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Critiquing the Critiquing of Weblogs Inc

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.

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. Jason says:

    You are correct that a blog suffers when a blogger leaves, get’s sick, has a baby, gets full-time work, or burns out…. it’s a bummer for us to. We don’t have the resources to just hire ten full-time people and have them fill in on these “on hiatus” blogs. Not sure we would want people who didn’t have passion even doing them.

    However, if you look at the new blogs we are staffing them up to the point at which we don’t have to worry about losing folks. For example, http://www.tvsquad.com, http://www.cinematical.com, http://www.divester.com, and http://www.adjab.com are getting a ton of posts every day.

    As for our older design (like my blog http://calacanis.weblogsinc.com) it was great a year and half ago and now it really sucks… at least compared to our new good looking sites like http://www.divester.com and http://www.cinematical.com and http://www.enronblog.com.

    As for going after high-paying keywords that really isn’t our focus.

    Finally, we don’t expect all our blogs to every person… does any publisher? If out of our ~70 blogs you like two or three that is fine for me. Heck, if you love just one of them i’m happy!!!

    best j

    We’re not perfect.

  2. Darren says:

    thanks for the comment Jason – appreciate your thoughts.

  3. chrispian says:

    Darren, your post got me thinking about this a good bit and I posted an entry on my site (you need trackbacks!) regarding this too. It seems web developers take it on themsevles too much to deside what content is valuable to users, that’s something users get to decide for themselves. If the content wasn’t useful in the first place then companies wouldn’t be paying highly for ads on those keywords. Obviously mortgage information is indeed useful to people, people like me who is about to start looking to buy a new home. Great post and nice reply Jason, glad to see you try and take the time and respond.

  4. Jacob G. says:

    I think my post sounded more negative than it actually was meant to be. It just seems to me that if you’re going to start a new blog section, you should at least the have means to have it updated. I like what Weblogs, Inc has done and love several of the blogs(luxist is one of my new favorites), I just meant to point out that it looks like they were overextending. I’ve done the same thing myself before so it’s no big deal. You learn from the mistake, and reel it back in(not saying that you made a mistake, just maybe ;P). Anyway, you’re right, nobody is perfect, least of all me. Good luck Jason.

  5. Darren says:

    thanks for the comments Chrispian (not sure why trackbacks are not working – they used to…) and Jacob. Good points.

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