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Making Blogs Pay

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A case study of Engadget.com at the NUJ's conference on making journalism pay.

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Making Blogs Pay

  1. 1. How to make blogs pay Conrad Quilty-Harper
  2. 2. Me • Weblogs, Inc. (Engadget.com, Joystiq.com, TUAW.com)
  3. 3. Me • Mahalo.com Inc (MahaloDaily.com)
  4. 4. Me • Catch21 Productions
  5. 5. Me • City University Investigative Journalism MA • TheMediaBlog.co.uk
  6. 6. Case study
  7. 7. Engadget • “Gadget blog” • Founded 2004. Key players Peter Rojas, Jason Calacanis, Brian Alvey • Peter:15 blog posts a day • At start: effectively one man coverage of CES • Low pay, no office. BUT: had stock.
  8. 8. Engadget • 18 months after launch, Weblogs, Inc. and Engadget.com sold to AOL for ~$25 million
  9. 9. Engadget today • 50 blog posts/weekday • More than 50,000 blog posts total • 100(s?) of millions of page views/month • Official blog partner of CES • Adweek Readers’ Choice for Blog of the Decade
  10. 10. Engadget today
  11. 11. Engadget @ CES 2008 2007 2009 • 2005, Peter Rojas 2010 • 2006, Peter and a small team including the CEO, Jason Calacanis
  12. 12. Engadget @ CES
  13. 13. Me @ Engadget • June 2005 - December 2007 • ~1,750 blog posts, ~250,000 words • Blogs, features, interviews, liveblogging, photos, video, “whatever works” • 2x CES, US iPhone launch, UK iPhone press conference
  14. 14. Engadget • Owns a niche: best blog covering consumer technology and gadgets
  15. 15. Engadget • Why does it own this niche? • Does more technology coverage, better and faster than anyone else
  16. 16. Engadget • Search engine friendly • Descriptive titles, body of posts have lots of keywords, effective backlinking, tagging • Bespoke CMS- Blogsmith, great scale. Grew with the site. TMZ. • Respecting the community (Reader meet- ups, AskEngadget, The Engadget Show, product giveaways, strong ethical policy).
  17. 17. Engadget • Always profitable • $500,000 venture capital from Mark Cuban • Other writers started on nothing, or $2 a post. I started on $6/post, left on $15.
  18. 18. What works? • Scale • Niche content • Quantity + Quality (in that order) • SEO • Grow with your revenue
  19. 19. What works? • +30% traffic/month, or YOU DIE. • Niche needs to be big so you can scale. • Need to cover that niche broadly and better than anyone else. • Make sure your broad, quality content is highly searchable. • Make sure your costs are always lower than your revenue.
  20. 20. Money/Advertising • Adsense • Banner ads • Promotions • Sponsorship of gift guides, events, conference coverage • See: http://advertising.gawker.com/
  21. 21. Engadget • “It's not that we're doing this all for you. No, sir or madam -- we're doing this because we are you. “ -Joseph Flately, Engadget.com • BUT: strong editorial ethics.
  22. 22. Ethics • Buy your own gear (apart from AOL issue laptops/monitors) • Give away or return any products given by companies • Pay for all travel/accommodation • NYTimes ethics
  23. 23. Engadget • Liveblogging conferences key to Engadget’s growth and success
  24. 24. Engadget
  25. 25. Summary • Early mover • Better than competitors • Loooooooow cost, high profit • Aol: incompetence, not interference • Open content (free iPhone app, full content RSS) • Other: 20 hour days @CES (fun for me, but worth noting)
  26. 26. What’s the trick? • Low cost
  27. 27. Engadget • Similar technique/model works for: • Weblogs, Inc. • Gawker Network • TechCrunch • BoingBoing, Mashable (Federated Media)

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