Is email the new blogging?
I’m serious. For all the hype about email being dead, the vast majority of people online are still using email, using it as much or more than ever, and will continue to use it. Which brings me to my question: Is email the new blogging?
- When Jason Calacanis announced he was dropping his blog and instead starting an email list, many people just took it as yet another publicity stunt by the entrepreneur and online showman. But I think Jason’s move to an email list might be symptomatic of a renewed focus on the power of email. So far, his emails have been substantive and interesting, and worth reading.
- Power blogger Darren Rowse, publisher of ProBlogger.com (which I highly recommend), relaunched his email newsletter recently. He’s not giving up his blog, but the newsletter (which I also recommend) has additional content in it beyond the blog.
- Peter Shankman started his “Help a Reporter Out” emails on Facebook, migrated it to its own web site and seems to be swiftly turning it into a business, all in just a few months. The email is designed to connect reporters to sources. Both reporters and sources (or, in my case, the public relations pros who represent potential sources) can sign up and receive the email for free. And I think HARO could turn into a real competitor to ProfNet’s paid service, which does pretty much the same thing. This week HARO crossed the 15,000-member mark.
Are people are beginning to see some value in email as an online publishing tool that blogs can’t provide.
For example, with email you have a way of counting and contacting your readers — you have their email addresses.
With email, you only have to worry about getting people to sign up and stay subscribed. No search engine optimization, no linking strategies, minimal design. Sure, you have to think about getting past spam filters, but if people want to receive your email usually that’s not a big problem.
With email you don’t have to moderate comments or “create community.” Though you can create community. Gary Vaynerchuk, host of the vlog Wine Library TV, cultivates an army of 80,000 “Vayniacs” in large part by spending 12 hours a day on email. (I can’t find this online, but it’s in the August issue of Wired magazine, on page 112, as a sidebar to the cover story on Julia Allison, which I’ll be blogging about later this week.)
With email, when people opt-in to read it, they’re giving you permission to communicate to them about what you want to — to sell yourself, your products, your services, your ideas. Is that more powerful than the often-passive readership on a blog? I don’t know.
Blogs aren’t dying, but …
This doesn’t mean blogs are dying. But I have a feeling we’re going to see more and more email newsletters, from bloggers and others, and a renewed emphasis on turning email into a really produtive content channel. Although you can subscribe to my blog via email (the little form is there on the right-hand side of the page), I’m not about to start an email newsletter. For now, at least, a blog works for me. But I bet we’re going to see more people launching email newsletters.
What do you think? Are we going to see more of these email publishing ventures? Are there other examples of this I’ve missed? Or am I making too much out of a handful of isolated anecdotes? Tell me what you think in the comments.