Monday, March 06, 2006

BlogBurst?

I received an "invitation" from something called "Blogburst" - it presents itself as "a news wire service and syndication network for blogs...BlogBurst is a news service matching up blog content with the needs of more mainstream publishers like the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle and San Antonio-Express News. Foodie blogs like [your blog] have become such hot commodities for publishers looking for fresh content and new voices, and we'd be thrilled if you would check out our service."

Does anyone know anything about "BlogBurst" - is it on the up-and-up or just someone looking for permission to sell my content or use it to earn advertising money for them? Their url is http://www.blogburst.com/ ....

Thanks in advance for any info...


This Post was written by stephen from http://www.stephencooks.com/

20 comments:

Tana said...

I was invited, too. I had an exchange with them.

THE INVITATION
My name is E., and I'm an editor at [a company] in Austin. [Company] is launching a project during SxSW Interactive which involves a news wire service and syndication network for blogs called BlogBurst. The site is already live and we're recruiting A-lister bloggers on an invite-only basis to join the system. At its core, BlogBurst is a news service matching up blog content with the needs of more mainstream publishers like washingtonpost.com and SF Gate.

It's more than a content syndication service - it's also a marketing and promotional tool that will help increase a blog's visibility, drive more traffic to sites and increase brand recognition. Organic foodie blogs are going to be hot commodities for publishers who are looking for new voices and feature content.

We'd love for you to check it out.

I RESPONDED
Hi, E.,

Does signing up for an account grant permission for my content to be
syndicated on this website?

How did you find me? Am I really an "A-list blogger"?

SHE ANSWERED
When you sign up with BlogBurst, you're allowing us to post your content (fully accredited, with links back to your blog) and you're granting permission for publishers to post your content - again pointing readers back to your blog and helping you grow your audience. Of course, your blog and its content remains your own. In other words, no one will change your posts. You just go on blogging as usual and wait for publishers to discover the world of organic farming!

For the past month, the Pluck editorial team has been combing through the blogosphere identifying blogs that show the most promise for the needs of our publishers. Most publishers are interested (so far) in travel, food, dating, tech and parenting. Let me know if you have any other questions.

TO WHICH I RESPONDED:
What's in it for me, given that blogging is not a paying gig as it
is. (Sorry to be cynical, but I have been burned in the past couple of weeks with people appropriating my content with no benefit to myself.)


Thanks,
Tana


SHE SAID THIS:
Hi Tana,

While there is no direct compensation for bloggers right now, there are numerous benefits such as growing your audience (our combined online readers for publishers average over 17 million per month); increasing visibility and brand recognition; and expanding your blog's message. Basically all you have to do is join the network and we do the "matchmaking" for you. As a blogger myself, I know how hard it can be to grow your blog. I think BlogBurst has the capacity to make this much easier.

And, if you don't like it, you can remove your blog at any time.


BUT MY BIGGEST QUESTION WAS YET TO COME:
One more question.

Can I allow my writing to be used, but NOT my photography?

SHE NEVER ANSWERED THAT ONE.

Steven, I am not inclined to let them use my work: that will just point people to their site, and they are the only ones who benefit from that. I'm pretty convinced that Typepad being partnered somehow with Google is driving lots of traffic my way. My blog is usually on the first page of any number of queries, and I like that.

Maybe I'll change my mind, but since she didn't answer my most important question, I'm not likely to think that she can convince me that they will be making out on the deal, and not the food bloggers. I had enough of the slaves building the pyramids at eGullet, thankyouverymuch.

Having said all that, what I've found is that, "If you build it, they will come." The more content on your blog, the more people searching for those unusual ingredients you use (for example) will find you in casual Googling. I am tempted to blog about Lindsey Lohan just to get the stats. (Heh.)

Elise said...

I signed up with Blogburst as an experiment. Then I read more and found that they require a full text RSS feed from your site. That means they get everything. If I give away my content I want to be very specific about who I give it to (for example if I guest blogged on someone else's site). But this is just syndicating your whole feed for anyone to use, with the one requirement that they link back to you. I don't like the lack of control over how much of my content shows up where. They could basically take every post I've ever written and give it to these other sites.

If I were a writer, trying to break in to a field and be recognized, willing to not be compensated in exchange for the exposure, this would make sense. But I'm not, so it doesn't.

Amy Sherman said...

Tana you got more of a response than I did. I also asked about photography, how I could manage rights as well as their plans for blogger compensation and no one ever returned my email. That spoke volumes to me!

Elise--thanks for filling in the the details as well.

maki said...

I have gotten a few such 'invitations' in the past few weeks; it seems like more and more people are setting up blog syndication sites. I have also gotten 'invitations' to write article(s) for various sites (gather.com comes to mind as one). I ignore such requests now unless I have total control over whether or not my site is listed, or they are offering compensation. (I have actually gotten some paying writing gigs via my online writing, but those offers are always quite upfront about it.) I don't really think there is any advantage to allowing your full content to be syndicated, since there is no incentive for users of such sites to visit your actual site.

Also tana, Google and Typepad (owned by SixApart) are not related in any way - in case people didn't know, Google owns Blogger - but various studies have shown that blogs seem to be quite search-engine friendly, because of the way they are structured (subject matter in the title, and so on.)

kitchenmage said...

So many sites that would like us to write for free. So little time.

Maybe I'm just feeling cynical because last I checked I had an article on the front page of Saucy! magazine that's been there for almost a year now. It's sort of like being the last person working at a dying dotcom.

Oh but wait, it's the right time of year to run that article it on my site. Look, a silver lining.

Sam said...

I joined up. Aren't I dumb?
The result of being totally flattered when they told me the SF Chron had secifically requested my blog. Dunno why - cos they already read it over there (I know, because I've been mentioned more than once in passing).

The thing with syndication - it looks like syndication - does anyone really read those syndicated sites?

In my head I guessed they would be using it more like an rss feed to track blogs for information, but guess i was naieve.

As making money is not the purpose of my site and spreading/sharing information is one of its purposes, I thought it would be an interesting thing.

I will track it sthough and look into it further.


Did anyone get an email from the one that wanted exclusive rights? (I am guessing it was AOL but they didnt say)

stephen said...

Thanks for all the comments...I also had an email exchange with them and it went like this:

HI Eileen..thanks for the invitation...I checked out your site and I'm
thinking about what I saw. I guess I don't understand what's in it for me.
My blog is already available to anyone with a computer and an internet
connection...why do I need to participate in Blogburst? I'd appreciate your
comments on this...

response:
Hi Stephen,

Since I'm a blogger myself, I'll tell you what I think is in it for me... if one of my posts is picked up by washingtonpost.com, a couple good things will happen. My blog gets greater visibility, more traffic will be driven back to my site and I'll hopefully gain more readers. More people will hear of my blog and it will achieve greater recognition. (Hey, if every other blogger is getting a book deal these days...) Also, it requires very little of me to sign up for BlogBurst. I create a profile, and sit back and blog as usual. Nothing changes except, hopefully, greater readership and visibility. Does that make sense?

Eileen Smith

my response:
Hi again...I guess I don't know what you mean when you say "if one of my posts is picked up by washingtonpost.com" - what exactly does that mean, and since they can find me and link to my posts now, what do I need a third party like blogburst for? What exactly would washingtonpost.com do with my post if it were "picked up" that would be different because of blogburst? And how would blogburst benefit from the transaction if you were involved?

So far, no response to this last set of questions...

I think I'll pass...

Amy Sherman said...

Stephen, are you not clear on what syndication is? Syndication companies offer content to media outlets. Not links, but a whole reprint of your content. If you pick up a newspaper for instance, not all the articles are written by writers for that paper. The paper buys syndicated content from a syndication company--think of Dear Abby or a comic strip. And YES the syndication company gets paid, either in subscription format or by the article.

Newspapers get a lot of content to reprint from syndicators, they are less likely to get it directly from you, though I suppose it is possible. You can certainly pitch a newspaper directly but this is about reprinting content.

What seems to be happening now is that syndication companies are looking for "free" content from bloggers that they can turn around and sell. Some of it is for websites, some for newspapers, etc.

I was contacted by a major syndication company, Scripps Howard News Service, and even they didn't want to pay me anything. If all you want is exposure I guess it's ok, but I think it devalues your work to give it way

stephen said...

Thanks Amy for the info...yes, I am totally in the "for dummies" section of the class....I know how to cook and take a picture of it and upload it all to Typepad but syndication, feeds, etc., is all stuff that's outside my sphere...and probably always will be, unless I get a mentor in this who wants to hold my hand and get me through the baby steps, the falling on my face, the eventual triumphs, etc. I do, on the other hand, have a good nose for scams, especially when they are aimed at picking my pocket, which is why I brought it here for comments....as I said earlier, I think I'll pass on Blogburst...

maki said...

There is a very interest post on Problogger about Blogburst - read through the comments also:

link

There's a lot of food for thought (sorry) there.

Amy Sherman said...

Yup, I'm passing too!

Pim said...

I've been asked to be on their 'Advisory Board', whatever that means. Unfortunately, between my trips, move and being sick, I've had no time to follow up on that yet.

But from what I understand, there is a plan to pay bloggers for contents that are picked up by the big media outlets that subscribe to their syndication. That means that you will get royalties from the use of your content. They also allow you to retain all rights to the content.

I am probably going to get back to them in the next week or so and try to get more information about this. I'll keep you up to date if you want to hear more.

cheers,
Pim

Jennifer BB said...

Thanks everyone--I got an email from Blogburst at 7pm EST today and you've helped me make up my mind. I do like their personal touch though because I thought it was spam. My local paper gave my blog great coverage today and so the woman who wrote--Eileen had all sorts of comments that showed that she really read my blog but I don't think it is worth it. I really appreciate this forum!

Jennifer from Cookin' in the 'Cuse

maki said...

After spending some hours reading through all the available information about (and opinions about) BlogBurst, I did end up signing up after all. The Problogger thread and the links leading out of it were particularly useful.

I think the main reason why I'm willing to take this step is that I have personally seen the opportunities that can arise from having your writing seen by people, even if you wrote for free. (I got a book deal leading from some non-compensated writing I did, on some well read sites.)

I have some reservations, but I can withdraw at anytime. Who knows? I will see what happens.

s'kat said...

I also received an invitation, and am as of yet undecided what to do about it. There does seem to be quite a bit of this sort of thing floating around these days...

Silverbrow said...

I just noticed that they're part of the same group as Pluck, which in my experience is a pretty good RSS aggregator.

Might be worth further investigation given their strong background in blogging, RSS etc.

Sam said...

I have also decided to stick with them for now.

My blog is not commercial and I do not expect to make money from it so being syndicated has never really bothered me. At least they asked - I am syndicated on many soites I have never been in contact with.

I retain my creative commons and as one of my personal goals is to nurture the spread the sharing of information, blogburst appears to be a good fit for me.

Barbara said...

I have signed on, provisionally. Eileen gave some indication that some compensation might come of allowing syndication by BlogBurst, and since I am making no money with the blog now, that is fine. I never really expected to anyway.

I think that the trade-off of having my work appear in a major newspaper, which means I can take credit for having appeared as a freelancer in the WaPo is a pretty good bit of compensation when it comes to cover letters for other print publications. Few magazines will take on a writer without "clips," meaning publication credits, and the WaPo is a really big clip.

So--in the interest of continuing my own freelance writing--which is different than my blog, which I do for fun--then I said, yes.

If I don't like what they do and how they do it, I can always drop out later.

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