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New York Times on Gawker Blogs

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The New York Times Article on Nick Denton and Gawker has an array of interesting titbits in it that will make a good weekend read for any aspiring ProBloggers.

Here are a few tasters that peaked my interest:

On Editors and their daily goals:

Each editor is under contract to post 12 times a day for a flat fee, Mr. Steele said. (Gawker has two editors and now posts 24 times a day.) It is best to have eight posts up before noon, if possible, to keep readers coming back, he said.

12 posts per day is a pretty high posting rate for a blog. We’ve had the how frequently should you post debate here from time to time and I’ve been interested by the fact that most people seem to argue for a less is best’ approach for fear of overwhelming readers. Obviously there are multiple posting rhythms. Gawker does well in this because it generally posts shorter posts – so 12 isn’t as overwhelming as one might initially think.

On Editors and their earnings:

Site traffic is a particular obsession. Gawker draws just over a million unique visitors a month; Fleshbot, the most popular site, lures nearly twice that number, and Gizmodo, a site dedicated to gadgets, roughly 1.5 million. All editors can earn bonuses if they manage to generate spikes in traffic – say, with a link to the latest Paris Hilton crisis or Fred Durst’s anatomy.

The flat fee plus bonus model of paying editors seems to work reasonably well. It ensures a regular and secure income but provides incentive for bloggers to seek the big story and build traffic over time. Of course the pressure of building traffic can takes its toll on bloggers – I’ve talked to a couple of editors on different networks who love the incentive of a bonus – but who are constantly on edge about it.

Is it Profitable?:

When asked in the class if the company was in the black, his response was straightforward. “It is profitable,” Mr. Steele said. “We’re very small, have no overhead, no office space. Everybody works from home. And you heard what we pay our writers. Nick founded Gawker very specifically with the idea of starting a whole bunch of blogs in very niche topic areas, hire freelance writers to write each of them, hopefully draw a lot of eyeballs and then sell advertising around it. He had the idea that no one site would probably ever make a fortune. But if you have 10 sites each making $75,000 a year, then, O.K., maybe it’s not like Cond Nast money, but it’s a nice little business.”

Nick didn’t seem to want some of these stats and figures in the article – and argued that they were misquotes. Its fair enough I guess that they’d want to keep the money side of things private. I had to chuckle however – the article went a little gossipy’ at this point – something I’m sure Nick and some of his editors are familiar with.

Posting Schedules:

Mr. Denton, who says that no one, least of all him, is becoming rich publishing blogs, would seem to agree with that notion. It’s not about the money, he said – or about corrupting the art of the blogger. “If someone is saying that we publish according to a routine of at least 12 posts a day and begin in the morning and if someone is sick we replace them, then I plead guilty,” he said. “We believe in regular posting schedules.”

This is interesting – 12 posts a day – and if someone is sick they replace them. Regularity of posting is something I’m also a big believer in. Whilst it can be hard as a sole blogger to keep up this sort of level it really is important and something I constantly argue for. Whilst I understand that it seems to go against the liquid, free and easy ethos of blogging – I think its necessary to have such a structure if you want to make what you do profitable. I know of a number of bloggers who want to make it big as bloggers but who blog in fits and starts – sometimes going weeks without a post and I wonder about their commitment to the core feature of a profitable blog – content.

How Many Blogs will They start?:

Mr. Denton says two more titles are planned for the short term, although he would not be specific about the particular consumer itches he’ll be scratching this time. Having covered everything from BlackBerries to Beltway gossip, it’s hard to imagine what else looms, but he said writers had already been lined up.

That will bring the number of titles to 14, and Mr. Denton indicated that 17 seemed a good stopping point, if for no other reason than that is the number of titles published by Cond Nast.’

Very interesting and a stark difference to the way that many other blog networks are going. Nick is obviously interested in building a smaller group of very profitable blogs than a large stable of many blogs with smaller readership. I really admire Nick’s approach in this area (although I differ on other areas of what he does – namely the porn) – he really does aim to live out the motto of niche bloggers of being a big fish in a small pond’.

Read the full article at A Blog Revolution? Get a Grip – New York Times

Reader comments …

Darren Rowse is the founder of ProBlogger.net, a blog about the many ways of adding an income stream to blogs.

Darren owns and writes a variety of blogs including Digital Photography Blog and Camera Phone
Zone
. He is also a co-founder of the Breaking News Blog Collective.

New York Times on Gawker Blogs
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