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Light the Torch – Olympics Blog

In case you hadn’t heard – b5media is having some fun with an Olympic blog over at Light the Torch where we’ve opened it up for others to join us in the blogging frenzy (it’s a group blog with bloggers each representing their own countries – there are even Aussies blogging on it – and we’re not that big on the winter games). All money earned from it is going to athletics organization.

Insular Linking on Blog Networks

jkOnTheRun has an interesting story on how Blog Networks can get pretty insular with their ‘source links’ (ie crediting where they get stories from).

The example given is one where the writer (jk) had been credited as being the source of a story on a Weblogs Inc blog (which was indexed by Technorati) but then on checking later found that the link had been removed and another WIN blog was linked to as being the source of the story.

While it is difficult sometimes to source stories when you hear about them from multiple sources (I struggle with it anyway) it probably isn’t the go to change such links afterwards in my opinion.

What do you think?

Thanks to Phil from Geeky Info for IM’ing me the story

update: As I’ve reflected upon this even in the last half hour I realise that it’s a bigger problem than just a blog network one. All bloggers face choices when acknowledging sources of information.

The first choice is whether to acknowledge it at all (I blog in one industry where I know my blog is watched by numerous others for stories and is rarely linked to as a source – very frustrating) and the second choice is usually about who to acknowledge. The complication is often about multiple sources (and the messyness of this) but I’m sure it is also at times about established relationships/friendships or the desire to impress other blogs or the desire to have an edge over other blogs.

I’m not wanting to say that this issue is an easy one in every instance (it’s quite complex to look at bloggers motivatioins) but it’s a worth while topic to look at and address.

I’d be interested to hear what procedures bloggers use in linking. Do you have some sort of linking policy (formal or informal?) Do you acknowledge the first source you find, the best source, multiple sources, any sources?

Update: It looks like the situation mentioned in this post has been resolved.

Gawker Launches Valleywag

Logo.ValleywagI generally don’t announce when blog networks launch blogs but for some reason when Gawker Media launch one I sit up and take note – because they have an amazing strike rate of launching very successful blogs. They don’t take the machine gun approach and go for lots of small blogs – they launch a few BIG ones. Their latest is Valleywag – a tech gossip rag.

The cool thing about Gawker’s blogs is that they never launch empty ones. This blog has been filling with stories since 6 January and looking at the content already there I’ve already subscribed to it. Also looking at their stats it seems others are interested in it also – it’s had close to 13,000 visitors today already with still 6 – 7 hours to go until the day ends.

Read more at Valleywag

Know More Media Blog Network

Just stumbled over Know More Media, a new (launched mid December, I must have missed it in the end of year frenzy) blog network that has quickly launched quite a few blogs – all focussing upon business. I’m yet to get through all of their blogs yet but some of them seem to be doing pretty well – and they are covering a large range of topics within their niche.

I think we’ll see more and more niche-networks emerge in 2006.

My only unsolicited advice/feedback/observations to Know More Media is (hoping I’m not overstepping the mark here – it’s really just my initial impressions):

  1. As I surfed through the blogs, on quite a few of them I had little idea what they were about until I really searched around them. While having titles that don’t explicitly say what the blog is about is fine – I think it’s important to have make it very clear to readers from the moment they arrive on the blog what it is about. This can be communicated in a number of ways from the title itself, to using images, to using a statement/description/tagline that spells it out. Blog readers stay at blogs on average for just a few seconds so first impressions and clear communication are essential.
  2. My own preference is not to publicly launch empty blogs (they are currently seeking writers on 32 of their 65 blogs). While I can see some reasons why it might be good to do (it gets them indexed in Search Engines and perhaps creates some interest in recruiting bloggers) I think there are also some costs. For starters it make the network seem a little inactive and ghost town-ish and secondly I wonder if defining a blog without knowing the blogger might be the wrong way around. My own preference is to find bloggers and then design a blog around them (subtle difference). Of course this is just my own approach and I wouldn’t impose it upon anyone – there is ‘more than one way to skin’ a cat as they say.

The blogs that are currently active have some really great bloggers on them and I suspect this will be a pretty active and worthwhile network to keep an eye on. As I say – dominating a niche with a network is something I’m seeing quite a bit of at present.

Update: Tim from Know More Media has responded to my post here and gives some insight into why they’ve started with empty blogs – along similar lines to what I thought.

I really appreciate the response from Tim – I was a touch worried that this post would be taken in the wrong way – my intention is definately just to give honest encouraging feedback and it seems it was taken that way – phew.

Money Blog Network Launches

Top Personal Finance Bloggers Unite to Launch MoneyBlogNetwork

I’ve just received the following press release announcing that 5 personal finance blogs have just banded together in a new blog network – the MoneyBlogNetwork.

The five blogs forming the new network are:

* JLP of AllThingsFinancial
* Jim of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity
* Flexo of Consumerism Commentary
* Nickel of Five Cent Nickel
* FMF of Free Money Finance

[Read more...]

Building 9rules

Colin Devroe has started an interesting series of posts on the topic of how 9rules.com was built. The first in the series looks at the early days and how they used WordPress to accept submissions and add new blogs to the network. This promises to be an interesting series to keep an eye on.

Award for Best Blog Awards – Nominations Open

Award

It’s that time of the year when every second day there seems to be a new blog award announced for people to nominate blogs for and then to vote for.

So I thought maybe it was time for someone to run a ‘blog award award’.

I’m going to do it next week – it’ll be kept really simple. There will be one category:

‘The Award for Best Blog Awards’

In order to run such an auspicious award we do need some blog awards to vote on and so I now hereby formally open nominations. What’s your favorite blog awards? It could be a big general one with multiple categories, it could be a small one which focuses on a particular industry. Pretty much anything goes.

When I get back from the weekend I’ll compile a top 10 and we’ll start the voting process. Of course there will be a category for ‘I hate blog awards’ so that those of you who detest them can get it off your chest. Otherwise it’ll be a bit of fun – nothing too serious – if anything we can do it with a bit of tounge in cheek attitude. ;-)

b5media Reflections – 4 Months In

If you’ve got some bookkeeping skills you might like to head over to b5media where we’ve just advertised that we need someone like you.

In other b5media news – with the last few blogs that we just launched (3 more from the merger) we now have 63 blogs (and over 40 bloggers) in the stable. We’ve stopped taking applications for new blogs but have a few more still to launch from the last round and from internal bloggers starting new ones.

It’s hard to believe that we only launched the network under 4 months ago. The growth has been quite staggering. 63 blogs and 9 channels (we just launched video games and a science/health channels which have been popular) so far. It seems we’ve expanded very quickly but one of the things that I realized today is that for every blog that we’ve started there is at least another 5 that we’ve passed on. The numbers of applications were above our capacity to act on (and at times there were too many to even process).

Phase Two – We’ve got many things to work on still but I’m looking forward to the next phase where we slow down expansion and turn up the heat on getting our current blogs to the next level. As with any new business it’s easy to loose track of the little things in the rush to get established and we’re more than aware of a number of areas we can improve in.

Social Blogging – One of the things I’ve been amazed about with the new network is the large numbers of bloggers who have a desire to belong to something bigger than their own blog.

In speaking to many of our bloggers and asking why they wanted to join b5, the topic of making money was almost always lower on the list than I’d expected. While b5media is a commercial venture it is also emerging to be a social and relational one.

I’m not saying that we’ve arrived on the relational level – but for many of our bloggers the major benefits have been the relationships that they’ve formed with other bloggers and the networks that have opened up.

update: no sooner had this post gone live that we launched two more blogs. I guess we’re up to 65 now…. although I could have miscounted :-)

An Argument Against Blog Networks

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.