In what probably ought to be a good sign that guns have gone mainstream, there’s been a pretty epic change in the gun blogosphere in the past year or so, namely the number of commercial blogs, or blogs that have been created solely for the purpose of making money, has exploded. As an indicator for the gun community, this is a positive sign, but I think it’s largely going to make it impossible for the amateur blogging community to grow, and could likely kill it over time. In other words, if you have an established amateur blog, you’ll probably hold on to your audience, but I’m betting starting a gun blog from scratch these days as a hobbyist is likely to be an exercise is failure, if your goal is to get a reasonable number (say 1000 visits a day) of eyeballs. I think this would be the case even if you’re exceptionally good at blogging...I consider guns to be a main emphasis at this blog (no secret - look in header under the blog name it's right up front!) I see a whole bunch of posts clicking on the tag- four long pages full of them. But it's not like I do a gun piece every day or every week. I guess I'm not a typical gun blogger. To start with, I'm not really opinionated strongly enough. I've said what I like and works for me, (I've pointed out I really like the Springfield XD series) but I'm not going to try to convince you that your Glock or M&P sucks. And I'm not going to set myself up as anything other than a student of guns, shooting and the other areas of the hobby. I consider myself a lifelong learner. I bow in deference to the encyclopedic knowledge of Tam, Keads, and many others.
Sebastian points out that the essential difference between professional and amateur blogs is how they manage links:
Commercial blogs have a strong incentive to be self-referencing and not to link heavily, or at all, if they can help it, to outside sources. Every link you provide to another blog hurts your Google Page Rank and helps that blog’s Google Page Rank. There’s also the common wisdom that it’s good practice to keep people on your side, and not give them paths to stop reading your site and start reading someone else’s. So if you’re a commercial blog, you’re really mostly interested in generating original content, and not getting people into the habit of leaving your site to go read what someone else wrote.So I promise to remain an amateur blog - if not downright amateurish. I will link to the rest of the community when I get ideas or content from them for the same reason I put footnotes in journal articles - it's polite to credit where credit is due. I will comment to add knowledge, if I have any worth adding. If I know something, I see no reason to keep it to myself.
In contrast, amateur blogging, which is what gun blogging has been for most of its history, thrives on the conversation that happens across the whole community, which generally means fairly gratuitous linking when it comes to hot topics. In this type of model, it’s easier for upstarts to get noticed, because if they join in the conversation, even if that means antagonizing the right people, they can carve out a place for themselves within the community...