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Blog Network Owner Shares ‘Mistakes I’ve Made’

Mac Slocum at The Independent Publisher is reflecting upon the first year of development of his Fodder Network and has written a post on the five biggest mistakes that he’s made along the road so far.

  • Mistake No. 1: Underestimating the Time Commitment – I suspect this is something many bloggers with dreams of developing multiple successful blogs make. Establishing one blog is a massive task but multiply that by several and you’ve got a full time job very quickly.
  • Mistake No. 2: Forgetting About the Exponential Nature of Tweaks – Mac talks in this point about the amount of work that just a simple tweak can mean if you’re making the same tweak in multiple blogs. On the flip side of course is the good things that can happen as a result of a simple tweak too. For example I remember the day I discovered that moving my AdSense ads closer into content would increase their earnings – of course I quickly did this on all of my blogs and the impact was significant.
  • Mistake No. 3: Building Single Sites instead of Deep Sites – I don’t think there is a right or wrong with this – either strategy can be successful but I also think that especially when you’re a smaller enterprise that it makes sense to build fewer deep blogs than lots of stand alone ones.
  • Mistake No. 4: Managing Expectation Levels - This is a hard lesson to learn. When recruiting bloggers it’s important to give them a realistic idea of what they’ll get out of it. Unfortunately when you’re in start up mode what bloggers get out is not massive unless you have some cash behind your venture. I think most blog networks run into this problem at one time or another as it takes months (if not a year or two) for a blog to really hit its stride and many bloggers just won’t hang around that long.
  • Mistake No. 5: Naivete About Advertising - I’ve come up against this myself in the last couple of years. Once you build a blog up it’s difficult to know how to find advertisers for it and how much to charge. Managing advertising is difficult and as a result I have contracted someone to do a lot of that work for me which has taken a load off my mind.

Mac’s list is pretty typical of many of the issues that bloggers and blog network owners come up against. None of the mistakes he’s made are insurmountable but all are worth considering before getting into the game.

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. phd says:

    So is the blog busy because it just got 5K hits, is it down at a really bad time, or is it just me?

  2. Jason Brown says:

    I think time commitment is the biggest factor, many of the things he mentioned boil down to time as well, like time to do the tweaks, time to find advertisers, time to build a simple site, time to write.

    Time is the key element I think… you almost need a cellphone to blog during times of the time you cant be by the laptop/desktop

  3. Duncan says:

    These are all good points, but I think point 1 is the main thing most people forget.

  4. Darren Rowse says:

    phd – do you mean his blog was down? Seems ok to me at the moment.

  5. mac says:

    Thanks for the link, Darren!

    To follow-up on Point No. 1 (time commitment), I agree that many blog-related issues fall into this category. Many folks getting into this business (or hobby), don’t understand the effort it takes to develop good content. With Filmfodder and TV Fodder, we up the ante a bit by including photos with the posts, and that adds another dimension to the mix. Even when we’re humming along at full capacity, I estimate that most posts require at least 15 minutes of work, with many clocking in around 30 minutes.

    Regarding Point No. 4 (managing expectation levels), I’ve been fortunate to find some phenomenal people who are sticking with the Fodder Network as it goes through its inevitable growing pains. Ultimately, it comes down to respect: If I do everything I can to respect these people and treat them like the royalty they are, they seem far more apt to stick it out. Without the contributors, there is no Network, so I try to do everything possible to support/encourage/congratulate these vital writers. — Mac

  6. There speaks a man who’s been there, done it, and got the body armour.

    All good points. Time is of the essence, of course, plus that constant backlog of tweaks. Blogger expectation can only be solved by booster payments in the early stages and a complex model that allows them to make extra by, for example, introducing potential advertisers to the network, or putting up their own affiliate links. You have to be straight with bloggers, but they also have to realize they’re only working a handful of hours a week in a newish industry that’s yet to find its feet.

  7. razib says:

    Well, to me most important thing is finding good bloggers. When anyone enters into a blog network like B5 Media, Weblog INC or other established blog networks, they come with the knowledge that blogging wont make them rich or even wont give enough money to leave their full time job. So, there is no catch here. When a person enters into blogging for a network he/she knows what they can get or not get and how they can get it. To get something substantial they have to perform every day 365 days a year- they have to write content and get traffic.

    On the other hand, blog network owners should try to find bloggers who would be passionate about blogging. Many times, I see that in blogging networks, they brag about how their some bloggers are expert on this topic or that topic. The readers dont care who you are. All they want is to have some content that will either benefit them or entertain them. As a successful blogger, Darren you know that it is not so easy and writing this kind of magical content takes a lot of continous effort. Being an expert on the field of your blogging is important but dedicating yourself for the readers is even much more important. I feel this is the that many blog networks do. They must try to find passionate people not skilled professionals.

  8. Brad says:

    I don’t know if I’d call it a mistake, but rather, a learning experience: underestimating the time involved with a blog.

    As most know, being a serious blogger, it’s more than just writing a post every few days. I try to post something new everyday, and when I’m not working on a post, I’m reading other blogs and websites – trying to stay current in the field I write about. My goal is to write about a news story when it is still fresh and new. But I don’t think it happens very much.

    Then, when I’m not writing or reading, I do a lot of work on the “admin” side of the blog. Right now I’m having problems with StatCounter, so I’m trying to fix that. Although it’s very discouraging knowing that I’m not getting an accurate count of hits to my blog. I also constantly track my adsense performance, as well as the Amazon ads I place. I also keep a running list of posting ideas, just so my blog doesn’t dry out.

    Being a professional blogger is hard work. You can’t underestimate the time involved in maintaining a quality blog. I’m still in the early stages of professional blogging, and i already use a good chunk of my free time with blog-related business. Once I get bigger and can expand, I’m sure the time involved will also go up.

    Yet another great post! Thanks!

  9. Point number 1 is where I am at. I manage 4 blogs and it is a nightamare as it takes up all my time

  10. Could someone explain the term “deep blog”, please?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Time commitment Darren on ProBlogger has a link to an interesting article about a blog network owner who shares the mistakes made in running a blog. The first one listed is everyone’s bogey, it seems: Under-estimating the time commitment. Writing a novel takes months and even years; not many people under-estimate the commitment there. But everyone expects a successful blog takes only a few minutes every day or every few days, and it will be on everyone’s blogroll in a few weeks or a month or two. [...]