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Building One Of The World’s Biggest Tech Blogs From New Zealand: ReadWriteWeb Founder Richard MacManus (Part 3)

Posted on Friday, Apr 30th 2010

SM: The nice thing about having an influential audience is that people are willing to pay to access that audience. The consulting and sponsorship revenues gave you time to build up your blog. Were you working entirely on your own at that point?

RM: I was definitely on my own by then.

SM: What was the next major milestone?

RM: In late 2004 the first Web 2.0 conference was held by O’Reilly [Media]. There was an uptick in interest in my blog after that.

SM: You have become the definitive Web 2.0 voice.

RM: I was already writing about it, even though it did not have the name. I was writing about that exact thing, and that led to my having a reputation as one of the leading analysis blogs. I got more advertising in 2005. I was still selling sponsorships on my own, and they really started ramping up then. The first guy I hired on my own was a writer named Josh Catone. I hired him sometime in 2005.

SM: How did you meet Josh?

RM: He started off writing a couple of guest posts. He approached me, and I had other people who wrote for me as well. Alex Iskold has always written for the blog but has never been paid. He just wanted to have an outlet for his analysis posts. Josh was on my payroll. He was a professional writer. Alex has his own company and does his own thing.

SM: In 2005, what kind of traffic and revenue levels were you operating on? That is when blogging starting getting mainstream.

RM: I think TechCrunch started in mid-2005. I remember that because Micahel Arrington wrote to me when he started to introduce himself and said he was a fan of my blog. We became fans through that. A couple of months after that, the blog started doing more advertising. TechCrunch was the first to put those little adds in the sidebar, and we followed shortly afterward.

In traffic, there was a tipping point in September 2005 when the second Web 2.0 conference was held. Traffic started going up at that point.

SM: What was going on with the industry in early 2006, and how did that impact ReadWriteWeb? I know some blogs raised money, but you decided not to go that route.

RM: In the beginning of 2006, there was a lot of interest in where technology at that point was going. YouTube and Facebook were becoming successful. There was a lot more interest in ReadWriteWeb as a result. In terms of funding, raising money never entered my mind. The blog was profitable as soon as it started receiving advertising because it was such a low-cost thing.

I hired Marshall Kirkpatrick at some point in 2006. I was still doing much of it by myself. I was still selling advertisements. FM starting selling ads at that point, which was also no cost to me. I made an agreement with the webhost I was on at the time, which was a low-cost server setup. Perhaps being in New Zealand helped because I had no pressure to raise money and go big. I was able to scale on my own terms.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Building One Of The World’s Biggest Tech Blogs From New Zealand: ReadWriteWeb Founder Richard MacManus
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