Young Turner (Where did I come up with Young?) over at One by One Media muses about the departure of Duncan Riley, VP of Development for b5media, and over late-breaking news that Jason Calacanis, founder of the world’s most popular blog network, Weblogs Inc (WIN), is leaving AOL, the company which acquired WIN just over a year ago, getting Calacanis in the deal.
Though it has yet to be substantiated, word is that Riley was fired. Calacanis appears to have resigned after hearing that his mentor, AOL’s CEO Jon Miller, had been replaced.
Jim asks the question, “Has the blog network bubble began its demise or is there a bursting of the blog network bubble?” Having given considerable thought from time to time about starting a blog network, that got me to thinking. I left a comment to his post, and here is my reply…
As to blog networks, I don´t see a great future for them for two reasons: First, it seems to me that many of the marketable niches have already been filled. I mean, do we really need yet another gadget blog?
Second, as a business model, not unlike other, more traditional, forms of publishing, blog networks survive on advertising income. Without sufficient traffic there is little income to be accrued through Adsense or other PPC venues. Advertisers will be reluctant to sponsor sites that don´t generate lots of traffic either.
I used to write for Weblogs Inc, and I can tell you, if it weren´t for Engadget and a handful of the other, more popular, blogs WIN may not have survived.
While I realize blogs are niche-marketing tools and that it´s not always the "quantity" of readers that counts, but the "quality" in terms of influence, blog networks that are largely consumer-oriented still rely on lots of traffic to earn more than a pittance for the blogger(s) and publisher alike. It really is all about the numbers, in my view.
That’s not to say that blog communities won’t continue to thrive. They will, as those tend to form organically anyway. Know More Media’s Easton Ellsworth says in his post responding to this issue, “[A]s more and more people create blogs and build communities around them, more and more networks embracing many varieties of business models (or simply personal in nature) are bound to form.” (Know More Media is, yes, a blog network.)
I hope Jim will debunk my argument, as I’d really like to be proven wrong. There may, in fact, be many uncracked niches. If so, then somebody needs to tell current blog network publishers, as they all seem to want to model the other in creating consumer-oriented blogs.
If you’re interested in following what will be an extended discussion of both Riley and Calacanis’ departures, which is guaranteed to reach deep into the long tail, check out their respective threads at Technorati: Duncan Riley, Jason Calacanis.
Finally, it sucks that comments aren’t turned on here, as the only way you can respond to me is via the email form. I’m happy to hear what you say however, so please feel free to share your thoughts. If I get sufficient number, I’ll turn them into a post.