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Blogging to Death?

April 8th, 2008

Two weeks ago the blogging world was shocked and saddened at the sudden death of Russell Shaw, a prolific technology blogger who died from an unexpected heart attack at the age of 60.  The loss of Shaw was more than a stunning tragedy in the blogosphere.  It was a blaring wake up call.  In fact, just this past December another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at the age of 50 from a massive heart attack, and a third blogger, Om Malik, just barely survived a heart attack at the age of 41. This unfortunate news called into question the lifestyle and associated health risks that being a successful blogger requires.

I, for one, have always thought of surgeons and stock traders as the professions that lend themselves to 15-hour days, no sleep, and high-stress levels. Yet more and more bloggers are complaining of high blood pressure, weight gain and loss, insomnia and exhaustion. These factors all seem to point to a technological era that is not humanly impossible to keep up with.

Let’s take a look at the current online landscape, shall we?  There are tens of thousands of paid bloggers out there, and they’re all in a constant race to publish the most up-to-date content – with some making just $10 a post. Because of this, bloggers must work around-the-clock to put as much money in the bank as possible. There is also the recent emergence of an online economy where everything from publishing to advertising has moved to the Internet.  In a world where being the first to reveal news and content means having a shot at being the best and highest paid, this non-stop lifestyle appears to have no end in sight.

In the blogosphere, blogs about technology seem to be the most competitive niche. Bloggers are often paid per post or based on how many people read their blog, driving the demand to produce as much material as often as possible.  According to Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of the popular technology site, TechCrunch, his site has brought in millions of dollars in advertising revenue.  Arrington, however, has developed insomnia, gained 30 pounds, and turned his home into an office where he and four employees can work at all hours of the day and night.

Is this really what it takes to make money in the blogging world?  And more importantly, is it worth it?

According to Brian Lam, the editor of Gizmodo, a blog that features news about new gadgets, he is constantly pulling all-nighters and worries about the pressure his staff faces. But as Lam explains, “the evolution of the ’pay-per-click’ economy has put the emphasis on reader traffic and financial return, not journalism.”

I am not suggesting blogging is a life-threatening profession. But in an age of being constantly “dialed-in,” we need to decide where to draw the line. In my opinion, that is something to blog about – not lose sleep over.

Posted Under: Digital & Social Media, Media & Journalism
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