Sugar Inc, owner of the popular Sugar blog network that includes PopSugar, is launching a free blogging platform called OnSugar. The Drupal-powered OnSugar platform is designed to be as simple as possible while still remaining versatile, and already has a proven track record – the Sugar blog network is written using the same technology. Users will be given tools to create special features that have become mainstays on the blogs, including photo galleries and polls, and will also have access to a large repository of free images from Getty.
Bloggers will be able to monetize their sites through standard ad networks like AdSense or Glam, and will also be able to include ShopStyle widgets (though they won’t be available until the final launch in 90 days). ShopStyle, which was acquired by Sugar last fall, allows bloggers to create visual spreads of real-world products. Bloggers will get a cut of any sales that result from the widgets.
The platform is a smart move for Sugar on two fronts: For one, it gives existing Sugar readers a chance to express their opinions to the public without having to leave the network, allowing Sugar to increase its retention rates for current users. Its streamlined interface will also appeal to prospective bloggers who may not care for Sugar’s blogs in the first place, allowing Sugar to reach an entirely new audience.
We had previously speculated that Sugar was gearing up to take on rival Glam Media with its own ad network, but CEO Brian Sugar says that while Sugar had considered building one, it decided to shelve the idea for the time being. However, he acknowledged that an ad network could easily be layered into the new blogs should Sugar ever change its mind.
You can check out a sample blog at TechCrunch.OnSugar.com.