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Introduction to Blog Networks


I’ve done a little study in the past few years on ‘movements’ as part of my interest in emerging forms of spirituality and one of the things that I’ve come to know a little about is how new movements often start as fairly chaotic and disconnected entities but generally over time will (in order to survive and thrive) self organize and form clusters (that’s a terribly generalized comment – but for the sake of succinct communication I’ll leave it at that).

This can be seen in many instances throughout history across many different types of movements (big and small) and is currently happening in blogging (I guess we could call it a movement) also.

With the rise in popularity of blogging we’ve also seen a variety of ways for bloggers to self organize and cluster together. This has happened in many ways through people attempting to collate blogs (like technorati and blog pulse) but also through different blog directories and lists that attempt to categorize blogs (eg blogtopsites) and blogging communities (eg blogcritics) where bloggers work together on different projects.

This has also been seen in the emergence over the past couple of years of the ‘blog network’.

Blog Networks come in a range of shapes and sizes and have been designed with different purposes in mind – but in a sense if you strip them all back they are simply clusters of blogs that are in some way linked together under a common name or banner.

Most of these networks are have some commercial aspect to them while others are more about about promoting blogs and social networking.

The most prominent and long running of the current range of blog networks are Gawker Media and Weblogs Inc – both of which have numerous blogs with massive traffic and business models that make them quite large and profitable business ventures (in fact Weblogs Inc recently sold to AOL for a reported $25million (USD) – one of the reasons that I suspect the blog network space has become quite crowded in recent months).

In addition to these two large and prominent networks there are many others that have emerged around them. No one really knows how many there are (and there is some debate about what is and isn’t a network) but perhaps one of the best lists going around is that at the Blog Network List which currently tracks 75 networks. I’m certain it doesn’t cover every network out there but it’s a pretty good list.

As you’ll see by perusing the list – networks really do come in a large variety of configurations ranging from the very big with a large number of blogs with a wide range of topics, through to the very small and tightly focused networks that are targeting smaller niche topics.

I’m not going to talk here about specific networks or their pros and cons (I’m a co-owner of one myself so I’ll let others comment on that topic) but I do want to explore a common question that I’m asked by ProBlogger readers:

‘What are the Benefits and Costs of Joining a Blog Network?’

This question (and variations of it) is something that I get quite a bit, especially from newer bloggers attempting to work out whether it’s better for them to set up a blog on their own as an independent or whether it’s worth working with others in their blogging.

In my experience (as someone who runs independent blogs, networked blogs and who co-owns a network) there are definitely both real benefits AND costs that should be carefully weighed up before entering into an established network (or starting your own). In the coming day or two I want to write at least two posts exploring these topics.

Obviously I have some vested interest in the topic and will write from this perspective (please keep this in mind) and would invite the comment of others who are both independent and networked bloggers.

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. Dan Zarrella says:

    What do you think about taking the blog network idea and applying it to a local demographic?

  2. Darren Rowse says:

    it could work Dan – but you’d want to ensure that that local demographic had sufficient potential traffic. ie – don’t target a very small group of people unless they it’s a high paying niche (if you’re doing it for an income).

  3. I would be very interested in hearing about the pros and cons of joining an existing blog network.

    I’m particularly curious to hear how membership in such a network is viewed by the top search engines.

    Thanks.

    -Dharmesh

  4. KarmaDude says:

    I am looking forward to your perspective on this. Back in Feb I wrote a post, “my blog my rules“, which was my take on being an independent blogger vs. being part of a blog network.

  5. the concept blogging is fantastic.blogging is simply the future.

  6. Jacob says:

    Just letting you know you forgot to link the blogtopsites link :)

  7. Darren Rowse says:

    ooops

  8. dan zarrella says:

    yeah. I mean like a city centric network, that is a bunch of blogs based on a specific city all on different topics.

  9. Wow, you did read my suggestion. Do continue this topic and try to get something like “What people say” from some people @ Blognetworks themselves. You do have some influence dude!

  10. Alvin says:

    The Blog Network thing has worked out well for me so far. My traffic used to be about 70 hits a day (mostly local), and after I joined it’s jumped up to 300, with more US hits than local.

  11. pcunix says:

    I had written http://aplawrence.com/foo-web/blogging-networks.html (Should you join a Blog Network?) a while back, and Darren responded to a lot of that at the comments part of http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/11/10/what-blog-networks-look-for-in-potential-bloggers/

    but here I’m more interested in Darren’s comments on spirituality and social gathering.

    First a disclaimer: I am an atheist from the age of seven when I suddenly realized that the guy at the front of the church wasn’t just telling something like Winny-the-Poo stories. I therefore look upon anything “spiritual” with much the same feelings as i feel about a child talking about Santa Claus: cute, adorable, harmless and nothing to do with me.

    I’m also the type who prefers to run my own life: I want to do things MY way, and do not find myself in agreement with group thinking very often. When I do find myself in agreement, I always question myself again, because groups seldom make good decisions.

    All that said, our genetic heritage makes us socializing animals. Interacting with other people is probably more than just “useful” – most of us wouldn’t do well mentally without our friends and family. I think it is that which causes these “movements” Darren speaks of. Sure, it’s partially weakness (too many people need group approval to vaue themselves), but I do think there’s more to it than that: even those of us with no need to see our ideas accepted by the group still want to listen to what the group has to say.

    Do we “need” groups? To some extent, and to some degree, that’s probably the case. ‘No man is an island” (though some of us do spend a lot of time detached from the mainland).

    I would never join a blog network, but I certainly do understand why others might.

  12. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts Darren (getting ready to read the first one). Me and a friend are in the middle, well more like the beginning, of setitng up our own network. We’re fleashing out how to make it a bit different and achieve our own identity as opposed to just being “another network.”

    Thanks for all the insights.

  13. Man, I guess a start would be not getting too excited and learn to spell check before I hit “add comment” – doh!

  14. Are they still maintaining that BlogNetworkList.com site? I know I’ve sent them our changes twice with no response .. we’re up to 35 blogs now (they still show 21) and there has been slight name changes to a bunch of our blogs … I’ve noticed that there are less N/A’s though in BNL ..

  15. Interesting line of thoughts here, Darren. While I see a very few negative aspects to blogging in a network (following other people’s rules, using other people’s preferred software), so far I’ve seen many benefits to being a member of networks. I’ve shared a few of the more basic benefits on one of my blogs (one of two on the Know More Media network) today. It seems to me that, as I mentioned over on Workerette, the biggest benefit is feeling included in something larger than my own little island of thoughts and meanderings.
    Not to say I don’t digress and wander anyway…but at least in a network someone pretends to notice and occassionally nods in agreement.
    Best wishes,
    Mel

  16. binoculars says:

    I don’t really quite understand your post here Darren, not much information. Maybe I’m too dumb to understand. I will keep on reading your next post on Blog Networks.

  17. Mike Dammann says:

    My favorite blog networks are niche ones like http://www.activerain.com

  18. apageor2 says:

    I have two blogs, one is for an IT blog and another is for a freelance and leadership blog. The biggest issue that I have been faced with in the past many months is getting traffic to it. The blogs are set up from my domains. For example, http://www.yourdomain.com/blog link is placed from my web sites.

    I have been building the topic sections in hopes that will expand on comments but I am unsure if that will help. This has been a difficult situation for me to understand as I read others saying they get visitors and traffic on their blogs I have not been able to figure out how such things like that are done.

    When I read of others joining networks to build traffic it sounds like a good idea however I am unsure of the benefit as traffic is an impossibility for my situation. Hope that makes sense.

    I’m learning more as I read through others blogs and it is very helpful and appreciative. I have read through this web site documentation and gained insight as well. :-)

  19. You may be right in joining a network, but my own thoughts are that if you blog about your own expertise – with a little humor, the blogosphere will pick it up.
    I simply use – digitalblue2u.wordpress.com in different languages – translated of course and that brings in a wider audience!

  20. charles says:

    I have proved to myself that as you join big blog networks. You are more recognized by google search engine. When i joined technorati and weblogs and i search for it using google search engine, it displays my blog from technorati and weblogs as well as other blog networks i joined.

    It really helps alot to people who really want to get good traffic. Still if you want to get good traffic you should make your blog as good as possible so that there will be lesser bounce percentage when you use google analytics.

    Check more info at:
    http://www.resourcesandmoney.blogspot.com

  21. Dimitri says:

    Your blog network list is a dead link…

  22. naveen says:

    This is really a good blog for Why Should you Join a Blog Network?
    this has a detail explanation about what benefits we can get , when we join blog network

  23. Well blog networks are really a shame. There are many people trying to rip people of their money by selling software’s that create a blog network. One thing i really hate about these networks is that people simply rip off other peoples articles, giving NO credit to them.

    If you can be successful with just a single blog, i say keep it so. If you cant make a single blog stand out, how do you expect to manage a lot of little blogs.

    The idea is really money. Still i feel making a statement is much more bettre than making money.

  24. Dr BDO Adams says:

    Well, blognetworks list is a dead site now. There seems to be a definite move for the most popular bloggers to get moved into larger magazine type sites, e.g. bad astronomy moving to discover magazine. Its a win for both the writer and the magazine, unlessl they have a bust up over some editorial freedom issue.

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