Back in August, I had the pleasure of interviewing b5Media’s Jeremy Wright for About.com Weblogs. I’m longer with Weblogs, but I’m happy to bring Jeremy’s interview to you here. If you ever wanted to know what went into running a blog network or how to get a foot in the door, you won’t want to miss this.
Network Blogging Tips: b5Media is well-respected name. Why do you think this is?
Jeremy Wright: Are we? Great! To be honest, our biggest goal has to always put our authors and bloggers first. From day one we’ve done whatever we could to protect, promote and encourage our bloggers. If we’ve done nothing else right (and I’d like to think we have!) I would hope we would do that right, and that our care and concern for our blogging community may have something to do with the perception of b5 in the market!
NBT:What’s involved in running a successful blog network?
JW: Long days, long nights, lots of tears, even more laughs and a whole lotta learning! Seriously, though, our approach has always been that if we were going to do this long-term, we needed to do it properly. We started out doing revshare, but worked as hard as we could to move from that model to something that ensured that bloggers (even at the start of their blogging careers) earned some money – and that they got rewarded for the extra value they brought.
Likewise we’ve tried to evolve our infrastructure, templates and advertising sales on a constant basis.
Really, though, day to day the network is run by 3 teams: the tech team (they keep everything up, do a whack of programming, etc); the content team (dealing with bloggers and editors directly, working on promotions and contests, providing training, etc) and the sales team (fairly self-explanatory, heh). Each of those teams works incredibly hard to make sure the network survives, thrives, and that bloggers get the best of each area that they can!
NBT: To what do you attribute your network’s success?
JW:I’d say it’s because we always try and do the best we can by our bloggers, that we’re never afraid to work our asses off and that we aren’t afraid to try new things and to fail (as often as we can, in fact!).
NBT: How many blogs and bloggers are currently with b5?
JW: We’re at about 250 blogs and about 175 authors, give or take.
NBT: How much traffic do you receive on average each month?
JW: Ooh, the age old question! We don’t talk traffic specifics normally, but between our blogs, the blogs we manage for others and clients who run off our platform, we have between 35-75M pages per month being served.
NBT: Why would people want to blog for networks as opposed to blogging for themselves?
JW:That’s a great question! I’ll answer this as a blogger. When I started blogging 4 years ago, I had to run out and find a platform, install it, find a template, customize it, regularly maintain the platform and template, find advertisers, figure out how to do SEO, etc, etc, etc. I would spend just as much time “working” on my blog as actually blogging. And I wasn’t making fantastic money doing it.
Now, b5 takes care of all of that stuff, and I earn more money than I did before AND I’m part of a fantastic group of bloggers AND (crazy, I know!!! Heh) I have a lot more fun.
If there’s one thing we try and focus on, it’s taking as much pain away from blogging as possible, helping blogs grow and allowing bloggers to just focus on writing instead of all the other stuff… While making more money and having more fun doing it J
NBT:What do you feel is more important, the number of blogs your network launches or the blog/bloggers themselves?
JW: Ooh, the quantity vs quality question. You might think that with 250 or so blogs I’d say quantity. The truth is, the number of blogs we have is driven by a desire to provide a decent amount of coverage in a handful of different content areas, more than a desire to have some massive number of blogs.
So I definitely think the quality, passion and ability of a blogger is way, way, way more important than the number of blogs or the number of posts!
NBT: If one wanted to blog for b5Media, what do you recommend will best get a foot in the door?
Sadly, right now the only way in is through our application form. I’d like to see a day where existing bloggers could fast-track recommendations, but right now, because we get 200+ applications per day, the application database is still the best way to apply!
JW: Are there any types of blogs you’re looking for in particular?
Right now, I believe we’re expanding our Fashion blogs, our Celebrity blogs and our Music blogs. We’re also always looking to help outside “big blogs” who hate dealing with all the pain, and would like to earn more money.
NBT: Finally, why are your bloggers so happy? Really, I never hear any complaints, only praise.
JW: Well, not everyone’s happy all the time. I wish everyone was, but the truth is that we DO mess up, we DO make mistakes and more often than not it’s the bloggers who get the brunt of that. If our bloggers are happy though, I’d like to think it’s because we love to listen, we think the world of them and we do our best to try and provide a great environment, great community and great service to our bloggers!