Why Blog Networks are Overrated, IMHO

So Weblogs Inc. just cashed out. Cool for them. Am sure they made some sweet cash, but most of that cash probably will not be seen by the average blogger in their network.

So what does the average blogger get out of the deal? Probably a little more pay and a lot more restrictions.

Sure AOL wanted to buy them, but that is because Weblogs Inc. had first mover advantage. AOL might be for sale, and even if they are not, they still are looking to become once again relevant. This was a small investment if it convinces a few people that they are relevant.

The first company who buys a blog network gets all the surrounding buzz & media coverage. The raw linkage data surrounding that network and that story probably has millions of dollars of value. To a company worth around $80 billion a $20 million dollar spend (or so) is not much.

Over time what will AOL do with the various channels? Some channels will be exceptionally profitable, while others lose money. Will AOL do like About.com once did and chop the channels that lack profitablility? Will new policies cause ego conflicts and bloggers to leave?

Most people who create blog networks are not going to be able to cash out big by selling. The reason for purchasing Weblogs Inc. was due more to market timing than being a blog network.

Some people can try to go big, but I am not so sure scale beats quality. I think John Battelle's idea of keeping the advertising network separate to the publisher is huge. The only reason you need to lock a person in is if you are afraid you do not offer enough value to keep them.

Think of how many times Jason Calcanis crowed on about how much money they were making and how they never advertised. All of those channels & around 100+ bloggers and they were doing about $2,000 dollars a day in AdSense.

Consider that Darrin Rowse has only a few partners and is making over a $1,000 a day in AdSense and Chitika earnings. On a per blogger basis that is WAY more profit.

Nandini just launched a blog network, and bloggers are riding her hard (but at least she is hopefully getting a few links out of all that hate they are spewing her way).

I understand the idea of having a few sites to diversify your revenue stream, but longterm I think most blogs are going to have to stand on their own. Sure a few random gaming blogs may be able to make great profit riding on the backs of popular blogs in a network, but most of the blogs themselves are going to need to be citation worthy.

I just don't see how the networks can provide enough value to be worth giving up all your content for, at least not if you care about your topic and want to work on the web full time.

disclaimer: When I launch a blog network I will erase this post ;)

Published: October 7, 2005 by Aaron Wall in blogs


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