One of the email newsletters I receive mentioned a rise in blog traffic due to the blogger’s acceptance into a high profile blogging network. Since it’s “Wednesday is Friends Day,” and networking is a great way to make new online friends, I decided to poke around a bit and find out whether or not the pursuit of networked blogging is something I’d be interested in. This post is a summary of my findings and my opinion about what I found out.
First, I learned that networked blogging isn’t as big a deal as it was even a couple of years ago. The reason, I think, is because blogging isn’t just for “bloggers” anymore. Due to the advent of so many blogging platform choices that are easy to start and low- or no-cost to maintain, anyone who wants to blog about whatever topic they choose can have a blog up and going within minutes.
Another factor which I think has caused what one professional blogger called the “death” of networks is the fast growth of alternatives to these exclusive communities. With venues such as MySpace and Facebook, bloggers can now gain the same sense of community and bonding that most networked bloggers listed as their number one reason for joining a blogging network. Internal means of communications channels such as chat rooms, forums, email lists, etc., were a major attraction for potential members.
Aside from the benefit of relationships and the earlier mentioned rise in traffic, one of the biggest perks of joining a blogging network is that, in most cases, all you have to do is blog. Administrative tasks, search engine optimization, branding, design, advertising sales, bookkeeping — virtually every behind-the-scenes task involved with blogging is handled by the site owner(s), leaving the bloggers with the time and energy to simply write.
The prestige of having your blog accepted into one of the more exclusive networks may be exciting for some bloggers, as this gives one’s blog instant credibility. Being brought into the fold of a group of more experienced bloggers also offers the newcomer access to a variety of mentors through the ability to watch how the “big boys” blog.
On the downside, revenues from group blogs are split among the bloggers, plus some sites are run by a small, often highly opinionated, board or even one person. What they say goes — and that includes the ads, branding, design, promotion methods, and everything that was mentioned as a plus. If these elements don’t coincide with your personal goals, you may have no choice or input about changes.
Before choosing to join a network, be sure to check out the ownership rights of any material you submit. One of the more sought-after blogging networks was sold during mid-2009, which means that could happen to any of the others, too.
Maybe I’m just a Maverick and like to do things on my own, or maybe I’m just a big chicken and don’t like to put the control over my blog in someone else’s hands. Probably a bit of both, but at this time, despite the recommendation made by that email newsletter I read, I’ve chosen not to pursue applying to join a blog network. It seems to me the risks outweigh the benefits.
Have you had any experience in one of these networks? (I’m not talking about Facebook apps, but the large network blog systems, such as 9rules, b5media, Gawker, etc.) If so, please share your experiences and/or opinions on this topic.