten everybody’s lunch but no one has figured out a way to make money from it.

At least not in an authentically sustainable way to the level or mould of a traditional brick-and-mortar/bread-and-butter business in the real world.

I’m not saying companies aren’t already making massive money off it or even from it. There ARE profitable Internet-based companies — and we know their names already. But for the majority of businesses, the Internet remains a kind of money blackhole.

The free blogging platforms have to make money, and ultimately from the Internet. Yet ads and paywall stuff have long become the anathema of Internet users.

So WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr and various others are in the same boat as Medium, ultimately speaking, even if they are different operationally or functionally.

And for good reason.

We’re already paying the ISP connection fee — so why pay more?

That is the emotional and instinctual state of mind in most people about using the Internet, I’ve noticed.

Not to put too fine a point on things:—

  • Each and every one of us is already paying a huge amount of money just to be connected online all year round.

When we pay our Internet connection fee, the only benefit we’re receiving is just to be online. There’s no other benefit. The “convenient information access” so often lauded isn’t a benefit. “Convenient” and “information” vary according to our circumstances. The Internet connection is the means we get to use to get stuff in a roughly unrestricted way to satisfy our individual online ‘high.’

Right now where I am in Hong Kong, I’m forking out HK$3,500 a year (US$450 p.a.) for my home Internet connection — plus a bigger bill for the one at the office.

That’s equivalent to 140 lunches for me — or 20 weeks’ worth of lunch at my unbelievably frugal HK$25 a set lunch.

As such, the Internet has already eaten up our individual lunch money even before we get started on making money from it — except the bullshit from the trolls and insufferables.

  • Then comes the situation of paying for online things. We want to receive some benefit on top of the “just to be online.” This is the pressure point about making money from the Internet.

If we’re selling actual merchandise online, that’s easy enough to identify and explain the benefit. What if we’re selling an online service — a facility like blogging?

We can see the sense of paying for (say) financial news or educational material or the use of some online app — but blogging? What’s the point of paying someone for the facility to do our own writing? We might as well spend that money on a hosting service and self-host our own blog.

That is why in my view both the free and paid blogging platforms are in trouble on the ultimate horizon.

The platform provider has to make money to exist and survive. But ask for payment and the user will just upget and outgo because there’s no actual point to pay to do your own writing. Don’t ask for money and you’re serving others at your own expense. Put in ads on the free service, and it isn’t the Internet habit or culture so the money just dribbles in.

It really is a case of die if you do, die if you don’t.

No one knows what’s going to happen about the Internet for even just a few years later.

Let’s get realistic and opportunistic for a moment.

Medium itself is already a clue about the unpredictability. It was started in 2012 with US$130 million in venture funding plus the commercial involvement of half a dozen established media companies. This year (2017), it’s already in some kind of repositioning — a word that in the corporate world often means ‘trouble.’

I hope it isn’t going to be like that for WordPress.com and all the other free providers — but no one knows, no one really knows.

So take this opportunity window (while it still lasts) and move in on taking up the slack that Medium seems to have given up on while it is (apparently) still trying to nail down its direction and market positioning.

Who knows — Automattic Inc. might make good what Medium didn’t.

original chans 74-Y-speeder-sheep

Of course, there’s the long-running rage from users about WordPress’s system enhancements and whatnot.

That must be pretty soul-destroying too for the management to identify and implement them, I’m sure.

Fix the problems post haste first, then quickly step into enhancing the speed, stability and easy functionality of the whole system. WordPress.com is the best of the lot in my opinion, but it isn’t performing at the best it could be.

Final Word

No one knows what will or will not pan out. But if the various free platforms don’t take up the slack, someone else will.

But I’m must one disembodied soul on the Internet doing one belated blogpost resulting from an idle bathroom curiosity. WordPress corporate management has tons of resources and expertise, so they’ll figure out a way to take up the slack (or not).

I mean, if I’m THAT bloody good and know the real answer, I’d be doing it myself.

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© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 14 Nov 2017. Original text 6 Jan 2017.

Images:— Ask Pyramid via CDX Online eTextbook • Moneybag charm by thenakedlistener• Rent due via One Housing Group (UK) • Broccoli and candies via c4c • Flying sheep via 4chan.

One Response to “Cloudy with sunny spells: Blogging as an enterprise”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    I just got around to making a comment… and I finally got around to paying the base fee for my WordPress account and got a domain name. Then I linked it to a commercial Google account for email, etc. It turns out to be a good move for me, and hopefully helps keep WP (Automattic) alive for awhile yet. Crap isn’t the only thing that happens in bathrooms.

    Like

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