I was chatting with Yaro recently in an interview he recorded with me (I think it’ll go live in January) and we got briefly onto Blog Networks.
I don’t remember the exact question that he asked me but as I answered I found myself saying that:
‘some blog network owners should spend less time working on their network and more time working on their blogs.’
That might sound a little strange coming from someone who co-owns a blog network but bare with me a little while I attempt to explain.
While I am a big fan of the idea of blog networks and can see some real benefits of both owning them and writing for them (disclaimer: I don’t think that every blog should belong to a network but they do suit the goals and aspirations of some bloggers…. but that’s another post for another time) I do see some network owners falling into the trap of spending more time building up the network’s brand and image than building up quality blogs.
There are many factors that contribute to a network’s success – but one of them will always be the quality of it’s blogs. You can have a wonderfully branded network with great PR but it’ll never go anywhere unless it has substance at it’s heart.
I know of a number of individual bloggers who find themselves with a handful of their own blogs who see many networks starting and decide to bring their blogs together to brand them as a network. What I said to Yaro yesterday is that while there are definite benefits of networks that many of these benefits can actually be gained by keeping the blogs as non-networked blogs if the blogger is clever.
For example – one of the benefits of a network is that the blogs interlink and as a result build their SEO. This is a benefit that any blogger who owns more than one blog can gain from without a formal network. Another benefit of a network is the cross promotion that can take place in sending visitors from one blog to another – once again this is possible between two or more blogs that you own without spending many many hours creating a network. A further benefit of networks is that you can sell advertising as packages across sites – once again you don’t need a network to do this.
I could go on.
I’m not saying that networks are a waste of time – I know from personal experience the benefits of them – all I’m saying is that for some people considering the network option it might be a better use of your time and energy to put the effort into individual blogs rather than attempting to brand them as a network.
In effect building a blog network can be a distraction from the core business of building a profitable blogging business in some circumstances.