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Why Is Quantity Still A Metric?

A few days ago, a blog network named 451 Press took off the gloves and named itself the largest blog network in the world based on its sheer size of >300 blogs supposedly being updated daily. They’ve now surpassed b5media in terms of numbers, and I can only guess that the move was deliberate and that the number of blogs they publish means a great deal to them. Numbers are power. Numbers are something you can pull out of your pocket in a number fight and use against your opponent, because numbers never lie… sorta.

If I were running a publishing company with a traditional blog network model (pay writers to write for you, you own the sites and reap the ad revenue, rinse and repeat) I’m not so sure I’d be excited to brand my company the world’s largest blog network based on size. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a large cache of sites at your disposal, but isn’t it easy to add more sites? The marginal cost of adding another blog is very low because you find a writer and pay them to start writing. You drop them into your default template with some colors switched out and away they go. You are now PREVIOUS_SIZE++.

But what about quality?

I’d say that the marginal cost of increasing the quality or popularity of your single blog is far higher than the marginal cost if increasing your network’s quantity. Like in the previous paragraph, increasing your quantity involves a particular routine — one that blog networks normally have down pat — but what about increasing quality? How does that happen? It’s not as easy as finding your next writer on the street and waiving some money in their face, quality takes both time and effort, two things that do not come quickly. Starting Blog #127 and going from 0 RSS subscribers to 100 RSS subscribers has an effort level of X and a timeline of Y. Moving Blog #127 out of the beginning stages and going from 100 RSS subscribers to 1000 RSS subscribers has an effort level of at least 5X and a timeline of at least 5Y. Starting and getting something going is not complicated, but continuing the upward trend and moving it higher is hard. Maybe that’s why it took 451 Press 300 blogs to make it to 10 million visitors per month because of this same pseudo-scientific formula from up above.

b5media is another traditional-type blog network, but they rank higher on the quality scale than 451 Press does because they’ve stopped adding “blogs every week” like 451 Press but seem to be working harder on the quality end of the spectrum instead of just increasing girth on the quantity end. In case you’re not aware, the celebrity news blog space is insane right now:

It certainly takes more effort to raise a blog from nothing to 7 figure pageviews per week than to simply start 5 or 10 more blogs with no traffic. Celebrity blogs can attain high traffic figures quickly because they reach out to the younger mainstream audience, normally the types of people who are on your site every single day, commenting and participating. b5 has more than a few celebrity blogs, but one of their most popular has a singular focus on Lindsay Lohan one of the most searched for and popular celebs on the web. I’d guess that b5’s celebrity channel is doing so well that they could sink every single other blog they run, drop 2 more writers on each celebrity blog, and still boost revenue. Of course they’re not slacking off either, they write every single day….

….which is more than I can say for these fine 451 Press blogs.

About Mike Rundle


  1. Mark says:

    Spot on here. Quality will always beat quantity. The celebrity blog stuff is a bore, though. Who cares? Yeah…I know…the money.

  2. Former 451 Press blogger says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. 451Press would be better advised to put their efforts into promoting existing blogs and looking into better advertising programs so the average blogger earns more than .50 cents each month.

    451Press may have the most blogs but they also have the highest turnover rate.

    I liken 451Press to well-endowed men who are terrible in the sack. They have to brag about the size because they can’t base it on performance.

  3. Writer says:

    Ha! May I say ‘amen’ to the above comment and the post?

  4. leslie says:

    I agree, was just blogging about this the other day:

  5. I write several blogs for 451 Press and I am very happy with them. (For the record I make quite a bit more than 50 cents a month!). I agree that quality is more important than quantity, but bashing 451 is out of line. There are many high quality, high traffic blogs on the network so please don’t paint us all with the same brush!

  6. April says:

    As a 451 Press writer, I have to say that I have certainly made more than 50 cents a month, even in the first month I started. Compared to the general blog community, the quality of 451 Press blogs is well above average. Those that cannot write above average are the ones who end up making 50-cents a month and leaving. Views for content niches will always vary, but one of the upsides of 451 Press is that they offer a variety of topics. I had a 125% increase in traffic during my second month writing, which would not have been possible without the support of the admin.

  7. Matt says:

    Are you sure this was the right idea? I mean, you, of all people, complaining about quality? (laughs)

    Oh, wait, I know, you needed to generate some hits so you thought you’d start mouthing off to the big network knowing they’d come here and fatten your e-lip? :)

  8. Terra says:

    I also write for 451Press and have little complaint about my income since 1) I write for a very specific niche that is not well-known for participation and 2) I have not actively sought out promotion options for the blog. I’ve done my time, my posts, submitted to a blog carnival or two and linked it from my personal blog.

    Do I make more than $0.50 a month? Yes, of course. Is it about the money? No. Has my traffic increased exponentially within a month and a half, do mostly to administrative (read: 451Press’) support? an increase of 147% in the last month, in fact.

    Instead of criticizing networks for their promotional efforts, why not just accept that it’s promotion, a requisite action for quality and growth – something you’re apparently looking for.

  9. Mike Rundle says:

    Actually I don’t own this site anymore and it’s not affiliated with anything I’m currently involved with. I wrote this entry completely out of my opinion with no reason to generate traffic or whatever, I just thought it was an interesting topic to touch upon.

    April: You may not make 50 cents a month (please I hope not!) but do you make at least $2500-3000 USD a month? Just because you’re writing for an online publication doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be compensated at least somewhat on the same level as other professional writers, no?

  10. Heather says:

    Sure, Perez has all those hits and all that revenue, but he’s been blogging for more than 3 years. This is a recent development for him, and he’s also marketed not only his blog, but himself, in a remarkable way.

    Considering 451Press has been around for less than a year, I think 10 million hits is pretty good.

  11. Former 451 Press blogger says:

    This is for all of you loyal 451 Press bloggers – how many of you earn more than $5 per month for all your work? More than $10?

    The truth is, a large majority of 451Pres bloggers make less than one dollar. 40% of the advertising revenue is just not enough when you consider you’re doing all the work.

    For those of you who say 451Press is so darn wonderful, why the high turnover rate?

    451Press would do better to follow in the example of b5 Media or Know More Media. There’s a reason why their bloggers stick around for a long time.

  12. Anne-Marie says:

    I write for three networks – 451Press (Teacher Smackdown), b5media (Parents Behaving Badly – as the weekend blogger hired by the site’s owner) and ClubMom (A Readable Feast).

    I joined 451Press when I had the idea for Teacher Smackdown. I shuddered at the thought of all the work I would have to put in to get decent traffic. 451Press made that problem go away and I started pulling in good traffic numbers right away.

    My blog traffic grew 60% last month, and continues to trend upwards – suprising for the summer months when a major part of my audience (moms) are busy with the kids. I haven’t had the same things happening at my other blogs and the other networks I write for. In fact, some have trended downwards.

    451Press had their act together from the beginning. They were professional and understood blogging and bloggers. They also offer foster community among their bloggers.

    Also, I knew that 451Press’s goal was to have 451 blogs. That was always very clear from the beginning. But did I join them for the money? No, because I knew I’d be making no money doing Teacher Smackdown by myself. What little I do make is gravy. (Plus, it’s growing every month.)

    Turnover? Yes, it’s high but comparible to other networks I write for. I think people sign up hearning about Darren Rowse, Arieanna Schweber, etc. making six figures and think they can replicate the same income in a few months with just one blog, and only working a few hours a day. So they leave in a huff wondering why blogging isn’t the get rich quick scheme they thought it was.

    God forbid that someone would just like a venue to write well about something they’re passionate about without having to worry about hosting fees, site design, and SEO. For a lot of people, that is enough.

  13. This is interesting says:

    From another former 451 Press blogger

  14. Paul says:

    I too am a 451 Press blogger and have been since the beginning. I’m in the top 20 and I make more than 20 bucks a month, but I do not make 3,500 or whatever ridiculous number that was thrown up here before. Regardless, yes there are a lot of blogs on the network in need of writers. 451 is still growing and has had its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have stayed as long as I have if it was as bad as some say it is. For some reason there are people that join that think they’ll make a ton of money without actually having to write well, promote, or even pay attention to their numbers. If you only made fifty cents I can assure you, you had low page views. If 451 would be more up front about what you make in the beginning they might not have such a high turnover. Also, for whoever is saying that 451 should pay as much as b5, the problem is that b5 had a 2 million dollar injection of VC funds. Of course they can pay more, because 451 doesn’t have that kind of capital right now. As it grows then the money will come, but its been around less than a year.


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