Have you seen FoodPress yet? If not, go take a look now. I’ll wait.
Other than the fact that it’s about one of my favorite subjects, FoodPress is fascinating because it is a networked blog. This blog site aggregates its content from its contributor’s blogs. If you click to open any of the items on the front page, you’ll find it links back to the original story at the contributor’s blog site. This blog has little content of its own but does a fabulous job of organizing and arranging the content from the other blogs into a beautiful site.
A blog network such as FoodPress can be a win-win situation for all involved. It offers a central location for information on a specific topic while providing the networked authors with additional exposure and traffic. With luck, both the network site and its affiliates can take advantage of this increased exposure to generate some ad revenue.
The network site is just another blog, but one set up with a magazine style template that displays many excerpts – in various formats – on the front page. The key to a successful network is the editor. This is the person who scours the affiliate sites for appropriate content and creates posts on the network site highlighting the chosen articles. On a site like FoodPress where content is updated multiple times a day, this could be a full-time job.
While FoodPress uses custom design work and a sliding recipe gallery, those things aren’t necessary to have an impressive network blog. In fact, there are a couple of stock themes on the WordPress.com site that would serve very nicely. I’ve been experimenting at Moultrie Creek Online Historical Society [a WordPress.com site I've neglected terribly lately] and found that it’s easy to incorporate content from other blogs using their stock Under the Influence theme. On a self-hosted WordPress blog with a magazine theme taking advantage of WordPress’s category functionality, it would be easy to build a network blog with topical sections and other goodies.
How could a networked blog be put to use? The first thing that comes to mind is a carnival site where each participant gets fancy billing and an archive of previous editions is maintained automatically. A “community” like the Graveyard Rabbits or African-American genealogy bloggers could network to spotlight their work and attract others. A local online newspaper could network area blogs. A genealogy society could spotlight member blogs. Any of these options would allow the contributors to publish their articles at their own sites while the network blog points readers to them with a catchy intro post that links to the original article. Both sides will attract more attention and traffic as a result.
There is one big caveat. While it is probably quite legal to do this on your own, I wouldn’t recommend building a networked blog without the consent of the bloggers you want to include in your network.