More on “Weblog Empire”

Filed as General on May 2, 2005 11:27 am

by Duncan

Duncan Riley> Lots of questions and emails this morning on the proposed new blogging network I’m currently looking at setting up, and my apologies to those that emailed several days ago as I took the weekend off (I needed the break).

The running title is Weblog Empire, and at this stage it will probably end up being the final title, business name registration etc… aside. (It is now Weblog Empire) Some people have noted that the name is a little over the top and that it is too ambitious. Sure, fair call, but for those who know me they’ll also see the satirical side to it. The name was originially inspired by, I think, Jason Calacanis who mentioned a blog empire or weblog empire in a post at some stage last year when referring to Weblogsinc. I registered the name at the name because I liked it.

another gadget blog?
Sure, yet another gadget blog is probably a running joke in the blogosphere, but why mess with the tried and tested formula of the leaders of the pack, Denton and Calacanis. I’ve done some extensive research in the last few weeks on a number of idea’s, and I believe there is still a business case in gadgets. I don’t for one minute think that Engadget nor Gizmodo are under threat, and would be arrogant to think otherwise. But its a big blogosphere with a really, really long tail, and I think there is still room in certain aspects in gadget blogging to make the chosen blogger some really good money, and me a little bit to for the technical and promotional work as well

why your network? what’s different about it? xyz is offering a similar package
There are plenty of other networks around now, some offer some great deals, others don’t. Some are only after stars, journalists, or Americans to write for them, others don’t.
Firstly, Weblog Empire will be an an open network in regards to background, race, location and reputation. Sure, if your a star you’re welcome to contact me, but if you’re read by 10 people a week but think it should be 10,000 or 10 million, your welcome to apply as well. I’m looking for talent, and I don’t care where you live, what colour, sex, religion or political persuasion you are.
What I offer in return is my cash, my experience and my time in working in partnership with bloggers to help create an audience and income flow from blogging. The 60/40 split currently proposed may not sound like much, but I’d note that the figures are advertising gross, not net. Basically, its 60/40 on raw revenue (which I think overtime would end up being the equivalent to around 80/20 net). The 40 the network gets pays for advertising, promotion, hosting etc, and I can assure you in the first few months, that more will be invested that the 40% provides. To my liking, having to bare costs and promotion from the 40% means that I’ll have to work even harder to make any money from a blog, and is a better way of encouraing participation from would-be participants. I’d note that other networks offer similar rates but most do so on net, ie the 60/40, 50/50 or what ever the split is, comes after costs.

As some people may have read, Denton and Calacanis have moved to a fixed payment system on their networks. I’m not in a position at this stage to offer this, however as time progresses it will be something that will be discussed and looked at once things get started, so basically, I can’t promise a fixed rate job yet, but if you’re first in and later on down the line that’s what you are after then you’ll be first to get the offer.

But what if the blogs make no money?
Sure, its possible but highly unlikely in my experience. The gross 60/40 split will assure that no matter how little the blogs make there will be some revenue coming in to be paid. The advantages of a network model are that in collective advertising that payment is more frequent and sometimes for appealing to advertisers. For example, $100 USD for a Google cheque per month. Lets just say that 4 blogs earn $100 in a month. The cheque comes, everyone gets their share that month, without each blog having to wait to reach $100. The same is true with other advertising sites as well, many have minimum amounts for payout. Collectively the network is more likely to receive a regular payout. Payouts at this stage will be by Paypal at the beginning to allow the amounts to be more easily converted into multiple currencies, or cheques in Australian Dollars. This will also be reviewed as time goes on, however personally I’ve always preferred Paypal myself because its a nice, flexible way of receiving funds.


Hang on- blogs never make money to start with!

I’m not promising riches in the first 2 weeks or first 2 months. What I am offering is a partnership to build and grow a blog to become a source of revenue for any blogger participating. I cant put a figure on how much or when, because no two blogs are alike, and some will make more money that others. For a concept of what makes money check out some of the recent articles on Problogger.net for a rough idea.
I think that the gross revenue share is generous, and although the amounts are likely to be relatively small to start with, I can see blogs on the network growing over time. The natural advantages of networks are also the ability to promote blogs in the network across the network, and this is another way in which I believe that the chances of success are perhaps better than starting out in blogging individually.

Do I pay tax on the money
Up to your state or country of origin. Bloggers will be paid as contractors not employees so there will be no applicable taxes in Australia.

what blogs are you considering
Obviously a gadget style blog to start with. At this stage the emphasis is likely to be on consumer blogs (primarily targeted at a US audience) and sports blogs. Australian/ non-American sports are also the likely target because having worked in sport association management in Australia in the past, and actually being the occasional fan myself, I actually have a reasonable understanding of the market. So if Fremantle can beat Melbourne away (go the Dockers) surely I can see a market in AFL, Rugby League, Rugby Union and perhaps Cricket. Naturally these have cross-overs into other countries as well. Given a good pitch I might even consider American sports, but it would need to be a good pitch.

I’ve got an idea for an xyz blog, would you consider it

Absolutely, but don’t send me an email saying, I’d like to join, here’s my current blog, sign me up. Tell me why you think your idea might work, what your offering (I will consider variations to the 60/40 split dependent on what’s being offered).

I’ve got an existing blog on xyz, can I join?
I’ll consider anything sent through, although any existing blogs should complement the network. Any blogs hosted on free services will be considered only if authors are willing to transfer, upon joining the network, to a dedicated domain name and the associated risks any such transfer has.

I’m a marketer/ advertising executive with XYZ. The way you’re talking is very simplistic, I don’t think your up to the job
I’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible whilst still covering as much of the idea as I can. I can talk marketing speak with the best of them, but I’m not about to impose KPI’s and 360 degree quarterly assessments on bloggers on the network. If you do want to talk more seriously about some of the concepts, email me. If your interested in advertising or sponsorship opportunities email me as well.

Who controls the copyright?
Copyright is shared. Anything created on a network blog is to be written exclusively for that blog for the time of the partnership. In the event we part ways, you have the right to take your content with you for use elsewhere, however the network reserves joint ownership over the content and reserves the right to continue to display all material written during the period of the partnership. The name of the blog (and domain where appropriate) remains in the ownership of the network. In other matters this can be discussed on an individual basis, but for new blogs this is basically it.

I won’t keep writing this post as I’d like to respond to as many of the emails as possible. Your patience in allowing me to respond is appreciated. Keep on sending ideas through.

There is one thing I’ll add though: you should have a passion about anything you want to blog about. I’ve blogged on topics elsewhere on things I have had little interest in and it shows, and it doesn’t make good blogging. I blog on the Blog Herald about blog news because I’m passionate about blogs and blogging, the concepts behind it, and the freedom it gives, as well as the characters and long tail micro-stars it creates. If you pick a topic you want to blog about, you should be passionate about it to.

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