Another interview about Weblogs, Inc. retiring a couple of blogs…

Yet another interview about Weblogs, Inc/AOL retiring a handful of blogs… this really isn’t such a big deal people!

> The blog network you helped to develop, Weblogs Inc, was built upon small,
> niche blogs and large monster blogs. How do you feel about AOL culling the
> herd of these smaller sites?

Actually, it was not *built* off of small blogs at all. Our growth was based mainly on our big hits like Engadget, Autoblog, TVSquad, and Joystiq. The smaller blogs didn’t play much of a role in growing the company.

> You have publicly suggested that you might want to buy some of these sites
> back? How could you make them profitable when AOL seems unable (or
> unwilling) to do so?

Frankly, I wouldn’t try to make them profitable. I would run them at breakeven for the fun of it.

> How do you feel that the weblogs inc sites changed once they were purchased
> by AOL?

They have not changed at all from what I can tell. AOL understands that the magic of blogging is NOT EDITING THE BLOGGERS, and AOL has taken a hands off approach to managing the blogs.

I always told the bloggers that the day I–or AOL–start telling them what to blog or how to blog they should leave.

> What was your compensation model for bloggers under weblogs inc? Do you
> still think that your method is a fair compensation model for bloggers
> working under a network umbrella? Do you know how or if AOL changed the way
> they were compensating their authors?

We started with revenue share and that didn’t work. Then we paid people by the blog post and it worked brilliantly. So, Weblogs, Inc. like Gawker Media is a pay-by-the-blog-post system.

I think paying people for work is the most fair system–yes. 🙂

Some folks might want to own their own blogs and lose money for a year or two while they grow it, and that’s fine too. There are many options for bloggers today.

> By retiring these blogs instead of selling them, AOL will continue to
> receive “long tail” income from search engine traffic. So much of a blog
> author’s success is built around the community and reputation that he or she
> develops. Is AOL damaging the future blogging careers of these authors now
> that they have to “start over” with a fresh blog. Is this just a weakness
> of working for a blogging network?

The bloggers from the retired blogs are all going to work at other AOL blogs, so there is no starting over for them. In fact, they are going from small blogs to bigger blogs so it’s better for them in terms of reaching a bigger audience.

End of the day this doesn’t really harm anyone. The bloggers have other blogs they are working on, the audience can go with the bloggers to their new home, and if there is a big enough audience they can go start their own blogs.

AOL and Weblogs, Inc. need to focus on the big winners and that’s fine.

> As someone who has sold blogs before, do you have feelings about this sell?
> Previously, much was made of trying to calculate a blog’s worth based on the
> weblogs inc purchase by AOL. As a whole do you think blogs are worth more
> today than when you sold weblogs inc? What are some rough guides you would
> give a young blogger thinking about buying or purchasing a blog?

When AOL bought Weblogs, Inc. they didn’t buy the blogs. They bought the management team and the system for running blogs. The systems, software, and best practices Weblogs, Inc. created are used today at AOL’s other blogs like TMZ. The brands were icing on the cake for AOL to a certain extent. When you buy a small company like Weblogs, Inc. you’re basically buying the people, thats’ why it’s so important to support those people once you get them inhouse.

If you are a young blogger there is no reason to buy a blog. Just find a niche that isn’t taken and spend 2-3 years blogging and you’ll be fine. If you want to make it in the blog business you have to be willing to lose money for 2-3 years while you build your audience.

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