Blog networks aren’t new to sports blogs. Christian Ruzich had one of the first sports blog networks with All-Baseball. Evan Brunell has been running Most Valuable Network for several years with bloggers for most teams. Sports Blogs has baseball very well covered and is branching out to other sports. So networks aren’t new, but what is the incentive for the independent blogger to sign up?
1. Traffic by association
One of the biggest reasons is to enhance traffic. By being part of a network, your postings are likely to be highlighted on the main page at some point, and cross promotion between other blogs will help your traffic and pagerank as well. Whether you are an established blogger looking for a bigger audience, or just starting out, joining a network could provide a boost. Now a network isn’t a magic elixir for traffic, and it is no substitute for quality content. However, I know of several bloggers that do a very fine job that just don’t have an audience. For these individuals a network would be perfect.
2. Not so much into the technical stuff
Say you’re a sports fan, or someone who wants to dabble in sports writing, but you have no interest in CSS, PHP, MySQL, webhosting or anything technical. By joining a network you can leave all the coding and infrastructure to someone else and focus on sports writing.
Most of the time a network will pay you to blog for them. The amount of money varies, but generally depends on the networks overall revenue and the individual bloggers contribution to that revenue (ads targeted on a particular site, number of posts, number of visitors/pageviews). However, one could always make that money by selling advertising on their own site. The difference may be that on one’s own site they could be limited by either of the other two items already discussed.
Blogging isn’t a standalone activity. It is a way to promote discussion. By joining a network, there are collaboration opportunities amongst all your new partners. Again, this could be accomplished independently as well but the network could definitely facilitate things.
This all sounds pretty good, so why wouldn’t you join a network? In my case I decided to stay independent because I had invested quite a bit of time in my site, and I somewhat stubbornly wanted to continue to go it alone. Also, I didn’t want to give up control of design. The other issue with control is who “owns” your writing? Is it the network or is it you?
If you’re interested in joining a sports blog network, there are several opportunities available right now. Sports Blogs is looking to increase their team offerings (including collegiate teams), however they are looking for people with a blogging track record of some sort. MVN is also looking for bloggers for various teams. b5Media is a rapidly growing blog network covering a variety of topics, and they are looking to bolster their sports offerings (currently they only have two sports blogs). Also, Sports Cartel is another newer sports blog network looking to add more team blogs.