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Work Boxers

Weblogs, Inc Model vs. Gawker Model

by Paul on April 11th, 2005

Here we have two successful blog network, with two different methods of building their network. Which one is best for anyone else looking to go this route? Let’s discuss.

Gawker Model

Gawker doesn’t release a million sites like Weblogs Inc., but instead takes its time to find what niche they want to tackle and also who they want to write for that site. Currently they are up to 12 sites (11 blogs since Kinja isn’t a blog, but a RSS aggregator), but don’t let the smaller number of blogs fool you. These sites make some money.

For example, Lifehacker has a 3 month agreement with Sony that pays them $25,000 per month. This also includes ad placements within Gizmodo, but still it shows you that quantity shouldn’t have to factor in how much money a network can make.

To make this successful though your blog can’t cover just one specific niche (like a personal finance blog), but cover whole industries. Gizmodo covers all gadgets, while Wonkette hits up political news. You have to take this approach because you are going for a broad audience instead of a small targetted audience. This is a reason why AdSense may not be the strongest source of revenue.

Another issue you can have here is that you are almost banking on the fact that all of the blogs are successful. Instead if you ever decided to checkout the stats of the sites you will see some are really successful, while others are not so successful. Of course being ‘not so successful’ inside of Gawker Media also means that you are still doing much better than 99% of the blogs out there.

Weblogs, Inc Model

This is the model that most blog networks will tackle, because to me it’s just a safer route to take due to its diversity of content. Weblogs, Inc. (WIN) now has 75 blogs covering a range of topics. Some are really successful (Engdaget), while others aren’t even on the radar, but with so many sites it doesn’t matter since every little bit counts in the stat charts. The reason for this is because WIN tries to sell advertising across the whole network so having 10 blogs with 100,000 pageviews per month is going to be harder to sell than 75 blogs with 500,000 pageviews per month (made up numbers).

This model also allows you to target specific niches so AdSense can become a big source of revenue here (as of this writing they are pulling in $1000/day from AdSense). For readers though you are presented with ads that have nothing to do with the site many times and that sort of kills it for me.

Another advantage is that you can generate a lot of inbred traffic meaning if you link all the sites together (PR boost) then you can help sites build traffic up from people randomly going to checkout another site.

Which Is Better?

You can obviously make money with either one. The same principles always apply though: Content is king. Stick with that and over time you will be alright (of course there are a couple of other things…).

POSTED IN: Personal Thoughts

8 opinions for Weblogs, Inc Model vs. Gawker Model

  • Jacob G.
    Apr 11, 2005 at 4:09 pm

    I think that both have successful models. I am prone to like the Gawker model a little better right off the bat for one reason. From a management perspective it has got to be a lot easier to take care of. 70 sites has got to be a lot of trouble to keep track of. Although, if what you are creating is lucrative, you can always hire people to keep an eye on everything.

    Both are definitely nice companies, just with completely different strategies.

  • Ryan Latham
    Apr 11, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    Well if your trying to get some ideas, you have already thought of what I was thinking. With the 9rules Network, you will most likely want to take factors from each of these models; refine, tweak, test, and perfect your own model.

    I’m sure you have great and innovative ideas you are just waiting to test out; but likewise you are wise, thus you are going to take your time, and stick to what you know at first.

    Obviously, both of them have great techniques within their models; so the natural instinct would be to take both of their business models and cram them together, and make a super model (wow, a play on words). And I am sure this would work…up until the moment it failed.

    You would think billions of sites…great…high quality content…great. But how long can this high quality, and high quantity ratio maintain itself? Even on sites where you have others working along side of you, it would become hard to maintain this.

    The decision is quality v. quantity, which is the reason you opened the doors to the 9rules Network to begging with right? If you have a bunch of individuals maintain their own website, or a handful of them. It is a lot easier to present a greater quantity of high quality sites; than it is with a double digit number trying to maintain damn near a triple digit amount of sites.

    However, I personally prefer Gawker over WIN because the content is of a higher quality. And in the end, quality is more important that quantity. I could die tomorrow at the “quantity” (age of) 20, and would feel like I have lived a quality that far surpasses that. Applies the same way.

  • Jason
    Apr 11, 2005 at 7:42 pm

    We do both models actually… Engadget, Joystiq, and Autoblog are much bigger then Gizmodo, Kotaku, and Jalopnik as an example. So, we have the big, high-quality sites, as well as the hyper niche sites, like http://www.divester.com.

    I think having the long tail is the model… some stuff towards the left of the tail gets a lot of traffic, and the stuff on the right of the big stuff gets higher CPM with less traffic.

    at least that is the concept :-)

  • Darren Rowse
    Apr 11, 2005 at 10:32 pm

    Good post mate, lots of food for thought.

  • Peter Flaschner
    Apr 12, 2005 at 9:20 am

    Jason beat me to the long tail argument. I’m new to this discussion (aren’t we all), so I don’t have a history of success or failure to back my predictions, but I’d bet on the long tail. Why? Three reasons:

    Odds: what are the odds of getting a site into the top 10%? Limited. What are the odds of getting 10 sites into the top 30%? Better.

    Longevity: Tastes change. Writers grow stale. One hot property today may drop over time. The tail will always exist, and will only grow over time.

    Potential for growth: As above, it comes down to math.

    Of course, the two models are not mutually exclusive. Which is best ultimately comes down to the management abilities and tools of the network owners.

  • Scrivs
    Apr 12, 2005 at 9:25 am

    Long tail. Good point. I have nothing else to say.

    What I am curious about is if Engadget, Joystiq, and Autoblog, posted the same number of entries per day, how would their traffic compare to the “competition” over at Gawker?

  • Shanti
    Apr 13, 2005 at 12:30 pm

    Long tail… that’s our business model all the way. (niner niner)

    As a tiny upstart, we could never compete with Engadget, etc.

    That’s why we’re starting off with High Heels and Medical Privacy. Just random Long Tail niches.

    So far, we’re doing alright. It just takes time.

  • Jason
    Apr 16, 2005 at 12:44 pm

    I think NinerNiner is going to do great… you guys are doing it *exactly* right: pick niche sites and be #1 at them. People are going to think you’re crazy for the topics you pick, but after you get a couple of dozen of them working people will get it… that’s what happened to Weblogs, Inc.

    Remember everyon thought it was a horrible idea when we launched? Everyone said it wouldn’t work and now you’ve got folks like John Battelle launching a Weblogs, Inc.-inspired startup… think about that… the guy who helped start WIRED and who started The Industry Standard is following the Gawker and Weblogs, Inc. model… could there be any better sign that this is a good model?!?!?!!? JB is big time… not like Nick and me… we’re just scrappy kids in the playground. :-)

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