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Blog researcher talks blog success

Blogs: they're here. They're read. Get used to it.

BOSTON--Whether or not you believe blogs are moneymakers, they are certainly hitmakers, according to blog researcher and author Paul Gillin.

The former vice president and group publisher of TechTarget spoke about the power of blogs to a packed audience at Red Herring East on Thursday.

He threw out some staggering statistics of success stories that even shocked those who normally follow online publishing trends.

Of the approximately 75 million blogs on the Internet, about 23 million of those are updated every 90 days.

Phillip Lenssen's Google Blogoscoped gets 8 million page views per month.

Adrants, a blog by former ad-agency employee Steve Hall that covers bad and good advertising, gets about 30,000 visits per day.

Drew Curtis's, a link blog in which Curtis comments on what other people have written and links to them, gets 40 million page views per month.

But successful blogging is about thinking small, said Gillin.

"It's not about big numbers, but highly engaged differentiated audiences who want to talk to you. Advertising can engage with small groups of engaged customers and get better responses because there is more response with that," he said.

He illustrated a small sheet-metal company that doubled its profits once it started publishing a blog about its employees and their passion for sheet metal, as an example of this type of successful segmentation phenomenon in a global economy.

Gillin advised companies to start their own blogs, written by real employees, not corporate executives, if they haven't already. He held up Microsoft's blogs as a way one company turned around what he described as a "cold" image after its antitrust law suits.

A corporate blog can be used to define a company's image, while not even advertising a product as with Benetton's highly political left-leaning blog Benetton Talk, or simply to drive more traffic to a corporate site, as with the quirky employee-written Nuts about Southwest blog, said Gillin.

What does this mean for traditional print and online publishers?

An online publication of national reputation can post a story these days and get a disappointing 50,000 hits, while a blog on the same topic can get 250,000. That's something publishers have to look at, Red Herring CEO Alex Vieux told CNET

While there may be no financial barrier to entry to blogging, in order for a blog to successfully gain and keep a following, the writer needs to have an edge and a consistency in his or her voice and opinions, among other skills, said Vieux.