Header graphic for print
Real Lawyers Have Blogs On the topic of the law, firm marketing, social media, & baseball

Networks of blogs may be the future of legal publishing

Jeff Jarvis has an interesting post on how Glam, primarily a network of women’s blogs a year and half old, has overtaken decade old iVillage, which has always been the largest women’s site in the U.S.

Jeff explains how:

Glam finds the good blogs and creates a relationship. It features good content from them on Glam and also sells ads on the blogs, sharing revenue with and supporting those bloggers. It now has about 400 publishers creating about 600 sites…some mak[ing] multiple six figures a year……

So Glam is a content network. But they don’t create all the content. They curate it. So we should curate more as we create less. That’s another way to say what I’ve said other ways: Do what we do best and link to the rest .

Glam supports its network by selling advertising across the entire blog network. By providing such a platform Glam encourages others to produce more.

Jeff also discusses another blog network I’ve been following, ScienceBlogs. ScienceBlogs is self described as a community of 40 selected science bloggers, set up as an experiment in scientific communication.

The science bloggers do not have independent blogs in the sense of their own design, name and url ala lawyers on the LexBlog network. Their blogs are on the ScienceBlogs designed template and platform. But again it’s ads being sold across the network of blogs that generate significant revenue for scientist bloggers.

LexBlog is launching a daily review of law blogs and journals called LexMonitor. So a network of high quality lawyer blogs is something I give a lot of though to.

Good law content on carefully defined niches in the law is being produced faster than people can consume it. Even sophisticated users of RSS feeds and newsreaders are challenged, let alone the vast majority of the public that remains at a loss when told they can subscribe to blogs, searches, and tags. Aggregating such content into an environment with editorial controls and community rewards may allow the masses to make meaningful use of such legal content.

In addition, taking on the large legal publishers such as LexisNexis and Thomson West as well as law review publishers requires a strong business model. Legal blog publishers certainly enhance their reputations as authorities through blogging. But it may not be enough to encourage them to produce more. Plus, with an independent source of revenue, legal scholarship could be produced by non practicing lawyers and law professors. Tasteful advertising across a network of legal blogs that passed editorial muster may strengthen the business model.

Interesting that Glam was driven by the question, WWGD? (what would Google do?) Google earns about 30% of its revenues from O&O sites (owned and operated by Google) per Samir Arora, CEO of Glam. The majority of Google’s revenue is derived from advertising on non Google O&O’s. Glam earns about 30 percent of its revenues through its O&Os.

Legal publishers like LexisNexis appear to distrust Google and its business model of indexing content, making it freely available and surround it with advertising. As Steve Matthews and others know I’ve been opposed to advertising on lawyer blogs, but perhaps there’s an opportunity for new media legal publishers. Not to get rich off others’ legal content, but to support an open and vibrant community of legal blog publishers.

I welcome your thoughts.

Note: Michael Arrington argues that Jarvis’ post is misplaced Glam exuberance. I’m not arguing Web 2.0 silly valuations for a legal blog network, just that it’s an interesting concept worth following.
Update: Jeff Jarvis’ Glam redux at the UK’s Guardian, ‘To grow into the future media need a group hug.’

  • http://www.delawarelitigation.com Francis Pileggi

    Look forward to hearing more details about LexMonitor and how it compares with and/or supplements aggregators.
    Best wishes for your continuing success at the cutting edge of blogs for lawyers.

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin

    Thanks Francis, it’s lawyers such as you who are publishing quality blogs who we’re looking to highlight with the LexMonitor.

  • http://www.adamsdrafting.com Ken Adams

    I assume that LexMonitor would be like Blawg Review done daily rather than weekly, and with a consistent editorial voice. It seems like a useful idea. One question I’d have is whether it would give any preference to LexBlog clients.
    As for a network of legal blogs, I’m sure you’d do a better job than at least one network I’m thinking of. But I’m uncertain of the benefits. As a reader, I might not find it much help, as I’m readily able to sniff out on my own those few blogs that cover topics I’m interested in. Wearing my blogger hat, I can see that participating in such a network would bring me more readers. But because they wouldn’t have sought me out, I’m not sure how long they’d stick around. And the extra eyeballs might not be worth the ads and a certain loss of independence.

  • http://kevin.lexblog.com Kevin

    LexMonitor will be more than Blawg Review Ken given that that it will be running on a platform that’s taken more than a half a year to develop. It’s also going to be driven by full time editorial staff and allow for a more meaningful way to consume law blog content. Who’s to say blog content will not be the most meaningful legal scholarship in 4 or 5 years. Times are a changing.
    As to preference for LexBlog clients, I’ve given that a lot of thought. My first thought was to use LM to highlight our clients’ blogging and as a medium to obtain more clients. But realized that would be shortsighted.
    On the net, services must be inclusive and not exclusive to provide the greatest value. Thus all law blogs (subject to some editorial thresholds will be included). We’ll start with LexBlog client blogs to test things but then do the development work needed to aggregate RSS feeds from non LexBlog clients.
    I’m confident we can provide value to law bloggers – increased readership, profiles that will further enhance their reputations fully indexed on Google, and community features (built out over time) that allow for a rewarding experience for bloggers and non-bloggers alike.
    I do not envision ads being placed on blogs because LM has accepted them into a network which LM has self anointed as the best law bloggers. That’s ALM’s law.com model right now. Not of great value to anyone as I see it and something I am sure Incisive Media, their owner, is not going to stick to as their blog play.