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The Business of Blogging (23 Jun 2005)
The final business plan for Weblogs called for a network of more than 300 blogs targeting niche markets in technology, media, entertainment, and consumer goods. With his experience in creating content management systems, Alvey built the publishing platform from the ground up; he believed that commercially available blogging programs such as Movable Type couldn't handle such a large number of blogs and didn't offer the kinds of reporting tools that Weblogs wanted to build into its system.

In early 2004, Calacanis and Alvey began to recruit writers into the network. "When we started, there weren't that many blogs out there that had reached any level of significance," says Calacanis. "For any of the ones that had, we went and talked to them and tried to see if there was a deal we could do. We made offers to buy or partner with them."

But bloggers are independent spirits. Few established bloggers wanted to partner with the company or sell controlling interest in their content, Calacanis found. Nor did the bloggers, many of whom had been stung by the dot-com crash, have much interest in Weblogs equity.

Engadget, a Weblogs site that covers technology devices, was an exception. It is now the most popular blog in the network and ranks among the most popular on the Web. Its author, Peter Rojas, had previously written a similar blog called Gizmodo for a rival network, Gawker Media. [Disclosure: Rojas worked for Jason Pontin, Technology Review's editor in chief, when Pontin was editor of Red Herring.] According to Gawker founder Nick Denton, Rojas sought an equity stake in the business, but Denton was unwilling to offer one. Calacanis poached Rojas from Gawker, by offering him a new platform and an undisclosed equity stake in Weblogs. But Rojas's contract is an exception for the company, says Calacanis: "Nineteen out of 20 people we talked to rejected the idea of equity. Most just want that paycheck."

As a result, almost all Weblogs bloggers are freelance contractors who are paid on a monthly basis. They make anywhere from $100 to $3,000 a month, with the average falling between $500 and $600, says Calacanis. Contract negotiations are based on a number of factors, including how often the blogger updates his or her site. The Weblogs network currently includes 80 bloggers and generates 60 million page views per month. Weblogs is the exclusive copyright holder on all the content it publishes.
Article URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/08/issue/brief_blogging.asp

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