This week, I visited BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2011 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which was promoted as "The first and only industry-wide conference, tradeshow & media event for all new media." It was jam-packed with seminars, a busy exhibition hall, numerous networking opportunities, book signings, parties and plenty of one-on-one time with noted bloggers from around the world. In the one day I spent there, I gained a great deal of perspective and information - but I was with one nagging question: Where's the vision?
Blogworld is, first and foremost, about the business of blogging (and, despite the title, only touching a bit on new media). Like many trade shows, It's an expensive proposition - full price for the entire convention could set you back nearly thirteen hundred dollars (hence my one-day visit). For professionals in any field, there's a true value in attending events like these, and improving both your knowledge and legitimacy in your chosen profession. In the blogging world, however, I soon felt the pricing might be a bit steep for the blogging world at large.
The highlight of the day was Shani Higgin's presentation of Technorati's State of the Blogosphere report - a thorough, though sobering - in-depth look at the world of blogging. You can find it on Technorati's website. For me the most important message was that blogging just isn't a lucrative profession - at least directly. Even among those who described themselves as professional full-time bloggers, only 37% report that they derive their primary income from blogging (in other words, blogging only supplements their income).
A good portion of the exhibition floor at Blogworld was dedicated to firms that paired bloggers with advertisers, matched bloggers with commercial firms to provide writing services on their own blogs or on company sites, or provided analyzation tools to allow bloggers to better understand and serve their readers. There were also plenty of books (and book signings) on how to increase readership and/or make money with one's blog.
After Technorati's report, however, which I felt showed blogging as a stagnant industry, I couldn't escape the nagging feeling that there was too much emphasis on the industry as it is, and too little on transforming and bringing it to a wider audience.
I'm certainly not an expert on the blogging world, and this was my first blogging-centric conference, but it seems to me that there should be be more emphasis on growing the universe of readers and/or viewers - and making it possible for more bloggers to benefit and - yes - make a living in this field, if that's what they choose to do.
I look forward to your thoughts.