Planes, Trains, New Hollywood and Your Network


I woke up with a headache so you all are in trouble.

Here’s where the rubber hits the road.

This is the post where you decide if you are with me or against me. If you think I am a full of shit blowhard or if I really know what I am talking about.

Yesterday, before the boring Superbowl, I was reading Brogebrity and came across a mention of Jason Calacanis’ diatribe on YouTube. Jason, who I don’t know and never met in my life, is , of course, wrong as sin. I was bothered he didn’t understand the participation age we live in but whatever.

Then I started writing my story on Rafat Ali. Now Rafat should be the poster boy for blog network creation. He took a one man show and has created a mini empire of blogs. I go to Blog Network List and he’s not even mentioned. I do some searches and find that no one in this industry has ever mentioned him. At this point I’m irate.

Some of you still don’t get it. You have no idea what is happening and what is about to happen. I’m going to try to take a minute and explain it all to you. I’m pissed off right now but still I’ll try to be rational.

You are in the content business. Got that?

Right now what the internet is is something like the railroad. People are making all these tools to make the railroad a cool place. Some are building tracks and trains (Google/MSN/etc.) Some are making comfortable seats on the train. Some are making different communication tools. All kinds of stuff.

But what you make (or should be making) is the most important part of the train. The cargo. No one would give a rat’s ass about the train if it didn’t have stuff to carry.

Now there are two types of cargo.

Information and entertainment. That’s it.

Now the people who want to get the cargo of that train don’t really care too much about the extra tools. If they are there and can afford them, good. If not, so what? The important thing to them is that they get their cargo (information or entertainment).

Now there are all types of ways for people to get the cargo that they want. (planes, cars, ect.) But the train that’s been built goes everywhere and everyone’s facinated by it.

You. As a cargo producer. Should not give a fuck about the train. Stop worring about the train and it’s ammenities but focus on your cargo.

Do you know why I got involved in this industry? I love the music industry but you would have to be blind not to see it is practically dead. You can’t make the money you used to because the market has completely changed. And the folks running it are lost. Completely.

All the cool kids are on the train.

But most of them are making tools. What I wanted to be involved with are the folks making the cargo. The new cargo for the train.

Now all the old cargo producers are starting to put their stuff on the train. They don’t know exactly how and are only sending bits and peices. But some of them are catching on. And catching on fast (Did you see the ESPN commercials last night?)

Now like I said before. You produce cargo. All you care about is creating cargo and getting it the people. You don’t care if it’s delivered by plane, train or automobile. People use all of them so you gotta be on all of them (ESPN, people!). The cool thing about using the new railroad is that it’s easier and cheaper to create the cargo.

Let’s forget the train anology for a second (because I was really getting rediculous with it.) what we have the opportunity to create here is the new hollywood. It’s already happening but not everyone is seeing it yet. The internet is full of stars that it has created. The problem is (or should I say the missed opportunity) is that few people are trying to bring those celebrities to other platforms.

Now people try to do the opposite. Everybody who’s anybody in the “real world” has a website. They leverage their celebrity to drive traffic.

What network owners should be doing is creating celebrities/content/information which, after proving their success here,they can then take to other mediums.

The machine has already been built. There are so many different mediums that they are all starved for content. Especially content with a built in audience. Do you really think it will be that long before you see some Gawker TV show? The Smoking Gun already has a TV show. The key is creating compelling content for a specific audience.

That’s why I curse at adsense ads. Who gives a fuck about .03 cents when your main focus should be creating an audience.

That’s why you want content producers instead of mere writers.

That’s why i get so pissed. I see people creating networks based on other peoples content. I see networks with no vision of where they are going. It’s fucking depressing.

Jeez, this is getting long but I’m not done.

Let’s take for example the WURK network. Cool idea. Cool site. But how do you leverage that?

I have no idea how big his audience is but he has to grow it. He needs to be talking to all the job sites on the net. There are a lot of them. Some are city specific. Some are national. He needs to partner with some of them and get some traffic. A lot of traffic. And then he needs to make his writers stars. Promote them like they are fucking Paris Hilton. And then he needs to contact a cable television network or producer and say “look, I got this many readers a day. I need to be on TV.” Then he goes to a radio syndication company and says “I have this many readers, I need to be on radio”. And suddenly he has a freaking empire. But first he has to stop thinking so much about adsense ads and worry about content. The cargo.

After 9/11, when I was married to my second wife (this one not this one) she got visited by the FBI for recruitment because she knows several languages. (She’s also Mensa and accomplished more by the age of 25 that most have in their lifetime). She decided not to accept their offer because “I love this country too much to be involved in what’s going to be a mess.” She quit her teaching career and took a job with the ACLU instead. She wanted clean hands.

I felt the same way about the music business. I thought I would get into this blog network thing because the music business had no real vision of what came next. They were an accident waiting to happen. I thought this business would be different. But I’m finding the thinking just as myopic. And it’s an accident waiting to happen as well.

Will the leaders of this business please stand up?

9rules is getting involved in fucking porn. It’s for the money. Because they have no idea how to monetize their content. They can scream all they want about community this and that but shouldn’t it really be about the readers of the content not the producers of the content?

Pajama’s Media. WTF is that? Glen Reynolds has nicely taken his brand and capitalized on it. But really, why would I visit PJMedia? If it’s a news source tell me what I can see (9rules got that right) but if it’s just a place where cool writers hang out then I’ll skip it.

If you are creating a community it should be for your readers not your writers. Isn’t that just common sense? If I went to a place and I knew some cool writers would be there I can chat with I would be impressed. If it’s just a place with cool writers all I have is Vanity Fair with out the pretty pictures.

Some people know what’s happening. Denton knows. Rafat Ali knows. Federated Media understands. But the majority do not have a clue.

You want to get it? Read This. But hurry, the trains leaving.

[reloaded: Is it obvious I lost a bunch of money on the seahawks? 🙂]


Explore posts in the same categories: 9rules, blog media, blog networks, Blue Fish Network, content, design, ex-wives, Gawker Media, google, pajamas media, Rafat Ali, sam sugar, SAVE THIS NETWORK, writers, wurk

19 Comments on “Planes, Trains, New Hollywood and Your Network”

  1. RT Says:

    Char, you are very right. Denton gets it because he caters for everyone else, which is what we are aiming for. I follow Nick Denton when it comes to publishing. Sure millions of people blog and know about it, but I think there are even more millions that don’t. If they read content online, it better be equally or BETTER than content they can read, say in a magazine.

    I have also been noticing a trend that most blog networks publish and talk about…well blogging. Nothing wrong with that, but thats fine if you consider yourself to BE a blog network, then there are media networks. I think the distinction is getting distored.

  2. Dave Says:

    I don’t think the problem so much is the blog network itself, though i do now prefer the term micromedia network, but i think what goes into the blog itself, and how that is then used.
    We have just launched a forex blog, The writer is a 20 year veteron ,this blog is also getting delivered to mobile phones, and has gained sponsorship from the largest broker in the world,on the back of him, however at this point i would not be able to replicate this over all the network… though i wish i could !. I still don’t totally go with you on AdSense, though i understand what your getting at, but as i am sure you are aware , forex pays alot more than 3 cents on adsense, so its worth having alongisde the rest, call it the cargo insurance 😉

    Great post though.. was it a hangover headache or just a headache ?

  3. chartreuse Says:

    Hangover. I get grumpy. Especially when my team IS CHEATED BY THE REFEREES!!!!…But I’m not bitter….

    Congrats on the forex blog. And it’s important that it goes to mobile devices. Those forex dudes need their info anywhere/everwhere.
    Too bad you are hooked on that adsense…everyone’s hooked on that google drug…but I understand the cargo insurance idea. (How carried away did I get with that train metaphor?!?)

  4. Scrivs Says:

    I was with you all the way up to the 9rules is doing porn paragraph. We do lots of things for money and lots of things to help out people. Merely by chance these things go hand in hand. I find it odd you say we haven’t found a way to monetize our content (well not really OUR content) when we have the plan all laid out. I think it’s a testament to us focusing on our members and readers first and working out those issues before we moved onto the next stage of our plan.

    I have explained too many times why we are making 9rules an adult-free network and starting a separate one, but it does involve money. However, nobody was saying we are starting a content network to make money so why would starting an adult content network seem any different?

    Should it be about the readers or the producers? How can you even say it should be one or the other? You say Federated Media knows, but they aren’t doing it for the readers. They focus on putting more and more ads up on their producers sites. How is that for the readers?

    Oh and we have the community for readers coming down the pipeline as well. Our end goal goes well beyond just a community of writers, but I can see where your assumptions come from based on just what you see.

  5. RT Says:

    I’m not a big fan of adsense. As a network owner/publisher, why settle for cheap google ads when the point of running a network is to get the big fish. ABC or NBC would never play an infomercial commercial during friends. Adsense is fine for networks which incorporate outside sites and let members of the network use them while they are getting bigger advertisers.

    If you see yourself as a micromedia network, then you will be a micromedia, why can’t we see this as actual media companies, as those that run television and magazines. I know it hasn’t reached that level yet, but if we treated this business as such, it can get there.

    Which makes me bring up the question, who has the upper hang, the networks or the sites? If you own all your sites, like b5, then you you do. If you take in 3-10 different sites in the same category like 9rules, then the sites do, because those sites ARE the network, the network isn’t the sites.

  6. RT Says:

    By the way, I read this interview of Denton he says :

    “In custom publishing, both online and offline, the content *is* advertising”

    It was taken a lil while ago, I don’t think his attitude toward it has changed much

  7. Dave Says:

    Its not that I am hooked on AdSense, far from it, but this is early days , in most cases , we are going to have to prove ourselves that we are here to stay, before we can get some serious revenues from other sources, i think the situation would be different if i was building a business model where Adsense was the key to everything, that is not the case, but right now its something where otherwise there would be nothing, when i have a better $ offer for that space, which of course is the intention, then adsense will not be there.

    RT There is an argument for both the 9 rules and the B5 version, I think 9 rules works when it comes to ads. I don’t know their business plan, but my guess would be if I was an advertiser, and I want to hit 10 quality sites in a genre, i will make the deal via 9 rules, not with 10 different sites. Everyone is saying big comanies won’t advertise on blogs, that bullshit, but big companies don’t want the hassle of sorting 100 ads on 100 different sites. If 9 rules can deliver an adveritiser, ads accross a range of quality sites in the market that advertiser wants, trust me they hold some sway.

  8. RT Says:

    I agree, 9rules does have negotiating power because they have so many sites to a genre. For a general content network, they are probably one of the best ones out there.

    what there plans are I don’t know. All I know is from reading what Scrivs and his team put out there. It should be a complement that people scrutinize a network, because it shows them others care and are watching what they are doing. This is where Char is king.

  9. chartreuse Says:

    Scrivs- I haven’t seen your monetization plan so I can only go by what I see. I like your site. It’s pretty and all that. And the content you have picked is good but I don’t see how you can leverage that for any real profit. But again, I don’t know what your plan is.

    I’m from the music business so my regular readers will understand this but what your site really needs is a hit. Like I said in my poorly edited diatribe, you (and everybody else) needs to create a superstar. Or barring that, convince the public that the content is so good that you can monetize it other ways. I’ld be interested to know if you have the right to use your members content on other platforms.

    I think general content is a hard sell. It’s harder to get advertisers. And it’s harder to get the general public. Even something as general as the news has become specialized.

    Maybe I was wrong in implying you guys don’t get it. Maybe you just aren’t showing it.

  10. chartreuse Says:

    I understand about why you are using adsense. You have to create revenue and a little is better than nothing.

    Just remember. All those Adsense ads on your site are potential advertisers for you. Instead of paying google they can be paying you directly.

  11. Mike Rundle Says:

    Well there are advertisements up on almost all pages of our site, but nobody seems to think those bring in any revenue for some reason 🙂 Kind of an odd assumption considering nobody knows the traffic that gets, so for all you or anyone is concerned, we could be making $50,000 a month in sponsorships and people would still be asking for our business plan lol.

  12. chartreuse Says:

    Yeah, you hit the nail on the head!

    You guys have some sort of secret society there and it makes people a bit…uncomfortable.

    You are obviously not making enough money or you wouldn’t be publicly venturing into porn (not that there is anything wrong with that.).

    But what the fuck do I know? I put my money on Seattle….

  13. Dave Says:

    Yes Chartreuse, i am with you on that one.. i read your previous post regarding contacting them, which is an excellent tip that everyone should do, what Adsense enables me to do in the start is get a benchmark for what i can charge, and build something up for the first 3 months.

  14. Scrivs Says:

    Char: Again I understand where you are coming from and I really only step in because of the assumption that we are starting an adult network because 9rules doesn’t make money is false.

    I think a major problem when people try to understand the value and all that behind 9r and how we could possibly make money we are too easily compared to the other Networks. But I think another question to ask is 9rules failing or are we reaching new audiences daily? I think we are moving forward just fine. Sure moving faster would be great, but really I am not upset about the position we are in.

    I do agree on the hit if we weren’t able to go into so many different niches. Concentrated networks like Fine Fools, b5 and others need that one superstar. That’s what made WIN and Gawker, I know that and have said that many times in the past.

    Finally, man these things get long, you have to understand that the first goal for 9r from the beginning was helping out other bloggers who didn’t have the knowledge or resources to get their sites in front of new people. Sure other networks have to focus on the readers, but since we don’t control the site our goals are changed a little bit. At least that’s how I have been viewing it.

  15. chartreuse Says:

    Sorry if you don’t understand completely. But at least you have some type of vision. That’s more than a lot of people. The important thing is for you and your crew to believe in it.

    I used to believe in the Rolling Stones. After last night’s performance, I know John Lennon was right, we can only believe in ourselves.

  16. I’m not a big fan of adsense. As a network owner/publisher, why settle for cheap google ads when the point of running a network is to get the big fish.

    I don’t think it’s either/or. A friend of mine makes nearly half a million in revenue annually from AdSense – on ONE FRICKIN’ SITE – and he also makes a fortune off direct sponsorship sales to big brand names in his niche.

    And it’s not like AdSense is just a small-time thing. They have ads on CNN and other major web properties, but premium accounts like that get to massage the ad layout considerably and also hide the “Ads by Google” links.

  17. chartreuse Says:

    I think you are right. It’s not an either/or thing.

    I think adsense and the like make publishers lazy. If most spent half the time actually looking for real advertisers as they do optimizing their adsense layout they would be making a lot more money.

    One question though. What type of site does your friend run?

  18. He’d kill me if I told you the exact site, but I’ll generalize and say it’s a big niche that is solution oriented. He helps people solve problems. The other clue is that he’s a case study on Google Adsense. IOW Google features him as a case study on their site.

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