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April 28, 2004


susan mernit

Great post! Let's talk more--phone calls are good--Susan


Interesting post.

Scott Allen

[DISCLAIMER: I'm the About.com Entrepreneurs Guide]

Not a bad idea, Peter, but About isn't the place to do it.

As you pointed out, there are advertisers willing to advertise about 1967 red Corvettes. How many click-throughs are there, though? How many searches are there even? Overture shows none (which means it was less than 25 last month), and only 3,124 searches last month for "1967 Corvette". Not enough to pay someone to write ONLY about 1967 Corvettes.

But they do have someone writing about them. a) they own Vette, Corvette Fever, and Motor Trend, and articles from there come up in searches on About, and b) there's a "Vintage Cars" category (it's open - maybe you should apply!). My point is not about this particular topic -- my point is that just about everything you can come up with falls under a broader topic. Does that mean that every micro-topic gets covered? No. We read what addresses reader interest.

Bottom line, though, is that About is using blog tools, and we have a blog-like style, but the content is still significantly different from other blogging -- not better or worse, just different. We have editorial guidelines we have to follow. We have style guides we have to follow. We focus more on writing about what our readers want to read about, rather than necessarily what we want to write about. And accountability is higher. When I write an article criticizing Entrepreneur Magazine over their attempts to trademark the word "entrepreneur", I get a letter from their President.

But I don't think of it as getting paid to blog. I have another blog where I can write pretty much whatever I want. I think of it as being a journalist, and using blog tools to help keep the content fresh.

So there may be a place to do what you're suggesting, Peter, but About isn't it.

Peter Caputa

Scott. Thanks for the thorough response. From my email conversations with Matt (about.com editor), I've realized that this idea isn't the best one for about.com given about.com's goal of creating 'content that people want' as opposed to 'content that writers want to write about'.

That is the 'brand image' that about is trying(and doing) to portray. If that is where the money is for online content now, that is the image that about.com needs to protect.

I do think there are a lot of bloggers that bridge the gap, such as yourself at obn.com between writing for others and writing for themselves. Even though I am writing about what I want to write about, I write to connect with people. So, I am hoping that what I write resonates with people.

Blogging provides me with feedback on whether that is happening by how many links and comments I get. So, Apparently I (and you) are doing pretty good.

Ultimately, I see blogging as providing the tools to anyone that knows how to write to be a freelance journalist. Everyone can have their own brand. I can be a mechanical engineer or hair dresser by day and a writer by night. Everyone has their own press and it costs $14/month.

I see blogging as a power shift in the publishing industry. However, there are a lot of issues to work out. Namely, Who plays the editorial role and how? And how is money made?

I think these issues should be addressed by anyone that wants to be in the content business in the near future, about.com included.

Scott Allen

$14/month? Mines less than $20 a year, including the domain! ;-)

And yes, I agree.

In re: Calacanis and Denton, check out the sparks that flew back and forth between them this weekend at the New York Bloggers event. My co-author, David Teten, was there and took copious notes:

New York Bloggers Event—-2004.05.02

Peter Caputa

I've seen. It is all a PR stunt, so that we'll talk about it. Do you want to start a pissing contest? We could drive traffic too.

I know I am paying more than normal. I got too many other projects going on to worry about hosting movable type.

I like the convenience of using typepad, anyways. I'll pay the premium. I have a money tree out back, anyways.

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