The Future of the Blawging Market


A recent Gallup report (download now when while it is free, or get the summary here) has found that blog traffic has finally leveled off. From the synopsis: “[B]log readership hasn’t increased over the past year or so, even though Americans are spending more time online.”

What does this mean for blawgs? As we demonstrated here at the Co-Op through our law professor blawging census series, the supply of blawgs increased over 55% last year (that is, 55% alone from June through November) and has continued to grow since then. But that supply doesn’t tell us much about the size of the blawg audience (as a subset of the blog audience). An anecdotal look at the 12-month traffic at established sites like the Conglomerate, Prawfs, Is That Legal, and Prof. Bainbridge suggests that traffic has either leveled off or has declined from highs in the early fall, while the VC and Balkin continue to grow. Of course, both growth and decline in absolute traffic numbers doesn’t tell us if the universe of blawg readers is growing — we may be simply slicing the market up differently, or encouraging a fixed set of readers to spend more of their time looking at different blawgs.

At some point, I suppose, this bubble will have to burst. (Although I find it encouraging that we here at the Co-Op are beginning to tap the non-US market.) When traffic flattens or declines, I predict (again) a merger wave between sites perceiving potential intellectual, creative and social synergies. Will a handful of super blawgs end up dominating the marketplace? Time will tell.

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4 Responses

  1. anon says:

    I completely disagree.

    Individual blogs (or coalitions of bloggrs) will not dominate the market. Egalitarian sites where anyone can post up an opinion and have other comment on them will dominate. The technology will be less monarchial (anti-intellectual) and more engaging for the user because they can post up their own ideas. Posts from various different users will be sorted by a democratic voting system to filter the best postings to the top. Some people will even post anonymously.

    Only law professors and a hand full of other people (aspiring law professors, top practitioners) have the time and/or position to run successful popular blogs. A more egalitarian system where people can post their opinions and have others comment on them provides an ideal place for casual bloggers to post their occassional good point or opinion.

    Moreover, a decentralized system can produce a greater number of opinions than any coalition of blogs. What will produce more content 25 law professors blogging or a site where an unlimtied number of peopel can post up blogs on the law? Answer the later. If you increase the sample size of the blogs and have people anonymously and independently vote on the content, the wisdom of crowds takes effect. The cream rises to the top.

    With more freedom to create information and more freedom to comment on the information found on a site, there is no longer any reason to here the musings of individual blawgers.

    I know for a fact that such a site will soon be launching. Beware individual blawgers, your reign is over.

  2. TAS says:

    I agree – I think the “levelling off” of blogging isn’t demonstrative of people’s lack of interest – blogs are evolving into a new, more collaborative form. Blogs opened people up to the idea that non-professionals have a lot to add to intellectual discourse (and even non-academic discourse) and that idea is transforming to include more and more people.

  3. anon says:

    Yeah, people have interest in blogs, but the utility of starting a blog is pretty low. Popular blogs are starting to get network effects, which probably accounts for the increased traffic in VC.

    If I start a new blog, how am I going to generate traffic? Especially in the overly pretentious (your not smart unless you went to Yale, Harvard, Columbia, or U Chicago Law) legal market.

  4. Frank says:

    Hey, anon, i think you can generate traffic by putting up snappy, interesting, or insightful posts. it’s not all path dependent. but a recent piece in NY Mag does show how hard it is to overcome the inertia that puts a few big blogs at the top.