Blogging for Big Bucks!

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I’m sure many of you will
have noticed that I’ve been struggling to keep up with my blog posts lately, as
life at work has become exceedingly hectic over the last few weeks (since my
transition from MedComm to MarComm). On top of that, I’ve also had two overseas
guests visit this month, attended several events like PodCamp, produced Episode
#2 of ETechCast
, and now preparing for the Podcast Expo; so let’s just say that
life’s gotten a little bit crazy around here.

Anyway, enough of the lame
excuses…Here’s a brief synopsis and some quotes from an article that I’ve been
meaning to write about for a while.


This month
started off with a really fascinating article in the September issue of Business 2.0, called Blogging for Dollars. The article
discusses how some top bloggers and blog-related services are now starting to
turn a (serious) profit and transition from hobbyist to full-time blogging.

In fact, I
would personally say that 2006 is a significant year for the blogging and podcasting
communities as it’s really the first year that a number of people have started quitting
their well-paid and well-established day jobs to go into full-time blogging as
a legitimate, profitable, and much more motivating business.

One person
that immediately comes to mind is Biz 2.0’s own Om Malik, who now blogs full-time
at GigaOm. And, of course, everyone in the Web
2.0 world knows Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch
blog, which is apparently raking in a cool sixty grand a month in advertising…


Arrington,
a 36-year-old entrepreneur behind a long list of unrecognizable startups, has suddenly
become one of the rising stars of Silicon Valley.
Why? The answer lies in TechCrunch, Arrington's blog about new technologies and
companies. In the year since he launched the site, he has amassed such a strong
following that he's become a go-to person for VCs and tech execs looking to
leak corporate tidbits or announce news. More than 1.5 million readers
regularly check out his site. But here's what gives Arrington real distinction:
He's pulling in $60,000 in ad revenue every month. That's 10 times what the
site was making earlier this year, which was when Arrington, convinced of the
potentially monstrous riches ahead, quit his day job as president of a startup
to blog full-time.


Here’s a
couple more good quotes from the article…


What has
changed? For starters,
blogs today benefit from what might be termed uneconomies of
scale: They are so cheap to create and operate that a lone blogger or a small
team can,
with the ever-expanding reach of the Internet, amass vast
audiences and generate levels of profit on a per-employee basis that
traditional media companies can only fantasize about.

At the same
time, advertisers—shunning old-line media in favor of the Web—are discovering
the unique power of blogs.
Blogs offer a personal touch in the mediascape; small sites
have become our guides to a content-saturated world. As such, their
recommendations are highly valued by readers—which naturally has made
advertisers take notice…

Still, the
blogging-for-dollars phenomenon is only in its infancy, and
already blog ad spending
is roughly twice what it was last year.
With overall Web advertising expected to grow by
50 percent to $23.6 billion in 2010, it's certain that more and more ad dollars
will land on blogs.
For a growing cadre of bloggers, the opportunities to score
fat profits from pumping out posts on whatever their particular passions might
be are widening—and one consequence could be a radical reshaping of our notions
of how to build a successful media company.


In response
to this article, here’s what Liz
Gannes
from GigaOm
had to say:


Business
2.0 covers blogging entrepreneurs in its latest cover story, calling the upstarts
“Real businesses, with
real revenue streams from real advertisers — not overhyped next big things with
pick-a-number valuations based on selling out someday to some overenthusiastic
big-media sugar daddy.”
Writers Paul Sloan and Paul Kaihla herald the entrance of
“mainstream blogdom” (the MSB?). Obviously,
since B2.0 is Om’s former employer and he
continues to write a column for them, there are a lot of conflicts of interest
here, so we’re throwing the rookie into the ring! Yay…
New publishing
technologies are thrusting media empire-building into warp speed. We all know
how dude-with-a-blog can quickly turn to dude-with-a-brand, but it’s not clear
how dude-as-a-company will work. Don’t blink!


So, as you
can see, blogging is getting BIG BUCKS and lots of attention. It’s becoming a
real, profitable business for some folks (IMHO, podcasting is quickly moving in
that direction as well) and major corporations are starting
to embrace blogs as a form of connecting with their customers and/or replacing traditional
press releases
with them as well.

Furthermore,
advertisers are also recognizing the unique ability of blogs (and podcasts) to
reach highly targeted markets, so ad dollars are starting to shift into these new
mediums; though there is still much confusion over the metrics and worth of
such campaigns, as advertisers fall back on traditional rates for traffic
generation from these new mediums.

Overall, it’s
been a good year for blogging, podcasting, and other social media, and I think
that 2006 will definitely be remembered as the year that these applications come
out of their perceived shadow of being social devices for teens and attention
seekers and into the light of a
mainstream media powerhouse. So…Got blog?

More
write-ups in response to this article can be found here:
- http://www.techmeme.com/060822/p53.


ETech@Work Episode #002: Joe Kraus (CEO, JotSpot)

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After a looooong, loong, wait, it’s finally back. That’s right, folks, I’ve finally published Episode #2 of the ETech@Work Podcast.

Fitting well with my recent posts on Web 2.0 entrepreneurship, this episode’s guest is serial entrepreneur and CEO of
JotSpot,
Joe Kraus, who was also one of the original founders of Excite. Here’s the podcast and the summary:


ETech@Work

/ Episode #002
Released: September 18th, 2006

Interview
with:
- Joe Kraus (CEO, JotSpot)
-
www.jotspot.com

In this episode, Shwen talks to Joe about:
- Joe’s recent investments and involvements
- JotSpot and the Web 2.0 environment
- Where the idea for JotSpot came from
- The definition of a “wiki”
- How to maintain control in a wiki environment
- Some use-cases for JotSpot and subscriber base
- Non-traditional wiki applications
- Future directions for JotSpot/wikis
- More info about JotSpot and subscription info
- Quickfire round, including “What is Bnoopy” (Joe’s Blog)

Intro by Tim & Emile Bourquin: Podcast Brothers Podcast


CONTACT: shwen@etechcast.com
WEB: www.etechcast.com
BLOG: www.etechatwork.com

The aim of
ETech@Work is to explore emerging technologies and trends, and their
application in business
organizations.


Quote of The Week: Mitch Joel & C.C. Chapman (Podcamp Boston)

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Last weekend (SEP 9-10), I
was fortunate enough to attend the first
Boston Podcamp at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC). Unfortunately, it was
also the same weekend that I had out-of-town guests visit. Somehow, I managed
to convince them that Cambridge was a cool place
to explore and Bunker Hill is only a few stops from downtown Boston, so I was at least able to attend the
Friday night reception at Harvard and the first half of the Saturday
sessions. I just didn't think it would be fair to keep sending them away
for the entire weekend.

So, from the short time I
spent at Podcamp, all I can say is WOW!
Not only was there an overwhelming response of more than 300 participants, but for an “unconference,” it was also really well
organized and well planned (I've heard horror stories about some other
un-conferences). I'd really like to express my sincerest thanks to the
organizers (especially Chris Penn,
Chris Brogan and Steve Garfield) as well as to the sponsors for their support
(plus some cool t-shirts and other giveaways during the event).

And before we actually get
into the QOTW, here are a few interesting things that I learned at Podcamp:



1. BHCC was part
of the movie
Good Will Hunting (thanks to my wife)
2. Feedburner has a
customer-produced podcast (thanks to Eric O.)
3. LibSyn has an
enterprise level program:
LibSyn Pro (thanks to Chirs M.
4. Like me, Chris
Brogan uses
Giant Squids and a Sony MD recorder.
5. Greg from Blue Sky was responsible for getting Michael Geohegan the Disney gig.
6. Them Harvard
guys speak different–all I could think about during their welcome message was
Any more Sam Adams“?   

OK, now on to the QOTW…

After negotiating my way
through a labyrinth of hallways and stairways that make up BHCC (the map
really didn't help!), I finally arrived at the second session that I wanted
to attend on Saturday morning, called “
You and Your Brand–The importance of thinking about
marketing and self brand when doing a podcast
.” It was co-hosted by C.C. Chapman and Mitch Joel, who were both excellent speakers.
I can't believe this was the first time they had ever met and spoken together.

While the title initially
made me think it was going to be another talk on self-branding, it actually
turned out to be a lot more interesting and insightful than that. Mitch and CC
candidly discussed many simple truths about what makes a good podcast and
how to connect with your audience.

As I listened to what they
were saying, my thoughts strayed to a podcasting project that I am currently
working on with a third-party vendor. They recently proposed a contrived script
that resembled a formal interview from a typical executive magazine. It was devoid of emotion,
passion, or anything that could make it personal to the listener, so
I immediately sent them a few links to podcasts that would help them
understand what podcasting was all about.

Perhaps, I should have just
asked my vendors to attend this session with CC and Mitch, because they were
sharing the exact message that I was trying to get across:
Whether it's a hobbyist podcast, a corporate podcast, a premium
podcast,  or whatever, the key thing is to be genuine…to
personalize it with your own brand…and most importantly, to be Y-O-U !

So, the QOTW for this week
is succinct, but powerfully stated by Mitch Joel:


“Be
YOU, because others are already taken!”


For those of you who
couldn't make the session/event, here's a pretty raw recording of the entire
session (~30:45 mins):




Here are some other resources related to Podcamp Boston 2006:
- http://podcamp.pbwiki.com/BostonRecordings

http://podcamp.wordpress.com/
- http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/podcamp/index.html
(check out the knitting guy)

Podcast Expo and Everybody’s a CEO Boot Camp

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As some of
you may have read in my earlier post, I will be part of a discussion panel on Driving Innovative
Ideas through Podcasting
at the upcoming
Podcast
and Portable Media Expo
(PME) in Ontario,
CA
. Since it’s only a few weeks
away now, I thought I would try to hype it up a bit and give myself a shameless
plug with the following banner ad:

If any of
you are planning on being there, feel free to send me a quick email or say hi when we’re there.

On similar
note, my friend Kathleen
Gilroy
(CEO, Otter Group)—who will
also be on the panel with me at the PME—has recently launched a great program called
the “Everybody's a CEO Boot Camp.”

It’s designed for people who are “…still mystified by the wildly popular new world of blogs,
podcasting, and RSS and wondering how you can use these technologies to reach
more people and improve your marketing and sales
” or if you want
to “…understand just where you can make the greatest
contribution and want to tap into a network of like-minded people to help you
figure it out and then make it happen
.”

The inaugural
1-day program will be held in Boston, MA
at One International Place
on October 25th from 8:30am to 4:00pm. The program will cover the basics of blogging,
RSS, podcasting, and other emerging technologies and how they can be applied
to businesses
. It even includes an overview of some of the popular Web 2.0
services—such as Basecamp, Flickr, Google Calendar, etc—and how the Otter Group
uses them as part of their business.

For more info, here’s
an interesting write-up
on the CEO Boot Camp
by Robin Good.

If you’re
interested in attending, use the code FOK for a 10% discount on the
registration price; but hurry—there are limited seats!

Quote of The Week: Paul Graham (Partner, Y Combinator)

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After almost three weeks without a Quote of the
Week
(though
my last post did have
a number of “unofficial” quotes in it), it's finally back! And since I've been
discussing the topic of Web 2.0 entrepreneurship quite a lot lately, I thought
it would be a great way to kick off this week with some great quotes from
Paul
Graham
–a partner at the venture
(seed-funding) firm
Y Combinator and author of
many many great, insightful articles
on the art of “starting up.” 

So here's the QOTW that comes from a brief interview on TechCrunch between Marshall
Kilpatrick and Paul Graham:

Q: Do small investments in very
early stage startups represent a growing trend?

There’s definitely a trend
toward smaller investments, because it costs so much less to
start a startup now. And if you take less money initially, you keep more options
open.
Once you’ve taken a VC-scale investment of two or three million
dollars, you give up the option of an early
acquisition.

You’re also under more
pressure to grow fast, which can cause you to make design errors. It may not be
a coincidence that both Flickr and Del.icio.us avoided the usual VC route. Both
had to get a lot of subtle, social things just right. You’re more likely to do
that if you can evolve organically.

Q: What technologies are you most excited about right
now?

There are so many. I
especially like things that take advantage of the power of networks. As Sun used
to say, the network is the computer. Except now it’s the Internet plus the phone
network, not just your local LAN, and that changes
everything.

Frankly, even though I’m
supposed to be an investor, the ideas that excite me most
are not necessarily the ones that make the most money, but the ones that blow
away evil old monopolies.
For example, I love collaborative news sites
not so much because they make a lot of money– though they might– but because
they’ve shown what a bad job the “old media” were
doing.

Q: Do you
think most Web 2.0 technologies only appeal to a relatively small
niche?

To me “web 2.0? translates to “web.” And web technologies
don’t appeal only to a small niche. Web-based email services have hundreds of
millions of users. The network (in the broader sense of the Internet plus the
phone networks) pervades everything now.

We’re pretty open about what we think makes
a technology stick. We print it on T-Shirts:
“Make
something people want.” If you had to reduce the recipe for a successful startup
to four words, those would probably be the four.

The easiest way to make
something people want is to make something you want. What do you wish existed
that doesn’t?
For example, back in the early 90s a friend of mine wrote
some software for converting voice to data so he could talk to his girlfriend in
Taiwan without paying for long-distance phone calls. That would have been a
great project to turn into a startup.

If you’re a little older and/or have some
particular domain expertise, you could try making something that you yourself
don’t want, but you think other people do. This is a much riskier path, though.
Most of the great startups seem to have begun with
something the founders wanted: Google, Yahoo, Apple, even Microsoft.



As you can see, Paul's comments are very much
in line with everything that has been discussed of late in the realm of Web 2.0
startups, such as my last few posts (see: Art of
Startup Success
, Web 2.0
Entrepreneurs
, and Web 2.0: The
Movie
), everything that Jason Fried has talked about in his various
presentations (see QOTW from
7/22
), and countless more articles from Biz Week, WSJ, CNN/Money, Cnet and throughout
the blogosphere
.

Overall, the key messages that appear to be common
throughout many of these discussions, include: 

1. Don't seek big funding initially; let
the funding seek you later (i.e. start small, dream big).

2. Build it for yourself; not for the
money–create something people want.

3. Aim to build the best product on the
market; not the best marketing for the product.

4. Be flexible and be prepared to adjust
your business plan to market response.

5. JUST DO IT! Build it first, and the
rest will follow–ideas without execution mean
nothing.

Even if you're not thinking about a startup, I
think many of these trends can also be applied to work in general, especially in
this Web 2.0 world. For example, I previously discussed how enterprise
applications have traditionally been designed more for programmers and IT folks
rather than for the “common folk” that use them on a daily basis. Point #2 and
#3 suggests that we really need to be thinking more about what the actual users
want and then make it the best experience for them, rather than–for
example–forcing them to go through a 300 page manual and a 3 day course just to
learn how to use it.

Whatever the case, the interview is a great, short read, with loads of insight from Paul Graham.


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