Jason’s right on about the new business model for blogging. When I started Eyegruve, we were in talks with a few different VC’s. We were pretty close to having a deal completed, but in the end decided that it would be better to take the advice of the guys from WeblogsWork and put this thing together ourselves, build it ourselves, and then get more leverage later.
It’s tough to build a network without seed capital. It’s tough because you want to have enough money to pay your editors so they’ll be dedicated to keeping the site running. We started off with four main blogs, and two of them are closed for now — but two of them are showing huge growth. 50/50 isn’t bad for a startup, but it’s also not a track record I’d like to keep up. I had originally planned Eyegruve with 80-100 blogs, but it’s looking more and more like I need to take Nick Denton’s approach and keep it simple. Build up boutique titles. Don’t launch too many at one time, and give the ones that we do launch time to grow before we throw another one out there.
It’s now been six months since we started Eyegruve. Two of our original four launch blogs are down for now, but that’s due more to the need to better staff them than anything else. It’s hard to ask one person to handle a blog on a daily basis, especially when the pay isn’t great, and those two blogs fell victim to that. Chris has handled All Fair Game swimmingly and we’ve slowly been adding staff for him, and we’re looking to expand into podcasts for the site as well. I’m also exploring a new video-related property with some folks from back home, and if we’re able to pull it off, I think it’s going to be a real cool deal.
I’ve learned a lot about publishing since starting this thing. Do I wish it was bigger? Sure. I started this thing with grand dreams of million dollar AdSense checks rolling in immediately, but I’ve learned something along the way: building small and building loyal is a lot better. It’s easier on me, it’s easier on the readers, who aren’t forced to take on 20 new blogs at once, and it’s definitely easier to our editors.