It's been several weeks since I returned from BlogWorld LA 2011 so I've had plenty of time to let my thoughts percolate. That was necessary - with something like 4000 people attending, 300+ speakers and hundreds of conversations - some over a beverage or three - I definitely needed some head space!
I wrote a quick post about my inital take-out from the event immediately after it had finished - The One Big Thing I Learned at BlogWorld LA 2011.
My thinking hasn't changed, but it's been distilled, clarified and reinforced somewhat since I wrote that piece.
Have we seen the end of blogging as we know it?
Okay, I'm probably taking a bit of license with the title of this post. Blogging will continue of course, although it will evolve and get more 'professional' as even the casual part-time blogger will have access to better tools and technology platforms to take their online content hub to the next level.
However, as I alluded to in the post above, the ambitious entrepreneurial blogger of 'tomorrow' (literally tomorrow, if not today!) has the content creation tools and social networks in place to help them establish and grow 'new media mini-empires'.
Sideline blogging will continue, and it too will grow in number.
But the new trend will be the the rise and rise of the 'new media mini-empire'.
I'll go one further. From a PR perspective at least, these 'bloggers on digital steroids' (as I like to call them) will become powerful influencers in their own right.
From a blogging perspective, they'll become known as the 'elite'. They will be the individuals who grow the size of their tribe (following/community) by leveraging not only blogging technology but also video, audio (podcasting) and social media.
Traditional media will discover these content creators and write stories about them; they will be sought-after as broadcast interview subjects because of their particular expertise.
Over time these individuals will build new media mini-empires and carve out influence in their respective niches.
They will become brand names in their own right and companies will potentially want to partner with them. It won't just be the size of their audience that will be important but the influence they will have with certain sections of the community.
They will get the stories.
They will get the access to events and high-profile individuals.
They will become micro-celebrities in their own right.
Overseas (and to a degree locally), we have seen the roots of such a beast take hold.
Robert Scoble (pictured above) was probably a forerunner to the trend. But today, Pete Cashmore who runs Mashable is a power player, and became so in an incredibly short space of time. So too Chris Brogan, Lisa Stone and the aforementioned Stelzner.
Locally, Darren Rowse has transcended blogging and is building a serious micro-publishing business around his personal brand.
Adding weight to the argument is the fact news is fast becoming commoditised and people are gravitating towards - and putting more stock in - value-added content: insights, informed opinions and specialised advice delivered across multiple media platforms.
The creative blogger of tomorrow - the influential content creator - is well placed to fill the void. They are nimble, tech and social media savvy, and often specialists who operate in specific niche areas of expertise thus have deep knowledge of, and passion for, their subject matter.
Watch this space folks - because the new media mini-emperor is about to rock da house!