Welcome to the Fourth edition of TrendTracking, a weekly place for small businesses to see and be seen.
- WeblogsInc has been sold to AOL, reports PaidContent.org. And there you were, wondering ‘what is the point of all those networks of niche blog sites that keep popping up?’ The answer: why, to sell them to some big media company, of course. The purchase price has been estimated to be at least $20 Million (USD). Not bad for a two-year old startup earning $2 Million a year. Not all this amount would be paid out immediately. Like most acquisitions, part of the purchase price — “earnouts” — would be paid out over time depending on the business meeting certain goals.
- CEO Express has been one of my favorite Web resources since 1999. The site has an outstanding, useful collection of links to resources that business executives and small business owners need in a flash. You can find industry research, online calculators, international newspapers, travel tools, writing style guides, essential software downloads — and even small business resources.
- Signs Never Sleep is the blog of the Lincoln Sign Company. This is such an interesting blog! You’re probably thinking, “what could be so interesting about a sign company,” but it really is. Through the blog you get to go behind the scenes of a brick-and-mortar business. My favorite posts are a series explaining how the company creates labels for a brand of salsa, noting: “I am going to be presenting a detailed number of posts in regards to the making of these labels, because I think Lincoln Sign Company can help many people in the specialty foods market and hopefully they will find this article and give us a call.” There you have it — authentic.
- Canada Businessis the primary business Web portal of the Canadian government. Because Canada is bilingual, there is a version of the site in English and one in Francais.Another Canadian small business site that keeps surfacing in my research is Small Business BC. It is a non-profit organization and resource in the British Columbia province. This site is organized in a more user-friendly format than the federal government site. It offers a deep set of articles and informational resources open to anyone, whether you are in British Columbia or not. I have found it especially useful.
- BandWeblogs is a directory of blogs by bands and other musical blogs. There are two trends here. The first is the increasingly narrow niches of websites, giving rise to the need for specialized directories to find them. And of course the other trend is that more bands are blogging these days, as a way to reach out to their fans. Franz Ferdinand is one such band, with a blog integrated neatly into its website (hat tip PSFK). I think we are seeing a whole new set of business opportunities develop before our eyes. New intermediaries are being created to help bands and musical artists market themselves online, using new Web tools, as more bands bypass the big record labels and take control of their own marketing.The grandaddy of all these new intermediaries is iTunes, a site that I do not think even existed a few years ago. But there are lots of opportunities for smaller players, including independent music promotion sites, review sites like Blogcritics, as well as Web designers, consultants and marketing professionals who carve out a niche helping musical artists make their name online.
- PubSub Gov describes itself as “a place to read about what is being said about the US federal government.” The site offers news feeds that link to blog postings and media articles that talk about a particular government official or branch of the U.S. government, so that you can follow the buzz about them. For those who follow small business legislation, there is a feed that covers news and buzz about the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (news feed), as well as a feed for the House Committee on Small Business (news feed).