Gawker Blog Network Reshuffles

Nick Denton has a fascinating post regarding a restructuring of the Gawker blog network – it’s called Battening down and in it Nick outlines some of the changes Gawker is making (ending two blogs and reshuffling staff on four others.

The reasons for the changes are five-fold:

  • Decreases in Advertising
  • Increases in Operational costs
  • Despite Cross Promotional Attempts traffic wasn’t sticking on some blogs
  • Difficulty in turning around a title (they are either hits or flops and the die is cast early on)
  • Desire to shake things up a little and get out of ‘comfortable habits’

The two blogs that are ending are up for sale (they are Sploid and Screenhead).

Also a number of bloggers are leaving Gawker, others are reshuffling to new positions and a a few new bloggers are joining to head up and write for different blogs.

It’ll be interesting to see what impact the reshuffle has on the Gawker empire.

Update: The NYT has an article on the reshuffle also.

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.

Happy Birthday 9rules Network

9R Rounded WhiteA big congratulations to the team at 9rules Network for 1 year of building blog community and raising the bar when it comes to quality blogs working together! As a network these guys have had a year of highs and lows (as any start up does) but they’ve come through it stronger, more beautiful and pushing creative boundaries.

See the celebrations and leave your congratulations in their core team’s 1 year anniversary posts at:

Well done 9rules – I raise my coffee cup to you on this morning and wish you well for many more years of blogging!

Interview with Matt Jones of Random Shapes

There’s a great interview with teen blog network owner Matt Jones from Random Shapes over at The Blog Herald.

I love reading the stories of (and meeting) young technological entrepreneurs. There’s something about the freshness of their ideas and ‘can do’ attitude that is so amazing. I think Matt’s one to watch.

Why You Shouldn’t Join a Blog Network

Having looked at some of the advantages of joining a blog network it’s only fair that we look at the flip side. Blog networks will not suit every blogger’s personality, style and goals and you should take into account the following before signing up for one:

1. Revenue Split – While I argued in my previously post that a positive of joining a network is that it can potentially bring in a higher revenue to your blog – the downside is that with most blog networks you will be sharing this revenue with the owners of it in some way. In the larger more established networks you are likely to be paid a flat rate per month for posting a certain amount of posts and might be paid incentives based upon factors like traffic and revenue. In smaller and newer networks the revenue is generally shared between network and blogger in some way (usually some sort of percentage split). The methods of payment are varied but at the heart of all of them is that you don’t get every cent your blog owns. If you’re not willing to share a blog network might not be for you.

2. Ownership/Rights – Once again there are variations between networks when it comes to who retains ownership of content – but this is a key question that you’ll want to explore with the network before signing up. In many networks the content that you produce as a blogger is fully owned by the blog network and in a sense you are just contracted to write for them. This means that if you leave the network you leave with nothing but the earnings you earned during your stay. Other networks allow you to retain ownership but ask for some sort of exclusive rights to user your content in different forums. Other networks use a joint ownership system where both you and the network owns the content. There is no wrong or right way for content ownership to be viewed in my opinion – but it’s definitely something to think through before you join a network. Questions to ask a network might include:

  • who owns the content?
  • who owns the URL?
  • what happens to the blog if/when I leave?

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Why Should you Join a Blog Network?

After posting yesterday a basic Introduction to Blog networks I now want to turn my attention to some of the positives about joining a blog network as a blogger (the negatives will come in the next post in the series). Please note that I’m not writing about the benefits of starting or owning a blog network but looking at the positives of joining an existing one as a blogger. Of course the following factors will apply more to some networks than others (each network has it’s own configuration).

1. Relationships – today I did an informal survey of 10 bloggers from a number of blog networks (not just my own) on the topic of what they like like about being in their network and the most common response was that they enjoyed being a part of something larger than themselves and that it was the relationships both with network owners and managers as well as other bloggers that made the network experience most worthwhile. Many blog networks have some sort of internal communication systems (forums, wikis, email lists or even blogs, chat and VOIP sessions) – all of which can take blogging out of a space that can be a little lonely into one that is much more relational.

2. Traffic – when I started my first blog 3 years ago I did so as a complete newcomer to the blogosphere and had absolutely no connections to other bloggers or sources of traffic. The result was that finding a readership was a long slow process that took a year before I even had more than a few hundred readers a day (except for an occasional fluke day when I had links from bigger blogs). In contrast to this many new network blogs gather a readership much quicker. Of course this varies a lot from network to network (ie Gawker’s blogs can debut in their first day with tens of thousands of visitors where as smaller networks might start with hundreds of visitors). This traffic comes as a result of incoming links from announcement posts, just from the prestige of being in the network and from other blogs in the network. Many networks also have ways of cross promoting blogs via highlighting top posts of the week or clustering related blogs together into channels that cross link within posts.

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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.

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Jason Calacanis Talks about the AOL Sale – Podcast

If you’ve been watching the rise of Weblogs Inc over the last couple of years and want to hear some of the behind the scenes story of the AOL sale then you might want to listen to an interview with Jason Calacanis recounting the story on a techcon TPN podcast. Jason talks about the highs and lows of the last couple of years, the sale itself, gives some entrepreneurship advice (resiliency is the word) and talks about the wider industry (it’s frothy – not a bubble). Well worth the listen.

Shiny Media launch The Googly – Cricket Blog

The Googly

I’m an Aussie and I’m proud of it – so when a blog launches on our national sport (ok, one of them) my ears prick up.

UK blog network, Shiny Media have just launched a Cricket Blog by the name of The Googly.

Now this is not a blog that will appeal to every reader of ProBlogger as it’s on a game that many around the world just don’t get – but it’s going to have a massive potential audience. When you consider that countries like India (with a population over over 1 billion people) play (and are rather obsessed about watching) cricket you begin to see the potential for a blog like this.

It’s a blog that looks like largely being monetized by AdSense at this point but I suspect they might do ok with affiliate programs down the track – especially if they decide to explore betting affiliate programs (lots of money goes down on cricket matches in some parts of the world).

My only sadness – they beat us at b5 to the punch as we’ve been working towards our own cricket blog for a while.

I don’t tend to announce new blogs these days – but this one’s going straight to the news aggregator!

PS: it’s going to be great to be able to be a reader of a UK Cricket Blog during the next Ashes series when their team gets completely trounced!

PS2: Apologies to readers in non Cricketing parts of the world who have no idea what I was just writing about – feel free to ignore this post :-)