AOL to Buy Weblogs Inc

I was just saying to a fellow blogger the other day that it will only be time before a bit blog network sells out to a bigger web entity for some massive amounts of cash. Well today seems to be that day with Threadwatch reporting that AOL is about to by Weblogs Inc!

Paid Content writes of the deal by saying:

“This is a very quick exit: the company was founded about two years ago, and took some money from Mark Cuban a year down the line. For Calacanis, this is his second company being sold in a space of about two years…his original company Rising Tide Studios was first sold to Wicks Business Information, which in itself was bought out by Dow Jones.”

How much will they get? I guess this will depend upon what the deal includes and how involved the Weblogs Inc team stays involved with the project. Estimates of what the deal is worth at Paid Content range from $20,000,000 to $35,000,000.

The deal is expected to be announced officially this week.

Update: Get the official word from AOL and Jason.

Update: Interesting commentary on the sale at Wealth Junkie.

Journalist Interviewed by Blogger

Jeremy has turned the tables on a blog journalist and is interviewing them about blog over at b5media. His interview is with Nick Douglas of Blogebrity and it’s full of all kinds of interesting information on the current blog network scene.

Gizmodo Expands into European Languages

Nick Denton has announced that Gizmodo is going to be translated into six European languages:

‘Under the terms of the partnership, Gizmodo’s content will be translated from English into 6 additional languages, then augmented with local coverage for each market. Besides English, now will be available in French, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Italian and covering the Belgium market in Dutch as well….’

Webby Media Blog Network Folds

Brand New Blog Network – Webby Media has just decided to call it quits just a week after launching. Omar explains it at Too Much, Too Fast? He’d previously announced that Webby Media would give 100% of earnings to bloggers that joined up – I was always fascinated to see how this could be financially viable for not only bloggers but also Omar the blog network himself. Perhaps it really was a case of too much too fast.

One of his lessons learned reminds me of my post last week on Why some Blog Networks are Successful (a post about building a network on credibility and profile). Omar writes:

‘Brand is the only competitive advantage. So if you can’t compete on technology or advertising, what can you compete on? The publisher’s brand. Eventhough I’ve been publishing online for several years now, I really haven’t spent time building credibility. This point is unbelievably crucial. It’s just critical.’

Best of luck in whatever you choose to do next Omar. It’s probably best to fold after a week than after a few months when you’ve put a lot more time into the venture.

BlogNetworkWatch Launches

Martin has decided to start a blog on Blog Networks over at BlogNetworkWatch. It’s definitely a popular topic at the moment so should be an interesting one to watch.

Why are Some Blog Networks So Successful?

Scrivs has waded into the ‘How much should blog networks pay their bloggers?’ conversation by refocussing the question (as he is in the habit of doing):

‘So really should we be asking how writers in these networks should be getting paid? I don’t think so because you can find people to write for you in almost any model. The question you have to ask yourself is what type of model do you need to bring in the talent to help you succeed?’

I’ve been pondering this whole question for a few days now since we launched b5media and I’m coming to a similar position.

The question of ‘how much’ IS important. But I’m wondering what else makes a blog network successful?

I chatted this morning with a blog network owner who told me how he couldn’t believe the response we’d had at b5 from people wanting to be involved – he asked why he’d had little interest from a similar invitation to bloggers to join with what he thought sounded like much more generous terms.

I’ve been wondering ever since why this is the case? With networks being announced every second day (I saw two new ones yesterday alone) – why are some taking off while others seem to disappear so quickly?

My answer to this question is still forming in my mind – but let me attempt to give a glimpse of what I’m coming to by describing what I’ve noticed so far about those wanting to join b5media.

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Engadget Labs is Coming (and ProBlogger Labs is here!)

I’ve long fantasized about having a blog HQ where I could blog from – with space for designers, writers, reviewers and for me to sit back in a spa sipping champagne watching it all – so when Niall Kennedy reported that Weblogs Inc is launching Engadget Labs I got really jealous.

‘Editors Peter Rojas and Ryan Block will work out of their new office in New York with possibly a few other members of the Weblogs Inc. network. The new office space will include a special podcasting room for interviews with visiting companies as well as the weekly Engadget podcast.’

Ok – it could just be a spare room or two in someone’s apartment – but knowing the way the Weblogs Inc team does things it will be a step up from that! It certainly sounds cool.

Update: Ok – if Engadget can have Labs – so should ProBlogger! Here they are….
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Jason on Blog Networks Revenue Share

Martin has an interesting post on Blog Networks with some comments about B5media especially. Interesting in the comments section are some reflections by Jason Calacanis from WeblogsInc who comments on the idea of revenue sharing as opposed to paying bloggers outright.

While WIN have gone for the paying of bloggers outright after their bloggers reacted against a revenue share/split model – Jason writes that perhaps things have changed now with more bloggers wanting to explore making an income from blogging and as a result an increased number of bloggers willing to do the revenue share thing. He writes:

However, it’s different today – there might be many more people out there to work for a future share of revenue. So, I think B5 and 9rules will both do very well in this space. In fact, it’s the most under serviced space right now, so they have the market all to themselves.

I think that there is some sense in this. What interests me is that despite the criticism of b5’s revenue share model by a few people – we’ve had over 100 bloggers have applied to write for the network – with more pitches arriving in our inboxes every day. These applicants are not your niave, ignorant or inexperienced bloggers either – they know what they are doing and know where they want to blog. Something is going on here.

Also interesting are Jason’s comments about how much their bloggers currently earn:

Today we have over 130 people getting a check every month. The average WIN blogger is doing 80+ blog posts a month (or ~3 day). some folks make a couple of hundreds bucks, some folks a couple of thousand.

Fine Fools Community – Foolish or Smart?

Scrivs from 9rules network has started another network (although he’s not calling it a network) of blogs called Fine Fools Community.

What is it?

Scrivs talked a couple of days ago about wanting to mobilize some of his older idle sites by getting others writing on them. He decided to give his authors 100% of whatever their posts earned from Adsense/YPN. It currently has 8 blogs on it on a variety of topics.

He’s promoting it as a foolish idea – however I don’t believe that it is – at least its not on some levels.

While giving authors 100% of Adsense and Yahoo revenue might sound a stupid move by Scrivs its actually not – don’t worry – he isn’t completely missing out on benefits of the blogs here. What does he get?

  • Adsense and YPN ad revenue on front page and category pages. Authors make money from the contextual ads on their own pages – Scrivs presumably takes anything generated elsewhere on the site.
  • Other Advertising. The agreement says nothing of sponsorship deals, affiliate programs, shop sales. Scrivs has previously made serious money from shops on his sites and has talked about sponsorship deals on his other sites off an on for a while.
  • Page Rank. One of the benefits of involving others in your blog is a more active/fresh site that has the ability to grow in it’s search engine ranking. This will benefit his authors but also himself and the posts that he chooses to write on these blogs.
  • Referral Traffic – Scrivs has control over what appears on sidebars and menu etc and will refer to the sites he chooses. One of the stated reasons for starting Fine Fools is to refer traffic back to 9rules (and presumably any other sites he wants to start).
  • Departed members Content – the members agreement states that the authors have their publisher code left on any articles that they write for 90 days after they leave the network. Over the long term members will come and go. Thousands of archives can be a lucrative asset.
  • Site Sales – Scrivs has previously sold sites for some pretty decent money. There is nothing to stop him doing so in this case. Members are effectively fattening his blogs up for market.

Now I’m not suggesting that Scrivs is evil or sneaky or hiding anything here. I’ve got nothing at all against bloggers making money from blogs or involving others in doing so – all I’m really doing here is exploring why offering authors 100% of income might be a worthwhile (and perhaps smart) thing to do.

What do you think about Scriv’s approach?