Expert: Jay Brewer, Blogpire.com
#7 of 30
About the Expert
Jay Brewer, the founder of Blogpire Productions and purveyor of Blogpire.com, has created more than a dozen consumer-product oriented blogs on a variety of niche topics from single-serve coffee machines to designer shirts to global positioning satellite (GPS) gear. Blogpire blogs have generated incredible buzz and significant advertising revenue since their inception in 2004. Many bloggers wrestle with the issue of whether to continue focus on their one blog or branch out to an additional blog or blogs. With Jay’s experience in growing a single blog into a Blogpire, we were ecstatic to pick his brain on the decision behind making the leap and the pros and cons he has experienced along the way.
A burning question for many bloggers is whether to continue full force on the one blog they have or to diversify and create a whole host of al niche topics. As owner of Blogpire, with over 18 sites under management, clearly you a perfect resource for this topic.
Q. Tell me the thought process that went into making your decision to branch out beyond the one blog.
A. I started with singleservecoffee.com and it really wasn’t with the idea that I would probably launch more than just one site. Basically I took a topic and I wanted to own a category, try to figure out an emerging category which was single serve coffee, not too glamorous not too amazing but just exhaustively covered the news as that category grew within a month or so we had the only news on the subject and already people with products and advertisers contacting us saying hey we just want our presence on singleservecoffee.com because there is no where else to advertise coffee pods and other single serve products, so I quickly thought, hmm! I could be seeing a lot of other topics like this. Deciding to expand to the second title was a decision of being able to potentially either write for it myself and be interested in the topic or find the perfect person I could partner with to potentially create a second title. The best way I thought to do this was to get someone I know who was interested in the topic that I thought would be popular, someone I could trust and also share the revenue with them equally- That was what the Blogpire was all about, sharing revenue 50/50 and growing titles, out of the gate thats how we initially did it. I also wrote for blogs basically writing for the topics and expanding or to go from one to many, you have to really realize that you are putting in for two blogs not twice the commitment but four or five times the commitment because there is a lot more than just writing to promote each title and thats another thing to think about.
Q. What are some of the benefits and challenges to owning and maintaining multiple blogs
A. One of the challenges will be making sure that you can promote both titles that you can represent and sell advertising for it and to create good partnerships. Also make sure you are maintaining lists of contacts for each of the different sites and all the different products- its really keeping the whole business structure around it. The writers typically write and do a couple of posts a day or more and thats great and there are experts in keeping them insulated from the advertisers and the business point so they could focus but also letting them know from an analytical stand point like hey these are all the top articles and these are all the different things that are going on- to providing each site with the business framework, great editorial and basically giving the author information so that they know what’s working and what’s not working(one has to figure out how to make that scale so that you can add one or more titles). We are a small company but we have figured out a variety of tools to make that happen- to grow the Blogpire without having to make it a strain for each of the different titles.
Q. Owning multiple blogs can yield a network effect and in turn change the way advertisers want to do business with you. Have you experienced this and if so, can you elaborate a bit on what you have experienced?
A. There is a network effect but you will need a successful blog to start. I see a lot of people branch out with a bunch of different titles, but none of the titles were successful, so they didn’t figure out what it takes to make a successful blog to start with so they are duplicating and replicating unsuccessful blogs. Example: we have gpslodge.com , singleservecoffee.com, etc all of those blogs are pretty big blogs generating 10,000 or more pages a day and that you can attract advertisers with, once you can attract advertisers and ad agencies then they can say, we had a great success advertising with you on such and such site, then you can say, by the way we have other food blogs, and we also have other blogs that may be of interest to some of the other clients that you represent. Even if the titles are smaller, you get a network effect with the fact that its cheaper for them to purchase the smaller titles along with the larger titles and you can kind of give them a whole package to pick from versus it just being one title. This also helps out for other advertisers to find out about the other sites. Larger places are a little wearier because its a lot of energy for them to advertise so advertising in a larger way is easier for them and it shows there is a real business behind what they are buying.
Q. One advantage of having a network effect is being able to compare, observe and measure the performance of different types of advertisements on different niche blogs. Please share a few of the observations you have made from this so far.
A. This is true, we end up having a testing ground that you can’t really rival, you get all these different verticals. singleservecoffee.com people are totally different from gpslodge.com people. We’ve been able to try out different ad integrations across all the sites from using Chitika to using amazon programs to Google ads to direct advertisers. Some of our titles have worked great for direct advertisers and some of them haven’t so we also know that not every title we make will convert over to someone who would advertise with us directly. You also can learn a lot from different types of ads, the fact that different ad programs have different graphics or link styles or different ways that you can integrate them or search boxes for, Chitika has Shop Clouds$ and ShopLincs, we try out those different things and see what our readers and the people who come to the site organically or on a daily basis want, you really have to try out a program for a period of time thats measurable like 2weeks or 3weeks or a month and say what did i do last month and what did i do this month now that I’ve changed in the program. You’ve got to be able to take that financial risk with changing something that you think might work to see if something works better for a period of time and measure them against each other and you also have to figure out if people like to buy products because they read the reviews that they find in the ad or do people like to buy products because we provide them related prices or other places where they could purchase it or they’re not really interested in buying the products but they’re interested in just finding out more information on the topic and what kind of ad will be relevant for that.
I think you really gotta get into the clicking in the mind of the reader to figure out what is going to be good for the reader, the other thing is you don’t want to have a whole bunch of ads that don’t do anything for the site and drives the reader away. Ads could be a very helpful thing but they don’t necessarily have to be a thing where they’re seen as “ Oh they’re advertising so they must not be standing behind their content, we really try to pick ads we think are good and we also try to tell our readers about deals and places to go shop where they’re not going to have their credit card stolen and everything will be good. There’s more to that whole thing than just looking at the site and not really putting a lot of effort in your advertising, it’s equal amount of effort for that as it is for spinning off with a great content because it’s either going to work or it’s not going to work and especially having different sites and their network as you could basically really try out different types of readers and to say if we are launching other GPS or electronic sites, I guess we know something that will work versus trying from scratch. That’s been a big help.