The Independent Blog and the Network Question (Part 2)

Unaffiliated sites number in the hundreds…
– Batman (Justice League)

As promised, Darren Rowse has posted the second part of his blog network series today, this time covering the reasons why a blogger might not want to join a blog network. I addressed his reasons why yesterday, in the context of some overtures I received from a couple of blog networks.

Let’s take a look at his reasons why not.

1) Revenue Split

I discussed this yesterday. Revenue complications are a major negative to the decision.

2) Ownership/Rights

I didn’t even think about this, but I should have. I publish a lot in the real world and, except for the one-off newspaper article, I always reserve the rights to my work and grant the publication a license to use it. I wouldn’t consider a blog network unless I retained all of the rights to my work here.

If I post a guest article on another blog, that’s one thing, but content here is off-limits as far as network ownership goes.

Definitely negative to the decision.

3) Reputation

Much like a real world association, a network member would be affected by the actions, good and bad, of other network members. Since it is unlikely that you would know all of the other network members well, this is an issue with respect to blog networks.

Of course a lot of risks could be addressed via a network-wide acceptable content policy, that could not be changed without the consent of all or a large percentage of the members.

I could write around this problem (via the aforementioned policy), so it’s only mildly negative to the decision.

4) Loss of Control

I talked about this yesterday as well. I need less administration in my life, not more. Negative to the decision.

5) Risk

This gets down to how hard or easy it would be to get out of the deal if things changed that made me uncomfortable with the direction of the network. As a musician, I often tell my musician friends that the only thing I found harder than getting signed to my first publishing deal was getting out of that same deal.

I could write around this too (via escape clauses should certain things happen), but it’s still negative to the decision.

6) Legalities and Responsibilities

This would not be a problem for me, given my day job, but I strongly suggest that anyone who is thinking about signing a network affiliation agreement have it reviewed by a lawyer. I have signed many network affiliation agreements with regard to my websites and if blog network agreements are similar (and I bet they are), they are one-sided and need to be negotiated to be fair to the blogger.

Darren says that, the issues notwithstanding, he is happy to be part of a network and believes it has helped him grow his blog, both traffic and profit-wise.

Blog networks may the just what the doctor ordered for some blogs. And I’m not ruling them out as far as my blog goes. Not now, but maybe later.

But proceed with caution, because blog networks and the agreements used to create and administer the same can have a tremendous effect on your blog and your blogging.

The secret is to maximize the positive effect while reducing the potential negative effect.