Day: July 22, 2006

Blogburst: Good or Bad?

There has been some discussion recently on Blogburst a service that allows newspapers to access the work of bloggers. They describe themselves thus:

What is BlogBurst?

BlogBurst is a syndication service that places your blog content on top-tier online destinations. You get visibility, audience reach and increased traffic, while publishers get a wide range of new coverage to broaden their reach and increase page views.

How does it work?

Once you’re accepted into the BlogBurst network, just keep blogging as usual. Then, each time one of our publishers picks up your content, you’ll reach a whole new audience — and your byline link will drive traffic to your blog.

The reason I raise this now is three fold. Firstly I have my own Blogburst account. I have not had any of my material syndicated by this method and I suspect that unless I gained the over three hundred links or more that would qualify me for the A or B list of bloggers no editor would risk using my content or someone in such a low ranking on the blogosphere. Secondly Scott Karp and Jonathan Bailey have recently posted comments that intrigued me on the topic and lastly, I received this e-mail from one of my favourite bloggers Cas Stavert:

Hi Eoin,

You do a whole lot more surfing of blog and publishing stuff than I do, and I wondered if you had come across an outfit called Blogburst and if so what you thought of them.

regards

Cas Stavert

Flattery aside I was very interested in the question as I had already been pondering what to do with my account. So I wrote this:

I have a Blogburst account but I fear my postings have never been picked up. Which is fair enough. The questions I have are
1) What’s the point if they only use the already famous bloggers ie the A list, it hardly leads to diverse views.
2) Where’s the revenue stream going?

One blog I read regularly Publishing 2.0 by Scott Karp has a good post about being picked up and not being credited. He is well worth reading.

I can see Blogburst as the start of something pretty big. It’s like an early AP or Reuters of blogs and over time may well develop into something more akin to those news wire services.

You could argue that they are an intermediary between the audience and content and therefore like traditional publishers they just want a piece of the action. To be against Blogburst you would have to trust search to deliver the good content without bias to unskilled consumers.

It all reminds me of something i read an age ago on mark Cuban’s blog which really struck home about how expensive it is to create a mass market for an audience as fractured and broken as the market is at the moment: here is the link. Cuban can be arrogant and insulting and brash but he is very often on the money and I think he has a really good point to make here.

So to sum up, I just don’t know. I think it could be good to get new voices into established news sources. I think it would be nice if it happened transparently though. I fear it is an attempt to suck the juice from the blog writers in much the same way as publishers suck the juice from book writers. The costs of publishing books are prohibitive for one author so they rely on a larger body to do it for them in return for reduced returns. Getting your material promoted on the web is expensive so you give your content to someone else who pays you a tiny slice of what they earn in order to do it for you!

Sounds nasty but that’s my take.
All the best
Eoin

Cas responded with this:

To answer your questions, I would imagine that the revenue stream goes from the publishers to Blogburst, leaving the creators of the content with nothing but increased hits, which when you think about it, is rather like me sending my novel off to a publisher who then publishes it (yes I know, fantasy, bear with me but with the revenue stream going from the book buyer to the publisher who gives me nothing but the kudos of achieving x sales.

At the same time, getting my name to a wider audience can’t but help when my novel does get published, although of course I would be a lot happier if Blogburst’s clients included the likes of the Grauniad or the Indy.

Interesting post from Plagiarism Today – I had been wondering if reading that blog was making me too paranoid. I certainly felt looking at Blogburst’s site that there wasn’t a lot of upfront information about what I would signing up for, even after reading the T&C and editorial guidelines. So I don’t know either. 🙂 I expect I will sign with them – any additional exposure would be nice.

The Plagiarism Today post is here and is worth reading because it offers a detailed analysis of the system and its agreement.

Overall as Cas says the service is good if you intent is to build profile but I should think a blogger can expect no free traffic boost. Attention will only come to blogs well established and already to some degree acknowledged within the blogosphere. Of course it is good to think that building that profile on the web can result at least through using services like Blogburst an access point to print which no matter how negative we may be on the subject retains enormous power and great influence (lest you think I am the only one with this opinion read this blog post by Terry Whalin.

In judgmental mood,
Eoin