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Why Not to Join Blog Networks

Posted By Darren Rowse 13th of May 2005 Blog Networks 0 Comments

Scrivs has just saved me some time and written a post that builds on my Examining the 9rules Network post (in which I gave reasons to enter into a network) – in it he gives some of the negatives of joining 9Rules (or any network for that matter).

So when is it NOT good to join a blog network like 9 Rules Network? Here are Scrivs reasons and a few comments from me.

  1. You don’t get 100% revenue – if you have a successful/profitable blog already it might not be worth joining.
  2. If the network looks bad, everyong looks bad – I picked up this a little in my post, but when you join a network you’re buying into the values, decisions and ethos of others. Whilst you retain your individuality you run the risk of being guilty by association. Remember that 9 Rules says you have to give 60 days notice to leave it. Whilst I doubt they will do anything to bring down the reputation of their bloggers its worth keeping this in mind.
  3. Design envy – there are some very nicely designed blogs in the network – how will yours look next to them?
  4. Some readers don’t want more people sitting at their lunch table – some of your readers might not like the extra attention being in the network might bring.

Good list – I probably feel more strongly about the first two than the second two.

What would you add to the list of why NOT to joining a network like 9Rules? I have two more:

• Don’t join a network if you’re going to cause too much trouble or if you have a blog that might cause controversy in the network. I’m not sure what this might entail – but if you bring the network into disrepute you run the risk of being alienated by a whole group of bloggers rather than just one or two.

• There is potential for a network to become quite clique-like. I’ve been involved in a few blogging communities in the past couple of years that have become quite insular and incestuous. Bloggers get comfortable with each other and end up just reading each other’s blogs, linking to each others blogs and not really growing or developing relationships outside their networks. This is by no means the way 9Rules will be – but its a potential risk.

All in all I can’t see too many reasons not to go with 9Rules – especially if you have a smaller blog that is in need of some extra attention. The jury is still out on just how much being involved with it will benefit bloggers.

One Danger – In theory it all looks good – my only real concern would be that they take on too many blogs too quickly. If this were to happen the risk of joining is that you could get a little lost in the crowd (decreasing incoming traffic), could decrease the chance of getting some personal attention or advice from the central team and could decrease the ability to develop deep relationships with others in the networks (as they have so many others to make friends with). I’m not seeing this danger coming into fruition yet – they’ve been quite gradual in their introductions of new blogs so far despite there being many blogs applying to join.

Two Opportunities – Someone just asked me via MSN ‘how would I improve what 9Rules are doing?’ Well its not really my place to improve what others are doing – I don’t know what they plan to do, but a few things come to mind:

• Cluster Blogs around Themes – one way to help keep some intimacy in the network as it grows would be the cluster the blogs that join together into thematically groups. For instance if they were to create blogging clans within the larger tribe of 9Rules. There could be the designer clan (for bloggers writing about web design), the gadget clan (for those blogging on techie stuff), the personal blog clan (for the ‘what I had for breakfast’ bloggers) etc. These clans could have their own 9Rules page, build relationships, cross promote/link and even run ad campaigns together (their combined power could be quite attractive to advertisers).

• Interlinking between Bloggers – I’m a little surprised that one of the conditions of being in the network is that you choose to link to X number of other blogs in the network. One of the strategies of other networks is interlinking of blogs – this helps a lot with search engine rankings. I wouldn’t suggest every blog link to every other blog – but within reason this would build the power of the network a lot. Of course this can be ‘encouraged’ in a more natural way once bloggers in the network start interacting.

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. Cluster Blogs Around Themes – This was in the works 2 months ago, but with the limited number of sites we have there really is no point clustering at the moment when we have a dominate amount of personal/design sites and only one sports site for example. Not fair to the sports site I think. But yes we are working on a whole directory setup that allows fans of food sites for example to view all our food sites and even get one RSS feed that includes just those food sites.

    Interlinking Between Bloggers – Again something that has been discussed and worked on. When starting the network I made the conscious decision to take things at a slow pace so that everyone involved can see where we are going with this. If you jump headfirst and try to build up too quickly your message tends to get lost and that is one of the reasons why we don’t have an open submission process because otherwise we would be spending our time evaluating sites instead of helping the ones we currently have.

    Cliques – Well in a sense once you become a member and see how quickly our forums are working for our members you can see how a clique is forming, but this is good thing. The clique isn’t causing us to only read our own sites, but it is creating a better sense of helping one another out. We have already gotten tips and design help from the programming and designing blog people that we would never have gotten otherwise and the great thing is every member is open to see this information.

    Hope that answers some of the questions or non-questions, whatever you wish to call them :-) Again thanks for your thoughts Darren and we would love to hear what other people think of the network.

  2. I joined a focused network (what you would call a network clustered around one theme) a month or so ago and it’s been a great experience. It’s a financial site that can be found at http://www.pfblog.com.

  3. From the sound of it I get the impression that the community being formed within 9rules is excellent. It seems to me that for a beginning blogger having some encouragement and help is probably more useful than a few extra incoming links. Way to go Scrivs, I hope this really works out for you.

  4. there are pros and cons on either side, and I think detailing the negatives are a positive, but I’d note that although you don’t get 100% of the revenue in a network, but I’d argue for 99% of people the revenue would be higher in a network due to the ability to cross-promote and do bigger advertising deals. Sure, they aren’t for everyone, but they can make life easier

  5. Some very interesting Pro/Con points being made here.
    I can see merit in both views.

    Carmelo Lisciotto

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