Remember my post last year entitled Gettin' Paid: A Future for Content Creators?. In it I passionately made the case that there is a future for niche writers to make a living on the Web. Well there are signs that it may yet happen...
Microsoft has just started a network of blogs called Filter. The blogs in Filter are fairly bland and the writers are not revealed. Indeed it makes a big noise about the content being largely generated by the readers and the "bloggers" job is to filter it: "...our team of bloggers will filter the best stories, photographs, links and other interesting tidbits that you've sent in, as well as items that they've dug up."
Before you ask, NO the Microsoft Filter network is not my idea of content creators gettin' paid for their writing. Read on...
Interestingly, Jason Calacanis has put a positive spin on this 'blog network' competition from Microsoft. Jason wrote:
"Now, Iím thrilled MSN is in the game because at some point soon Iím sure they will make these Filter sites and/or Start.com the default homepage for tens of millions of MSN/IE users. [...] Having these big players move blogs to the top level will be huge for blogging."
I'm pleased Jason is being optimistic about it. I am too. Jason asked his readers for their opinions on which one of the big four will put blogs on the front page first: Google, Yahoo, MSN/Microsoft, or AOL?
I can tell you who it definitely *won't* be - Google.
My money's on Yahoo and AOL. Indeed I have hopes that both of them will fulfil my dreams of getting paid for my writing, by opening up and inviting truly independent content creators into their fold.
Microsoft's Filter network is a pretty bland, nameless lot of bloggers. Weblogs inc and Gawker are kind of inbetween Microsoft and where I want Yahoo and AOL to be. The personality of Jason's and Nick's bloggers shine through, but they do their thing under the weblogs inc and gawker umbrellas - instead of being their own unique Brands. Which is what I'm trying to be here at Read/Write Web ;-)
Not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with Jason's or any of these approaches - just that I'm hoping one of the big players decides to truly open up their network to small unique brands.
Interestingly, new Yahoo hire Matt McAlister (ex-IDG) has been writing some thought-provoking posts along these lines. He wrote recently:
"I wish somebody would launch a media brand that covered the Internet business for people in the Internet business. I've bet my career on this industry, and it would be really nice if there was a brand that stood independently in the middle of it, reported on it with intelligence and depth and integrity, and helped facilitate dialog amongst us all."
I'm still trying to grok where Matt is coming from - but I bet you it has something to do with this current discussion of network blogs and what Yahoo has planned in that regard. In a follow-up post Matt wrote:
"What's missing is that independent voice, the insightful mind with a view from outside who can identify the right people to listen to and the right trends to pay attention to and the right companies to learn from."
Well, there's no shortage of independent and insightful voices out in the blogosphere! Whether Yahoo hires them, or brings them under their wing in a 'blog network', or some other approach - remains to be seen.
Could this be the rise of small, niche content creators gettin' paid for what we love doing? I sure hope so!