Building a Blog into a Blog Network without Funding, Backing or Partners


The news regarding the b5Media blog network‘s  restructuring and restaffing is leading to a lot of speculation around the webosphere. Specifically folks are wondering about the future of blog networks in general. Will they all be taken over by the venture capitalists who are funding them and turned into impersonal content portals, or will they be able to flourish and grow into lively communities? I’m receiving so much mail asking about my own blog network that I’m prompted to write my thoughts about the state of the Freelance Writing Jobs Network and where we stand today.

Bootstrap Blog Network

The Freelance Writing Jobs Network is funded out of my own pocket. Most of the advertising revenue for each month pays for the bloggers, contributors and technical assistance as well as advertising campaigns, web hosting and other incidentals. I don’t have to pay any loans or answer to anyone but the Freelance Writing Jobs community. There’s no board of directors and no one telling me to do things a certain way. As I had no clue how to build and grow a blog network, I learned by trial and error and made a whole lot of mistakes. The list of people to thank for helping us get to this place is long and vast.

It wasn’t easy at first. For a long time I didn’t bring in any type of a profit at all. As the content began to grow so did the traffic and revenue. Even though we’re growing, I have precautions in place to make sure bloggers are paid even if we have a bad month. Before I hire a new blogger or add a new blog, I make sure I have enough money in the bank to pay for blogging and upkeep for six months to a year. This isn’t a hand to mouth operation anymore, but neither am I rich or just getting by. Everything is in a good place right now.

Freelance Writing Jobs is doing just fine, thanks

It’s a full time job building, running and promoting this network but worth every bit of time and every penny spent. I’ve been asked if I want to seek funding to build FWJ into something spectacular and my answer is “no.” I want to keep this as a little “mom and pop” operation, which is why it’s so heavily monetized. If that means slow growth, I’m good with that. After blogging for other people for so many years, I can tell you that some of the bigger portals feel more impersonal anyway.  I don’t want to lose site of what’s important

I think what happens with many of the bigger blog networks is that they keep adding and adding and adding rather than cultivate each individual blog. They have to answer to backers and a board of directors and it becomes less about the bloggers, blogs and community.  I prefer a cozier network. At almost 46 years old,  I’m pretty much done answering to people. Besides, this niche is too defined for 300 blogs.

No plans to fold any time soon…but nothing is forever

So everyone wants to know how things are going for the Freelance Writing Jobs network and we see trouble in our future. I’m not going to lie and say we don’t have some bad months, but 2009 was our most profitable year ever. Plus, January 2010 was our most profitable month ever.

Will it stay this way?

Gosh, I don’t know.

Nothing online is a sure thing. However, I do know the decision to close shop will be made by me and me only, and I don’t plan on doing that any time soon. In 2009 I entertained several offers to sell FWJ and I declined because I’m not ready to do that. However, I’m not going to say that isn’t going to happen. I’m building a business and eventually I will sell my business. Not now, not tomorrow, not next month… but someday I will sell FWJ.

Until then I will continue to build this community and, hopefully, contribute important discussion topics. We don’t have to be number one, we don’t have to take over the world, but as long as we continue to bring in a profit, we’ll have a place for writers to read, chat and find work.

There’s something to be said about bootstrapping, isn’t there?

Image via Wikimedia Commons


6 responses
  1. Matt Keegan Avatar

    I am in agreement with you, Deb.

    Although I don’t have an end game in place for some of my sites, the long term picture does not have me busy updating my stuff frequently when I can get paid to do the same elsewhere.

    Still, when you make money from a site as you do with FWJ, you have the luxury of waiting for the best offer to come forth. You’re in a good place, but someday you should reap the fruit of your labors.

  2. Kate Lister Avatar

    Good for you Deb. Keep up the great work.
    .-= Kate Lister´s last blog ..• 12 Steps To A Loan Renewal =-.

  3. Simple Observer Avatar

    Nice post, Deb. I appreciate the honesty and forward-looking approach. Thanks for all your hard work.

  4. Marcia Frost Avatar

    I think you have built a great network that many freelance writers like myself visit regularly. It’s not necessarily because we are looking for something in particular, but because there’s always a job, interesting article or great tip we will get!

    I speak for many when I say I hope you are around for a long time.

    .-= Marcia Frost´s last blog ..IHotel offers Rooms, Food & Spirits in the Center of Illini action =-.

  5. Deshair Foskey Avatar

    I enjoyed the read. I feel so green in this industry. I have a young blog that receives praise and just don’t know where to start on how to build it up to a profitable medium. I will continue to grow it whether or not it becomes profitable. But it is nice to see that maybe one day, what is a reality for you, is possible for me…

  6. Greg London Avatar

    I hope freelance writing jobs stay around. I myself have never done any writing except for my own blogs, but knowing that being an avenue to take would be a good thing.
    .-= Greg London´s last blog ..Join My Easy Task and get a $1.00 bonus for your first campaign =-.

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