Why People Like Wonkette & Michelle Malkin Are Good For The Blogosphere

I ran across a post by Steve H. over at Hogs on Ice which, judging by a lot of similar comments I’ve read around the blogosphere, sums up how a lot of people feel about Wonkette and the future of the blogosphere in general. Here’s the relevant portion…

“I suppose Wonkette is a harbinger of things to come. Two years ago, only web nerds read blogs, and we were ridiculed by a somewhat nervous mainstream press. Then we acquired a sort of cachet. And Wonkette’s boss decided to buy his way in. She had instant publicity and therefore instant traffic, and her site looked enough like a blog to fool the stupid. Well, it worked, so now we should probably brace for a tide of similar prefab syntho-bloggers.

The appeal of blogging, initially, was that anyone who wanted to write could come here and put his work before the public. We didn’t have to wait for thick-headed or biased editors and agents to approve of our message. We slapped it on the page and waited to see who showed up. If we were good, we got hits. If we sucked, we didn’t. We didn’t compete with the big boys because we were in our own market. They bought eyeballs with advertising dollars. We did it with quality writing and link whoring.

That’s all over with. We’ve been discovered. We’re like the people back in 1990 who started thinking South Beach might be a cool, inexpensive place to open restaurants.

Now any opportunistic corporate moron who wants a piece of the Blogosphere pie can buy it. Look for new Wonkettes, popping up like spots of mold on a loaf of bread you’ve kept too long. And look for your own piece of the pie to shrink. Unless you, too, can afford a publicist and land advertisers with real money. And you can’t. And because of the pressure we’re going to face from these new, Monkees-like, greenhouse-grown wannabes, you probably never will be able to do those things.

…Frankly, I no longer care about my traffic. I gave up link whoring a long time ago, because I realized blog congestion had created an environment in which there was no way to make this kind of website profitable. I see the ‘sphere as a place where I can make a few contacts, polish my writing, and get encouraging feedback from readers.”

There are two schools of though about the blogosphere. One school of thought which Steve H. (and a lot of other people apparently subscribe too), says that there are a limited number of eyeballs out there and every time one set of them goes to look at Wonkette, that means some other blogger loses out. To a certain extent, this is true. The average reader can only hit so many pages in a day and if they add one blog to their regular reading list, that means they may not have the time to check out another blog.

However, I don’t look at it that way. In fact, I think people like Wonkette are great for blogging because they expand the blogosphere. Let me explain what I mean.

First, you’ve got to remember that percentage wise, we bloggers get out to a very small fraction of internet. For example, Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit, the first name most people on the right think of when they talk blogging, pulls a very hefty 74,946 visits per day according to his statistics tracker. On the other hand, Matt Drudge over at the Drudge Report, who’s probably the first person most people think about when you’re talking politics on the web, received 8,872,781 visits in the last 24 hours. So while there’s obviously a colossal number of people who are interested in reading about politics on the web, most of them have yet to discover blogs.

That’s why it’s fantastic that people like Ana Marie Cox at Wonkette are growing so big, so fast, with the help of contacts and mainstream media publicity. The more readers Ana Marie gets, the more people who are being introduced to the world of blogging for the first time.

The same goes for people like Michelle Malkin who are just getting into blogging. Malkin’s blog has been up a week and she’s already pulling more than 2300 visitors a day. Some people might hear about that and go “That stinks! I’ve been blogging for a year and I have 300 readers and some famous columnist walks in and cracks 2000 sets of eyeballs just like that. It’s not fair!” Forget about “fair,” people like Michelle Malkin are good for blogging. They not only make the rest of us more credible by their very presence, they introduce lots of new readers from their newspaper columns, books, & TV appearances to the blogosphere.

Furthermore, I’m VERY optimistic about the future of the blogging. In fact, I was telling a Chicago Tribune reporter last week (I’ll let you know when the article comes out — if it comes out) that I think in 2-3 years there will be 20-30 people making enough money through their blogs to live off of. I say that because the blogosphere is still growing, the ad revenue is now starting to really come in because of blogads (look for imitators soon), and the overwhelming majority of people who would enjoy blogs don’t even know we exist yet. A few years from now, we’ll have multiple bloggers pulling a half million visitors a day and I believe there will be at least 20-30 of us pulling 20k+ plus readers per day, which should be enough to produce to $2,000 – $3,000 a month worth of revenue, perhaps even more.

You don’t buy that?

Is it really so unbelievable to think that bloggers like me, who’ve grown from 300 readers to 6000 in less than 3 years could crack 20k+ readers in another couple of years? Furthermore, would it help if I told you that right now, at 6000 readers, I’m already making as much money off of RWN as I probably would off of a part-time job? Heck, if I had to guess, I’d say that I might be underestimating, not overestimating, how bright the future for the blogosphere might be given how things have been going so far.

So I say bring on the established conservative columnists and bring on the “Monkees-like, greenhouse-grown wannabes” along with their “publicist(s) and land advertisers with real money”. They are only going to help us introduce the blogosphere to more people, which means more money, more readers, and more kudos and bellyscratches for all the rest of us bloggers who are still slowly clawing our way up the ladder…

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