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Team Blogging the Only Profitable Way? Part II

Pete continues the discussion going over at pc4media on The Lone Blogger vs The Group, responding to my post and some comments left on it by lone bloggers who are making a living from blogging. He writes:

‘The key to building a business is building “processes” that are valuable, not “products” that are valuable. And if you are blogging and selling ads and you don’t have anyone helping you with anything, you have no processes. All you have is a product: your writing and your ability to sell. Jason Calacanis is building a business. Darren Rowse is making a living.

I certainly wasn’t implying in my earlier post that this was not possible. But, it certainly is not scalable. And although, you could make a living being a blogger, you certainly aren’t building a business if you are a lone operator. ‘

Again I partly agree with Pete but mainly disagree. Maybe its about definitions but in my mind what I’ve built or made so far is a business that makes me a living. I actually don’t see much distinction between my approach and Weblogs Inc except for the scale of our operations. Whilst Weblogs Inc has 70 blogs I have 17. Whilst they have many bloggers, I have 1. Whilst they split their profits between many, I take 100% of the takings. Whilst they have people negotiating advertising deals, I do that work myself (I should be able to make an announcement on a significant new one tomorrow).

Yes Weblogs Inc is building “processes” that are valuable but I would argue that what I’ve developed are processes also – they are just smaller and perhaps simpler ones. I have processes for finding content, for designing my blogs, for deciding upon topics for new blogs, for promoting them, for generating income streams. I’m not sure why having someone else helping me would suddenly make them processes instead of products.

For me ‘making a living’ means something along the lines of earning a stable income to ‘get you by’. Without going into details of figures, my income is anything but stable. Their are rises and falls (actually I’ve only had one month where the earnings have dropped in 18) that are dependent upon a number of factors, but they are dynamic and on the increase. I’ll earn more this year than I ever have before and cannot see any reason why the following year it won’t double.

The only point I’ll really agree with for Pete is that a group approach increases the scale of the operations. If there were 10 of me blogging together we could build something significantly bigger and significantly faster than I currently have. It would make my business a bigger business and possibly increase the living I make off of it. Of course with such an approach comes a variety of expenses, risks and logistical hurdles that to this point I’ve not been willing to move into (although as I’ve said before its something I’m hoping to explore this year). As Michael says in the comments of my previous post – to add more people into my operation would probably diminish the rate of return on what I do. It would probably increase overall earnings, but its something worth taking some time to weigh up before rushing into it.

Update – Pete has responded to this post here and rather than this to and fro-ing of posting I’ve left my response in his comments to keep the thread in the one spot.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Tim says:

    Well said Darren. I still consider my “one man band” a business that is more than a product. I can sell my business at any time and I would not be selling a product, but a business.

    Like you said, the only difference is the scale of the operations. But, the advantage of a one man operation is low operating costs and the ability to make quick and firm decisions.

  2. Perhaps this is a weakness in me but whenever someone starts talking about “processes” and other assorted jargon in order to make their case I tend to think they are over-complicating something very simple.

    Basically I’d agree that a team of bloggers will be able to generate a greater income than any single individual simply by virtue of their being more of them and them having a wider range of skills to pull from.

    But the notion that you aren’t “building a business” is bull. Anything that enables you to earn a living from doing it is a business. Anyone who attempts to argue otherwise is just playing with words.

    Is it a sustainable model? Hard to tell yet what with blogs being so young. Is it going to challenge Time Warner? Well no, but then neither do most small businesses.

    You don’t have to have an empire in order to have a business.

  3. Tim says:

    Well said, Eoghann.

Trackbacks

  1. pc4media says:

    Building a Business Out of Blogging (or any media company) Requires a Team – Part XVI
    Darren Rowse has counterpointed my counterpoint to his counterpoint that was started here. As he said in an email,