The Idea Dude


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The power of the collective, in defence of blog networks

I followed an interesting thread yesterday about blog networks and their perceived demise. It was started here, and followed by a post here. The underlying story in my interpretation was blog networks 'failed' because bloggers weren't been taken care of or paid enough money. The long tail effect also applies even for the giants like Weblogs, Inc. i.e. 10-20% of the bloggers actually bring in the lion's share of the traffic. Blog Herald had some interesting suggestions on what incentives Our good friends at B5media chimed in as well.

In defence of blog networks, there are some efficiencies and advantages that can be gained by belonging to one. And it's not just for the money (which is probably where most of the discussion lay). If you're a power brand, you can certainly go it alone, keeping all ad revenue to yourself. Chances are, it is not your sole source of income and the blog is really another avenue to promote your consulting, speaking gigs etc. However for the average blogger who wants to make a little money on the side, here are some of the non-monetary advantages you should consider. A good network will constantly monitor the traffic on their servers to ensure that your blog show up in readers' browsers as fast as possible. This is certainly not the case in some of the public free blog hosters. Blog networks can also negotiate better ad deals simply because they can offer better traffc inventory to ad buyers. Many large ad buyers won't consider anything under a couple of million of impressions a month. There's also the power of collective experience, blog networks due to their size and diversity will learn about what works and what doesn't and be able to pass it on to their bloggers. I would estimate 80% or more of the blogging community doesn't really understand SEO or figure out how to optimize their site for search.

So the question for each blogger is, yes all the above things I mentioned you can figure out yourself but it will take a little longer and are they really the things you should be worrying about instead of devoting that time churning out content. To be a professional blogger, earning decent money, I would guess at least 120 posts a month or 3-4 a day is a pre-requisite. The bottom line as in any business is to figure out what is strategic and what is tactical and how you will scale your business.

The broader question that should be asked is how many of these blog networks will survive and make sufficient money for their founders or be attractive enough for a buyout. FM publishing and their ilk are poor examples for blog networks because they focus on monetizing the A-list whereas most blogs in blog networks are much lower in the food chain. To monetize the long tail, means extraordinary measures of efficiency because you are really trying to make pennies of thousands. While we have seen how exploiting the long tail has worked where the 'thousands' where products like books and movies, it is not clear if the same principle will apply if the long tail consists of real people who can jump ship as soon as they are successful enough or regular attention.


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