Expanding blogs to make money

From the Financial Times, 1 September:

There are lots of ways to make money with weblogs.

Henry Copeland’s Blogads.com is helping politicians raise campaign funds. Nick Denton’s Gawker Media is accumulating huge audiences with an editorial mix of sex, politics and gossip. Brian Stelter sold Cablenewser.com to a company that wanted more traffic for its media industry career subscription site. PVRBlog.com generates ad revenues and sales commissions off the interest in TIVOs.

Jason Calacanis wants to do it the old fashioned way, with advertising. And he is making no small plans for his would-be new media empire. Launched eight months ago, Weblogs, Inc. is publishing almost 50 blogs covering subjects including telemedicine, Apple Computer digital music, and the Dallas Mavericks.

Calacanis, the former publisher of Silicon Alley Reporter, a print magazine which covered the heyday of the Internet in New York, said some of his blogs are generating as many as 100,000 page views a day. “For a trade magazine, only a few months old, it’s huge,” he said.

Weblogs’ most successful product is Engadget, concentrating on consumer electronics and tech products. It is written and edited by Peter Rojas, assisted by seven other contributors.

Calacanis says the use of a “blog team” is critical for a consumer-focused publishing venture. “Blogging is in large part showing up,” he said. Readers make judgments based on a publications’ appearance and editorial consistency. Does it get published every day? “Step one, you have to be there, and there everyday,” Calacanis said. That means posting dozens of messages a day. Applicants to write for his Unofficial Apple Weblog are being told they must post news dozens of times every month.

The publisher says Engadget’s staffers are sharing more than $4,000 a month thanks to advertising revenues. “It’s doing phenomenal, we have sold months and months of advertising.” The general appeal of Weblogs, for both readers and advertisers, is the targeted nature of their content. Finding customers for social networking services or software or Wifi and Bluetooth technologies is unaffordable if you have to use mass media. But a business-oriented blog, can deliver a readership rich with prospects, at low cost.

More common are weblogs whose writers splitting a few hundred dollars a month with the company. “Magazine design” and “Online finance” are not mass appeal subjects. But the Santa Monica, Ca.-based Calacanis has said he hopes to have hundreds of such micro e-zines. He expects to launch another two dozen more trade blogs before the end of the year.

Weblogs Inc. also is prepared to offer software and hosting services. It will offer webloggers the option to “rent” blogging software, similar to Six Apart Ltd., developer of Movable Type and TypePad. Another option would offer the software at no cost while Calacanis’ firm sells advertising, similar to Google’s AdSense service.

Financial Times | Calacanis expanding blog network (subscription required).