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Tag: blogging

Committing to Daily Blogging, A Not So Easy Pledge

Police Message 2 by Grahamc99 via Attribution Engine. Licensed under CC BY.[/caption]

Committing to writing a daily blog is not an easy pledge, but I’m going to make that pledge right here, right now. Instead of keeping the pledge to myself, I’m saying it in public, so I can be held accountable for its performance, and therefore be more pressured to not deviate from it.

My blogging history dates back to 2000, when I started blogging using David Winer’s platform called UserLand. UserLand was probably the first blogging platform out there, and I keep reminiscing about it. Since then, my blogging frequency has been intermittent, and my best record has been in the last 3.5 years since I re-started blogging on Startup Management, with 201 posts to-date. That’s roughly an average of 1 blog per week. Going to 1 per day will mean that I need to up my frequency 7 times.

The benefits of regular blogging are obvious to me. My role models for daily blogging in the tech/VC space are the usual suspects: Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, Mark Suster and Albert Wenger. These 4 VCs have set the standards in terms of being there and sharing their thoughts openly with the public. Jeff Carter is another friend who has been blogging daily on PointsandFigures, and I admire his relentless frequency. Each one of these people takes a different approach to content, frequency and style, and here are the key lessons that I’ll be adopting, as a set of collective take from all of them.

  • Doing it quickly. I’m still not very good there, but getting better. The idea is that blogging should not be a chore, but rather a pleasant something you get done, and then you move on. If it takes 3 hours to write a blog post, doing it daily would become a productivity drain, but if you can do it in 10-30 minutes, then you’re being productive at producing them.

  • Having an on-going repertoire of ideas to blog about. That’s an easy one. I maintain a list using Google Keep, and have several drafts of future posts on Google Docs. There is no shortage of inspiration and topics I seek to write about, based on my daily work.

  • Doing it everyday. Fred Wilson is notorious for his daily blogging, and he has amassed an increasingly larger audience that keeps coming back daily for his blog. Fred knows that his readers come to his blog every day, because … he simply blogs every day.

  • Write a single draft. Brad told me he writes a single draft from beginning to end, Then, before publishing, he reviews it once, cleans it up, then he posts it. Mark Suster has blogged that he adopts a similar routine. Sometimes, he goes back and re-polishes a post that he had to get out quickly.

  • Have an editorial calendar with some regular features, like what Albert Wenger has with Tech Tuesdays and Fred did with MBA Mondays and now Feature Fridays, and a video on Saturdays. I haven’t yet figured out what my regular feature will be, but it will come eventually.

  • Accept that not all posts will be great. That’s the hardest one to swallow, for me at least. It’s almost impossible to bang out a stunning post every day, at least not when your job entails other things besides writing. So, you have to come to grips with that, and accept it. Some days, there might be some “fillers”, just because there needs to be a daily entry. I’ll try to make them interesting.

  • Perfection delays everything. I’ve tended to write several well rounded, well researched, “complete” posts, diving into topics where I try to not leave one stone unturned. But I will need to relax this self-imposed rule, and see what comes out. I know I will have the chance to later refine some thoughts, and will be open to reader feedback and comments.


So, I’m embarking on this tough challenge with my eyes open, knowing that it will not be easy in the initial days (especially that I have an upcoming heavy travel, work commitments and speaking schedule), until the habit kicks in. I’m not sure when will that habit form to the point when it becomes a pleasant addiction that I will naturally partake in, but I’m looking forward to being in that future zone, and in that mode of writing as easily as I comment on blog posts. According to my Disqus profile, I have written 19,083 comments (and counting) in the past 8 years, and that’s an average of 6.5 comment per day, since I have been an active commenter.

In terms of topics, I have lots coming up that I want to write about. Not just about the blockchain, but also about startups, venture capital, decentralized models and governance, society, and the state of our world. Maybe there will be some occasional posts about other topics that I am passionate about, like food, wine, travel, nature, culture, fitness, health, politics, government, and some fun / unexpected subjects in the mix.

I know it will take some courage, discipline and practice for me to get there. Wish me luck!


The Future of Pulling Content is You

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 2.08.37 PMDigital content has been unbundled, segmented and splattered all over social media, aggregators, mobile Apps, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, individual websites, blogs, micro-blogs, and discussion communities. This has created a user dilemma: How to re-assemble the content that matters to you every day? If you had a view about this in 2005, like Fred Wilson did, you would see RSS at the center of it all, and as Fred rightfully pointed out, the future of media as seen from a content lens was about to get microchunked, freed, syndicated, and monetized. 2005 was a time when we were enamored with RSS feeds. RSS readers were perceived as the solution for getting a handle on your daily reading habits. And it was manageable to some extent because social media hadn’t proliferated yet, and blogs as the long tail of content weren’t as popular yet, so you could conceivably configure a hundred feeds you wanted to follow, and be happy with it. This isn’t the case anymore today, because content sources are like moving sand. They keep evolving, even more rapidly than before. Today, every one of us is a publisher, and we are publishing willy-nilly everywhere, anytime and all the time. This has created a challenge in re-assembling that content from a user point of view. I already wrote about the new Internet user stack which is getting more complicated because of the rising levels of competencies that are now required in the areas of personal robotics, cryptocurrency, smartification of things, self-quantification and the consumer cloud. But now, we also need to go hunting for content, following links, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups, aggregated sites, mobile Apps like Nuzzel, Feedly, Zite, etc… Whether we like it or not, content is rebellious and capricious, because it wants to be constantly:

  • Discovered
  • Filtered
  • Curated
  • Personalized
  • Aggregated
  • Re-published
  • Liked
  • Shared
  • Discussed
  • Annotated
This makes it more challenging to find content. And it is getting harder, not simpler. We need to be constantly PULLING content on our own. Content will not come to us assembled or aggregated like it used to come in the old newspaper. We are left to our own devices. Some of us are getting good at it, others less, but it’s a competency we have to develop. And it is time consuming. So, what is the solution? I don’t think there is a technological solution that solves the fact that content has been blown to bits, literally. The solution is you and I spending time to gather/pull all this content on our own. I wished it was easier.]]>

The Decoupling of Conversations From Content

crowdI’m noticing a trend on some blog posts (instigated by Medium). There is no comments provision. Instead, the author suggests a link to Reddit or HackerNews in order to discuss their post. What I believe is happening is an unbundling of the post from the conversation, because not every blog is a community. The reality is that not every blog author is able to foster a vibrant online community around their content, but if they place their good content where there is a vibrant community, they are more likely to get a discussion going, because that community is already accustomed to commenting passionately about that topic. This was basically the HackerNews premise, where almost anyone can get a discussion going, if they write some good content. This was also the Reddit premise, although it has evolved to also include native content. You might think there’s nothing new about this, but what’s new is there are more new types of communities where discussions on aggregated content are taking place. Some examples:

  • Inbound.org is where inbound marketers share and discuss articles related to inbound marketing
  • GrowthHackers.com is filled with growth hacking, technology and entrepreneurship enthusiasts
  • USV.com is still shaping itself, but it is becoming a discussion think tank for Internet related business and technology hot issues
  Of course there are singular blogs and web properties that see a fair share of native conversations within their own turf, e.g. AVC.com, Brad Feld or Rand Fishkin’s blogs, and many others that have vibrant communities supporting their blog discussions, but these did not happen overnight. It took time to grow a sustainable community following for each one of them. It is difficult to bring people together into a place where they aren’t used to discussing things, but it’s easier to bring new content to places where people are already used to discussions. Arnold Waldstein had a post titled You can’t airlift community, noting that “community lives where engagement happens”. And Tyler Hayes aptly observed that the missing ingredient is community, in his post Everything is a comment. I’m a believer that the community could trump the content when it comes to starting conversations. It is not the content alone that attracts or forms a community. Other factors include the person behind the blog, their personality, position or status. That’s why most mainstream media discussions or multi-author blogs are derided of any community feeling. The author’s personality rarely injects itself into the online conversations. A community is formed due to higher motives or interests, beyond just the content. Content occupies the community’s mind and gets discussed to fulfill a psychological, intellectual, business or social need. Therefore it is possible that the number of vibrant discussion communities will shrink in favor of fewer, but higher quality and more engaging ones. Writing a post and seeing it discussed are two different things. I think the decoupling trend will continue to increase. It’s a good thing, because strong communities will get to discuss some good content irrespective of its origin. PS: If you know of other neutral “aggregation + discussion”  communities like Inbound.org, GrowthHackers.com or USV.com, can you please mention them in the comments?]]>

All Entrepreneurs Should Blog

(this post is inspired by this week’s Startup Edition topic, Why Do You Write?) Last week, Keith Rabois re-started an old topic on Twitter by implying that successful CEO/entrepreneurs don’t blog regularly. That tweet spurted into a threaded conversation on Twitter, and ignited a separate discussion of over 100 comments on Hacker News. For background, Keith said the same thing in 2011, as reported by Jordan Cooper in this post, Keith Rabois Says Great Entrepreneurs Don’t Blog. Chris Yeh followed-up with a post titled Should entrepreneurs blog?, citing Dharmesh Shah and Rand Fishkin as the quintessential founder-bloggers. And there are other regular CEO bloggers such as Jason Cohen and Matt Blumberg. Mark Birch also chimed in with Successful Entrepreneurs Do Not Blog? bloging image My viewpoint is that blogging should be an essential part of running a startup, because sharing what you are learning benefits others. There is no evidence that blogging increases your chances of failure. You owe it to the ecosystem to give back by sharing your knowledge. It would be hard to find an entrepreneur who won’t admit being influenced or helped by someone else’s Blog in the past 5 years.  You’re getting help for free, so why not help others now?It would be hard to find an entrepreneur who won’t admit being influenced or helped by someone else’s Blog in the past 5 years. You’re getting help for free, so why not help others now? Entrepreneurship is not an easy thing. There is no book for it, and there may never be one. Blogs are where you can learn. Blogging is marketing by another name. If a CEO thinks that marketing isn’t important to their company, then that CEO ought to grow-up. My recent experience running two startups was somewhere in the middle of regular blogging, and I regret not having blogged more often. At Engagio, over 14 months, I wrote 25 posts, the majority being product related. At Eqentia, over 3 years, I wrote 26 posts, split between product and thought leadership. But since I started Startup Management in July, I have written 77 posts so far, in the space of about 4 months. I used to keep a list of topics to write about, but most of them didn’t see the light of day. So, my first piece of advice is, don’t have a long list of topics. Have 3 at the most, and don’t add a new one until you get one out. Incubating a list for a long period doesn’t increase the chances of getting a post out.t not having blogged more often. At Engagio, over 14 months, I wrote 25 posts, the majority being product related. At Eqentia, over 3 years, I wrote 26 posts, split between product and thought leadership. But since I started Startup Management in July, I have written 77 posts so far, in the space of about 4 months.

The question is not whether entrepreneurs should blog or not. Rather, we should ask: How can we get more entrepreneurs to blog? How can we make blogging not a chore, but rather a pleasurable task that carries a lot of value?
The first dilemma that founder-ceos face is to find time to blog. They fear spending 3-4 hours on a blog post, which is the kiss of death. But to think that blogging is a distraction from running a company is not necessarily a defensible statement. Not finding time is more of an excuse than an explanation. The time invested in blogging is returned many times over, if it’s done regularly, genuinely and with a purpose in mind. So, here are some thoughts that might help turn blogging from being a time-consuming burden, to something more reasonable.

Blogging as Therapy

It’s a break from the frenzy. Really. It gives you time to regroup your thoughts, and gain perspective. It makes you more self-aware of what you know or don’t know, what you are struggling with or learning, and how you can influence others or the market. Blogging is communicating. Think of it as one of your communications strategy channels. Therefore, it’s part of your job.

Blog in Your Mind First

think blog imageHave you ever starred at the screen with 3 lines written and a mental block preventing you from proceeding further? That’s because your idea was not well formulated. It’s not because you can’t write. You weren’t ready to blog about that topic. Skip it, and wait until you are passionate about something, where the words will flow from your brains to your fingers faster than you can type. First, play the idea in your mind, and see if it sticks. For e.g., when I decided to write this blog, my thoughts were: “Blogging is a necessity for startup CEOs. They owe it to the community to give back.” That is the main message of this post. The rest supported this argument.

Make it Conversational

Don’t make your blog post like a research paper. It’s not. It’s the start of a conversation with your readers. Blogging is not an essay either. OK, we all love Paul Graham’s essays, but these probably take him weeks to complete, including getting them peer reviewed. Make a key point or two. Explain further and leave it as it is. Stick to a standard format if it makes it easier. Example: 2 opening paragraphs, 3-5 bullets, and a closing paragraph.

Ask Others for Topics

If you are running out of blogging topic ideas, ask your employees, or have a blogging suggesting box or email. What should I blog about?

Blog Frequently

Blogging occasionally and blogging regularly are two very different things. The ultimate bloging cycle is daily, but that’s very difficult to achieve. Second best is 3 times per week. If you blog once a week, you can spend more time on it, and end-up with a pretty good post. If you blog once a month, it could be an amazing post. The more frequently you blog, the less spectacular your posts need to be, because your advantage becomes frequency, not just content quality. If one of your posts isn’t stellar, so what? You’ll have a better one the next day. It’s like having a bad bottle of wine. You solve that by having another better one the next time.

You’re Winning Mindshare

Every time you blog, you amplify your reach, and your mindshare increases commensurably. You’re spreading your good content on the Web, and by virtue of who you’re reaching, your mindshare will increase, and if your company brand is attached it, it may become bigger than your market share. Joel Gascoigne of Buffer is the perfect example for that. He has been blogging diligently, and it makes Buffer appear to be bigger than they actually are.

Don’t Sweat it

The more you sweat it, the more you will hate it, and the more time consuming it becomes. Blogging should be fun and spontaneous. You are typically communicating ONE idea that you strongly believe in, or that you have expertise in. There will come a point when a blogging routine becomes an addiction, and it starts to flow naturally, effortlessly, and naturally. When you reach that point, then you will do it more regularly, but if it feels like pulling teeth each time, you’re not going to be happy, and you will be dreading it. So, start small and train your writing muscles.

Train your Writing Muscles

You get better at blogging by blogging. It’s like training to become an athlete. You only get there by doing it. You don’t have to be a great writer, but you need to develop your basic writing muscles. There is a certain discipline involved in blogging. Start less ambitiously, and write a paragraph or two, and gradually add more content until you feel it’s right.

What to Write About?

Here are some generic suggestions on what to write about:
  1. Thought Leadership. This is really important especially at the beginning of your venture. Every startup has a thesis behind it, a hypothesis, a philosophy, a belief, or some set of trends and rules that the founder believes in. These can be powerful drivers for helping others understand why you are doing what you’re doing. I call this the “anchoring post”. Plant your flag with this anchoring post, and let it drive discussion, visibility and feedback.
  2. Your Product, New Features. Day in and day out, you’re adding new features, or taking some out. Keep communicating why you’re doing that.
  3. Your Customers. Most of your customers and users love to be written about, especially when they are innovating with your product and deriving value from it.
  4. Your Market Issues, Trends. That’s an easy one. You’re the expert in your field, and you read a ton everyday. Voice your opinion.
  5. Managing, Scaling and Growing Your Startup. This is the crux of your operation. What are you learning daily? What is working, or not working? As a startup CEO, your life is rich with events, surprises, good and bad ideas, ups and downs, wins and losses, challenges and successes. Take one of these ideas and write about them, as they happen. Don’t wait. If you learnt it today, write about it tomorrow (without revealing any confidential parts of course).
In sum, Blogging is communicating. Blogging is marketing. Blogging is therapy. Blogging is a responsibility. Sharing your knowledge, lessons and practices is a good thing. Startup CEOs should write and share their experiences, because this field doesn’t have enough lessons or best practices to lean on. Think of the next founder that could benefit from some hard lesson you have just learned.]]>

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