There are two sides to every story, and in the case of blog networks the two sides from a business point of view are the writers and the network staff.
Blog networks need to bring in a lot of money to keep afloat. This is because, while individual blogs have low overheads, blog networks do not. Just the obvious costs amount to a lot of money:
- Full time staff – A huge expense, from advertising sales, management, through to technical. Many companies find their biggest financial responsibility walks around on two legs. If these staff are physically located together then add on a large bill for a fully equipped office!
- Other Wages – Networks will have some sort of guaranteed pay structure for bloggers, then there are freelancers who need to be paid to do theme designs or program new features
- Hosting – I don’t know of any large network that has tried running on shared hosting! This means server and bandwidth costs.
- Promotion – Blog networks need to stay in the spotlight, so there are costs there even if it is just sending team members to conferences.
What has an individual blogger got to pay out for? Shared hosting bill, broadband and such. Most bloggers if they can attract any revenue at all can normally comfortably pay these costs. Don’t overlook the hidden costs though.
Most beginning bloggers miss out a big chunk of their balance sheet. They mark their own time down as free, which you realize after you have been running any business for a while is a joke, your time is a very precious commodity indeed!
Blogging is a moving target, we need to continually update our knowledge. In a network there are dedicated staff to keep you informed, solo bloggers have to work things out alone.
When you work with a network your role is quite clear. Writing, interacting and possibly promotion. Technical and design stuff “just happens”, advertisers are (hopefully) delivered on your behalf and traffic is boosted through the network effect and interlinking.
This means the both the costs of blogging solo and the benefits of working within a network are often hidden and therefore overlooked.
We all have a choice
- Blog network – Work for a company like b5
- Freelance blogging – Sell your talents by the post or on contract
- Solo blogging – Run your own blog
- Team blogging – Work with a group of bloggers, either paid or as co-owner
- Blog overlord – Hire bloggers to work for you
It’s a hard time, but don’t think for a second that jumping from a network to blogging solo is going to make things much easier. Each form of blogging suits different folks different ways. The people I know who have done best have tried each and worked out the mix that suits them. I suggest you do the same.