November 18, 2007
the global microbrand, revisited
It's been just over two years since I wrote "The Global Microbrand Rant":
There are thousands of reasons why people write blogs. But it seems to me the biggest reason that drives the bloggers I read the most is, we're all looking for our own personal global microbrand. That is the prize. That is the ticket off the treadmill. And I don't think it's a bad one to aim for.
It was yesterday's post, "MicroMarketing on MicroMedia"
that got me thinking about the GMB again. Here are some more random thoughts, some more original than others:
1. The good news about blogs is that they're very powerful. The bad news is that they're very time consuming. So no wonder in the last two years we've seen so many other kinds of "Cheap, Easy, Global Media" spring up- Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc etc.
2. I will be frequently quoting this line from Clay Shirky until the day I die: "So forget about blogs and bloggers and blogging and focus on this -- the cost and difficulty of publishing absolutely anything, by anyone, into a global medium, just got a whole lot lower. And the effects of that increased pool of potential producers is going to be vast." I've been promising myself to write Clay for a while, asking him to elaborate on "Vast". I have a few ideas. You?
3. Blogs may not be around in ten years. Facebook may not be around in 10 years. What WILL be around, however, is the aforementioned "Cheap, Easy, Global Media". The latter is never going away, save for a nuclear holocaust. Whoever said "Blogs are just a fad" back in the early days was missing the point. It was NEVER about blogs. It was about something far more "vast".
4. Beware on becoming a "VaporGuru". This is the term I use for people who don't seem to do very much except write in their blogs and speak at conferences [i.e. People like me. Exactly!]. Not that what they have to say isn't always useful, it's just that it's a very crowded market. Secondly, their perspective often tends to be that of an observer, not that of somebody who has actually gone ahead and "actually done it". Which is why I stick so doggedly to the wine trade. No matter what they may say about me on Techmeme, people are always going to want to uncork a bottle.
5. We're still waiting for the Blogging Messiah. And we always will be. Doc Searls came pretty close a couple of times, though.
6. Again, I'll say it one more time: Blogging is just the tip of the Cluetrain iceberg. And it wasn't the tip that sunk the Titanic.
7. Type "GlobalMicrobrand.com" into your browser and see where it takes you.
8. I consider The Blue Monster a Global Microbrand. One that has been adopted [but not assimilated *cough*] by a Global Macrobrand i.e. Microsoft. Both feed the other. Cultural Symbiosis. Rock on.
9. In retrospect, over time I haven't written enough about the GMB as perhaps I should have. Probably because, like I said in my original post, none of it is rocket science. It's really just a case of just doing it. The only other advice I can offer is, keep reading the blogs that you admire and learn from them.
10. I plan to be thinking more about The Global Microbrand schtick for the next wee while, and hopefully writing more on the subject. If you have any thoughts or links you think could help me out, please feel free to send them my way. Thanks.
11. [Saving the best for last:] The question isn't, "How do you turn your blog into a viable business model?" The question is, "How do you turn a viable business model into your blog?"
[Update: Dr. Mani, a Children's Heart Surgeon, muses about The Global Microbrand. Nice to see when folk with "real jobs" also start thinking about this stuff, as opposed to the usual suspects etc.]
[Update:] Just got an e-mail from Terry Rock:
I think this is why you haven't talked much about the Global Microbrand: [See
the 10th slide: Make Sandwiches [don't just take orders]].
Since I saw Merlin's presentation online, that's been the mantra in our
micro-organization: stop taking orders and start making sandwiches.
You don't build a global microbrand talking about building a global
Terry T. Rock, PhD
President & CEO
Calgary Arts Development
I added the emphasis on his last sentence.
Posted by hugh macleod at November 18, 2007 8:24 AM
Yep, I like #11 very much. It's also (in other, less and -therefore- much better words) what I said at a online thingy where people wanted me to tell them how to get rich blogging.
I told them not to monetize the blogging but to find some skill or thing they can monetize and then blog about it. (They did not want to hear this ;) )
(Got the direct twit about geek dinners in *.de?)
Totally agree, Oliver. Interesting how "They didn't want to hear it". Everybody want the easy life, the quick fix, I suppose...
I think many people have quite a simple and limited idea of what "making money" involves. I include myself in this generalisation. For years, I assumed that I should have some kind of job to make money to allow me to do the things I "really" wanted to do.
Only when the inevitable mid-life crisis kicked in did I realise that actually, I should be doing the things I "really" want to do all the time and working out how to make a living from them. That's scary! Though also, I'm discovering, hugely fulfilling.
I don't have a GMB, but I have found that doing only what I enjoy does bring me enough money to survive and keep doing what I enjoy. I have two different Gaping Void business cards that I use to amuse the Phoenix, Arizona business community as I position myself to be a writer at long last.
There's always a market for vapor. Pretty amazing, really.
Between the world going "flat" and what Clay said, you've got one big petri dish in which to grow a GMB.
Thanks for that, Foreignerd... That link went missing on me a while ago, nice to have it back! :)
Well, they see these examples of guys taking photos of themelves with huge checks. Or hear of guys who claim to make thousands a month with 'reports' you buy or with blogging porn content.
On the one hand the German press is playing down blogs as 'diaries of teenagers' -they are very afraid...- on the other hand media houses open blog platforms for readers - and fail because they do not understand the culture. Now is seems we have only 100.000 to 200.000 "active" blogs in German. (Roughly 100.000+ are updated 'at least once in 2 months'.)
OK, some German complaining going on. Stopping now. ;)
I love the artwork. Too true; change isn't death, but fear of it can sure get us there fast.
I'm thinking about your #1 point that blogs are powerful but time consuming, and so the change toward "Cheap Easy, Global Media." I'm thinking, what's wrong with consuming time?
There is magic in spending absorbed time in something of value. As an artist I get to deal with time, all the time :-) and I consume a lot of it. I do hope that bloggers will always relish their time at the keyboard. A keyboard or a canvas -- they are the same.
John, I hear you, totally. But people are busy. They already have jobs and families etc. You may not agree with their choices, but those are the choices they made. It's really no more complicated than that.
GMBs are intriguing. I've been reading blogs from several for years now to, as you point out, learn from the best. What I have yet to learn is how to find the time to write one. That blank page just stays blank.
There is no point making yourself into a GMB without a point. Number 11 has just clarified that for me. Hooray, I love you turning my ideas on their heads.
Great blog, Hugh, as ever.
PS When your company and friends are not very techie, a lot of your friends are virtual. And they don't even know they're your friends. I am my own secret GMB.
Blogs will be here in 100 years, just like telephones and radio and television have stuck around so many decades after their introduction, and just like printed books are going stronger than ever 550 years on. But all of the technologies by which these things are delivered will continue to evolve -- just like the evolutions to digital cell phones from POTS landlines, Sirius instead of weak-signal terrestrial radio, PoD books instead of handset letterpress, et cetera. And they'll all compete / cooperate in a big jumble, like they do now.
The key is, how do you use ANY of these things to promote your Global Microbrand? You have one method (cartoons etc.), Seth G. has another (includes lotsa books), Howard Stern has another (radio), Lawrence Lessig has another (includes professoring). Et cetera. There are many paths up the mountain.
Great post Hugh!
As I strive to build the best automotive blog out there, I am constantly reminded that I'm up against some pretty stiff competition.
Recently, I attended a traditional automotive media function in the States. I was stunned to find out that almost everyone knew who I am. I'm "that Canadian guy".
Perhaps I've inadvertently begun creating my own GMB.
I'm someone for whom change feels like death, and it was only after I came to the realization that fear was holding me back that I could move forward. Thanks for the artwork reminder - this one will make it to my "inspiration" folder for when (I would like to say "if" but that's not very realistic!) I try to chicken out again in the future.