After posting yesterday a basic Introduction to Blog networks I now want to turn my attention to some of the positives about joining a blog network as a blogger (the negatives will come in the next post in the series). Please note that I’m not writing about the benefits of starting or owning a blog network but looking at the positives of joining an existing one as a blogger. Of course the following factors will apply more to some networks than others (each network has it’s own configuration).
1. Relationships – today I did an informal survey of 10 bloggers from a number of blog networks (not just my own) on the topic of what they like like about being in their network and the most common response was that they enjoyed being a part of something larger than themselves and that it was the relationships both with network owners and managers as well as other bloggers that made the network experience most worthwhile. Many blog networks have some sort of internal communication systems (forums, wikis, email lists or even blogs, chat and VOIP sessions) – all of which can take blogging out of a space that can be a little lonely into one that is much more relational.
2. Traffic – when I started my first blog 3 years ago I did so as a complete newcomer to the blogosphere and had absolutely no connections to other bloggers or sources of traffic. The result was that finding a readership was a long slow process that took a year before I even had more than a few hundred readers a day (except for an occasional fluke day when I had links from bigger blogs). In contrast to this many new network blogs gather a readership much quicker. Of course this varies a lot from network to network (ie Gawker’s blogs can debut in their first day with tens of thousands of visitors where as smaller networks might start with hundreds of visitors). This traffic comes as a result of incoming links from announcement posts, just from the prestige of being in the network and from other blogs in the network. Many networks also have ways of cross promoting blogs via highlighting top posts of the week or clustering related blogs together into channels that cross link within posts.
3. Expertise – very few bloggers have all the skills needed to run a successful blog and networks can offer a large range of skills and expertise to help grow a blog. Most blog networks will handle all of the behind the scenes aspects of getting a blog up and running including design, SEO optimization, paying for and setting up URLs and hosting, finding advertisers, choosing a blog platform (and administering upgrades and plugins), optimizing ads, promotion etc. This leaves the blogger to simply write. Similarly when you’re in a network with many other bloggers and you come across a problem with your blog it’s amazing how quickly it can be solved either by those managing the network or others in it.
4. Administration – similarly to having a lot of the technical aspects of setting up and running a blog handled – a blog network often handles a lot of the administrative tasks associated with blogging such as the management of advertisers (it can get out of control when you have to collect income from numerous sources), book keeping and even (I’ve heard in one case) the moderation of comment spam.
5. Revenue – this is perhaps one of the more obvious reasons that some bloggers choose to join networks (although fewer than you’d think have it as a primary reason as I found today). As I’ll mention in the next post in this series a downside is that in most networks you split the revenue your blog owns with the network (there are many methods of determining this) but on the upside due to the increased traffic, SEO prominence and expertise that a network brings the overall earnings can end up being higher than if you blogged independently (a generalization but true in most cases).
6. SEO – one of the big upsides of being in most blog networks is that on the day your blog launches you are guaranteed to be linked to from each other blog in the network. Networks do this in their own individual ways but it usually happens in a sidebar or footer. The benefits of this are twofold – firstly there is an element of cross promotion going on and some traffic will follow the links but secondly (and mainly) the benefits are that being linked to by other blogs on other domains is one of the best ways to climb the rankings in search engines – which of course leads to traffic.
7. Prestige – of course this one will vary considerably from network to network but if you can get a gig writing for one of the top networks you could use if to your advantage in the building of your own profile.
8. Learning – another answer that I got in my questioning of bloggers today was that some of them said that they joined the network to learn how to blog on a more professional level so that they could use the skills they learnt in their own ventures. One of the best ways of learning is to watch someone else do something and then to imitate – being in a network can expose you to all kinds of learning opportunities.
Of course this post is only one side of the equation – joining a blog network is not for everyone and in the next post in the series I’ll tackle some of the reasons NOT to join a blog network. In the mean time – please feel free to add your reasons for joining a blog network in comments below.