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Is there Room for Another Blog Network?

Posted By Darren Rowse 15th of September 2005 Blog Networks 0 Comments

Today in the Six Figure Blogging call we talked a little about Blog Networks and took a look over a number of the bigger and emerging blog networks that are opening up around the wider blogging community and it was interesting to see not only the variety of blogs within networks – but also the variety of flavors of networks themselves.

On one hand you’ve got Gawker – a network of blogs that shamelessly goes after the young male audience who have disappeared from in front of television screens in recent years. On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Shiny Media who in some of their blogs are targeting young women.

Then we have the massive Weblogs Inc who has more of a shotgun approach – 75+ blogs (It’s probably more these days but I find it hard to count beyond fingers and toes) on a wide variety of topics with an even wider array of authors (although their writers profiles don’t seem to be that high I’ve been noticing recently – or is that just me?).

Flip across to the 9rules network (please remember that they are anti capital letters when you link to them – or the wrath of Scrivs might come down upon you) and you find a very different beast again. A growing collection of blogs who band together in a very loving, relational, non controlling collective type network. There is talk of making money – but it seems to be more of a club atmosphere so far in its early stages.

Then there is weblog empire (launched in the wake of the impressive Blog Herald), blog logic (which has a diverse group of blogs including one on dry walling!), creative weblogging (have a wide array of topics and have dropped their YPN and Adsense ads on the same page in the last few days) and the new Bloggy Network (looking to add not only blogs but blog tools) to mention just a few of the other blog networks that are around – each with their own spin.

Of course there are many other blog networks out there – I seem to discover at least one per week these days – but the question is…

Is there room for one more?

The next week or two will see that question answered (just between you and me)…

But in the mean time I thought it might be fun to have some discussion about blog networks and where people see the gaps in the market as being? What do you notice about existing blog networks? What is missing? What is being overdone? How would you go about starting a network?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I have a stake in the burgeoning blog network arena (I recently launched The Fodder Network, which is still in its early stages), so take what I have to say with a grain of business salt ;)

    I’ve always thought that just because something has been done before, this doesn’t preclude me (or anyone else) from doing it better. That being the case, I wholeheartedly believe there’s room for not only one new blog network, but many.

    I spent the last few years absorbing every morsel of business information I could find — and I’m still absorbing! During this time, I made the transition from Web publishing enthusiast to Web publishing entrepreneur, and I realized there’s an enormous opportunity for bloggers and other small Web publishers.

    I also realized there are many small publishers who have no time to learn the ins and outs of ad placement, affiliate relationships, etc. (many more don’t have the inclination, either). But if these same people — many of them excellent writers and content producers — could find a way to make money while doing what they love to do, I imagine many would jump at the chance. Enter the blog network: a way for an entrepreneurial network owner to team up with great writers/bloggers/publishers so that all involved can work on projects they care about while tapping a new revenue stream.

    So, in a long-winded way, my answer is “yes.” There’s plenty of room for more blog networks.

    And Darren, I look forward to seeing what you have up your sleeve!

  2. I think you are asking the wrong question Darren. The real question should be:

    Is there room for another successful blog network that can establish a brand and mindshare amongst readers?

    Obviously the answer is yes. It usually just means you replace one of the existing ones.

  3. I agree with Scrivs here. The question is not whether there is room for another blog network, but is a new blog network going to be successful.

    I think that the answer is yes. However, it’s really the “survival of the fittest”. If a newcomer doesn’t meet the needs of readers, it will fail. It if meets the needs of readers better than an existing blog network does, it will steal readers and the existing network will have to adjust in order to stay alive. It’s all about trying to reach the readers in the best way possible.

  4. I think there’s always room for one more. It’s just a matter of whether you are talking about in terms of completely dominating the market or not. Like you said, it is interesting to see “the variety of blogs within networks – but also the variety of flavors of networks”. I think as long as there is variety from network to network, each can be successful. Although I’m not saying that each will be successful.

    I think in most markets you are going to have the big 3(gawker, weblogsinc, 9rules) and then the rest. The rest can be successful, but the big 3 will be the most talked about. It will be interesting to see if anybody can dislodge any of the big 3 over the coming year, although I find that highly doubtful. The big 3 in this case appear to have oodles of traffic more than any of the others(including my own).

  5. I would have to argue that from the user standpoint, the blog network itself makes very little difference…a number of the blogs I read belong to networks, and while I occasionally peruse the other blogs on the network, mostly I just read the blog I’m interested in and move on. I haven’t really checked out the 9rules network, and I hear they have some class-act blogs over there, but I’ve been disappointed in the past with networks like Weblogs Inc., where IMHO the quality from one blog to the next is very erratic.

    So I believe there is plenty of room for more networks, particularly ones that stick to a quality over quantity approach.

    One thing I have noticed about blog networks, however…if a big enough contreversy ever arises about the network, it could potentially taint everyone involved…just a thought.

    Good luck on your new project, though. If Darren’s involved it’s bound to be a success : ) Got room for another writer? hehe

  6. I thought it was scrivs, not Scrivs. ;)

  7. There’s always room for a quality product, run by people who are in it for the medium-to-long term, and know what they’re doing. Given those stipulations, the answer must be, Yes. And who might those people be? Well, if they had your commercial skills, Darren, I’d say they couldn’t fail :-)

  8. We are building a pretty good network ourselves. We can compete.


    to name just a few. We have 10 more

  9. Cary — I couldn’t agree more regarding the network facade. Most readers probably won’t care about the larger business, just as most television viewers don’t care about the network their favorite shows are on. Good blogs are good blogs, regardless of their affiliation.

  10. Yeah, with your name on it and you directing it it’ll work. Just stay focused, that’s the key.

  11. And in the same line of thought… A crappy blog remains a crappy blog, even if it’s in the best network in the world.

    Quality over quantity is the key here.

  12. So when does b5media get off the ground Darren?

  13. Jeremy posted an image of what looks to spell b5media on his blog a few weeks ago. Darren hints here about a new network, and the whois information of b5media belongs to Duncan Riley of weblogempire. A network between Jeremy, Darren, and Duncan?

  14. Why is this stuff a new thing? no offense to everyone, but creating a network of sites interlinked and under one brand is NOTHING NEW. Its just the label “blog” network thats new.
    At a fundamental level this is really just a traffic building mechanism (which is smart, no criticism there).
    As far as the real question of whether or not there is room for one more, i don’t see why not. The internet is a large place, to think there is room for 3 or 4 networks of sites is ludicrous. Especially since most people don’t go to a site and say “oh this is a weblogs, inc. site, let me click through to EVERY OTHER ONE,” people will go to an individual site they like, if they happen to see a pertinent and relevant link on siteA of networkA linking to something on siteB of networkA, then they will go to said site. its that simple.

  15. Is there Room for Another Blog Network?

    This is the question that Darren Rowse poses and I commented with: I think you are asking the wrong question Darren. The real question should be: Is there room for another successful blog network that can establish a brand and mindshare amongst reader…

  16. Gosh, I sure hope there’s room for several more.

    We are almost ready to complete the launch of ours.

    I’ll wait for the dust to settle and turn ‘er loose.

    Networks are only as popular as their programming. TV, blogs, magazines, etc.

    If it’s worth it, they will come.

  17. Ahh, this explains a little.

  18. Is there room for a new one? I’m not sure this is the right question. What I’d rather wonder is: “is there room for a new blog network if one wants to make money with it?”. Technically, anyone could start a network, and probably some sites in it would end up being successful, while others wouldn’t. This is the fate of every website, depending on how committed its author are, how often updated, how full of interesting content, etc.

    Of course, if expecting a fast, growing success, then the shadow of the existing networks is very overwhelming, and hard to get out of to find a new spotlight. however, this shouldn’t prevent anyone from not trying.

  19. Well, I have a business blog, personal blog, pet related blog, gift blog, picks blog, weight loss blog, and a few other crappy blog experiments that didn’t work. Naturally I try to put links to my other sites on each one to let people know about them.. am I a network? Maybe I should just create my own network name and brand it! I guess that’s why you guys make the big bucks, and why your readers want to emulate your success. Sounds like a good idea.

    But, call it what you like, a Network is just reciprocal linking to me. Like Brian said on comment #14 – “Nothing New” here. At least regarding to the question wondering if the world is big enough for another blog network. Of course it is.

  20. Blimey chaps, I think we’ve been found out ;-)

  21. There’s always room for another network, but the chances of it being successful increase exponentially if the sites in that network can find and fill empty niches. Unfortunately, the only niches left open probably won’t attract the kind of traffic they need to make them viable earners. (Scrivs: back to clog blogs, see. :o) )

    If everyone starts building networks that contain the standard network blogs (gadgets, cellphones, mortgages, etc) then I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed. It’s like inventing a new cola drink in your garage, then trying to get it more shelf space than Coke and Pepsi. Lots of people trying to do it, but virtually no-one succeeding.

    However, I think the main thing that blog networks have in their favour is that the whole movement is still fairly new – and it certainly hasn’t hit mainstream yet. I think a lot of bloggers are making the mistake of assuming that *everyone* knows exactly what a blog is, and what it can do. But we’re really not at that stage yet. I imagine a huge percentage of blog traffic is made up of bloggers themselves.

    I’m generalising here, but I guess the remainder of the traffic is made up of early adopters who don’t blog, but do read blogs, genuine search engine traffic that actually reads the blog (and maybe comes back again later), together with lots of search engine traffic who might land on a blog and not have a clue what it is they’re looking at (then click the adsense ad because it looks relevant to their original search).

    Anyway, does your Mum know what a blog is? What about the rest of your family? Most of mine don’t. Have they heard of RSS? Not likely. So maybe there is plenty of room for a new network of blogs – providing it’s the first to win ‘mainstream’ audiences.

    Something to think about.

    Incidentally Darren, can I plug my new network here? Appealing to the mainstream is something I’m aiming to do over the next 6-12 months! (Darren – just delete this bit if I’m breaking any rules – cheers.)

  22. I think all of this talk of blog networks is interesting to those of us who are in the business, but far less interesting to the audience.

    I read lots of weblogs that are in the 9rules network, but I’m not sure which ones they are. They have nothing but a logo in common on the surface.

    Even with the more connected networks like WIN and Gawker, I think people read invidual weblogs (or even individual writers) rather than a network.

    I guess what I’m saying, in a roundabout way, is that there’s plenty of room for a new network–after all, readers don’t choose a network, and they won’t have to abandon one network to read another.

    There’s also lots of room for new weblogs, whether in a network or not. If you build one quality site or ten, there is an audience out there, and right now the audience is growing.

    Whether a new network can get advertisers’ attention is another matter–that’s the real competition between networks. With quality sites it’s certainly possible, though.

  23. Excellent point Michael about the competition for advertisers. Totally missed that one.

  24. When I think of a blog network, I think like Brian (#14) and HART (#19). To me, a blog network is simply a matter of strategic interlinking your various blogs.

    On the other hand, I think of the big blog networks more as Branded Blog Networks. Emphasis on the branding.

    And I imagine, as with anything, there’s always room for one more. And one more. And one more. The Internet’s a pretty big place.

  25. I haven’t seen a Blog Network really pan out to it’s true ability. I would see a blog network becoming or should become more like “About.com” a reliable source with piphey trusted sources on everything from C++ to Home & Garden (that is where my blog would fit. hint, hint, anyone looking for an addition to there network =) ) Not just a “Good ‘ol Boy” network.

  26. Don’t forget the marketing specific Duct Tape Marketing Blog Channel – chosen as Forbes favorite for small business and marketing.

    Since you brought it up!

  27. The question “Is there room for one more?” has been asked countless times in countless industries. Why should the blog network business be any different.

    I’m reminded of many examples in my own industry. At one time Pan Am and United ruled the skies. It was considered insane to try to start a new airline. Fast forward to the era of deregulation and you still saw the industry dominated by a few big carriers (United, Delta, American).

    If people listened to those who said that there was no room for “one more” airline, we’d be without Jet Blue, Southwest and Alaska, three carriers who continue to go about their business in a competitive industry and manage to turn a profit.

    There’s always room for “one more” (in any business) as long as they are work hard to define their market and deliver what they promise.

  28. Checking Your Reputation

    A problem that we see a lot of companies facing, especially with the pace that information spreads on the web, is that they can’t seem to keep track of how they are being viewed outside of their company. Business Logs…

  29. […] The prolific Darren Rose posed an interesting question earlier today, Is there Room for Another Blog Network? Why yes Darren, I’d say (or rather write) that there is. There are a couple of different approaches when it comes to blog networks, each of which caters to different audiences. […]

  30. I think the point has been made, but I thought I’d chime in and stop lurking. I will admit I am one to get tired of a blog and go looking for another if the content isn’t what it once was. There will always be people looking for more sources to get their info fill from.

    I sure haven’t gotten bored with this one. Thanks for all the great information Darren.

  31. There is easily space for one. The common average person out there does not even know what a blog is. They are a resource that has not been tapped as of yet.

    Also depends only on quality. Provide a better service and people are going to run to you.

    So, in my opinion, ofcourse there is.

  32. There is a limited audience, whether or not people know what a “blog” is. If you actually think about it, many ‘blogs’ are actually news and information sites that just happen to use blog software. The end result is that new readers of a blog are drawn away from somewhere else – hopefully MSN, Yahoo, Google news, or one of the other 500 lb gorillas.

    As far as a new network goes, the first question you should ask is: “Why us, instead of whatever they already read regularly.” We’re entering the ‘saturation’ part of the product adoption curve here folks.

  33. […] The prolific Darren Rose posed an interesting question earlier today, Is there Room for Another Blog Network? Why yes Darren, I’d say (or rather write) that there is. There are a couple of different approaches when it comes to blog networks, each of which caters to different audiences. […]

  34. Darren, if you will create next blog network, then sign me up as writer about mobile phones! (email to me is embedded in this comment)

    I will gladly help you defeat WeblogsInc – the empire of evil – in my view.

  35. I read the blogs I like, network or not.
    And furthermore, I am a blog network of one :)

  36. Dang Barry, that is one slick design on wurk, nice!

  37. Answering Darren: Is there Room for Another Blog Network?

    Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net posts on hig blog asking readers: But in the mean time I thought it might be fun to have some discussion about blog networks and where people see the gaps in the market as being? What do you notice about existing blog net…

  38. I see that everyone is focused on the readers which is as it should be since we’re all (readers of ProBlogger) looking to make a profit. In terms of bloggers, however, I think more will probably be looking into joining a network.

    I, for one, am grateful to Shai Coggins for having started the About Weblogs Network of which I am a member. I just want to write and not have to deal with fiddly tech issues. With her help, I’ve been able to spend more than 90% of the time writing instead of dealing with cms, publicity, etc. all on my own.

    Blogging friends of mine have expressed interest in joining the About Weblogs Network too.

  39. I know I already chimed in, but after skimming through most of these comments, it seems like people are concerned too much with the readership, and less about the financials associated with a blog network. I think the single biggest benefit for people to join a weblog network is the idea that they will have a collective bargaining tool in their negotiations with advertisers. It is much easier for a company to sell ads directly to sponsors if they have a million visitors per month than it is for each of those individuals to do so.
    This agency affilliation (which it ultimately is if the blog network sells ads for its members) is a smart way to go about business. Properly sold online ads can fetch far higher CPC and CPM and CPA (cost per click, thousand, and action) than simple AdSense or YPN ads will.
    I should write a blog on this stuff too rather than just venting on Darren’s ;-)

  40. Darren,you have 75 fingers and toes? Amazing!

    Room for more? It’s a silly question. The business model is too simple and too unperfected for anyone to think the industry is even close to saturated.

    Networks… they will be reborn, masked, unmasked, killed off, swallowed, regurgitated, at war, in love and eyeballing each other across the room for the next 5-10 years easy.

    Then there will be a swell of anti-commercial blog networks, which the commercialized networks will buy up and try to pawn off to the hipsters who hate “the man”… any of this sound familiar.. ?

    The real target markets are not reading this anyways – only us.

    They have no idea the plotting that is going on.

  41. There is much talk of the *big 3*, and whether or not a new network can supplant one of them. This is, forgive me for saying, a very narrow way of looking at the situation.

    Blogging is in its absolute infancy. There is no limit to the success that can be achieved over time. The potential audience is in the billions. To suggest that 3 players will dominate that is, well, I don’t have to say it.

    Let’s look offline for a moment. Go to your local mega-book-store-cum-gift-shop, and you’ll find hundreds of magazines. A blog network is very much like a magazine. The money comes in from advertisers, and goes out to writers. There are magazines focussed on narrow topics, and magazines that talk to a wider audience. Magazines woo advertisers by delivering qualified eyeballs. Just like blog networks.

    Taking this analogy one step further, we can see the role of the network owner as that of a magazine publisher. The publisher looks after design, advertising, management, promotion, etc etc. His role is very much like that of a “Blog Manager”:http://www.peterflaschner.com/index.php?id=218, a concept I coined a few weeks ago.

    The definitive business model for publishing online has yet to be written. I suspect it will be many, many years before it is. The current magazine publishing business methods didn’t spring up overnight, but evolved over time. Blog networks will do the same. Success only ever comes from failure. So we’ll see many, many new faces before the dust has settled on this one.

    My suspicion is that the ‘big3’ will become the ‘big50′. My gut tells me that networks will become more closely focussed around single topics, rather than trying to appeal to a mass audience. It’s much easier to sell advertising when you can deliver targeted readers. A network of car blogs for example will have an easier time landing GM ad dollars than a general mass market network. GM ad dollars are not insignificant. Again, one only needs to look at the newsstand for a glimpse of blog networks’ future.

    The potential for the blog network doesn’t even exist yet. The world is a vast place – the work Scrivs and co are doing with Spanish blogs gives a tiny indication of the massive potential we’re only just starting to see. It’s pretty easy to get caught on the micro details of our little blogging world. Take a macro look though, and that where you’ll find the future.

  42. Daneeeboy says: 09/17/2005 at 9:18 am

    I think everyone is looking at Blogging networks in different ways, and that is where the confusion over the future of the networks is becoming confused. I read 9rules – the homepage has easily slid into my daily blog routine which up until now has only included 5 or 6 other sites. I now have access to many other blog posts on a daily basis which will probably interest me – since most of the content appears to be on technology/web 2.0 subjects.

    I think targetted blog networks (as in those that provide conent from blogs dedicated to a certain subject area) can only grow in strength. Take a few noted fashion journalists, a blog by a fashion designer, and a few blogs by fashion photographers and you have the modern day ‘Vogue’ (IF the bloggers are well selected). It becomes a one stop shop for the Carrie Bradshaws on the new generation.

    And these networks can provide support and structure to these third party publishers, whilst they do not have to relinquish control of their outlet, and the network does not have to take direct responsibility for anything posted on a member blog. Plus these big blog networks can bring in advertising and then offer more targetted report. The fashion network could greatly improve their quality, for example, if adverts from Gucci spread across the network provided funding to build a photography studio, or send a few member bloggers to New York Fashion week.

    These blogs can only get better – new networks to cover different subject areas, and those that offer new and innovative work and ideas. The ones that I do think might fail will be those that grow too large or are simply concerned with earning a buck for the network owners. I find Weblogs Inc. hard to follow – it’s too big, there seems to be no real connection between some of the posts, and i can only imagine that what they are doing is drawing together popular blogs with new writers to create as much content, and attract as many visitors as possible in order to build the number of pageviews they as a network are recieving.

    The small, well designed and well planned, those like 9rules, who provide me with a selection of 10 or so new posts which will probably interest me are great. The monoliths, who try to please everyone in order to make the buck, aren’t. It’s a reflection of the whole “Long Tail”, new media culture that we are seeing.

    So, I think there is room for as many ‘blog networks’ as people want to create, so long as their quality is maintained.

  43. I think the last two comments (Peter F and daneeeboy) both hit it on the head. Eventually the blogger community will probably turn to niche market-networks. Even the possibility of subnetworks would work well as more and more things are becoming newsworthy or at least noteworthy, we can create an umbrella network that sells ads to its niche markets that it runs subnetworks on.
    i.e. the Design network’s “font network” (just a random example).

  44. this crap gives blogging a bad name

    Original content bloggers we need to get this stamped out somehow

  45. the type of blogging this guy is promoting is not, how blogging should be like, it is alright to quote other sites content as long as 100% of article is not someone elses sites content, quotes from other sites should be included in the article surrounded by you own original content, not just 100% of the other sites content like this guy posts. becasue he now has this pro blogger site it will just create 1000’s of bloggers who just do exactly what he does and which will in turn ruin the quality of search es in search engines this sucks -> http://www.livingroom.org.au/photolog/reviews/panasonic_lumix_dmc_fz30_preview_letsgodigital.php#comments and I have noticed that since this guy created this problog site thousands of other sites are doing this spam crap assoon as well, and then it will effect all bloggers who write great original content content and that is not far this pro blogger site has been bulit around spam blogging, this site would be a great site if a blogger who wrote original content was able to make 15000 a month but this guy s has made it from crappy spam reviews and now he is promoting this all across the web I can’t belive this, i’m sick of seening this crap when i search for something

  46. am i the only one that has a good look at this network of site this? they are crap made just for search engines what is going on here? a lone voice crys foul

  47. Hi Dean – thanks for your comments. You’re welcome to make them – perhaps one comment would suffice though.

    Yes I use other people’s comments. I don’t hide this and have explained before that my blogs are popular not only with readers because I provide them with links to some of the best reviews on the web on cameras that they want – but with those whose sites I quote and link to.

    In fact these sites (including Lets Go Digital who is the site linked to in the post that you link to in comment 44 above) email me daily to tell me about what they are writing hoping that I’ll link to them. They want me to quote them because it means I’m about to send them traffic – considerable traffic.

    I always link to my sources and don’t take more than a paragraph or two.

    I also provide unique content to my readers by collecting, sorting and presenting a variety of reviews side by side so that they don’t have to wade through the internet looking for the best information.

    My method for posting content is fully manual – unlike the majority of spam blogs that you’re referring to. They also randomly post information and don’t collate it into useful forms like I do.

    Lastly – Search Engines don’t regard me as Spam. I am in regular contact with people at Google and Yahoo who not only know what I do but who actually have asked to use my blogs as examples to clients of what can be done with their ad systems.

    If you’re offended by my approach I’d encourage you to vote with your feet and avoid my sites.

  48. Hi Darren, you make a good guestion here. To my opinion there is not much room for the growing amount of blog networks that take this approach of sorting information and linking to articles. I think that there is a hint of truth in those rather aggressive remarks that Dean made.

    Surely there are many segments left without fierce competition but are those segments profitable, probably not lucrative to say the least.

    Blognetworks that are starting out should therefore either get high visibility bloggers on their stable or choose the road of original content production, which includes sharp and analytical commentary of linked articles.

    Thousands of link blogs mean good business for those that create content. There will be plenty of “blog services” flocking to the same piece of information.

    The weakest point of a content linking site is the fact that it can be copied quickly and cut away from the food chain. Someone comes to Darren’s site and checks the latest news and then writes own commentary and presents the link to the original article.

    For the rest of us it is very difficult to follow the road of Darren. First he had the advantage of being there right time and putting in the hours. Now he has the name for himself and can monetize that. The rest of us should find our own way.

  49. HAHA my god what have you done
    you a promoting spam everywhere, yes it takes alot of effort to take all of people content and claim as it as your own look at this bloke he is going full out with plagarising engadget
    my god this crap will ruin search engine quailty.

  50. ok I might just go make a thousand sites , then I will get a small piece of some body elses writings for each of the million entrys i’m going to create, I will then add all these sites quotes to the million entrys i’m going to create, i won’t write anything original from my own pen, i just don’t have time thats far to much effort, i have to pump out as many of these quotes entrys as i can, so google can pick them up and then all i have to do is wait for all the search engine traffic to come my way and bingo i’m in the money big time and these site of course will be really happy becasue i have made sure that i have linked to them, good that really good it works out good for everyone, except the websurfer who only see the exact same stuff on all the sites they visit at search engines. Can’t you just make some effort to write content in your own words.

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