I was trying to explain the Product Life Cycle graph to someone the other day. I failed. It's hard to do over the phone and I decided I'd wait until I saw the person face to face. Of course I'll have to remember top take some graph paper but, even with any other paper, it will be so much easier to explain in person.
Management chaps will probably know what I'm talking about. They learn it in a half hour lesson on a Tuesday afternoon at management colleges. It took me about twenty years, but I had a shitload of fun in the process. It's a graph of the demand for a product or a service over time and it goes through five very distinct phases. The wikipedia explanation of it is here. if you want to know more. I believe that's it's a vital tool in helping to sell and market any product or service to maximise and sustain profit. It's also invaluable in helping a Company know when it should be developing new ideas and products.
But, whilst thinking about it, my mind strayed onto the topic of blogs and how it appears that most popular blogs go through their own product life cycle, a very quick one too.
So here's my blog life cycle:
Stage 1 - Initial ignorant enthusiasm.
When I started my blog I didn't have the faintest idea where it would lead, what I wanted to achieve or who, if anyone, would read it. I didn't know what I'd write about, how it would come across or even if I'd continue with it. I remember the thrill I felt when I got my very first comment, from someone who had randomly come across it and wished me luck. All was new, all was sparkly and the stage probably lasted about two months.
Stage 2 - The ball starts to roll
Now the enthusiasm has that rush of adrenalin injected into it. I had a big stroke of luck and got listed and linked on the web page for "The Apprentice" because of a post I had written about it. I started to get a few regular readers and commenters and the rate of increase in everything, views, comments and posts rose rapidly. At this point I began to try to write posts I thought were going to be about topics that people would find interesting and I became what Darwin would call a "comment whore".
Stage 3 - Levelling out
This is where I feel my blog is at the moment. I know I have some regular readers, I don't know who they all are but many of them I do know. I post as frequently as takes my fancy, I write about whatever is on my mind, whether that's some kind of pseudo intellectual thing or about something totally trivial. I still like to get comments but I am not worried about a post that gets no comments nor am I pleased about one that gets loads.
The best aspect of this stage is that there's no element of writing for an audience. I believe that the best music is that whch is written by the songwriter because he or she actually likes it. It's not written purely to be commercially successful but it still can be. Bands like Muse, Pearl Jam, System of a Down etc are examples of this. The best pieces of writing, whether blogs, books or anything are those that exist just for the love of the writer's craft.
I guess for a blog this state of being can last for anything from a day to a lifetime. I'll keep you posted!
Stage 4 - Legendary Status
I think blogs like Naz's and Java Jones are at this stage. It can come quickly or can take a long while but, once it arrives, the blogs have regular readers and commenters and appear as a leading light amongst their peers. Java has his unique and schizophrenic blog, the only one I read that is clearly inhabited by two very different people. Naz's is the blog that so many people must check out from time to time just to see what's going on in the Barefoot related world.
Tiny Little Fractures is another one at this level. N chucks out some brilliant comments on life and some random thoughts and always gets a shitload of interest.
Stage 5 - Fading Star
I've seen lots of blogs at this stage. The writer still posts and writes, but the frequency decreases rapidly. Often it occurs as the writer gets to a new stage in their life. Their circumstances change, perhaps they don't have the time available that they used to or the "E" key from their keyboard has been stolen. It can happ n you know just not oft n. Lanetop looks to have gone this way recently. I don't know if Yo has been busy or just gone a bit quiet for a while but all seems fairly inactive on his blog. I do hope it returns with a vengeance.
Stage 6 - Dead and Gone
This stage doesn't need a whole load of explanation. It's when a blog is dead. And gone. Indyana's Married with Kids looks to be dead and gone. It was a blog many enjoyed and disappeared almost overnight. Hot Chocolate went the same way. It still exists but hasn't seen much activity for many moons. It was one of my favourites too.
And, so endeth my stages. I read some chap somewhere who said that a blog, if not updated at least every three days, will die very quickly. I must agree. Bloggers and blogs can last if updated less frequently than every three days but us readers have short attention spans and soon forget. We move on and, like everything in this magnificently virtual world, we move on much more quickly than we do in real life.
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