SM: What is your take on GigaOM? They have raised a lot of money. How does that story play out? They have open source, clean tech, and a lot of niche sites.
RM: At one point ReadWriteWeb was doing a similar thing wherein we were trying to build separate branded blogs off our main blog. That did not work for us. We were not getting much traffic to those little niche blogs, so we reversed that. Now everything is part of the ReadWrite brand, such as ReadWriteStart.
I am concerned for GigaOM because of that strategy, which they are continuing with. I know that they have some successful blogs, but I would suggest that the rest of them are not doing so great. I really like Om [Malik] as a person and respect him as a journalist.
SM: Om is a very good reporter.
RM: He is an excellent reporter. My feeling is that they have raised too much money, and I can’t see how they are going to make a financial success out of it.
SM: They also have a lot of traffic; even the smaller niche blogs are doing well. However, to do a return on investment on that type of financing is very difficult, and I just don’t see how that will come through. What i your advice to aspiring bloggers?
RM: The thing we say is to make sure you are patient about a topic and that you are really interested in writing about it every day. A lot of people start blogs with the aim of making money, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, you can tell from the writing that they don’t have a passion for the topic. That is easier to spot than most people realize.
SM: It’s really easy to see if you have passion or not.
RM: Right. A successful blog is an awful lot of work. Back when I started, there was no money in it and I wasn’t doing it for money. For people who are starting now, they have to compete against blogs such as ReadWriteWeb that have 20 posts a day, and blogs such as TechCrunch that have 40 posts a day. That is very stiff competition.
The successful blogs I’ve seen started over the past several years are very narrowly targeted. Inside Facebook was a really good blog, and it was really popular because it was so focused on a particular niche. I would say to focus narrowly in the beginning expand from there.
SM: A narrow focus is one piece of advice, and not raising money is another. I don’t think they could raise money if they wanted to, anyway. Investors have now figured out that they should not be investing in blogs.
RM: The third piece of advice I would give is to be original. If you look at the successful blogs today, they all started doing something that nobody else was doing at that time. That is very important thing as well.
SM: Congratulations on your success, and thank you for your time.