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Fresh back from a trip to Greenland, Torsten Jacobi answers some questions about his fast-growing blog network, Creative Weblogging.

The firm, which aggregates over 80 blogs, was founded in Hamburg in January 2004 by Torsten and Raik Hoffmann, and is now based in Palo Alto, California.

How many users do you now have and who are they, typically?
We can make estimates about users only. We see more than 7 million page views (excluding bot and RSS traffic) on our sites every month. It is hard to say how many users are behind their screens though.

Why do you think people are looking for aggregation of blogs?
We work hard to serve all our blogs with a quality guarantee. We really strive to serve entertaining yet helpful and informative pieces on each blog, updated several times a week. We put a lot of effort into educating our bloggers and try to make our blogs easily recognisable and comprehensible.

How do you judge whether a blog is good enough to join your network?
We have worked our way into recruiting guidelines. Simply speaking; the more successful a blogger already is, the better his or her chances of getting in. We have never stopped recruiting and still consider each application with great care.

Any tips for bloggers wanting to join?
Learn the blogger ABC; post good stuff on a topic that not everybody else is already blogging about, over a sufficient time period (3 months plus) and we can make a deal instantly!

How many blogs do you have and how many do you plan to add?
We currently have 80 blogs in English, German, Chinese and French. The US is our biggest market with Germany and China catching up. We can think of adding several hundred more - after all, we built this network for scale.

Many readers don’t trust blogs as much as newspapers and broadcasters. Do you see this changing?
I think it’s an opportunity. Blogs are just around for a short time and have seen a very diverse bunch of people making them. We are committed to building an original style reporting and analysis in the Creative Weblogging network.

We know about the weaknesses and are working hard to make this medium a real competitor to offline media. There might be a time when the best 'reporters' will blog and not write for an (offline) journal.

Why would someone adopt your network when they can set up RSS feeds through MyYahoo and Google Reader?
Blogs help people to sort through the torrent of information every day that comes upon them. Blogs pre-filter, rearrange, analyse and store information. If done well, this saves time and adds to productivity of each reader. We believe we can fulfill this need.

Have you had any takeover approaches?
Hehe - no comment on this one.

Where are you in terms of profitability and financing?
We have been profitable since our first quarter and would like to remain so. We raised money from business angels last year, simply to get a better position on liquidity. We have very challenging growth plans for the number of blogs and quality we provide so there is a lot of money to be spent.

What sort of brands and companies are using blogs for ads at the moment?
American Express, SAP, BMW, VW and The Weather Channel, to name a few. Most advertising agencies and brands they are working for have understood that blogs are a medium that won't go away and provides a lot of value. The last 12 months have seen many steps into adding blogs to the marketing mix.

How does your business break down between the US and Europe?
This business is still 80% US and 20% everywhere else but it might change.

What other revenue streams are you looking at?
Advertising, advertising, advertising!

What’s uptake been like of your sponsored blogs?
We launched the first one with D&B (formerly Dun&Bradstreet) in June. Let’s hope more materialise. 


Torsten talked to Chris Lake.


Published 19 October, 2006 by Richard Maven

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