Creating a NowBlog

Note to self. Stop hyping things. I wanted to make a note of that because I keep talking about things I’m planning on doing and being all secretive about them but, in actual fact, these things really aren’t that big a deal. Why? Because as I said before, what I’m talking about here is a…

Note to self. Stop hyping things. I wanted to make a note of that because I keep talking about things I’m planning on doing and being all secretive about them but, in actual fact, these things really aren’t that big a deal. Why? Because as I said before, what I’m talking about here is a change of thinking instead of a change of technology. There is no fancy new interface or design. It is just the same content but represented in a different way.

So what’s my change of approach? Well I’ve been talking repeatedly about how I don’t like the format of blogging, that you have to keep grinding the wheel daily to make a blog successful. Well, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to live 24/7 online. However, I do want to get my ideas online so that people can access them and spread them to other people if they find them interesting. Most importantly of all (which is why I went off the deep end in frustration for a couple of days) is that I’d like for my site to sustain me so that I can continue sharing my ideas with others. I believe I can now do this with an approach that Seth Godin calls a NowBlog which he mentions in his latest e-book called Squidoo that also happens to be the name of his new online venture.

Sometimes we need a starting point, not a movie. We need a nowblog.


Point me in the right direction.

Put all the clues on the table at once. Tell me at a glance whether I can trust you and how I can discover the meaning I seek. That’s what most Web surfers want.

That’s what everyone often wants.

And that’s been missing from the Web.

We need a nowblog. A place where a stranger can go to get insight and meaning—and then leave that site and go somewhere else. Leave to go back to work, or leave to read your best blog posts, or leave to go transact somewhere else online.

A nowblog is a place, the best place to start. I call this place a lens.

So, here’s the deal: I want you to go build some lenses.

Now when I read this, I immediately realized that Seth had literally read my mind. This is what I had been looking for and I immediately understood the importance and impact of his new approach. Instead of creating a blog where you’re talking about a topic over and over again repeatedly, until the cows come home, with a nowblog you are creating just a single page that focuses on a single topic. In my case, each post within my nowblog will be a single topic that I will talk about and reference as much as I can but also as briefly as I can. Remember the trick here is to make these pages like a focused overview of the topic with which to start from. I guess you could almost think of them as mini-Google pages or at least the search results you would like to see back from Google. Therefore, not only will I briefly describe what the topic is about and my own viewpoint on it but I will also be providing links to an assortment of other things related to the topic. It could be links to books, movies, podcasts, news articles, websites, or whatever! The key is to create your own cluster for the topic that interests you.

Ok, so you’re thinking what’s the big deal? I just create a page with a bunch of links on them surrounding a topic? That’s it? Not at all, the important thing is the richness of those links. Remember the key here is to "polish" these "lenses" occasionally, as Seth calls them, so that they become extremely well focused on the topic they are pointing at. Of course, the more focused and rich your links are, instead of just being a random collection of links on the topic, the better your "lens" will be and the more traffic will come through it (because of your higher PageRank). So instead of creating a blog where you are continually broadcasting something different everyday, with a nowblog you are instead refining your single topic at your convenience. As I said in my previous post, this totally reminded me of tending a garden. You plant the seeds and let the garden grow naturally, tending it occasionally with some "weeding" and "grooming" now and then. This is exactly the type of approach that I’ve been looking for. Not only because it means less daily work but it also allows me to start doing something I’ve always dreaded doing but which this new approach allows me to do in a more logical and natural way. What’s that? Advertising!

You see I hate advertising! Yet obviously it is a necessity if you want to create a sustainable site and, more importantly, a profession out of working the Web. The thing that I have always hated about advertising though is that it was so intrusive and most often times unrelated to what I was searching for or reading at the time. I mean I could be reading about computers and up pops an advertisement for a new car. Get the hell out of my face! I didn’t ask for this crap! Yet what I realized when I read Seth’s idea is that this is the perfect opportunity for advertising to become so focused that it actually becomes the content and focus of what you are talking about. And course when that happens, no more annoying ads (well as long as they aren’t flashing in your face) because the content becomes the ad which is what the person wants to read or view. Here’s a quick example of what I mean. One of the my nowblog topics is going to be the culture of the Web and how it is transforming not only the culture of business but the culture of the world as well. Now after I give a summary of what this topic entails, all of the information below it will relate and hopefully justify my beliefs on my topic. For example, the origins of this idea sprung from The Cluetrain Manifesto, were later discussed somewhat in Small Pieces Loosely Joined, and then were even touched upon in Gonzo Marketing. Therefore, in putting these books down as "related books on this topic" I’m actually helping the person coming to my nowblog find and discover more about this topic of interest. However, what I’m doing is actually advertising because these books I’m showing will include links to which will allow the person to purchase the book if they so choose.

I mean think about this for second with other topics. What if you loved gardening and knew a way to grow a beautiful one compared to others? What if you love baking pies and all your friends rave about them? Can you see what I’m getting at here? For the person who bakes amazing pies, they could not only list some of their recipes from their blog but they could list their favorites sites (where they got their best cooking tips) as well as list various links to cooking utensils or pans that they use that make a big difference in their cooking and of course some of their favorite cooking books. The key here is to make the ads as directly related to your topic so that, as I said, they no longer become ads. They instead become things that people will actually be looking for. I mean already I’m thinking about creating a specific nowblog for Harman Kardon stereo equipment that I myself own which will provide articles links (that I’m aware of myself in using the product) that talk about the ups and downs of the equipment and allow me to place direct ads to the products that I think are my personal choices or recommendations.

Anyways, I’m raring to go! Obviously "planting the garden" with these nowblogs is the hard work but afterwards it is just a matter of "tending the garden" now and then, "weeding" out mediocre links for better ones that come along.

5 replies on “Creating a NowBlog”

Noel, not sure if I understand what you are getting, probably because I’m only seeing a fragment of your entire thought on this in Seth’s comments. I do agree that yes this could just be a big money maker for Seth but as he stated in his e-book, you don’t need to use his service to do this. I’m starting this on my own, my own way. When I see how Seth’s does it (particularly with regards to structuring the content in Squidoo), then I may alter my structure as well to match his approach or take my own approach that I think is better. Either way, I still think the need for these nowblogs (or whatever you want to call them) is still a great idea and what we need more of on the Web, irregardless of the Squidoo service. Weblogs are not the only answer because I may not want to broadcast everyday or read someone elses blog everyday to understand all that they are trying to get across. NowBlogs alleviate this problem.

Here’s a different way of looking at it. What if Seth instead created his own search engine that somehow magically gathered information from all the sites across the Web and focused them into these nowblog / lense formats that made it extremely easy to find the meaningful information that you were looking for. Would you still be upset at him then, even though he’s made it easier for people to find information that they are looking for?

BTW I’m not a Seth evangelist in any way. I’ve enjoyed some of his books and others I thought were somewhat pointless. On this nowblog idea of his though, I totally agree with it because, as I said above, it is something that I’ve been looking for, for a very long time.

Nollind, my problem with this is that it’s set up to pull the wool over our eyes. Instead of coming out straight and saying, “look, I’ve thought of a great way to get more revenue out of companies advertising budgets by charging them to advertise on targeted sites,” he is instead putting this thing forward as a). a useful service and b). something that will benefit charity. He looked at Wikipedia and said ‘Hey, why not have Wikipedia with ads?’ It’s not Wikipedia with ads – it’s an advertising pyramid with him in control of the rewards.

If he’d been straightforward about it, I’d have had a lot more respect for him as a businessperson and I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. But by promoting it as the ‘next big thing’ and bringing ‘meaning’ into people’s lives etc. etc. is a little sickening.

Noel, you sound like a person who is very sick of corporate money hungry businesses and how they are destroying the world with their negative culture. I feel the same way sometimes but I think you have to look at everything and weigh the negative with the positive to see how it balances out.

I mean from your viewpoint, I could pretty much classify any company’s approach as “pulling the wool over our eyes” and therefore be “a little sickening” if they are offering something “meaningful” to people but are making money from it.

A lot of people find 37signals helpful and meaningful in their life, yet would you call them “sickening”? What about upcoming products like FilmLoop that look really innovative, helpful, and free to users but the company makes money through ads within the loops? Would you call this company “sickening” as well?

I guess what I’m getting at here is that I’m looking at the positive side of what Seth is doing and how it will “hopefully” make finding meaningful information that much easier. I also expect him to make some money in this venture because it is a necessity for sustainability. Without it, if he took no money from the venture, then how would he be able to sustain the idea and venture?

As for your thinking that all he is thinking about is “a great way to get more revenue out of companies advertising budgets by charging them to advertise on targeted sites”, I’d probably have to disagree with you. I believe his idea of helping people finding meaningful information is his primary focus. Yet of course, as I mentioned above, what good are ideas if you can’t support and sustain them in some way?

Nollind, I have no problem with a guy wanting to make an extra buck once he is honest about that purpose instead of trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes by crafting it in terms of how much good they are doing for charity and society, when what they are really doing is lining their own pockets for the least effort possible.

As to your question, “what good are ideas if you can’t support and sustain them in some way?” well, Wikipedia and most of the open source industry manage it pretty well. Their primary interest is genuinely helping people find useful information. Seth’s primary interest is taking advantage of people’s desire to share information by using it to build an advertising pyramid, and then telling everyone that he’s really doing it for charity and to help people find ‘meaning’.“>Sure We believe you.