By: Tessa Rudd

“Who says there’s no money in the blogosphere”

Alex Iskold’s argument in the article,“There’s No Money in the Long Tail of the Blogosphere”, questions the very principle of the American Dream. The American Dream ratifies that each and every individual within an ecosystem will benefit from a universal power structure: This ideology parallels the long tail sales model that Iskold attacks. In associating the long tail sales model within the dynamic of the American Dream, I will start by outline the similarities of being a citizen of the US and being an individual operating within a long tail sales model.

As a citizen of the US enjoys the rights and opportunities outlined by the American Dream ideology, a long tail individual enjoys the benefits of being part of this greater economical marketplace. Each long tail player, independent of their self-determined economic success within, shares the privilege of making more money being in the long tail than if they were not. I agree with some overlying elements of Iskold’s argument, including the statement that, “the future of business is to sell less of more,” (Iskold, 2007) and also his remark that an increasingly number of people are blogging to make money. However, I feel Alex overlooks the irrefutable benefits of this dynamic long tail sales model in terms of its importance in setting an equal playing field, or marketplace, in which commerce engages. Herbert Spencer in his 1864 study Principles of Biology manifests his theory ‘survival of the fittest’; describing an innate quality in human nature to succeed, or “struggle for life,” (Herbert Spencer). Spencer’s widely accepted principle can be applied to Iskold’s account of individuals in the collective long tail sales model. Iskold argues, “money is to be made by leveraging the collective long tail, however, making money while being part of the long tail is very difficult,” (Iskold, 2007). I refute that while making money in the long tail may be cited by Iskold as difficult, it is human nature for these long tail individuals to exert self-determination to rise to the top.

In terms of business, the long tail cultivates a marketplace on which these individual players have equal opportunity to succeed, and as Iskold emphasizes, make money through self-motivated enterprise. Expanding on my argument that individuals within the long tail have a natural ambition to rise to the top of the marketplace, I introduce the idea that the long tail itself emulates the principles of the American Dream. American Dream is commonly defined as being, “the opportunity and freedom for all citizens to achieve their goals and become wealthy and renowned if only they work hard enough,” (American Dream). Throughout the history of the US, this American Dream enticed immigrants from other countries and economic systems to jump into the melting-pot, not because it promised prosperity but because it allowed a chance for prosperity. This image of the American Dream, along with the theory of a melting pot of immigrants in the US, advertises equal opportunity in terms of political, social, and economical rights unto all citizens; therefore encouraging a valiant fight for one’s own prosperity in terms of hard work, independent of a rigid class structure. Importantly, and in keeping with the melting pot paradigm, prosperity is fluid; the balance of money in any marketplace is always changing hands.

In response to Iskold’s 80/20 Rule, I contend that the “power law” is common wisdom, but as the rich strive to get richer, the poor are also striving to get richer; the ratio of rich to poor is ever-changing and evolving. Such is the basis of human nature. The long tail sales model empowers a vibrant marketplace, similar to the age-old notion of the American Dream, where this fluid power struggle can justly operate. Iskold offers the example of, “a substantial subset of the book sales for the largest online retailer comes from obscure books,” obtained through a collection from numerous online partners (Iskold, 2007). I question; Would these online partners have the ability or success in selling books, no matter what the bulk may be, if it was not for long tail platform that establishes? The sales long tail enables an equal marketplace, giving these “obscure books” a chance to sell where under non-tail circumstances they would not. In referencing the blogosphere as being a long tail sales model, Iskold describes a “Traffic Problem,” stating the obvious fact that in order for bloggers to make money, “they’ll need more than good, original content—they need traffic,” (Iskold, 2007). Similar to the example, the blogosphere enables a marketplace in which bloggers are given an equal platform in which they may execute self-determination to create content that attracts traffic and thereby earn revenue. Iskold further attacks the facility of the blogosphere in his remark, “the long tail of the blogosphere is huge so any individual blog is not easily discovered,” (Iskold, 2007).

I contend that the prosperity, or economic balance, achieved in the blogosphere is fluid and ever-changing, in keeping with a rags-to-riches model within the American Dream ideology; the power to make money lies within the self-determination of the blogger. Examples of bloggers who have successfully risen to the top of the power structure within the blogosphere invalidate Iskold’s “traffic problem”. Artist Lilly Allen used as leverage to promote her music; Allen went from an unknown artist to becoming a major recording artist, selling millions of albums across the globe. Allen made a name for herself entirely through self-promotion on the blogosphere. Another example would be the blog site, which went from scoring an Alexa rank of over 700,000, meaning very low traffic to the site, to scoring 48,565, a high traffic number, in under one year.

Our Sr. Account Manager, Ryan Travis describes his client’s success, explaining it now has a, “kick-ass rank”. Sorry Iskold, but there is money in the long tail sales model, but just like everything else in society, you have to fight to achieve power in this economical balance.

By Tessa Rudd -Account Executive – Advertising Media Division, Chitika Inc.