SXSW Execution, Not Ideas

SXSW: The Experiment

The panel: “Does your blog have a business?”

The panelists:

Monday, 10am panel here which means you can still smell booze in the air. Panelists are sober. The panelists are a collection of marquee bloggers who are actually making money via the web. I liveblogged this and these are my edited notes. I’m not expecting this to read well, but there are some gems below.

Pre-game. Byron has an introduction lamb story. We all sing happy birthday to Eric Rice. Not your average conference.

Byron is writing a book about business blogging. How do your turn your blog into a business?

Zeldman. 1995. Started personal site. Pretended to know what the web was about. Writing about how to do web site design. Building a community.

In his prior job, generating the income, but not making decisions. Had no money, had my own company. Started A List Apart. Worked in ads, didn’t believe in ads. Bring one product you believe in. (Rands wonders: First mover advantage in play here?)

Other business forming. An Event Apart. A Book Apart. Coming soon.

Inman. CSS Zen Garden. Blog started getting hits, so wanted to watch visitors. Gave away ShortStat. Turned into Mint. Polled user to find out if they’d use it.

Decided early on to make it extendable. Community decided this.

Byron. Was a UPS man. Had a personal journal forever. Talking about what you are doing. New markets come to you when you just talk. Formed Clip’n’Seal. This is a, not kidding, product which seals plastic bags (patent pending). In use by NASA. This is scary on many levels.

Eric Rice. Accidental entrepreneurship. Multimedia nerd. Cheese sandwich blogger? Started show 4 years ago. Nothing can stop me because the tools are there. Doing the Hollywood thing? Pop-culture slash tech thing. Ego. Disagree with all the rules. Form an original thought. Teaching the process. “Eating your old dog food”

Phoebe: 4’10”. Situational (situated?) software. When people realize there is a problem… learn to scratch your own itch. Natural to extend your testing to your community. Awhile ago, you need focus group to gather this data. Blogs allow you to build communities. (Rands says: This is the point of the panel: Blogs build communities which care about your content)

Zeldman. Didn’t want celebrity. I was into the whole “I can express myself”. Even if only 5 people come, who cares? Not motivated to make money. A great way to meet people. Contrarianess. “Pick someone you want to kill”. “I think I have more to say than that guy.”

Inman: ShortStat started as personal project. Comes back 10-fold. Whatever your readership is… Intelligent and willing to challenge your ideas. Blog buzz. Went free lance — had to turn down client work. Blog that determine what the product will be. EgoApps

Byron: How do you arrive on pricing?

Inman: Recoup costs. Figuring out what it’s value is… Backlash of charging for Mint created more buzz. Exceeded revenue expectation in a week.

Rice: Has a business model. #1 love = criticism. Sometimes you are alone, it’s your faith which is driving you. There is no plan.

Phoebe: State of flow — passionate users. Nerd DNA = Naturally, you want to fix something that appears broken. “How do you need to make money?”

Question: The traffic question. Did the audience find you? How did you create a community?

Zeldman: Keep putting content out there. TechCrunch. Where’d the hell did this come from? How’d it be come relevant?

Rice: Writing How-To content is a win/win. Folks love to learn and, if it supports, you’re site, you’re creating customers.

(Rands says, Executing on the idea is what matters.)