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Network Blogging and Cross Promotion

Scrivs post a nice comparative analysis of two entrepreneurial blogging network models – Weblogs, Inc vs. Gawker.

I have learnt a lot from watching both approaches and think that both are valid and seemingly very successful approaches to blogging for dollars.

One of the subtle differences in approach that I’ve been pondering over the past week or so is the way in which Gawker seems to have a more natural cross promotional thing going on between their blogs. I know WIN also does a bit of this but I wonder if the cluster of 11 Gawker blogs might be a little more naturally suited to one another in terms of the demographics of their readers.

Gawker seems to be going for something of an edgy and alternative readership on quite a few of their blogs (they released a cluster of boy blogs a while back).They are perhaps a little more rough around the edges than what WIN are doing on most of their blogs. As a result of this I wonder if the Gawker Blogs might be a little more suited to cross promotion between blogs because they have a similar feel or approach. Gawker actively promote posts on their different blogs in the main content (example) of their sites but also with banner, skyscraper and button ads (sometimes quite a few of them if they don’t have other ads running).

Having said this I don’t think WIN can’t or don’t cross promote their blogs – in fact as they add new blogs to their stable the opportunities for cross promotion will grow as natural clusters of blogs within the larger community continue to form. For example they have a growing number of technology blogs that will have plenty of opportunity to plug each other in natural ways – similarly there are opportunities between their consumer blogs, business blogs, life science blogs etc. WIN don’t seem to cross promote their blogs as much within content (or at least not as much on the blogs I read of theirs) or as much with banner ads. Their main cross promotion seems to come from text links in sidebars and at the bottom of pages which has the added bonus of building Google Juice and Page Rank in Search engines.

Sydney Bound

I’m heading to Sydney today for a couple of days to meet with some blogging partners (the co-owners of Breaking News Blog). It is time for some reviewing and planning for the collective which has been live for five months now.

So blogging will be a little scarcer than normal until Thursday night. I’ve set a couple of advanced posts to go live in the next 48 hours but if you’re expecting email or replies to comments it might not be til I return unless I get a little spare time online in Sydney. So talk nicely amongst your selves and last one out lock the door please.

Have a good day or two.

Some Perspective on the Opportunities for Blogging

Today I had an interesting time with an experienced business person that I meet with from time to time as a business coach.

I love catching up with him for a number of reasons – for one he’s got some wonderful experience and has built himself a successful business that is doing some fascinating work – but the main reason being that whilst he has a good understanding of blogging he is not enmeshed in it like I am and as an outsider with some business smarts he always has some useful perspective on what I’m doing.

Today as we chatted about the business that I’m building and the opportunities (and frustrations) before me I was amazed by the potential that blogging has in so many contexts. The more we chatted the more ideas came – not only for new blogs that I could run but particularly for ways in which to use the knowledge I have gathered of blogging to apply it to a vast array of other contexts and businesses (some of which for profit, others for the good of others – and some for both).

The problem is not that there are not enough possibilities but instead that they are virtually unlimited. The mind boggles as the myriad of ways blogging can be used.

The task ahead for us in the month or two ahead is to start mapping out some different scenarios and then placing some strategies in place to see the best of them come to be. I’m looking forward to sharing more as we move ahead with the tasks at hand.

Commercial blogs entering Finland

Interesting post over at StarGeek on the Commercialization of blogs in Finland.

WordPress 1.5 first impressions

Michael gives his first impressions of WordPress 1.5.

Jason Calacanis on an ‘Aloof’ Weblogs Inc

Jason Calacanis responded to a comment on this blog by Ray saying that Weblogs Inc come across as ‘aloof’ with the following comment which I thought has some interesting tidbits in it worth highlighting here on the main page.

‘The aloof is probably due to the fact that we are getting crushed with requests to partner on things, and partnerships take a loooooooooong time to close.

We’ve found that closing a partnership deal with someone could be thousands in legal costs and lot more of that in my time… so, we’re focusing on hiring bloggers to work on the blogs we’ve started and have on the launch pad right now.

a lot of folks come to me with an idea, but they don’t want to do the work–that is, they don’t want to blog every day for a year or two to build it. We really don’t need ideas… ideas mean nothing in this business, it’s all about execution of the idea. We have a list of 700 blog topics… chances are no good idea isn’t on it (in fact it has a bunch of bad ideas at the bottom!).

we work with bloggers–people who blog… i think there are a lot of “idea people” out there–whatever that means. we really don’t need idea people.

best j’

I can imagine the requests and ideas that must come across Jason and his team’s desks/inboxes each day – and the ensuing nightmare in sorting them all through. In the few instances when I’ve negotiated partnerships with other bloggers I know that it can be very time consuming – especially when you’re doing via email. I also can relate to his comments on ‘ideas people’ vs bloggers who are willing to actually put the work in over time – this a massive key to profitable blogging and such people can be difficult to find.

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Jason Kottke Speaks about his Fund Drive

After quitting his job to become a Professional Blogger, Jason Kottke has just published a post updating his readership on how his 3 week fund drive went. Looks like he make his goal (almost) although he doesn’t give actual figures:

‘As I mentioned in my initial post about all this, my goal was to make “about 1/3 to 1/2 of my former yearly salary to support my efforts here for a year” and I very nearly reached that goal, although not quite as you can see from the graph. But it’s close enough that I’m not going to worry too much about it and I won’t need to supplement my income with any freelance work, which means I can focus on the site full-time, something I’m very pleased about. I probably could have made more had I pushed harder or guilted people into giving a little more to “put me over the top”.’

In answering the question – ‘is this a sustainable business model for independent media on the Web?’ he writes:

‘The short answer is probably no, with a few caveats. I did make enough to support myself for a year, but I’m already worried about next year (if I decide to ask for contributions again at that point) because there’s going to be the inevitable drop-off in year-over-year contributions. I think several people who contributed this time around did so as an experiment or as “back payment” for the previous 6-7 years of content and may not be so likely to contribute next time. And some are going to decide it’s not worth it to them to keep up their “subscription”.’

His post has a lot of interesting tidbits – especially when you get further down to the lessons that he’s learned from the experience where he actually suggests

  • consider advertising (its easier, more stable and more lucrative)
  • work on community (people are more willing to invest in you if they are part of it
  • work on growing traffic (pretty obvious but its true)
  • keep costs low (again obvious stuff but its the beauty of blogging)

Read more at Micropatron follow-up report: how things went (kottke.org)

Cats, Dogs and Adsense

Ted Rheingold has a good summary of the recent Adsense Publisher’s Forum (I’m still waiting for my invitation – with airline tickets – to the next one). Ted has a couple of sites (Dogster and Catster) that use Adsense. He writes that between the two sites they serve 6 million ads per month and that they earn around $850 per month (total). He gives his CTR (which I won’t publish here because I believe it to be against Google’s guidelines – even with the recent relaxation of the rules which now allow publishers to share total earnings but not other factors like CTR).

I’m a little surprised by his numbers – by my calculations his ads must not be paying too much per click to be earning that much with that many impressions and that sort of CTR.

Maybe there isn’t much money in Cats and Dogs but looking at my own stats I would expect 6,000,000 ad impressions to do significantly more than $850 in a month – in fact if I could get that kind of traffic in my direction I’d be bringing in as much as the team at Weblogs Inc with their $1000 per day!

I’m not quite sure where the issue is though – maybe its just really low ad value. None the less the information about the Adsense Publishers Forum is interesting.

The $100 a Day in 12 Weeks Challenge

Just stumbled upon WebSiteNights – a blog dedicated to a 12 week challenge to make $100 per day via Adsense and Affiliate programs. So far the bloggers that have joined the challenge are:

It is an interesting concept that I wish I’d known about a bit earlier even though i’ve already reached the $100 per day level myself as it sounds like fun to be involved with a group of people working on a similar project. Anyway check out what these bloggers are doing as I’m sure they have some interesting ideas.

The Complexity of Advertising on a Blog

Are you a media buyer or seller that wants some work? This might be a good post for you to read to the bottom of.

One of my biggest frustrations as a single practitioner blogger is that I have to get my head around multiple areas of expertise. I’m a writer, an editor, designer (I do outsource a lot of this), PR person, marketer, tech person (I outsource some of this) media seller, search engine optimizer and strategist – all wrapped into one.

I’m becoming more confident in most of these roles but am aware that I have a lot to learn in most of them – particularly in the area of selling advertising space on my blogs.

I now have a blog that is attracting semi-regular requests from large companies, ad agencies and media buying groups about advertising with me. This is both an exciting prospect (the money involved in these transactions is great) but also incredibly frustrating and stressful. You see I have little experience in selling advertising on this scale.

The most recent of these requests was for a two month campaign, the figure I could quote up to was five figures, with a large multinational company. I was dealing with a media buying company who were very encouraging. However the negotiations broke down simply because of my inability to get my head around the complexity of what was require to make the campaign happen – to put it most simply it was out of my league.

It was complex on some of these levels:

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