Case Study: How Copyblogger Shifted From Blog Publishing To Product Development

Have you noticed how Copyblogger is moving from a ‘traditional’ blog to a solutions provider offering web marketing tools? Some people feel that Copyblogger should have stuck to its roots and built a better blog, but I’m not so sure.
As they say, “To stay in business, you need to be in business.”
What Copyblogger’s currently doing allows it to scale, integrate, and increases its capital value.
How many blogs can you say that about?

Web Business Models: Which work best?

Let’s back up a second. Most ‘blogs’ struggle to make money.
Why?
Their business model relies on revenue streams that are often beyond its control.
The three most common forms of revenue generation on the web are:

  • Advertising
  • Services
  • Products

Advertising is the one most start with.
It’s very easy to add Google Adsense to your site. However, you need a phenomenal amount of traffic to make a genuine living from it. Trust me, you really do. And anyone telling you otherwise is telling a porky.

  • Services are fine but they’re hard to scale. There are only so many hours in the day. You can’t service clients in your sleep. Try it!
  • Products are the most difficult to develop. But the most lucrative… if you get it right.

 
What’s interesting for me is how Copyblogger developed a path that allowed it to escape from the blogging thread-mill and create something more substantial, with more value, and less dependency on web traffic.

Using your blog as a platform

If you go back to when Copyblogger started, it was like most blogs except that it identified, isolated and owned its niche very quickly. It grew incredibly fast.
This allowed it developed educational tools, such as Teaching Sells, which appealed to its readers.
However, the problem was scale.
Teaching Sells was/is limited to a number of subscribers. My understanding is that it’s run every year, sells out, and then re-runs the next year.
But wouldn’t something the sells 24×7 make more money?

Developing Complementary Solutions

Copyblogger moved into product development a few years ago with the Thesis Theme. This is probably the top-selling premium WordPress theme.
For different reasons, Copyblogger separated from the Thesis Theme developer and created their own offering – The Genesis Framework.
What’s interesting here is that what started as a copywriting site began to offer products that complemented their readers’ needs.
Copyblogger started to develop web products, built upon a strong brand name, that helped bloggers, ie their army of loyal readers, to be more successful.
At the moment, it offers three main products:

  • StudioPress for Blog Design
  • Scribe for Web Traffic
  • Premise for creating Landing Pages

Scaling

The advantage of having this suite of products is obvious:

  • Affiliates help spread the word and create more sales.
  • It’s less dependent on weaker business models, such as advertising which has taken a huge hit in the recession.
  • It can integrate these products with other partners
  •  Upsell opportunities can be realized by selling premium and enterprise versions

Conclusion
Here’s another way of looking at it. Take a look at the AdAdge Power 150 and see which of the sites in the top twenty you’d like to own.

  • Which sites have the best opportunities for revenue generation and licensing?
  • Which sites can be scaled, i.e. build other products upon what’s already there?
  • Which sites can expand into other verticals and industries?

Most sites cannot scale, have few independent revenue streams, and are vulnerable to competition.
What’s interesting about Copyblogger is how it’s building for the future. Instead of building a better blog, it’s building a better business.
What do you think? Is Copyblogger making the right move? Has it abandoned its roots? What do you think it will do next?

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