When you come right down to it, the Internet is nothing but ether. Why eleven?
Back in the early days of radio, they had no idea how radio waves worked (and pretty much, we still don't). Waves we understood - having lived near water since the early days of man. Waves went through water - the medium of transmission. But what about radio waves? What was the medium of transmission? Some clever folks created this idea of "the ether" or Aether, which was a mysterious invisible matter than occupied the universe, though which radio waves made waves. It turned out to be nothing. So is the Internet, when you get down to it.
Years from now, your Facebook postings will be discarded or archived and no one will look at them, other than perhaps historians. What seems so important on the Internet today is thrown away tomorrow. A reader writes, in response to a previous posting, that they see volumes of old family photos and albums and slides in antique stores, often forgotten and discarded by family members or left behind by people with no heirs. Treasured memories, caught on film for posterity, now just so much junk.
That is the future of data on the Internet. What is valued on the Internet is only what is going on today - it is completely immersed in trends and "news" and current events and styles. An hour later, the cute cat video that "went viral" is now just so much electronic detritus that no one remembers. No wonder people get away with re-posting stuff - no one remembers anything from more than a day ago!
A reader writes, asking what a blog might be worth. Their friend has a blog and wants to "sell" it - what is is worth? Again, the Internet is all about the now and not about history. A blog is worth only how many hits or views it gets. Everything on the Internet is advertising - selling eyeballs to advertisers. So if you have a lot of hits or views, it is worth a lot. Not a lot of views - worth nothing.
I monetized my blog with Blogger AdSense for a year as an experiment. I netted about $2400 as I recall for the experience, and all sorts of odious ads clogged up my blog. I wrote about what a shitty deal reverse mortgages were and sure enough, the sidebar is full of ads touting how great reverse mortgages are. I write about how scandalous payday loans are, and the sidebar ads are for payday loans.
Some folks argue that you can make more money from a blog using other ad channels, or by flogging it more. For example, you enable comments (and spend all day curating them - otherwise SPAMmers get a free ride on your blog!) and set up a mailing list. You promote products and services and include links to said same. You do videos and tie-in to you YouTube channel. You do podcasts, sell t-shits and other "merch" and of course, do a book online or in print.
It all sounds so exhausting - and becomes a full-time job. And like any full-time job, it pays about what a working stiff makes. Very few make millions with blogs or YouTube channels. It is like the music business. Yes, some rap star makes millions (and spends it all on gaudy champagne before they are shot) but your average working-class musician playing at the local pub is working for tips.
Just because some people get rich doing something doesn't mean you will. And that mantra, by the way, can be applied to all aspects of life - investments, stocks, bonds, real estate, crypto, gambling, you-name-it. The media hypes someone who got struck by lightning and every darn Gomer in the country is out in a thunderstorm holding up metal poles, hoping they too, get "lucky."
To answer the reader's question, it is not hard to figure out what a blog is worth, using Future Value (FV) calculations for money. If we make the assumption that my blog would consistently generate $2400 worth of income every year (indefinitely?) then you can calculate what the Present Value (PV) of that would be. For example, if we assume a good rate of return on an investment is about 5%, then to generate $2400 a year would require an investment of $48,000 - which would generate $2400 in "interest" every year.
So my blog is worth $48,000 - right? Wrong. The problem is, there is a huge assumption here - that it will generate $2400 worth of advertising revenue every year, indefinitely. Moreover, there is a huge assumption that the person you are selling it to will be able to sustain that level of views and hits (and click-through revenue) indefinitely.
The few hardy souls who read my blog come here to read what I write. This is akin to a personal performance contract. My writing is not a fungible commodity - it is not interchangeable with someone else's writing (which would no doubt be much better!). It would be like a famous hairdresser to the stars selling his boutique in West Hollywood to some Cletus who lives in a trailer park in West-by-God Virginia. "Cletus went to online hair-cuttin' school!" they would say, 'He's just as good!" But customers would flee in droves - they came to get the trendy haircuts from Raoul not a bowl haircut from some guy with a $20 clipper from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Not that there's anything wrong with $20 clippers. We use them. We're not trendy, though. Trendy costs money - too much money.
Ditto for pretty much anything that involves an individual talent. The Rolling Stones annual farewell tour is scheduled to play Madison Garden tomorrow night. But we're substituting a teenage grunge garage band from Bayonne, New Jersey - you won't mind, right? I mean, it's still rock and roll and you'll like it.
Worse yet, when someone buys a website or something like that, they often decide to "take it in a new direction" and "off a cliff" is indeed a "new direction" but not a good one. I wrote before how Webshots had a nice site for hosting photos. The new owners thought "enough of that!" and erased the entire content of the website and focused instead on selling screensavers (a dead business) using a subscription service. Everyone whose credit card information on file was charged. Turns out, they were just interested in that one file labeled "credit card data." Who pays money for screen saver photos when they are free with Windows? Then again, at one time, people paid money for ringtones - or even texts (10 cents apiece!). Standard messaging data rates may apply...
So even if I was to sell my blog, the new "owner" would likely drive it into the ground by slathering it with ads and putting in odious content promoting commercial interests and readers, such as they are, would flee in droves. A blog is like a personal service - it is worth little or nothing without the person behind it.
Now, in some cases, highly personal services survive their originators. Houses of fashion continue on long after their founders are dead. Versace is sill around even after its namesake was murdered. Halston hasn't fared as well, sadly. Once the iconic designer is no longer around, all you have is a trademark, and the value of a trademark is like Aether. The value may continue, but it all depends on perception, which is a tricky deal.
Of course, some folks are making a little money off my blog by simply copying it. There are a number of trash blog sites that cut-and-paste a lot of my content and then hope to get a few hits from Google and make a few pennies here and there. If you can do that with 1000 blogs, you might actually make money. Most of these sort of sites are from India or other countries where making money is hard to do. You can't blame them for scraping the Internet for content (and yes, I scrape to - in the form of images).
So what's a blog worth? Probably nothing. Even a vaunted Internet "influencer" with a blog, vlog, YouTube channel, Instagram channel, podcases, merch, promotion agreements, monetization and so on, isn't worth much without them. As much as we despise "influencers" on the Internet, people watch them. The latest trend for influencers is to do something horrific, like lock a child in a hot car on a sunny day and then post it on Instagram - and get millions of hits from horrified people. Bad behavior gets more hits than good, it seems. The whole "influencer" thing is evil. Stop following influencers!
The graphic above is from some website (which I cropped out - I ain't promoting that crap!) claiming you can "buy" a blog and start making money at home! Be your own boss! I doubt it, though. Unless you can continually create new content every day or nearly every day, for years on end, and have quality content, you aren't going to retain readers or attract new ones.
I have been at this over a decade now, closing in on 5,000 blog entries (over that amount, if you include some pending drafts I never finished). I can type 100 wpm and just free-associate as I go along (as you may have noticed). For someone doing hunt-and-peck, it just ain't gonna work.
Like I said, the folks who "make money" on the Internet have to work for it. That's why we see these "influencers" doing obnoxious things like taking 500 selfies at the Grand Canyon and making everyone wait while they get the "perfect" shot. It is work - hard work - to make money online.
For me, it is just an amusing hobby and an outlet that helpe me vent my general frustrations with life without having to vent my anger on others. It also gives me a chance to think, sometimes.
What's that worth? Ten cents!