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Instablogs Launches

After a few server problems the newest blog network to launch – Instablogs - has gone live. They’ve launched with 46 blogs (unless I can’t count) on a large array of topics. They are billing themselves as ‘A News Organization based on Blogging’. It’s early days yet for them so I’m not interested in taking them apart too negatively – but in responding to their call for suggestions and feedback here are some of my initial impressions:

  • Content – Just over 50% of their first round of blogs have no posts – I’m surprised by this, I’ve never seen a blog network launch empty blogs before. A further 4 of their blogs have only one welcome post on them. The writing on the blogs I see with posts seems to largely be link driven (ie linking to an article with comments on that article). I’m yet to reach each active blog in full but so far I haven’t seen too much original content. I’m not knocking this style of blogging – just interested in which approach they are taking.
  • Topics – They have chosen a nice wide range of niches to explore. Quite a few are the ‘typical’ blog network topics (why change a winner formulae?) but some are exploring new-ish ground which will be interesting to follow.
  • Design – I like their clean design. A lesson I learned from Jason Calacanis though is that he found that WIN’s blogs do better when each blog has its own look/feel/brand. So far they are all looking pretty much the same with a few different colors in the headers. Of course this is challenging when you have 50 or so blogs – but something I suspect they’ll make some changes on this.
  • Bloggers – One thing I’m interested in is the anonymity of authors so far. I wonder whether this will change.
  • International – I’m excited by some of their internationally flavored blog topics.
  • Ads – To this point I’m not seeing any. I’m sure this will come in time.

It’s always interesting to see how different bloggers and networks choose to go about setting up. I’ll be watching Instablogs with real interest. They’ve obviously got some big ideas which I wish them all the best in.

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. Nandini says:

    Wow darren! thast was quick, its 5:00 AM in India right now. We just launched few minutes ago. Give us atleast one day to prepare ourselves to get assaulted.

    We have alread received tons of angry comments because of our 6-7 hour of delay. – http://www.instablogs.com/pre-launch-days-comments.php

    I would have published more posts but I need sleep, haven`t slept in last 36 hours.

  2. Darren Rowse says:

    Hi Nandini – I know the feeling in the launch stage.

    Don’t take my post here as angry or critical. I was just responding to your post on the main page which asked for feedback.

    I think what you’re doing has real potential and I honestly wish you all the best with it.

    I’d also add – don’t worry too much about the critiques you’ll definately get. With b5 we had a lot of criticism also – our attitude was that each critique was a potential way of improving what we did.

    Now go get some sleep!

  3. Bank says:

    Totally off topic I just needed to vent:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

    I GOT KICKED OFF OF ADSENSE!
    Why me? Advise for everyone if you ever notice a substancial increase in your earnings don’t smirk and think finally it is picking up. Start investagating or else you will end up like me.

  4. jesse says:

    switch to minimalls

  5. Matt says:

    That is pretty far off topic.

  6. Swade says:

    Bank, what happened? Not clicking your own were you?

    Anyway, on Instablogs – it is wierd how many empty blogs there are. I think the muslimwoman might remain behind a veil of anonymity.

  7. Matt says:

    Okay, I’ve gone and checked some of the Instablogs out…. and they all seem to be written by the same person. They either have an incredibly homogeneous workforce or someone is overworked. Could this be an attempt to launch the first one-man blog network? I see where it says they are going to be looking for people to join the network, but I don’t see where one would go to do that just yet. So is this poor Nandini guy doing it all? Now THAT would be amusing.

  8. Darren Rowse says:

    Bank – generally people only get banned from Adsense if they do something wrong – they have some pretty good ways of checking who is clicking your ads.

    If it was someone else I’m really sorry to hear that – but I havn’t heard of too many people getting kicked off who don’t admit to doing something wrong to be honest.

  9. Jen says:

    Maybe its just me, but I don’t seem to be able to find much information about who is behind this network? Maybe I’m just not aware enough of the Indian blogging scene but I have to wonder why it is getting so much publicity when it looks like a one man band. They couldn’t get their server right, most of their blogs have launched without content, their logo has been accused of being ripped off from other logos, it all looks to be written in the one voice and there is little information on who is behind it. I would have thought something that was getting the press that it is would be a bit more professionally run. I don’t know why anyone would want to become a blogger for a network run by someone that no one seems to have heard of.

  10. At the very least, I think each blog should have at least one post introducing the blog and describing what it intends to cover.

    Some of the titles are very vague and the subjetcs pretty broad.

    Personally, I would have just delayed the launch and got some content together first.

    At least that would have given a better impression and made more visits more likely.

    After all the hype, their first week will get them a lot of traffic, but after that who knows.

  11. Matt says:

    Okay, now I am going to go off topic. What is an invitation to a wordpress.com blog, exactly? I mean… what does it give you ? Anyone know?

  12. Bank says:

    OK OK I admit it I was clicking my own ads. I thought everybody did it. I had been doing it for months and what is worse I quit my job to do it fulltime.
    Ha Ha
    I guess I deserve it. If you’re going to be like me don’t push 24 hours worth of clicks through in 35 minutes because you are in a hurry to get to the beach.

  13. Bank says:

    Oh and by the way I was a six figure blogger (with my clicks). I really messed up!

  14. Darren Rowse says:

    Bank – not sure if you’re serious – but I’ve heard of so many people thinking they can get away with this. Some are now being sued by Google for it, others are just banned, and others could well face jail because its actually fraud.

  15. Wow. I actually started a one-woman blog network. That didn’t work (it was small, but still…). Not anymore! We are growing with a team of people!

  16. Darren Rowse says:

    see now you’re being silly Bank. Six figures from clicking your own ads. You’d be clicking a lot of ads and you’d also be being sued. Google wouldn’t tolerate that.

    Anyway – lets take this back on topic shall we. What do people think aobut Instablogs?

  17. Brad says:

    Bank:

    You quit your job to click your ads full-time? So on the day you got caught, you got carried away? LOL!

    I have a software engineering background and I suspect it would fairly easy for Google to do stat analysis on IP addresses behind ad clicks.

    Also, I suspect they have a huge database of IP addresses!

  18. James says:

    A blog network without content? Not the smartest move I’ve ever seen. Taking a look through their blogroll, it looks like the same topics we’ve seen elsewhere. I predict a rough night landing in a field strewn with large boulders. Or maybe just a quiet splat.

  19. Hock says:

    I checked out Instablogs. I noticed under the “Women” category, there is a blog called “In The Kitchen”. In this day and age, I thought that was funny. Maybe it’s just cultural since this blog network is based in India. How about a “Where The Remote?” blog under the “Men” category?

  20. Bank says:

    Yes Brad I know, I am a fool, almost as foolish as these guys that started up a whole network of empty blogs.

    No more talk of my idiocy here on this site. If anyone wants to flame or console me my AIM screen name is CLOMIG.

  21. HostingDiary says:

    Why is everyone so critical? At least the guy is having a go.
    Some of you rebloggers should encourage ambition instead of filling the blogosphere with negativity. Go write something original.

  22. We all know that bloggling isn’t a static business, and like any other successful business you have to have a dynamic approach and go with the times and keep it fresh. After managing a couple dozen blogs myself, and running a hugely successful offline business .. I know how tough it can be to keep focused!

    Just kidding! No, I’m not successful and I only have 7blogs and they are non-income generating blogs – and, MY OH MY how time can fly keeping up and I always end up going on tangents myself :D

    Sure I was disappointed! What a terrible “Grand Opening” and lack of business saavy (imho) by Nandini in keeping everyone informed – or rather NOT informed.. I’m sure there are friends or internet cafes that posts could have been made or emails to popular blogs that could have forwarded messages about server problems and other delays that were being experienced etc etc.

    But, I try to get along with everybody, never hold a grudge and famous for a short attention span .. So, I’ll probably forget about all of this tomorrow. Yah – it looks more like 75% of bogus blogs that look like shells, but .. Day One .. Design Version 0.1 .. Ask me what I think of the content and the instablogs.com network in 2006?

    I took the time to add all of the RSS feeds into my bloglines, and I’ll eventually widdle out the ones that don’t interest me over the next few times (or, probably just reclass them into my ‘Don’t read anymore’ folder of subscriptions). Good or bad publicity, it’s still publicity, right? It’s a good start to grab people’s attentions who is currently taking the time to look at the blogs. I too wish them all the best, and will probably participate on a few blog topics that interest me.

  23. Athomemama says:

    I went and commented *nicely* on some of the blogs that had topics that interested me (business, gaming, kids, etc) and I will check back in as I remember. I know how it feels to be a lone fish when you first start out and I want to be supportive.

    I like the look he’s got going, it may be the same on all the blogs, but if it is clean and it works, then why mess with it? Also, I think WIN blogs look very similar, with the exception of, like, 5.

    I hope I can remember to check in now and then. I have found that online friends tend to be every bit as loyal as offline, and I like making new friends. I’m spreading my love around ;) All the way to India…

  24. lyndon says:

    I think the idea of a 50 blog network is kinda fun in an insane way. I picture the dude with three computers and a two litre bottle of Dr Pepper, rocking away until the wee hours.

    I think it’s great he is trying it and although I have no doubt it will fail in its present make up, it may lead to something else that is successful. You’re right, at least the bloke is giving it a go and you have to admire him for that, but you have to be realistic and honest when giving feedback.

    It seems there is a common mistake with the recent epidemic of blogs within our tiny sector of the blogosphere – how many blogs are there? How many of them do you read? Think you have your finger on the pulse – and the mistake is this: Failure to ask “what is this blog for?”

    or even

    Who is this blog for?

    Is it to get you rich or is it for the readers? I don’t know who this dude is aiming at, what is his target sector and I don’t mean by subject, forget subject. Forget about sectors, areas, segments and all that rubbish and think of People. It’s people who read blogs not sectors. If you are not for the people, then odds are you are going to fail. Unless of course you are in the black hat – scraper – spam blogging arena,

    ……but that’s another story.

  25. Darren Rowse says:

    I think you’ll find that the ‘dude’ behind the computer is a ‘dudette’.

    My Indian friends tonight at dinner told me Nandini is a female name.

  26. jesse says:

    what I noticed is that every single blog is basically just the first paragraph of an article and then a link to the rest. Virtually zero original content. The only person who really gets away with that is Glenn Reynolds, and he actually provides a thought along with the article

  27. Kim says:

    Nandini sure is not a boy with 3 computers, but a young woman of 23 years old with a 15 person crew (mostly boys as far as I know) working for her in New Dehli.

    She sure has streched herself a bit far with this launch, working hard on developing the technical side (Yes, she is programming it herself too).

    For those thinking she writes everything herself, I know she hired bloggers some time ago as I was briefly asked to give my opinion on some of their work.

    An unknown male blogger from India and everyone thinks it is a one man show and you can read hype with no substance between the lines.

    Will be interesting to see what people think now that some of the story about a very friendly and interesting person with many friends in the Internet community comes out.

  28. Nandini says:

    Thanks Kim for showing support.
    We delayed our launch and we are sorry for that. We weren`t able to migrate data properly. There are times when things go beyond human control.

    >>Jesse – what I noticed is that every single blog is basically just the first paragraph of an article and then a link to the rest. Virtually zero original content.

    This is false by all my means, and I leave rest to Darren to decide. You have seen the blogs we are pulling up the content for, I know we are bit slow but still for the 200-250 posts we have on the network, none is copied.

    >>Lyndon — Unless of course you are in the black hat – scraper – spam blogging arena,
    Its just so easy to say anyone is a thief, spammer, black hat… Cool.

    We welcome criticism, we were wrong in few things. We are trying to improve things, and are more determined to get to our readers. But don`t know how to react to these kinds of criticism.
    Anyways .. will see you guys around more often now.

  29. Mike Rundle says:

    She is programming it herself too? Jeez, maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t that sound like a surefire way to shoot yourself in the foot?

    There are great paid and open source web publishing applications out (MT and WordPress, to name a few) and it boggles my mind she decided to code everything herself. Maybe instead of spending all that time coding a proprietary weblog platform, she should have written some entries on a few of the weblogs that launched with absolutely no content.

  30. Mike Rundle says:

    Nadini-

    This is false by all my means, and I leave rest to Darren to decide. You have seen the blogs we are pulling up the content for, I know we are bit slow but still for the 200-250 posts we have on the network, none is copied.

    You interpreted what Darren said completely wrong. What he’s saying is that every single weblog entry is basically a one paragraph comment on ANOTHER article from ANOTHER site, and then you link out quickly. Original content = long entries with thought-provoking ideas. He wasn’t saying you are copying other entries, just that your sites are glorified linklogs.

  31. Nandini says:

    >>every single weblog entry
    Don`t you think generalising every thing is not very fair.

    Darren had said these comments, about spamming and content lifting but people participating in the comments thread.

  32. Scott says:

    Instabore… is making me yawn.

  33. espider says:

    Instablogs sucks so much that If possible I would have put its bloggers under bar for indsicriminately lifting content form other sites and posing as harbinger of citizen journalism.They dont know what problem they are solving …they are bloat on blogosphere.

    Absolutely shameful.

  34. kartik says:

    We are another group of “unkowns” who started this site called http://www.BharatEntrepreneurs.com Someday, even my website will be featured on problogger.net and Darren will personally visit my website. That is the vision I have and I hope we will reach our goal.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Unfortunately for the new network owners, the new network has been received poorly, with a number of bloggers writing negative reviews. Darren at Problogger has some suggestions for the new network. Blognetworkwatch provides some negative commentary over the late launch and also provides comments from the Instablog site including comments such as “Instablogs is the biggest blunder in the whole blog industry” . [...]

  2. [...] I’m mean, so I’ll just say it. InstaBlogs sucks. Darren worries about their content, The Blog Herald notes their poor receival, but let’s take a look at their content. Besides being quite late, they have no content on half their blogs, poor quality content on many of their blogs, numerous spelling mistakes, and very little there altogether. [...]

  3. [...] Have you happened to read Duncan Riley or Paul Scrivens or Darren Rowse lately? [...]