Blog networks may not be all the rage as a term right now, but they seem to be alive and well, and even growing.
Networking is good. You should always push your products, services, and whatnot across your network of sites, blogs, forums etc. The idea is to try and catch that visitor who might be interested in your other work as well, and not just the site s/he’s on. While relevant networking usually works best, sometimes you’ll find that people have very broad ranges of interests, and a diehard chopper fanatic might be in to knitting as well. The beauty of the Internet helps this knitting biker to get his fix within a network, nifty and nice everybody involved.
However, while it is true that people might have interests beyond the niche, you’re still better of to push for neighbouring niches rather than random ones. Chances are, someone interested in PlayStation3 might also be interested in PlayStation Portable, or someone reading a blog on HDTV might want to read about Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. It’s the logical step.
So how should blog networks push their readers across their board?
I think that the Splashpress solution is a sound one, which probably doesn’t come as such a surprise since I’ve been involved in it. Establishing sub-networks within the big network makes for more branding. If you visit The Blog Herald or 901am, you’ll see that they both are included in the same network of mainly news-focused sites. Another sub-network includes podcasting site Audival, and blogosphere snarky commenter Jack of All Blogs – another sub-network with a slightly different focus.
Building sub-network and having the sites within link to each other in a more protruding form helps build the brand of all these sites. While some sub-networks are more easily defined than others – a sub-network focusing on movie blogs such as Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, traditional DVD and so on, is more obvious than the one with Biziki, Bloggy Award, Audival and so on – you’ll find that there are gains to be had here.
So let’s recap, the benefits with sub-networks within a blog network are:
- More visible network linking to relevant sites, while still having the opportunity to do traditional blogroll-style links to the rest of the network.
- Borrowing reliability strength across the sub-network. A young and promising blog will have it easier if the first time reader sees one of his old favorites being closely networked with it.
- Branding the sub-networks helps when releasing new blogs into the network, it will immediately borrow from the sub-network’s established brand, and therefor seem more complete than it actually is.
- Better traffic opportunities between sub-networked sites (compared to a massive links list).
There are several other possibilities as well, depending on how you sub-network. You could sell ads across a sub-network instead of just on a per blog basis, have a mashed up RSS feed so that readers interested in the niche(s) covered by the sub-network can subscribe to everything at once, and so on.
Sub-networks is just so much more exciting than a massive blogroll in the sidebar. Blog network owners adopting this strategy should find that they are a lot more effective as well.