We had the opportunity to chat with one of our very own customers, Derek Hanson, the owner of the Bloguin network. We got some insight into what it takes to run a network, how to make money blogging, and, of course, sports!
Could you tell us a little about the Bloguin Network and the websites that operate under it?
The Bloguin Network is a collection of over 100 sports blogs. Our blogs cover a range of topics across all the major sports and were all created by fans who love blogging about their team. Our network focuses on providing sports bloggers access to tools that will help them grow their blog such as free hosting and tech support, image licensing, content syndication and promotion, and participation in our revenue-share program. By providing bloggers with these services, we allow them to focus on the most important aspect of blogging - creating great content.
What gave you the idea to start the Bloguin Network?
When I founded the network in 2008, blogs were just starting to become mainstream. As a blogger myself, I was part of the growing sports blog community and saw just how many great writers there were out there. What I noticed was that a lot of these great voices were struggling to be heard due to a lack of promotion and ability to optimize the technology behind their blog. I created Bloguin to help solve those problems and provide a full-service suite for aspiring sports writers.
What’s been your favorite sporting moment of the year so far?
I think the most compelling game for me this year was the playoff game between the Steelers and Bengals. I didn't have a horse in that race, so as a neutral observer, it was fascinating to see these two teams with such bad blood between them go head to head in the playoffs. You had the Bengals rally back from 15 points down and take the lead in the final moments of the game, only to fumble the ball away and put the Steelers into field goal range due to some awful penalties. It was a roller coaster of a game, and while things did a bit out of hand and overly physical, it was by far the most entertaining game of the NFL season.
What do you think is the best strategy to get more traffic to your blog?
People are always plugging various tips and strategies. While it's important to be smart in promoting your blog and those tips do help, I think it ultimately boils down to creating quality content. If you produce compelling articles, people will manage to find you and keep coming back for more. At the end of the day, I like the long-term prospects of a terrific blog with no real marketing strategy, vs. a more strategic blog driving traffic to bland and boring content.
"I think it boils down to creating quality content, but beyond that, I think you need to write with an audience in mind."
What has been your experience using Benji online display ads across the blogs in your network?
Using Benji has been great. I think the timer feature combined with the great offers the widget provides creates a very compelling ad for users. The widget injects an element of value and fun for our users vs. the traditional run-of-the-mill display ad.
What’s the best advice you would give to someone just starting out their network?
Again, I think it boils down to creating quality content, but beyond that, I think you need to write with an audience in mind. You need to understand the people that you are trying to reach with your blog and provide real value to them. When you approach blogging with a set content plan in mind, I think that it's easier to achieve success.
Do you have any tips for people looking to make money from blogging?
Just like it's important to provide value to your readers, you should also keep in mind that it's important to provide value to your advertisers. It can be difficult at times as the interests of readers and advertisers may not always align. The Benji widget happens to be a great middle ground in this particular area, as users tend to enjoy interacting with the widget to find deals and that level of engagement is also a huge win for advertisers.
"In addition to providing a better payout for the publisher, [benji] also provides a more engaging experience for our readers."
Which teams do you support?
I'm a huge fan of the New England Patriots and Minnesota Timberwolves. It's a very random combination, I know. I wanted to pick bad teams in the early 90's so that I could have legitimate bragging rights when they actually won a championship. It worked out well with the Patriots. I'm still waiting for the payoff with the T-Wolves, over 25 years later.
If you had to pick between using Google AdWords and Benji, which would you choose? (No pressure…)
Benji is the clear hands down winner. In addition to providing a better payout for the publisher, the widget also provides a more engaging experience for our readers. There's really no comparison between the two at the end of the day.
What’s your favorite gif?
With the recent Pokemon craze, I find this gif to be pretty funny.