Saturday, January 20, 2007

Will This Mark The End of Blog Networks and Niche Blogs?

A post on Valleywag says that AOL will be shutting down a bunch of smaller blogs which they acquired in the purchase of Weblogs, Inc. Jason Calacanis, the founder of the blog network, has stated previously that the group of blogs earns in excess of $1 million a month but that most of the money comes from Engadget, Joystiq, and Autoblog. Basically the smaller blogs are being shut down because a.) they are not reaching 1 million page views and b.) they just aren't profitable enough for AOL's liking.

In the comments of the post Jason Calacanis said it was always their intention to shut down blogs that were not at 1 million pages a month or on their way to the mark. Personally I think this goal is a bit high for the ordinary web developer and most people will see this move as outrageous but now that some of the blogs from the network have hit the big time and the whole of them have been purchased by a large company people had to forsee this coming at some point. It is all a numbers game from AOL's perspective and these blogs simply consume too much effort without giving them nice, healthy returns.

Some have predicted that this move by AOL will make niche blogs less attractive and that it may sign that blog networks will no longer look as attractive to big companies if they are comprised of niche blogs as opposed to broad topic blogs. Well there are a few solutions to this.

First I think it is possible for a blog network to survive on its own as long as contextual and text link advertising remains strong. Although this may not be as solid of a business plan as being purchased and managed by a billion dollar plus company this is still a viable plan. Secondly, having 100 niche blogs that get 3 million pages a month is equivalent in my book to having 3 that have 3 million pages. Pages are pages whether located on only a few blogs or across a whole network.

Now last but not least when starting a blog should you go for a niche or for a broad topic. Whether you are an individual or a blog network I'd recommend going for a mix of the two. Broad topic blogs will have far more content and a broader audience but these factors also mean increased competition. Niche blogs on the other hand have a far smaller audience but with less blogs on the topic you can dominate the market. By combing the two types of blogs you can gain a large readership and corner a market leading to greater success for you and your blogs.

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