My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad

May 2005

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        

« 'Blogumentary' Screening, Panel Tonight | Main | Newspapers, Sensibility and Worldview »

February 03, 2005

Comments

/pd

Whats interesting is that old "British Empire" was literally developed with Pen and Paper, across many many lands and seas..

So in todays analogy, an "empire: could also be built in terms of Blogs and Links !!

Jason

Well, empire building isn't as easy as it seems.

Compare Nick's traffic here:
http://www.nickdenton.org/002013.html

To Wanda Lust here:
http://www.sitemeter.com/stats.asp?site=sm5wandalust

WandaLust looks great and has solid editorial... but it gets 68 page views a day. Gawker Media and Weblogs, Inc. both have over 1M page views a day.

Looking like a blog network is one thing, having the traffic is another. There are about 20 people doing Weblogs, Inc/Gawker photocopies out there, but none of them have hit any kind of traffic/traction. To do this on the Gawker/WIN level takes an investment of at least $500k-1M and 12-18 months... and that cost is doubling every six months I think.

http://www.nanologs.com, Mink Media, and this one which is a total knock off and is guilty of trade mark infringement: http://www.autoblog.it/

starting is easy.... finishing is hard!

best jason

Brad

It truly is amazing how the weblog has grown to the point that creative minds are harnessing this technology into profitable ventures. Granted that both of the companies mentioned in your post, are making the bulk of the profits on advertising dollars, which relies heavily on traffic. If a site does poorly in traffic, then it will never attract the large numbers of partners and sponsors to drive the company. I am going to assume that the primary point of interest for you Dan is the journalistic aspects of these sites. Each one's content is managed by a group of writers that actually get paid to update weblogs, but in actuality these sites do not see themselves as weblogs per say. But more as online magazines that are simply utilizing the technology to solve a business need. We mustn’t forget about the successful individuals that are creating an income on the creation of weblogs for others. Just the other day I read on EBay, a person was selling his talents designing weblogs, for a fee. To add to that, we also see many more software companies putting efforts towards CMS software or weblog software, why even Bill Gates was quoted in an interview on Gizmodo, stating how Microsoft has been working on the possibilities of weblog like functionality in packages. I personally think it is great, and that there is a big future for this business. I also feel that this is not going to be something that will be easily accomplished. Average Joe-Blogger will not make enough of an income off of his hobby blog, and Jan-Doe-Typepad will never attract the amount of readers that will lure in perspective advertisers. But it still is a fantastic idea.

ludo

Jason, in a sense you're right in saying that autoblog.it is a knockoff of autoblog.com, in the same sense that autoblog.com is a knockoff of lots of other blogs that came before it. Our layout is similar only in a very general sense, and we're using a custom software platform (which we are constantly improving and releasing under a GPL license), and original content.

So I don't think we can be labelled as a knockoff, unless you are looking at autoblog's name only (which could be, unless you can read Italian), in which case you should know that all our blogs have names built as (blog topic) + blog.it. The Italian word for car is "automobile", so autoblog is the most obvious name. Or do you think we should have named it "carblog.it"?

We admit of being guilty of having taken inspiration from one of your blogs, but it's not autoblog it's engadget. And by "inspiration" I mean the same thing that Lessig exposes in details in "Free Culture" (not that I think our blogs are works of art, but I hope you get the sense of what I'm saying). If anything, I think some measure of an enterprise's success is if it succeeds in setting a model for others to follow, and hopefully to improve.

Keep up the good work!

Jason

Well, "autoblog" is no longer a generic name... it is a protected copyright. So using http://www.autoblog.it or autoblog.ANYTHING is not approriate--and perhaps illegal.

Your site is also red and black, it also has the same exact link colors, it has the same exact layout, it has the same most commented on list in the same exact column, etc.

The best thing to do is not fight about it... we should work together!!! Send me an email (jason at calacanis dot com) or give me a call at 310 456 4900 and let's grab lunch and see if we can do a partnership... we would love to have our content in Italy.

Vertu

ok thank you

Robert Andrews

Jason,

Minkmedia has only just launched. I'm sure Gawker didn't start off with a million pages impressions per day.

Sure, for Honourable Fiend read Wonkette, for Wandalust read some other travel blog. But the real issue is whether, through these blogs and others, Britain will develop a real blogging/editorial/nanopublishing culture in the same way Gawker, Weblogs In. (heck, actually, just any and every weblog) has in the US.

No-one in the UK's reading Gawker or Wonkette. Save for Wandalust (implicitly), the topics of these other blogs are uniquely British.

Rob

pieman

That's interesting about Wandalust. I never bothered to look at their stats before. I just assumed, rather dimly, that because they'd been featured in the mainstream press etc. they were some kinda big shots when actually even my blog gets way more traffic than them.

Their situation, however temporary it is, looks even more shabby when you look at these stats:

http://www.sitemeter.com/default.asp?action=stats&site=sm5wandalust&report=33

Traffic's not exactly increasing noticeably,is it? Good luck to them, I really hope it works. But, with the publicity they had i.e. way more than most blogs, I wonder why the traffic hasn't followed the column inches?

Not sure how long the ad dollars will hang around if things don't do a Gawker soon.

Christophe Labedan

The thing is, if you start a succesful business, you're bound to be copied to a certain extend.

What Jason and Weblogs Inc have done is tell the world, "here is a potential way for you to make money with little investment to start with". I also agree that to get to the level of the US guys will take enormous amounts of time, money and dedication. I have started a similar business in France with 2 other media guys(totally inspired by your business model) with 9 blogs todate and 10 contributors... and within 2 months, another 2 started talking about launching the concept , and even I find this frustrating although I certainly can't claim any ownership...

Ultimately, it's not applying the concept that will make it a success, it is the tone and the personality of each blog that will make a difference. I can see huge differences in the way Jalopnik and autoblog talk about cars although you could argue that the same concept is applied with both companies. I think it would be difficult for autoblog.it to translate US articles for the Italian market as a lot of stuff may be irrelevant to their readers (a blend of European and US news would probably work).

In the end, I agree with Jason, only trafic will tell and we have a lot to do to get there.
Best

Sabrina

To be fair to my fledgling stable, the site meter stats are wildly inaccurate and the Wanda Lust ones particularly so. I don't know why because it isn't something I've really paid any attention to. I look at the output from the log files when I need a metric. On Tuesday, the last day I looked at the log files, Wanda Lust had 1,939 page views; Honourable Fiend had 1,978, and Rising Slowly had 5,278.

Those numbers are nothing to boast about, but at least they're accurate. As soon as we have time to make the log files for each of our sites output into a reasonably attractive, per-domain format, we will maintain public stats via the Mink Media site; that's been a goal on my To Do list for a few weeks. But at the moment we're very busy working on new blogs, ad formats and sponsors, so that will have to wait.

It's worth noting that there are 300 million people in the US, and 53 million in the UK. Mink Media blogs are aimed firmly at the UK market; I don't believe we're ever going to see "Gawker/WIN level" numbers here, nor do I think those sites provide a numeric standard applicable anywhere outside the US. It's a different market with different demographics here; the numbers, too, will always be different. Though obviously, I'd like to get them a *little* closer :)

Julio Alonso

Just to add to the pot, we are trying to follow the nanopublishing model in Spain aimed at all the Spanish speaking community. We have a three months old gadgets blog (Xataka.com) with some 100.000 page views/month and will be launching two new ones this month. Again, nothing at the level of Gawker or Weblogs Inc., but nevertheless taking the leading spot in this market in the Spanish speaking arena.

Should we all start an industry association?

Suw

I can't help thinking that the current nanopublishing model is one that only a few sites are going to be able to successfully use, and the sites that are successful will be the ones that got in there first or who have a unique take on it. It takes a stupendous amount of effort to get a blog up and running and attracting serious traffic, and only the highest traffic sites are likely to make enough money through advertising to survive financially.

I'd love to know, out of the 6.7 million blogs tracked by Technorati, how many are making enough money to support both the writer and a business infrastructure. I'd be betting it's precious few.

I can't help wondering if the advertising model is fundamentally broken for the majority of nanopublishers. Unless you have a good, solid investment then you can't pay bloggers a reasonable amount of money for the effort they need to put into it, so you end up with a business based on the goodwill/desperation of the writer to continue blogging for a small sum of money. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think that's a secure foundation for a business.

In terms of individual success, it is easier to make money *because* of blogs, rather than from them. For businesses I think a plan predicated on blog advertising is likely to be on thin ice, and increasingly so as more and more of them spring up.

Jason

Sabrina: In terms of traffic your internal logs are probably off by a factor of 5x because of spiders. Because of pinging blogs get hit by spiders at a rate much, much higher then normal sites.

Nick Denton had the same issue, as did Boinboing with their internal stats vs. things like Sitemeter.

Sitemeter and those type of tools show webpages that were displayed... that actually showed up in a browser window via Javascript. Now, some folks don't have javascript turned on, and wireless reader def. don't have it turn on. So, Sitemeter is off by 3-10% perhaps.

Your internal logs right now are probably getting 1,500 pages worth of spiders a day... that is no a lot because some bad spiders go an load each HTML page--EVERY DAY! We had this type of attack at Weblogs, Inc. One day all the WIN blogs went up 1-4k from one spider. For a blog like Engadget with over 500,000 pages a day we didn't notice... for a new blog like www.droxy.com that was getting 1k a day you would notice immediately (i.e. why did we just double).

The Mink content is excellent.. if you guys do it for a year or two you will get to 10-50,000 pages a day. That is 300-1.5M pages a month. If you can make $1-5 per page (real page view) served you'll be making $300 -$7,500 a month or $3,600 to $90,000 a year--that's nice little media business when you have five of them like you do/will. Two or three years from now you would have five full-time employees.

I love organic growth... however, to get attention in the blogosphere today is much different then just six months ago. If you want to get to 10-50k pages a day in month one you need to spend a lot of money.... money you will not get back for 3 years.

Making a business out of this is very, very hard i'm learning... this is not a quick buck business... this is a grind it out for 3-5 years to make it opportunity.

Nick's been at it for 3 years, we've been at it for one, and there is a new wave of people starting now... it's getting harder and harder to compete for sure. I don't think anyone is going to make a gadget site that competes with Gizmodo and Engadget unless they are willing to invest at least $1M in marketing, editors, and sales people--that vertical is done. Same with cars... it would take $500k to compete in that space with Autoblog and Jalopnik. Same with video games, etc.

So, the verticals are closing up, and the established blogs are getting stronger and more defensible. This is the natural progression of media. No one is starting a cable channel for music videos or sports right now to compete with MTV/VH1 and ESPN/Fox Sports.

Startup media is about niche... you find a niche, work your ass off for a couple of years and you might build an audience--or not.

Wandalust is great... and you're a talented writer so I think Wandalust will become a larger brand like Gadling in the next year... it will just take time, effort, sacrifice, etc.

John

Sabrina's numbers didn't include spiders. I run the numbers, and I exclude log lines with spidery UA strings.

Having looked at it I honestly can't figure out WTF Sitemeter had going on there, since it's *spectacularly* wrong. Mind you, I'd never seen a 'real' site using Sitemeter before.

On the plus side Jason's chivvying here did mean I got sufficiently motivated to fix the problem with a decent log analyser, a remote server and a cron job. So thanks, I guess. I'll be taking the SM buttons off the sites shortly -- I don't mind people seeing numbers, but I'd prefer they were accurate.

FWIW I agree that there's not much point for still more people getting into the Autoblog/Gizmodo spaces (and some others). Living in the UK I *do* see a space for a tech-related blog which doesn't drone on about US-specific things which we can't buy/don't care about/wouldn't work here anyway (cf: all TV-related products), however. Equally what passes for Sports where Jason lives doesn't really have much of an audience outside the US, and vice versa. Gadling's achingly-hip attitude bears so little resemblance to Wandalust that they look wrong being in the same category together. And I suspect that pretty much every country can have its own Honourable Fiend/Wonkette.

[On the other hand there are some commercial-blog movements which I totally don't get. Video games? What the hell do blogs bring to *that* party? imho that particular 'vertical' was comprehensively tied up years ago by nonblog sites, and certainly if I were buying ads, no new site would be interesting unless it had readers which the bigger gaming sites didn't already have. Why spend the same money twice? ]

There's plenty of room for building audiences, in short, as you say. And clearly we're all not in the business of running one blog for money, as much as we're interested in running several-or-a-great-many sites which assist each other and provide revenue as an aggregated group.

Obvious to us, but I do see a lot of pointless anti-commercial drivel which seems predicated on the notion that it's dumb to slap ads on your personal blog and expect to make mi££ion$. Like that bears any relation to what Gawker/Mink/Weblogsinc are doing.

Last point, this time regarding Jason's bold claim that he's got the auto market locked. If I were he I'd be saying the same stuff - it sure can't hurt to try to dissuade potential competitors. ;-)

But, in the admittedly unlikely event they ever got their shit together, that kind of talk won't stop established auto-fan brands like What Car and Autocar mags (to name the big 2 UK titles, insert local names here) from starting auto blogs. A person would be foolish to bet against that kind of effort knocking the likes of Autoblog out of the park in terms of raw traffic and sales experience, and without even trying very hard. Me, I'm bored to tears by the very idea of a car blog. Maybe something about tube trains?

Jason

>> Last point, this time regarding Jason's bold
>> claim that he's got the auto market locked.
>> If I were he I'd be saying the same stuff -
>> it sure can't
>> hurt to try to dissuade potential competitors. ;-)

John,

Anyone can come into any market and take it if they are willing to spend the money... so, if someone wants to spend a billion taking on the NYT, WSJ or NBC they can certainly try... however it doesn't make business sense to do so.

In the case of certain sectors I'm not worried about competition from large players because a) I've faced it many times before and won, b) we've got a large group of blogs and we don't have to be #1 in a category to have it be profitable (although we're going to try very hard to be #1 in any category we take on), and c) large businesses are not going to trade in their $5-100M car magazine businesses to capture the tiny auto blog industry. you're following this model, so I assume you agree.

Frankly, big companies are east to deal with... smaller firms like Mink I would see as more of a competitor... you guys are motivated and you get it. You don't have a business to cannibalize so you can just run free... that is dangerous.

In terms of video games that is a very crowded space,you are correct. However, we're getting over 50,000 page views per day on Joystiq already which puts us in a great position. also, we do provided something different with a blog... constantly updated and unbiased news. I'm sure by the end of the year it will be 500,000 page views a day, and that would be very significant.

I think you're reading into my comments a little too much there John... however, it's interesting to see you speculate as to what i'm thinking!

best j

Seb

Jason,

I think that maybe you place too much emphasis on the idea that large players in an established media market need to buy their way in to the nanopublishing market. You seem to have missed the point about customer loyalty and sheer weight of numbers inherent in John's argument, but I'm intrigued as to why you think this: is it a result of your own experiences and costs building a network whilst commercial blogs are still an experimental form, or part of a fundamental approach to building market share?

Publications such as Auto-Trader have recognised for a long time that their market is little more than a series of conversations, and their entire business model is based around enabling (and right now, controlling) those conversations. In this particular case those conversations lead to transactions. For all of its flaws, such a publication has an audience that is vast, informed, and loyal.

Communities self-organise around both the online and offline components of such publications. Many of the benefits of a liberated customer base have yet to permeate the boardrooms of traditional media publishers, so even the online services they offer are based around a system of controlling and limiting the interaction of their audience.

All it will take to change this is one person. When the right person at Auto-Trader has a flash of inspiration and decides to let the conversation steer the business, however unlikely that should seem, sites such as Autoblog had better have a compelling offering to survive. It's entirely possible that this order of change is already happening. Misconceptions about large players needing to buy an audience or market share ignore the fact that they already have one.

Commercial Nanopublishing appears to be a flourishing ecosystem only for as long as you avoid comparing it to traditional media. At that point, your numeric comparisons to other start-ups in the blog space start to look unimpressive. Of course no traditional publisher is going to trade in a multi-million dollar print magazine for a blog: the two are not mutually exclusive, and in parallel, are more compelling than either is alone.

By no means am I saying that the blog-based commercial model is flawed, but I do think that it would be complacent on the part of those that understand new models of business to assume that organisations that follow a different model are incapable of adapting to new markets.

I also think you and John are both wrong about the Video Games segment of the market, but more from a lack of understanding about where the large games market has focussed its efforts historically, and where it will be in the next few years. I'll have more on that on my own (being re-built) site in short order, I've already used enough of Dan's column-pixels.

Cheers,

Seb Potter.


P.S. Autoblog is a name, and not protected by copyright. Did you mean that you've been operating the Autoblog.com site as a recognised mark in Italy, and, because trademarks are regional, registered it as a trademark in Italy, thus precluding another company from damaging your reputation and harming your customers by offering inferior goods and services under your legally-protected trademark?

Jason

>> I do think that it would be complacent on the part of
>> those that understand new models of business to assume
>> that organisations that follow a different model are
>> incapable of adapting to new markets.

Well, people the past paradigm typically do not make the jump... thus the term paradigm shift. So, you are correct they could make the jump, but in 99 out of 100 cases they won't/can't.

Blogging cannibalizes existing businesses, so unless they want to layoff 20 writers and hire back four for 1/4 of the price they might want to stick with the big money making businesses. Running a newpaper/magazine and a blog at the same time just doesn't work so well... one or the other will suffer.

So, that is my thinking on big players. Little players are the threat... someone who loves cars so much that they just want to sit there and write about them all day with passion, with pay or not, year after year. Those folks--which do not come around too often--are the ones that will take a seat at the table in two or three years. You basically have to dedicate you life to this for 1-3 years to make it into a business... and you have to forget about making money for a large portion of that time... that is what startup publishing is all about, and that is why most people fail at it.

RE: Autoblog, it does operate in Italy where we have thousands and thousands of readers.

let me know when your blog is up !

best j

Seb

Jason, thanks for responding.

Could you explain further how blogging cannibalizes existing business? As you see it, in what way are existing business models being consumed by the blogging form, and how does this translate into a lower financial value for the input of contributing writers?

More importantly, what do you see as the role of writers producing original material and investigating sources, as opposed to the editing and editorial that is the primary function of most blogs? Is the lower financial value of contributions to your blogs a direct function of the reduced effort required to collate news, rather than to produce it?

Hopefully I'll have a fair bit more content up in the next few days, my main focus at the moment is taking a hatchet to everything I've written in recent years with an eye to relevance and quality. It's highly unlikely to be in a blog format, but there'll be more than ample facility for exciting discussion.

Thanks again,

Seb.

Frank

What exactly is the point of calling something a weblog if its written by industry professionals with money-making intentions. I'm not being precious about the weblog label, I just think they should call it an online publication and be done with it. Having a diary-format collection of views and comments as part of that publication is something different: that you can call a weblog, especially if it's written by one clearly identifiable person.

Jason

Seb,

great points... i'm crushed with work, but would love to grab coffee with you some time... ping me at jasoncalacanis on skype/aol/yahoo. not sure where you're based... i'm nyc/la/other :-)

all the best, j

The comments to this entry are closed.