The Digital Sharecropping Economy

The Digital Economy Sharecropping Jungle Guide For Bloggers

It should be natural that as Bloggers, the first thing we should think about before starting a Blog is the Economics of the Digital Industry we plan on entering.

After all by starting a Blog and expecting to earn money from it, we are entering the Digital Economy.

Nevertheless, its probably the last thing we think about and only start to pay serious attention to when you realise how little you are earning from your Adsense Ads after building ‘decent’ traffic to your Site.

Unfortunately, there’s a little bit too much fluffy and sales oriented advice out there that does not paint a real picture of the Digital Sharecropping Economy in which Bloggers presently operate.

Perhaps we can be forgiven for the shock because contrary to our expectations of the economic progress that’s been made since the 20th Century, the last thing we expect to encounter in a space like the Internet is a new kind of Slavery that has emerged with Web 2.0 dubbed ‘Digital Sharecropping’.

Digital Sharecropping

The term ‘Digital Sharecropping’ was first used by Nick Carr in 2006 to describe the unexpected emergence of a Feudal Digital Economy with the arrival of Web 2.0 which is dominated by a few influential players like Facebook, Google and YouTube who essentially have become the Gatekeepers in this new Digital Space.

They have the power to control both access to Audience and Revenue through their dominance of Search, Social Media and Advertising channels.

This leaves the rest of the players in the Digital Economy to scramble for the ‘crumbs’ left on the table by the Gate Keepers.

Digital Sharecropping at its worst level involves hosting your Content on a Platform you do not own like Facebook or YouTube where your access and revenue can be terminated at any time.

Hosting your Blog on a Platform like Medium as well as running your own self-hosted site are seen as  lesser forms of Digital Sharecropping.

However, because all Publishers essentially depend on the Gatekeepers for access to Audience and Revenue through Search, Social Media and Advertising, Digital Publishers are essentially at the mercy of the Gatekeepers.

For instance, Digital Publishers have no control over the ‘Cost Per Click’ or ‘Revenue Per Thousand Impressions’ models used by Ad Networks to determine payments for advertising on Websites.

As a result, the current Digital Economy can be seen as a form of Devolution from 20th Century Capitalism which was more empowering to Labour than is presently the case under Web 2.0 and it has resulted in what is essentially a reproduction of the Economics of Slavery’s Plantation System within the Digital Space.

Digital Sharecropping Economy Jungle

The Implications Of Digital Sharecropping For Bloggers

The realisation that we operate in a Sharecropping economy is necessary in defining expectations.

If you decide to continue as part of the Digital Sharecropping Economy as a Blogger, then one must understand the real steep demands involved with regard to Traffic in order to earn a decent stable income from Blogging.

There is really no way around this, and your success in navigating the dynamic between Traffic acquisition and income generation is what will ultimately determine whether or not you will succeed.

For illustrative purposes, a successful Blogger can earn about US$5 000.00 from Ads alone with a Premium AD Network…The catch is the number of Page Views required…At least 250 000 per month.

Acquiring this kind of traffic organically and consistently via Google Search and Social Media is no easy task.

Whilst you may not need that amount of Traffic to make a living Blogging, you also cannot generate any meaningful Affilliate or Info-Product sales unless your Site attracts regular consistent Visitors in a space where even getting 5000 Visitors per month is a struggle for most.

The reasons for this situation ultimately lie in the fact that Audience Access and Revenue via Search, Social Media and Ads is controlled by a few Gatekeepers who have monopolised the market.

There’s no point in being bitter about the situation, but its important to realise its realistic implications for your ‘Masterplan’ to make a living Blogging and realise exactly how much work you need to do.

Conclusion: Hope For The Sharecroppers?

Fortunately, there is some hope in this Sharecropping Economy through Sites like Pinterest and Apps like Tailwind that give Bloggers a fighting chance because in my experience, they provide one of the most time and cost effective ways to acquire decent Traffic that will help you achieve your goals as a Blogger.

It’s a Jungle out there, and its an enormous task ahead….Thats the nature of the beast.

The featured Documentary ‘Slavery By Another Name’ is a great Historical perspective on Sharecropping.

Enjoy and good luck…One!

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