How To Blog Your Way To Fame and Fortune
Back in late October, Business 2.0 asked me to contribute a column to their "How To Succeed" issue that is now on the newstands. We went back and forth on what I might write about and finally concluded that I should write about blogging. The column that ended up in the magazine was a fairly well edited version of the original so I am posting the original including the headline I used when I wrote it.
I always like to use a sensational headline. Many people read blogs in aggregators and these aggregators generally only show the headline in the main view. So you have to give people a reason to click through and read the post. I don’t think I’ve achieved either fame or fortune via blogging. Wikipedia kicked out an entry on me because I wasn’t “notable” and I make about $30,000 per year in advertising on my blog which I give all to charity.
But blogging has become a critical piece of how I do my business these days. My business is venture capital. I don’t think I need to explain what venture capital is to the readers of this magazine, but I will define the way I do venture capital. I am an early stage investor in Internet delivered services. I am the co-founder of a firm called Union Square Ventures which I formed with my partner Brad Burnham in 2003.
I started my blog that year too. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started my blog. I met Mena Trott (founder of Six Apart which makes Moveable Type blogging software and the hosted Typepad blogging service) at a party at Nick Denton’s apartment. She was in town to launch Typepad. I asked her what Typepad was. She told me I could set up a blog in about two minutes in Typepad. I was curious so I went home and did just that. I haven’t looked back since.
The first decision I had to make when I logged into Typepad was what to call the blog. I called the blog AVC because that’s what I am. A VC. I then was asked to tell the blogging world a bit more about me. I wrote:
My name is Fred Wilson.
I am a VC. I have been for 17 years. I help people start and build technology companies. I do it in NYC, which isn’t the easiest place to build technology companies, but its getting better.
I love my work. I am the Managing Partner of two venture capital firms, Flatiron Partners and Union Square Ventures.
I also am a husband and a father of 3 kids. I do that in NYC too. And it isn’t the easiest place to raise a family either. But it’s getting better too. I love my family more than my work.
And that was really all it took. I started writing at least one post every day and have done that ever since. When I go on vacations, I write a bunch of posts in advance and then autopost them on a regular schedule. I have found that having something new on the blog every day is the single most important thing to building an audience.
At first, I really didn’t know what to write about. So I wrote about the things I was passionate about; my work, my family, music, politics, new york city. I still post about all of these things. But I don’t post so much about my family anymore. As my audience grew and people with no manners starting leaving hurtful comments about my family, I stopped doing that. There is a downside to being so public about the things you love.
I also don’t post that often about politics although at times like right now, when we are in an important election, I can’t help myself. I care about our country and when I see it going down a path I don’t believe in, I feel the need to speak out.
So my blog is mosly about my work (venture capital and technology) and music, with a bit of new york city spliced in to keep it fun and fresh.
Many of my readers tell me that they love the diversity of the posts I do. They come for the technology and venture capital stuff but enjoy getting to know me through the other stuff. I think this is critical. Blogs need to be real and personal. Reading your blog needs to be like hanging out with you. I play music for my readers. I show them videos I like on YouTube. I tell them what I did over the weekend. And I tell them what I think is happening in the technology, Internet, and venture capital markets.
It seems to work. About 50,000 people each month come to my blog. And 13,000 people are subscribed to my feed via FeedBurner. I am sure that most of those 13,000 are also in the 50,000 number.
I know who many of these people are. They comment on my blog. They upload their faces in my community which is powered by MyBlogLog. They email me. And I email them back.
I met my friend Howard through my blog. He took me and my son to a Phoenix Suns game when he read on my blog that we were in town. He’s now producing a great web video about the stock market called Wallstrip. I met many people who share my love of music, too many to name right here. But they all know who they are. We trade music ideas all the time.
But most of all, I am getting to know entrepreneurs of all kinds via my blog. Entrepreneurs in India, Australia, England, China, Silicon Valley, and of course, New York.
They read my blog. Correct me when I am wrong. Pound the table when they agree with me. I get to know them. And they get to know me. And when it comes time for them to raise money, they come to me. But only if they think what they are doing will be interesting to me. And how do they know that? Because they read my blog where I talk incessantly about what is interesting to me.
So my blog acts as an amplifier and a filter. I see many more opportunities, but they are also way more relevant. It makes me a better investor. And hopefully that will lead to fame and fortune.