Jacob has an interesting critique on Weblogs Inc – taking a close look at the topic and posting frequency of some of their blogs. He particularly takes aim at two factors:
1. Lack of Updating - Jacob notes that the Digital Radio blog Droxy has only one post in the past month and that the outsourcing blog has one post so far this year. There are others that I’ve noticed over the past few months have had some pretty irregular bursts of posting (and not posting). Whilst I’ve had similar thoughts to Jacob about the inactivity of some of their blogs (I guess it doesn’t look good for the network to have something inactive?) I can also see why it may have happened. There are a number of factors that could have come into play:
- Author Issues: WIN’s blogs rely upon a large stable of authors to keep their blogs running. In my limited experience with network blogging I know that authors being humans (well most are) means they will often bite off more than they can chew. You just have to look around the wider blogging community and you’ll quickly find that a large percentage of blogs that start out with passionate, excited, confident, wide eyed bloggers don’t make it past a few months of blogging (sometimes its only days before they die). In a stable of 70+ blogs there are sure to be a few authors who pull the pin on their blogging (or at least pull back to a trickle of posts) as a result of disillusionment, busyness, life situation (sickness, babies or other changes), distractions or even laziness. This leaves the WIN team in a sticky position of either having to find another author, let the blog remain inactive but live or killing it off.
- Lack of Content: I’ve started a number of blogs over the past year or so that I thought would be a breeze to write – but soon found that there just wasn’t enough content or news around to sustain them. In these cases I actually don’t have a problem with less frequent posting. After all there are no ‘rules’ on how often blogs should be updated – the posting rhythm of each blog will differ depending upon a number of factors – some are daily, some weekly and perhaps its ok for some to be monthly. Of course a blog with a date showing the last post is months old doesn’t exude freshness or authority to readers.
- Lack of Return on investment: Some blogs just don’t perform. They don’t get indexed by search engines, readers don’t click with the author, ad values are poor, Adsense doesn’t have ads to serve – whatever the case – sometimes they just don’t work. This can breed disillusionment. It can also take you to a place after giving it a real go of giving up which is probably a smart decision in many cases as there might be other projects that would be a better return on investment.
I’m not making excuses for WIN (after all its really none of our business is it?) – but these might be some of the reasons a small number of their blogs become a less active than others.
2. Money Grabbing Blogs – Jacob argues that some of the blogs that WIN has their name on seem to be purely about making money. He uses the Mortgages blog to illustrate this (and mortgage ads are renowned for being good payers). Once again I can see where Jacob is coming from completely – this is probably one of the most inspiring blogs in WINs stable - for me.
I guess that’s the point though – for me its boring and useless (mainly useless because I’m in a different country) – but I’d argue that obviously for some its not. Really what it comes down to is letting the market decide what is a valid topic for a blog or not. Whilst most of those searching the internet don’t require the type of information on some of WINs blogs – there are obviously some that do – and if they don’t I suspect it won’t be long until they close this blog down for lack of feasibility.
I guess this is the point of niche blogging in many regards. A magazine design blog is not going to appeal to the masses – but for at least one person (Pariah S. Burke – its author) it obviously is something of interest (and by the comments which are being left on every second post – it seems that a handful of others are into it too).
Will it be a huge money spinner? Probably not. Is it a good move for WIN to include it in their stable of blogs? I guess thats for them to decide as they look at their goals and objectives as a network.
I’m not trying to give Jacob a hard time here – he’s a great guy who is pretty cluey when it comes to making a living online – I’m just trying to look beyond the obvious critique and put myself in the shoes of the big players. It’s pretty easy to pretty easy to knock the high profile blog networks – but sometimes I think we’d learn more by getting in their shoes than always taking a shot at them.
I’m interested in others opinions – anyone from WIN who wants to respond and shed a little light on this is more than welcome to do so.