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Yesterday we learned that Brijit has closed its doors (at least temporarily). When I interviewed Founder & CEO Jeremy Brosowsky back in December, one of the topics we discussed was my concern about their business model. Trying to pay a staff (in this case writers) with CPC advertising is very difficult. I’d like to note that my conversation with Jeremy was one of my favorites to-date; Jeremy is a very bright guy.
As I thought about Brijit some more last night, Mahalo came to mind. Mahalo utilizes a similar structure to Brijit in that they have a team of writers and link scrapers who scour the Internet for the latest hot topic to create Mahalo pages for. Brijit created article abstracts which is similar to the content Mahalo creates around a topic. Mahalo adds a variety of links on the topic while Brijit only linked to the original source article. Mahalo has also created many "how-to" articles which are much more in-depth and pay more (some are up to $150 per how-to).
One of the differences between Brijit and Mahalo is that Mahalo has very strong search engine rankings. CEO Jason Calacanis has become a master SEO and this will help Mahalo over the long-term. Brijit didn’t have good search engine rankings and I think this was a major factor in their lack of ability to generate revenue. Calacanis does an excellent job in "sending" pagerank to Mahalo through his very authoritative calacanis.com blog. Calacanis also has 20,000+ Twitter followers and each time he posts a link to Mahalo, some percentage (my guess is 2-4%) will click through. Both of these traffic drivers require no marketing expenditure which can help to drive the ROI up. Mahalo relies on two types of traffic: search engines and Calacanis’ shills – both on his blog and on Twitter.
Brijit paid a flat rate $5/abstract while Mahalo pays both full-time salaries to its in-house employees and a sliding scale to it’s freelancers. While most of the pages on Mahalo will take years to return the money invested to create the pages, a few gems should be able to take care of the load. My guess is that their 100+ Grand Theft Auto 4 walkthrough pages will be some of those gems. Mahalo is banking on the gems.
Last month we learned that Mahalo workers need to write more words to capture more search engine rankings and we also learned that Mahalo is testing affiliate relationships as a way to increase revenue.
Mahalo has already started to push link research to the "free" community. I imagine we will see more pushed to the free side to maximize the ROI over time.
If Mahalo staffers aren’t looking at why Brijit didn’t work, they should. It could provide some valuable insight in how to avoid similar issues from affecting Mahalo.
Brijit is a Web service that creates 100 word abstracts of many magazines and some blogs to help you find the most important articles. Check out our interview with Editor-In-Chief Jeremy Brosowsky to learn more about how Brijit works. I think of Brijit as the Cliff Notes for Web content.
Today Brijit has launched a semi-useful Facebook application. I’ve posted a screenshot of the application below and it’s pretty basic – shows you three articles in latest, popular and recommended. I say semi-useful because unlike poking, picking, dunking, and plucking, the app has some meat to it as a time-saver. But only showing three stories and then clicking off to Brijit’s Web site is lame. There’s also no customization for categories. C’mon guys, let’s make this more robust so that I can recommend it to my Facebook friends.
It does appear that they are doing a very heavy hiring push.
Yesterday I had the chance to meet with Jeremy Brosowsky. Jeremy is the Editor-In-Chief of a new publishing site called Brijit. We spent some time discussing the site and what it does — here are my notes. Jeremy started by helping me understand their tagline, "Aggregation, Recommendation, and Abbreviation."
Brijit creates 100 word abstracts of many magazines and some blogs to help you find the most important articles that must be read on a certain source. Jeremy said that he came up with the idea while looking at a pile of print magazines that he was behind on and thought there had to be a way to easily know which articles are must-reads versus the balance of the publication.
Jeremy was quick to note that in some of the initial reviews, including on Techcrunch, that they classified the site incorrectly as a Digg-clone and said it’s not a clone at all. I would agree that it’s not a clone. It does look like Brijit has expanded since Erick’s review as they now have a few blogs listed.
As I walked home I tried to think about the easiest way to describe Brijit and what I came up with is that it’s the Cliff Notes for magazines and blogs. They only focus on content, no news articles.
Here’s how the service works. Jeremy has four editors. Combined with some feed scraping, they select the best content from their sources. The selected stories go into a writer pool where any of the writers on Brijit can pick up the story and work on the abstract. The story is rated by the author as well on a 1-3 scale. The writer submits the abstract (100 words or less) and then an editor reviews it. If the abstract goes live, the author is paid $5-8 depending on the media of the story.
The system seems similar to Mahalo in that human editors (Mahalo calls them guides) have to approve the content before it goes live. Unlike Mahalo, there is no chance for spam on Brijit as the stories are provided by the editors and there are no links inside of the abstract, except to the actual full blog post or magazine.
Their current marketing strategy appears to be based on getting high search rankings. I told Jeremy that I struggle with this – just as I do with Digg. I have written before that Digg should not be in Google results and I believe Brijit shouldn’t be either. Jeremy disagrees and says that if they just copied the articles he could understand but they are creating new abstracts.
The team is split with technology in Sunnyvale, California and the editors in Washington, D.C.
I also struggle with Brijit based on the fact that they aren’t creating any new content but just taking content from other sources, resizing it and packaging it for the search engines. A writer spends days working on an article, and Brijit takes it, summarizes it and generates revenue on the writer’s content. Yes, I get the idea that the person should click through to the actual article and therefore Brijit is driving traffic to the writer’s site. Jeremy said that it’s a new piece of content – and agreed that if they were only pulling the writer’s content (say in a partial feed), it wouldn’t be right. He does note that the excerpts on Brijit are protected by fair use.
One of the areas I suggested for change is with regards to their newsletter. You can subscribe to any topic you like and receive a daily email with the new content in that topic. However the links in the email go to Brijit, not the original source. What reason do I have for going to Brijit once I’ve read their abstract? Jeremy gave me some answer about it being a technical thing but I don’t buy it.
Jeremy is very passionate around the Brijit concept and I assume they will do well if they can own the search results. On a side note, the site is very well designed. One of the classiest looking sites I’ve seen in a long time.
IsIt20.com – Applying 2.0ness to The Real World
You hear Web 2.0 everywhere you turn these days. IsIt20.com decided to take the term and apply it to real life, and real life people, places, and objects. IsIt20.com is a site where you can rate the 2.0ness of a large variety of things. IsIt20.com has many different categories such as; objects, humans, animals, countries, food, and houses. You rate these things out of 5 stars and you can comment on the 2.0ness. read more »
Movavi.com – Movavi Online – Convert All Video Formats
Movavi Online is a mutli-feature online video conversion tool. To begin with, you can use Movavi to download clips from YouTube and other video-sharing communities, and save them to your iPod or mobile device. Naturally, the site lets you convert these videos, but the output format is not limited to just those formats which are compatible with iPods and cell phones; you can convert all popular video formats (AVI, MOV, FLV, MPEG, MP4, and 3PG), in addition to various iPod and cellular phone formats. read more »
Brijit.com – Find Articles That Interest You
Are you finding it hard to keep up with your magazine subscriptions? Does it seem like there is no time to read interesting articles? Brijit.com can help you prioritize the articles you do read by allowing you to browse through article abstracts. Brijit.com gives 100 word abstracts on articles from Time Magazine, The Economist, The new Yorker, and other accredited magazines. Writers submit abstracts to Brijit.com and the best once are posted. read more »
EasySponsorship.com – Cause Websites Collect Donations
Fundraising is a multi-step endeavor that relies a lot on awareness and ease of donating. Many organizations could be readily collecting funds, but without a general bank account, the options for donations are limited. EasySponsorship.com offers organizations and individual fundraising groups to set up an account and webpage for their cause for free. After registering, users can create a personalized webpage with its own URL to share with friends, family and other contacts. read more »
Altlaw.org – Legal Information for the People
Why go through the bother of going to law school, if all the information you need to know about the law is available on Altlaw? Well, maybe it’s not the same thing, but Altlaw is definitely a good source of factual information from court cases and legal opinions dating back fifteen years. The website has a searchable database of federal appellate and Supreme Court opinions (no state court cases yet). read more »