Blog For Yourself Not a Network

First off, I want to say that I mainly have blogged for a blog network, and for the most part, it has worked really great for me over the last two years. I also have seen many people doing very well in blog networks, but it their success makes me wonder: couldn’t they have done it on their own?

I watch as certain bloggers make a name for themselves and while I don’t think that any blog should necessarily be one hundred percent a one man show, I do think that selling all your best content to a network might be setting yourself up for failure later on.

A Scenario

Let’s say you join a network that promises you the world, and you are an amazing writer. They give you a platform and say they are going to deal with all the advertising revenue, server considerations, and design. All you have to do is give them your best content, and they swear that you can make some serious money.

Six months later, you have done hundreds of posts, and really put all your time, energy and passion into the site, but you still aren’t reaping many rewards. The blog network you work for hasn’t helped you promote your stories to social networks, nor have they worked on forming advertising relationships with anyone besides just slapping up some Google AdSense.

They begin to complain that the traffic you are bringing in, which is quickly closing in on the fifty thousand uniques a month mark, isn’t even making them enough to keep you on staff and they are going to have to let you go.

Does that really seem fair? If you didn’t claim some form of ownership on your content, or have some form of long term agreement about its use once you are no longer with the blog network, they now own your content forever, and while they can continue to put advertising around it and earn some money from it, you now have to find a new site to work on to replace the income you were getting.

Had you worked on your own blog, and committed yourself to learning about search engine optimization, link baiting, advertising, affiliate programs, and made connections, you might have produced less content, but made more revenue in the long run, and kept control over all of your great writing.

Networks Do Have Benefits

For many bloggers, having a network does have benefits. Maybe you are a great writer, but not good with technology. Maybe you are a great teacher, but can’t wrap your head around domains and hosting? Some networks can help you fill in the gaps you have in regards to your expertise online.

However, I think that if you really want to be a success online, you have to take the time to learn things, even if you don’t like them or don’t have any natural talents or abilities with them. It will stand you in good stead, and if your goal is to make a long term living off of your blogging efforts, wouldn’t you rather your future be in your own hands?

Why am I in a Blog Network?

So hopefully by now you are wondering why I work for a blog network if it is so terrible?

When I first started blogging, I never imagined that I could make a full time income from my work. I had just lost a job, and was working selling computers at a big box retailer. I didn’t have any sales talent, and really should have been working in the repairs department, but either way, I wasn’t making much over minimum wage.

I scored a spot on Darren Rowse’s Laptop related blog as a guest writer, and that in conjunction of interviewing Jacob Gower, my best boss ever, I secured a spot as a full time blogger for his network of sites.

Had I known then, all the things that I know now. I don’t know if I still would have chosen that route, but what I do know is that sometimes I find it a shame that I have built up the traffic and profile of sites that I will never own.

Other Considerations

Selling – Something that most bloggers don’t think about when writing for a network is the buying and selling of sites. The site you write on today could be sold out from under you tomorrow. I’ve watched as a whole niche I was working hard to write on was sold from under me.

Thankfully, I had many other projects that needed my attention, and so I shifted my focus, but had that been my only project, my only passion, and thusly, the only blogs for me to write on, then what would have happened?

Lack of Control – Say you want to build up the number one site dedicated to a specific subject, but the site is part of a network, and thus it will never truly be yours. The owners can have you talk about websites, services, and other things, telling you to review them in a manner you don’t agree with. They pay for your time, and they expect you to deliver.

This can happen on sites because the owners want to make more money, and if your site is strong in its niche, they can capitalize on that and fill their pockets, while reducing your writer’s integrity.

Other Writers – Nothing can reduce your enjoyment than sharing the spotlight with someone else, long after you have worked hard to build up a name for yourself and since you don’t own the site, they have every right to add new writers to the mix. This can be especially difficult if you don’t see eye to eye on things.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article helps you see how disadvantageous it can sometimes be to work for a blog network, and as such I hope you will give it much more consideration before jumping towards what might be a short sighted goal that could later leave you having to start over.

7 thoughts on “Blog For Yourself Not a Network

  1. raj

    Great insight, David.

    From my point of view, I’ve been on both sides. The thing is, some people just want to write, and if you build it they will not necessarily come. It takes more than just good writing, and some bloggers either don’t want or can’t do what’s necessary.

    Also, you can learn a lot as part of a network then go out on their own later.

    Think about it this way. Just because the cost of entry online is zero doesn’t mean everyone should do it. Magazine and newspaper freelancers don’t start their own publications, and not just because of the cost.

    But if you’re willing and capable, partner up with someone you trust and start your own 🙂

  2. David

    raj – Totally agree with you that not all people should be blogging, and that really wasn’t the point I was trying to get across.

    I just believe that Magazines and newspapers are very different than blogs. I believe the writers are treated different, and that some people would be better off not writing all their best content on a domain they can’t control. I see this more as akin to writing on WordPress.com rather than writing on a self-hosted WordPress.org blog.

    Without control it can be hard to monetize, adapt, and grow.

    I do agree, and enjoy your point about making sure you partner up with the right people, and joining with someone you trust.

    Honestly, that is why I took the plunge and decided to join Bloggy Network. Jacob has always been true to his word on everything, and knowing that is a good feeling. Can’t say the same about any of my previous bosses though…

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  5. DJ

    I have control issues (I prefer to say I like things to be a certain way) and I like to think big ( I dont like working for other people) so when I was offered to write a blog for a certain network I almost accepted…until I decided that it did not fit within my goals of “doing my own thing” so here I am, with a brand spanking new blog network.

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