AOL Makes Big Budget Cuts Across Blogs (Updated)

AOL is making across the board budget cuts on its blogging properties, we’re hearing from multiple sources. The cuts range up to 25% of each properties total budget, which falls mostly on personnel costs – bloggers are simply being told to take a couple of weeks off for now, and there may or may not be work for them later in August.

One area that seems to be immune from the cuts: The Tech Network (including Engadget), which continues to grow like a weed and drives substantial revenue.

Employees across AOL are being asked to cut down on expenses as much as possible, even minor ones. One person complains that they’re cutting things like free bagels, and are being asked to limit travel as much as possible. Are more big layoffs coming across AOL as it gears up for a sale to Yahoo or another suitor? We’re looking into it.

Another explanation for the cuts, says one source: this is standard Q3 belt tightening. The blog properties were simply running way over budget and needed to be pruned to keep things under control. In addition to looking for a buyer, AOL is also concerned about the economy in general and trying to stay ahead of the curve to avoid more painful cuts down the road.

Update: We received an email from someone who says they are an AOL blog writer:

Obviously, I can’t give my name (and it’s not the name on this account, either), but as a writer for one of the blogs in AOL’s Weblogs, Inc. Network, I can tell you that the cuts are going pretty far beyond free fucking bagels. Pardon my language, but what we’re going through for these sites is beyond anything that could possibly be considered reasonable.

I don’t know what’s going on with Engadget and co., or the lifestyle blogs, but the gaming bloggers were told yesterday to STOP ALL POSTING. Now, after the network bosses went into the fray, our two biggest sites are cleared, but the rest of the sites are working on a 5 posts/day deal, so long as those aren’t written by international bloggers, but only US writers. Anything above and beyond that is unpaid and will be written under a staff account. Nearly everyone has agreed to post for free, including columnists, in the hopes that we will all still have jobs come August 1, when they’re telling us we’ll be back — just on a smaller budget.

Of course, we’re all speculating that this means there’s definitely a deal in the works, because there doesn’t seem to be any reason for AOL to kill the properties when the Joystiq Network was enjoying the biggest traffic month in its history. Either they’re selling us, or selling out completely, because they don’t care. If we didn’t have so many people who considered the job a labor of love, all the gaming network blogs would die.

Don’t know if any of this is usable, but I’d like to see the information out there if possible, because what AOL is putting us through is simply ludicrous.

I will answer questions if there are any that I can answer.