Bloggers Look for Profits as Medium Matures

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Millions of people publish online diaries, known as "weblogs," or "blogs." Most bloggers do it for fun. But a few make money at it. Jason McCabe Calacanis' company, "Weblogs, Inc." runs more than 80 blogs on everything from scuba diving to cars and television shows.


On Mondays, we focus on the business of technology. And today we'll hear about an effort to make money with blogs. Millions of people publish Internet Weblogs or blogs, but among the few people who do it for profit is Jason McCabe Calacanis. A year and a half ago, he started Weblogs, Inc, which publishes and sells advertising for a collection of more than 80 different blogs. Renee Montagne spoke to Calacanis about why advertisers have been reluctant to buy space on Weblogs and how he lured them in.

Mr. JASON McCABE CALACANIS (CEO, Weblogs, Inc): A car company doesn't want to advertise on your blog which only gets 100,000 pages a month, and you only write about cars three times a month. So we went and found 15 car bloggers, put them into one place, called it Autoblog, made it look like a nice magazine, and it'd have ethics and a, you know, correction policy, fact-checking, except that we said, `The content is unfiltered. We will not tell the bloggers what to write, how to write, when to write.' And it was a very basic idea. And it really worked for the advertisers because the advertisers are just thrilled that there was this audience, you know, the early adopters, which is really nirvana for any advertiser. You want to get in there with the people who are going to spread your, you know, new phone around or, you know, the new features of the Toyota Prius.


Well, who are they, the main consumers of your Weblogs?

Mr. CALACANIS: They tend to skew to the top 5 to 20 percent of the audience. So on our largest blog, which is called Engadget, it's the type of people who replace their cell phone twice a year; the type of people at a dinner party who will, you know, advise you which phone you should get and why and what service you should use, and why Verizon is, you know, not as good as T-Mobile in this area but it's better with this feature; and, you know, the obsessive compulsives of whatever space. You know, they're unhealthily obsessed with whatever the topic is.

MONTAGNE: As an investor, you're making a bet that blogs will get really big, right?


MONTAGNE: But as people are increasingly bombarded with information, is it possible they'll want better filters?

Mr. CALACANIS: Yeah. And I think that's why blogging actually occurred. I mean, I think people looked at the information they were getting from MSM, as we call it--mainstream media--and they'd say, `I don't trust his information anymore,' you know, whether it was Stephen Glass or Jayson Blair or, you know, CNBC, you know, playing trumpets when Jack Welch would be on the show--you know, he's the guy writing their paychecks.


Mr. CALACANIS: You know, I think consumers are smart, and they realize, `Gee, I don't know if I trust all this, you know, content out there. I would rather see some other voices.' And so what happens if the skills of the journalists go to the people with the domain expertise. And that's really what's happening. You're taking journalism techniques and training the people who are normally interviewed by journalists to be journalists. And it's going to be a little bit of a rough process at first. But the person who's interviewed for the biotech story in The Wall Street Journal now has a blog. So if you want to get the real information on what's happening in biotech, would you go to The Journal? Maybe if you want a quick overview. But if you really want to get to the nitty-gritty, why not hear directly from the person who works in biotech every day?

MONTAGNE: Jason McCabe Calacanis is the CEO of and blogger for Weblogs, Inc. Thanks so for joining us.

Mr. CALACANIS: Thanks for having me.

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