Blogging's Dead, Long Live Blogging
Late last year I wrote a blog post suggesting that individual bloggers like me were being replaced by traditional media as the leading voices in the blog world. It caused a bit of a stir and I followed it up the next day by saying that "social media requires real people". My point in both posts is that I really like to read blogs owned by and written by a person as opposed to a team of people being paid to blog. I made my point and moved on.
Today I read a post on The Standard that suggests the same thing. Ian Lamont writes the following about the Techmeme leaderboard:
the old-school A-listers aren’t being displaced by the many talented B-to-Z listers out there.
Rather, the Leaderboard is increasingly populated by mainstream
publishers, tech blog networks, and corporate blogs and PR sites.
And in addition, Nick Carr is taking the summer off from blogging, Scoble’s moved the hub of his energy from his blog to FriendFeed, and Calacanis has quit blogging entirely.
As Jason said in his first email (he’s moved from blogging to broadcasting):
In the early days of blogging Peter Rojas, who was my blog professor, told me what was required to win at blogging: "show up every day."
I agree completely. In good times and bad, I blog every day. That’s how it is for me. And I don’t plan to change that. I get so much value out of blogging that I can’t imagine doing what I do without a little time every day writing down my thoughts.
But change is afoot. Today, we get the news that Alley Insider "raised a pot of money at a mind boggling valuation". That’s a joke from Henry Blodget, founder of Alley Insider. But the fact remains that Alley Insider raised about a million dollars to build out the Alley Insider blog. I like Alley Insider and they re-run some of my posts there from time to time.
And last week Rafat Ali sold Paid Content for $30mm to The Guardian. When that was announced, a friend of mine suggested to me that I could sell AVC for $5-10mm. First, I am not sure that’s true, but second I could never do that.
This blog is me and I am this blog. It’s mine and will always be mine. I understand why many of the individuals who made blogging what it is are either moving on or turning their blogs into businesses. That’s the way it is. But I am fortunate that this blog is totally integrated into my business and provides great value to me and my partners. So it’s sustainable from an emotional and economic perspective and I plan to keep showing up every day.
I am curious about your friend’s comment. Let’s say you sold this blog. I assume it means you would quit blogging here. So, what is the buyer buying? The inventory of blog posts? Domain name? Traffic inertia?
Don’t pay too much attention to his comment. I think it was a bit non sensical to be honest
why would you sell a personal blog ? would it be package deal? like do you come with it ?
Like I said in another comment, that was sort of nonsensical
Maybe not completely nonsensical — personal blogs have sold before. In 2004 Jeremy Wright (of B5 Media) sold his personal blog Ensight.org for about $15k + a deal for monthly compensation to keep blogging there. Granted, that’s a much smaller amount of money than we’re talking about now, but it was also 2004 and one of the first blogs ever sold. 😉
Yeah, and then I bought it back ;-)And learned a hard lesson. Personal blogs should never be bought/sold. Fred’s blog definitely has value, and real value at that, but only if he keeps writing it… and the only way he’ll keep writing with the same passion is if he owns it (otherwise it becomes A Job).Ultimately the value here is Fred, his content and the community that comes to read him and interact with him. Take Fred out and that all disappears.Even if Fred built out a team around this blog, like Arrington did with TechCrunch, there’ll always be a “what will happen when …” question for potential acquirers.
You got that right. And its the community that has all the value for me
it just doesn’t make sense selling a personal blog.without that person, not much future remains for it.that being said –if you transferred all copyrights in the sale– it ‘s not unthinkable someone could assemble a rehash of your writings and publish them as a book, or start a vlog using the “A VC” brand.in its current form though, a personal blog sale is an impossible proposition for someone who’s not for sale.
‘This blog is me and I am this blog. ‘ – to rite, i feel exactly the same about my blog , It’d be fair to say business soley used blogging as an angle to look cool whilst playing catch up … an while the two suited each other perfectly, the last 12/24 months, i cant help to feel really uneasy about it all today.And whilst the two totally fit in the bed, it just feels to me anyways, that one of them is being cheated .. an you guessed it, its not business … Maybe if they just called it something else from the get go, id feel easier about it all , but we didn’t know better back then … i guesstoday’s blog game , it just doesnt seem so welcoming with all these media commentaters getting in on the game , plus readers rightly expect things. Like, not only daily content, but appropriate relevant content, building readership is not easy , an the big usiness feed the masses not exactly the most inspring content at times ..it is personally a nice feeling though to beat your state online papers blogs in stats , comments etc .. all on the smell of an oily rag …
it could only be worth 5 million if NING ran your social network
Then I’ll do that as part of the coming redesign!
your redesigning, neat, whens this going down ?will you be sticking with the current liquid 3 column thing or changing up ?
Big changes are afootLeft column is a gonerI don’t want to say more as I’d like to surpirse and please everyoneFred
neat look fwd to it
This is kind of what I find amusing about Mike Arrington and the rumors of his shopping TechCrunch so he can go off and retire (those rumors are largely in valleywag so who knows…). Either through business necessity, or his ego, mike’s personal brand is very tightly intertwined with TC’s brand. He can’t sell and leave. The TC brand would wither and die.Rafat was anywhere nearly as closely tied as a person to PaidContent as Mike is to TC.As a product focused start up CEO, I know I’ve succeeded in building a good team and company if I can leave and the business still thrives.
We’ve seen evidence of a TC shop fest going on, so I wouldn’t discount this. I think VWag is the only one with enough balls to run the story though. but the point’s the same, Mike’s an integral part of TC, no matter how many other folk he hires. And acquirers will always massively discont the enterprise value because they’ll assume he’ll leave and when he does some unknown percentage of “the magic” will go with him.
I was chairman of thestreet.com for around three years. Its very hard to sell a business built on a personal brand. Its very possible to build a great business with strong revenues and cash flow with this model but buyers are scared to cash out the person whose brand is driving the business
Definitely. Though there have been *some* personality-driven acquisitions that have succeeded in big media companies, that tends to be when the personality actually moves VERY quickly up the food chain so his/her personality becomes embedded in the culture…So, basically, they work if the person doesn’t leave. But how often does it really happen where the company gets bought and the founding team / SME’s / CEO / visionaries stick around forever?
What are those examples?Turner at time warner?
I’d take the $5 mill if anyone is offering. Seriously that’s a lot of money!
Well if you think about the fact that we manage almost 300mm at USV and that this blog helps us do that better, then maybe the 5mm isn’t a particulalry big number
Makes sense. But for me, if there was that kind of money in selling out, it would be hard to not do it.To show that I get it — when I was editing the Harvard Law School blog, maybe someone would have paid $5 million for it, but it would be a bad deal for Harvard Law School, which has a brand name that’s worth much more than that.And maybe I wouldn’t do it now either, with Scripting News. It’s changing now, and I want to see the change through. I think the dust is settling from the crazy year we’ve just had with Twitter. I’m spending more time with FriendFeed, but that’s opening up a set of problems that I think a lot of people are haivng, we want one place we write and have it go many places from there. Not so much as a broadcast thing, but with lots of views. I have a feeling that to solve this problem it’s goign to be important to have an independent Scripting News.
Let’s say you got 5mm for it. Then you’d pay somewhere between 25pcnt and 50pcnt in taxes leaving you with at best 3.8mm. Then you invest that with a hedge fund that gets you 10pcnt per year or 380k on your moneyWouldn’t you be better off offering IBM or someone else the right to sponsor SN for 500k per year?And it would be a good deal for the right sponsorFred
Fred that’s why you’re a financier and I’m a media hacker. 🙂
I want to be a media hacker too dave
You are a media hacker.
IMO the future is in the merger of work and play, and thus publishing that is both half play and half work. AVC i think is an excellent example of this and as such i think this type of blogging style will become more popular as it becomes more valuable (not only in the psychological sense but in the sense that you can make a lot of money off it too).agree with howard’s ning comment, i actually think it could be worth more than 5 mil if ning was built for something specifically like this (remember, we live in hyperinflationary times). the big players on ning are going to be worth more than ning itself (which may be ning’s fatal flaw, and why the future of all platforms is to be disrupted from within — you know, AN INSIDE JOB).
There will always be individual niches, and I think significant ones, but at the same time it’s never helpful to swim upstream against a current that is very strong.In this world of constant FAST change, including and in fact especially in the Internet, blogging, and social media spaces (and others), those who adapt early and well survive and thrive.You can guess about the others.Sentimentality is fine (and good). But it’s a hobby (which is fine as well). It’s not generally a business.
Great post, Fred. I tend to agree that the good stuff on the social web is generated by individual voices rather than corporate voices. There’s probably some kind of happy medium maybe illustrated through Nick Denton where a publisher can aggregate individual voices and help provide editorial guidance on the tone.To kidmercury’s point, there is something about the evolution of our personal identities that is tied to this discussion. Can we separate work from play? Can we separate corporate from individual? Are those distinctions becoming increasingly obsolete? I’ve wrestled with them in my own life. Corporate blogging and/or the creation of a drone voice seems like a 1.0 idea (to be a bit glib) rather than a 2.0 idea. But these valuations you’re citing would contradict that intuition. My sense is that truth and the individual voice will slowly emerge as the dominant paradigm but it’s hard to say.
When the Paid Content’s and Silicon Alley Insider’s of the world begin seeing cash, the future is even much brighter for the innovative, well run networks.
“what was required to win at blogging”….Winning at blogging? So there must be “losing” at blogging too… I never thought of that… hmmm.I’m a blogger loser baby… so, why don’t you kill me… 🙂
That’s jason talkI don’t subscribe to that world view
I’m not sure about the “show up every day” part either…Being losely connected in time… with less pressure to being regularly and predictably “available”… living with ever greater asynchronicity… is something that may turn out to be the real value in our new personal media technologies – rather than the “instant”… “always on”… “each morning”… which seems like a legacy of the mass media culture… where time rules. The final goal is to make time irrelevant – isn’t it… 🙂
I am with you. Welcome to slowblogging.
Seems like I’ve been taking the model of trying to *comment* every day on others’ blogs, like yours.
I’ll go check out your comment blog at disqus
exactly- I wish the universe would adopt Disqus (Techcrunch?), it’s in a class by itself.
Coming back to the “winning at blogging” concept: I assume that winning in this context = generating traffic, mindshare, becoming the go-to source for others interested in your blog’s focus. I also notice with my blog that as I increase the frequency of posts, traffic increases at an increasing rate, i.e. if I post today after not posting for a month, I get 100 views; but if I post today, tomorrow and the day after, I will get 100 views today, 200 tomorrow and 300 day after .Is this consistent with what folks are seeing? Is this a purely “google juice” effect? Any other forces at work here? Would love to hear some insights!
Show up every day and the audience will shop up every day
I would love amplification of this comment, or pointer to a relevant resource.For an established blog like yours, readers come back daily for the consistently great content that they have come to expect. But how are these spikes explained for a new blog? In my blog’s example, which is very new (and I am only now starting to blog with frequency), I doubt that I have that many loyal readers. Which leads me to believe that an increase in blogging frequency can lead to an increase in “google juice”. Or is there something else at work here? Thanks!
My gut says you are building a following
Hi Maria,I know that when I notice a blog I read suddenly start in increase their posting from one a day to two a day I will start visiting the blog twice a day now instead of the usual once a day.
I’ve been reading Umair’s first paper out of Havas, “User Generated Context”, which sums up why the TechCrunch leaderboard looks the way it does. Most people aren’t producing original material – like you are – they are contextualizing MSM information. I hope more people start providing interesting and original content instead of solely providing spin. Makes me want to change the way I use my blog.
For as long as I’ve been reading (and that’s a long time), you’ve focused on the value of blog as community and you talk so often about the comments. It’s a discussion. Scoble gets this, he just prefers FriendFeed, which is fine. Not sure about the others, the mega-blogs.Getting value from the community is why I keep on blogging (2400 posts on my personal blog since 2000 and 300 on my Social Media/WOM blog) on issues from small to large…that’s why they are so great.Not that you need the encouragement, but keep up the good fight, Fred! 😉
Successful blogs are the ones that have a soul to them. Sell the blog and you sell the soul…
Fear not Fred … you are the new A List. I see the Calcanis thing as a joke. Certainly some blogs have moved into something that looks like something in media with multiple authors, and while interesting they are just not blogs, as I define them narrowly, being one persons view, take it or leave it. So the new A list are the blogs that have their own niche, loyal readers, and commenters. I posted more on this earlier in the week.http://tinyurl.com/6ck2dt
Fred, we’re just talking about guitars here, right? You can play them well, or badly. You can write your own music, or cover other people’s tunes. And you can play because you like to play, and/or play because you want other people to hear you play, and/or play because you want to make a living playing. Or any combination of the above. Alt take: Message not the medium.
Since I can’t play the guitar, I blog
I’ve been thinking about the increasing influence of PR agencies and outside interests trying to promote someone or something in blogs as well. To me, blogging initially was a way for individuals to get their opinion out with little to no influence by outsiders. This provided news from the trenches with analysis that was theoretically not influenced by anyone other than the blogger’s personal opinion.The competition of the blogs was just each other in those days, but now individual blogs like TechCrunch have grown so large that they compete with the large media corporations. It’s all “media” after all and distribution size is certainly not the only, but a major factor in determining competitors – not the technology used to distribute (blogs, websites, print, etc), because that’s a whole lot easier to change than getting readers. GigaOM’s recent deal with BusinessWeek is a good example of this coming of age of blogs and the type of competitors and partners now available to big blogs. Partners for blogs used to conjure thoughts of “let’s find other narrowly-defined blogs and band together to cross-post” as opposed to finding a big media company to syndicate to.So the competition has changed and has caught the eye of PR agencies, lobbyists, etc. – people trying to get someone else’s message out by directly or indirectly influencing the outlet. Effectively, the independence of blogs will diminish as they grow in size.I do get the symbiotic relationship of all the stakeholders and I’m not a PR-agency hater at all. I think it’s just important to realize what the motives of the different blogs is and how this may change over time due to the evolution an convergence of the different mediums. By nature, this blog could be labeled as having the motive for Fred to push his investments, but it’s clear that this isn’t the case. I respect that a lot and it may be one of the few blogs that will stand out over time as being the unfettered opinion of one person or a very small team.I’m curious to see how other feel about this.
Smart comments. Agreed, that once something gets big, it loses authenticity, (my take). But at the same time, there has to be some big force behind the voice to make it interesting. There are multiple reasons why people want to connect with a voice and interact. Fred’s blog has that. TechCrunch built it. TechCrunch grew as a it filled the need of a group. Then it neared expiration as the groups need transformed into other locations.Fred’s blog is a singular voice, representing the face of a whole complexity of possibilities and developments, on a global scale. So it is differenent structurally. If it serves or feeds his business, it doesn’t really matter. It is the relation it brings for others to connect to that business and world of possiblities that make it flow. Maybe Fred is a “conduit”(?) and blogs like TechCrunch are more geographical, or locations(?)
My partner Brad’s nephew said it best about personal blogs. “They have a point of view but at least I know what it is”
I hope you don’t sell your blog, and it does remain as it is, in terms of your voice and experience delivered, casually. When things are bought, they tend to get packaged which creates distance.I have enjoyed reading this blog, in part because you are someone who can make things happen in the world. Most people who can do this, do so without any transparency, and we have no idea how it all works. Your posts allow people a little further inside, to understand how VCs help transform ideas into companies. This is very valuable, insightful and fun; it feels real. It is better than a docu-drama! it also is nice to get to “go along for the ride” as you do this; and to see the small bits you share about your lifestyle. It is full of verve, energy, and spontaneity; and reminds of possibilities.Having said that; if you were selling insurance, or doing something more mundain, it would not be so interesting. Part of the attraction, is the fact that you are building markets. And I don’t mean that the attraction is because you potentially are a funder for anyone’s idea, (though this is also there, I am sure many would acknowledge this…). We all know this part of your role. But it is only the smallest piece of candy. The bigger attractor is getting to ride a long the edge of a wave, as a market emerges, with a force that can create waves.Much Appreciated….
This blog and the comments I get influences what I do and how I think. So its more than window. I like to think of it as a door
Techcrunch is a news feed – not a blog in the strictest definition. Although personal commentary abounds, even the readers holds them accountable if a level of journalistic integrity isn’t found. For blogs, this happens less, because the notion of an editorial is far more tangible to the readership. Perhaps it has somewhat to do with frequency, but I think it has more to do with personal insight. TC (I’m not trying to pick on you, you’re just an example) has the old mentality of trying to be the one breaking the news, not the one forstering the discussion and asking questions.In the end, aggregation is a dead horse. I think the noise is growing too loud, and I think even Google will see this over time. Even you, Fred, I feel like your blog has suffered with the A VC and Tumblr split. (I’d switch to just your tumblr, but the lack of the full article feed is a turnoff.)
I am going to work to bring some of my tumblr content back to avc after I get the redesign done
I’ll give you $50 and 5 jars of homemade tomato sauce for it.
How good is your tomato sauce?
This is a great blog, and this post inspired me to write in my new blog.I do think that there are two types of blogs: ones with soul and ones without.Yours is full of soul!Keep it going…
Fred. How’s a startup to stay on top of Google search results for ‘live blogging’ when you use a title like ‘long live blogging’? you’re killing me…lol.