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Building an Open-Faced Blog Network (Not PBN)

With a special focus

· Network

If you haven't heard about PBN's, you aren't missing much. In basic sense, they are a group of "private" websites that sell links to improve a websites search engine rankings.

To many, private equals shady, and shady equals bad. It gets worse when you add the word network to the mix, because network is something that has increasingly been tied to more terrible things.

The focus of a PBN is to cover footprints by imitating a legit website that gives out links rather than pay for them. This is ironic because in order to give out links of value, you need to keep onpage links to a minimum, which is a footprint.

The focus of a forward facing, or open-faced network of blogs is to give content producers the opportunity to promote their content in front of real eyeballs.

There are plenty of examples of open-faced blog networks online:

  • https://kinja.com/
  • http://www.resignationmedia.com/
  • http://www.cheezburger.com/
  • HUFFINGTON POST
Any brand that operates a group of related online properties is pretty much a network. The examples here are networks that offer value to advertisers and content producers alike.
The value to advertisers and content producers is the targeted traffic the network offers.
They have no need to be private because the focus is on delivering traffic, not links.
Another defining characteristic of these networks is they focus on a topic, style, or both.

Picking a Topic

To start this project, I first listed some areas of focus for my network. My options were:

  • Best Lists
  • Extreme Sports
  • Seasons
I opted for seasons because it conveniently organized the network into four categories -fall, winter, spring, and summer. It's also something brands create content for, as developing a content strategy around seasons is one of the easiest ways to do content marketing.
Style isn't something I'm good at, so topic was the only way forward.

Starting the Network

Without a ton of money, starting a quality network similar to the examples above is pretty much impossible. Without money, you have just one option. This option relates to my favorite quote on writing:

Say it straight, then make it great.

To me this means starting with the bare minimum, and improving from there. This style of work fits people that get hung up on the little details. Those tiny details can be a huge time suck, and ultimately keep you from getting your network up.

 

The only details I need to focus on right now are:

  • Getting the sites up with bare minimum content (easy)
  • Connecting social profiles to these sites (easy)
  • Creating an efficient means to posting bare minimum content to both (easy)
  • Lots and lots of traffic (hard)
  • Making money (hard)
The focus here is on speed rather than quality, so that a basic framework can be up and running, and some money rolling in so that quality can be improved.

Being Different

One thing that can always be improved upon is ease of getting in front of the networks traffic. This is the distinguishing difference I hope my seasonal network will have compared to others.

It will come in the form of a convenient submission form, that allows content producers to submit a single piece of content that will be used in a larger curated piece of content.

Curated content is a big drawer of social traffic, but it also is time consuming to create.


Rather than expect content producers to submit full blown 2k word posts to promote their content, they instead can submit a picture and a description. In a busy world this simplifies their promotion.

Updates to Come

This post marks the beginning of this project, which will be updated as the concept is developed.

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