Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why are Some Blog Networks So Successful?

‘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.

One of the few things that I can put my finger on is that in most cases people seem to want to be involved with Duncan, Jeremy and/or myself.

This sounds totally arrogant and to be honest I laugh at the thought of people wanting to join an ordinary fellow like me at anything - but the fact is that over the last three years of blogging - for some reason that baffles us all a little - the three of us have built some level of credibility, trust and/or respect with those who read our sites. We’ve got some runs on the board in terms of running blogs and we’ve built relationships with other bloggers in the process.

These things seem to be the foundation for many of the applications we’ve had so far.

From what I see - people are not joining up because they see a cash cow (although everyone would like to make some money from it) - they are joining because they want to belong to something that goes beyond the money. I’m yet to put my finger on exactly what it is but I’m wondering if one of the keys to successful blog networks is that they are started by people with track records of actually doing it for themselves previously.

It would be interesting to see someone do some research around this (I wish I had the time) - investigating what characteristics the established blog network owners share etc. I know my theory stacks up well with Jason Calacanis (who has a history of successful ventures) and Nick Denton (who similarly has been behind some successful start ups).

I also suspect it’s behind what Paul Scrivens is doing (although he doesn’t have any big companies to point at - he’s definitely put the runs on the board in starting, running and selling some successful blogs).

I’m sure there is more to it than this - but I wonder if it might be one factor that could be the difference between attracting quality bloggers and not. I know as a blogger I’d be much more likely to join with someone who I’d seen build something successfully previously than joining one that I’d never heard of who just put up an invitation to come join them.

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