I think it’s a fascinating question and one that I’ve often pondered as I’ve watched colleagues buy and sell blogs over the past year.
My opinion is that the answer is yes… and no.
Depending upon the blog I think they can be worth quite a lot without the blogger – but in most cases they are not.
Do I sound vague and wishy washy enough? Let me ponder this a bit more (bare with me while I think out loud for a bit here)….
Blogger-Centric Blogs – Some blogs, like B.L’s blog and probably ProBlogger are blogs where the bloggers themselves are very central to the blog. They are places where one person explores a niche (wide or small) and people come to read what they have to say. Blogs that probably fit into this category even better than BL’s and mine include Steve Rubel’s Micro Persuasion and BuzzMachine by Jeff Jarvis (two blogs I log into daily to read the thoughts and opinions of Jeff and Steve). These blogs might struggle if their bloggers were to leave and someone else took over (without some clever transitioning).
Topic/Content-Centric Blog – Other blogs could have a change of authorship and few of their readers would bat an eyelid. These are blogs where the subject and content itself is more central to the blog. The blogger acts more as a supplier of content (perhaps more like an editor than an author?) than a personality that draws people in. The blogs that come to mind as I think about this include more technology based blogs like Gizmodo (who recently changed editors without too much change in traffic – in fact it’s gone up), Engadget and Slashdot. Now I know these sites have their hardcore fans who would notice if certain writers were to leave – but I’d hazard a guess that the majority of their readers have no idea who is writing them and would continue to read as normal with a change of blogger.
So which is best for building a profitable blog? – I guess the answer to this question probably depends a little upon what your goals for the blog are.
1. If you’re wanting to build a blog up for a later sale (at which point you leave) you’ll probably want to build blogs that are less reliant upon yourself as a blogger. This is what I’ve seen a number of the bigger blog networks do. What they build their blog’s brand around is the blog’s name rather than the blogger themselves (there are of course exceptions to this in most networks).
2. If you’re wanting to sell your blog but are willing to continue working on it or if you’re not in it for an eventual sale but rather are looking to build an ongoing revenue stream for yourself then either model can work quite nicely for you.
3. If your blog is not about earning a direct income through advertising but rather is a blog that will enable you to build your own profile (we make the distinction in six figure blogging between makeing money because of your blog rather than directly from your blog) then you’ll definitely want a Blogger-Centric blog model.
These are half finished thoughts (my head hurts) and I’m interested in what others think on the topic. Am I anywhere near being on the money here?