A reader took some exception to my post previously on commercial blogging, and I just wanted to clear up some things. As a supporter of Capitalism, I don’t blame anyone for trying to make money, and therefore I don’t blame anyone for the mere act of making money off their blog. I’ve linked to plenty of commercial blog content, and I still link to The Firearm Blog, even though that is now pretty clearly a money making venture. So I don’t particularly have a problem with the idea of people making money off blogging, writing, etc. On balance I’d say that commercial blogs actually do a better job of generating quality content than the many if not most hobby bloggers. But the techniques one uses to optimize a blog for the purpose of maximizing monetary return is going to lead to a very different blog experience.
The main area of concern I have with commercial blogs, is that a core philosophy behind blogging, which is linking to other blogs and content, is in direct conflict with making money off running a web site. It’s never a good idea, from a money making standpoint, to give your readers a reason to click off your content and onto someone else’s. But that’s exactly what blogging is as a matter of core philosophy. There are commercial blogs out there that still make good money, and still largely follow the core tenants of the medium. Most of those started out as hobby blogs and went commercial. Many newer entrants into commercial blogging try to make their blogs communities unto themselves, which is great for keeping an audience, driving loyalty, and in the end, making money, but my fear is the community as a whole will suffer for it. For instance, I’d take Tam‘s advice on an old Smith or other curio any day over most of the commercial gun reviewers out there. I consider Tam’s expertise well and above most other gun writers out there on that subject, and most blog readers won’t get too far in the amateur community without being exposed to some of Tam’s writing. By the same token, Dave Hardy is my go-to source when I have 2nd Amendment legal questions. Clayton Cramer has forgotten more on early American history than most of us know, and I’m not convinced there’s much he’s forgotten. Being in the same community with these minds has greatly enhanced my own knowledge, and through the community of blogging, we’ve all been enriched. My fear is that the spread of commercial blogging will results in the dilution or destruction of the community that’s an important part of what Brian Anse Patrick calls “Horizontal Interpretive Communities.”
So my concern with commercial blogs is not that they make money. I have no problem with the idea of making money. It’s that in order to make money efficiently, your commercial venture has to make like it is the source for gun information online, and that by nature is going to weaken what has, I think, become a key part of our success as a movement.