“If a network problogger left the blogosphere, would anyone care?”

The answer would most likely be a yes, especially if you’re a blog manager.

Bloggers come and bloggers go. Just like in the traditional print industry, a painful transition can be brought about when the editor in chief of a magazine leaves to pursue other things. This can lead to a discombobulating series of events, especially when the EIC had been hand picked from the day the title, focus and market of the magazine was conceived.

Adel Gabot once told me that you can tell whether an editor in chief has a full grasp over his magazine when you turn the pages and see the content reflect his or her personality. Such editors such as Tim Yap of Super!, Pam Pastor of 2bu!, RJ Ledesma of MANUAL, as well as the boys over at C! Magazine are good examples of this. Passion driven, personality fueled.

So then the big question mark: what happens when the EIC leaves the magazine, taking with him all the personality and direction he set up throughout the many months, years and yes, even to the very point of taking the entire magazine staff with him?

The publisher is stuck. The staff becomes confused. Morale is low.

In the new media publishing business, can the same be said? As a blog manager of over 17 sites and counting, the hardest part of the job is finding the right writer for the right content. The more specific the niche, the harder it is to find a competency-fit blogger for the job. And here’s why: One of the main differences between professional bloggers and journalists (and this is never highlighted) is that bloggers have that extra task of plotting a the direction, voice, and focus of his site. This is what differentiates a good problogger from a so-so one. It’s true to also say the same for journalists, as the more discerning writers eventually get promoted to editors. What makes the problogging job seem easier is the casual tone of writing as compared to the journalists’ more formal tone.

So when a problogger leaves the networked owned blog, the blog manager of the network has to find a new writer through word of blog, personal recommendations, advertising, and email blasts. A new blogger eventually comes who is fit to take over the content. Now here’s the thing. There are several things happening between the time the original blogger leaves and the time the new blogger makes his first few posts:

  • obviously the community readership will feel a lull and traffic will most likely come from keyword searches, recommendations, and SEO, but not from a “community anticipation” for the next post
  • the community will feel a reset in the blog, as the new blogger will try to catch up with what the community has been following for several months; this will also highly depend on how engaging the previous blogger was
  • the community will compare the old blog EIC with the new blog EIC’s engagement and competence especially when the niche has a high fanboy rating (i.e. Macintosh ,lomography, certain sports blogs )

Of course the saying that “you are not a dollar bill, you can’t please everyone” holds true for most of what I’ve already mentioned here. As a problogger who wants to take over an existing blog that belongs to a network, here are some tips to follow as you are waiting for your pending application:

  1. Read the headline and description of the blog. It usually contains information on the blog’s focus and market.
  2. Find out how many writers have written for the blog and if allowed, find out why they left. The usual reason for leaving network owned blogs would be because of time / priority related issues. Can you REALLY commit time for this?
  3. Check if the writers were able to build community in the form of comments, linkbacks, and the like. Find out if they were actively participative in the internal discussions of the network. Can you be highly participative too?
  4. Compare your knowledge and experiences to the content made by the predecessor. Can you at least match that level of competence?
  5. Don’t reinvent the wheel. You probably have insights that have already been talked about by the previous guy. It would be good to unearth these and add / affirm or negate them.
    • http://www.offbeathomes.com jennifer

      I’ve taken over a few blogs and there is always that worry — what if the loyal readers hate me. What if I’m not the same (which you never are) as the ex-blogger. It’s a hard line. Especially if, like me you have a strong personality — I tend to mellow down for blog take-overs so I don’t frighten people away.

      Very cool thoughts and great post.

    • http://www.baratillo.net Juned

      Good advise. Really good advise.

    • http://abuggedlife.com Jayvee

      jennifer, i actually wonder too how it would work for blogs with multiple writers. the dynamics can be unpredictable!

    • http://feistymomma.com dexie

      I’ve taken over 1 and have left 2(personal and complicated reasons).

      I don’t know which is easier. Right now I feel like leaving my other two and watching new bloggers take over is harder. I guess coz I treated the blogs as my babies that it’s hard to watch someone put their twists on ‘em. Plus I felt like I abandoned my readers. I’m working on getting the same blog niches up again except on another network so hopefully my “audience” would find me again somehow.

    • http://codamon.com Kiven

      Unless the blog has a REALLY distinct voice and has a large audience, i dont see much of a problem.

      Take for example Kotaku or Joystiq, they have that sarcastic tone that obviously regular readers like me have grown accustomed to.

      But most of the time, it also is a good idea to carve your own path and make your own voice. There’s a reason why you were hired for that particular blog and unless the network specifically tells you to blog in a certain way then just do your thing and make the blog your own.

      Remember also that it may not be necessarily your voice that grabs people but your content…even if you have a robotic way of writing, if they need/enjoy/want/lust after your content, people will still come to your blog…

    • http://abuggedlife.com Jayvee

      this one i got from rico. the sarcastic tone thats usually prevalent in a number of blogs is actually an easy way out to dish content. i think rico has a point. :)

    • http://codamon.com Kiven

      i agree, its more entertaining kasi pero not everyone can pull it off din… hehehe

    • http://www.pinoyblogero.com Karlo.PinoyBlogero

      It would be hard to write under the shadow of the previous EIC. It may have a negative effect on the new writer especially if the style of writing of the previous one is different from his.

      But of course, by instantly changing the overall voice of the site, the readers might get confused and annoyed ay the sudden change.

      The best thing to do is to slowly change the direction and voice of your site to your preference while checking out the reactions of the readers.

      Nice post.

    • http://mikeabundo.com Mike Abundo

      I make it a point to look forward, never back. When I take over a blog, I take over completely.

    • http://aizadgreat.multiply.com Aiza Bautista

      The EIC story sounds familiar…hmm… :P

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