The Idea Dude


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Full steam ahead, the train has left the station

Today is a good day to reflect on TheGoodBlogs. Tony and I started TheGoodBlogs less 10 months ago. We had a dream... I'm not sure if it could be called web philanthropy, but we wanted to beat the long tail so badly. Some of the best blogs were simply eclipsed by bloggers who had better brand or better networks. Like eating in the same restaurant everyday, we were convinced that broadening the diet of a blog reader was a good thing. You may not want to follow a single blogger every day but everyone has something good to say some of the time. So we learnt a lot along the way, despite being software veterans. So here are some eclectic thoughts to mark the end of phase 1, the train has truly left the station.

  • To begin any startup, you have to have a dream, a passion, because it brings with it a certain amount of naivety that clouds all the experience you may have, any good sense you may possess and all the naysayers (well-intentioned or not) who will stop you dead in your tracks.
  • If you're a true software entrepreneur, you owe it to yourself to follow at least one of your ideas in your lifetime, regardless of its eventual outcome.
  • Never underestimate the power of 2 or more. It would be easy to say I know it all having run so many enterprise/dotcom startups. The truth is, I probably learnt more this time around than all the gigs put together. Having a good partner and seasoned advisors have been key to our existence.
  • Never be afraid to break all the rules as long as you do it knowingly and then never be afraid to say you were wrong.
  • Question every assumption you make every day. What works yesterday may not work today.
  • The creative pool is not limited to your office. Bury the egos and look outside. Figure out why others are succeeding in the same or similar spaces.
  • Listen to your members. Feel privileged that each one took the time to try your solution out.
  • Take each problem and use it as an opportunity to build a relationship with your customer/subscriber. It may be the only opportunity you have to establish a dialog and deliver a superb customer experience.
  • Web 2.0 may be more about building services than businesses. The product is user-experience, networks and personal brand.
  • Web 2.0 is an attention economy. Every one from Myspace, Flickr, Facebook, Second Life, Digg, Stumble-upon, YouTube and even TheGoodBlogs is really about helping people build their brand, about establishing their name and their existence.
  • Web 2.0 is an experiential journey. Not one startup, successful or not, can honestly say they knew exactly where they were going. Most will tell you that they embarked on a voyage and then let the prevailing winds guide them. Is that not how many great New World discoveries happened? by accident?
  • In the consumer world, the most popular solution is not always the best solution.
  • Most bloggers don't realize that building a loyal and growing readership takes a very long time (especially if you're not a known brand or already have an established personal network).
  • Building your brand isn't about content although it is important. To build your blog readership, you need to sell yourself, by reading, commenting, linking and connecting to other bloggers. The age-old fundamentals of sales and marketing apply equally well to your blog.
  • It's harder and harder to find great content and original thought. If you want reality TV in the blogosphere, go read the mom blogs. It's as real as it gets.
  • The idea that the blogosphere is one humongous cloud is so wrong, not many people get the island concept. The blogosphere is an archipelago of communities.
  • If you stop blogging, your readership will eventually die.
  • I'm convinced that TheGoodBlogs is the only solution that consistently promotes it's blogger community every single day. While others may showcase your blog through Digg or a blog post, none do it on a consistent basis.
  • While it is an impossibility to please everyone all of the time, it's pretty tough not to look at the widget and find at least one blog entry that educates or entertains. In my busy day, I've always found an entry from an old friend, or a breaking tech story or a mom rant that made me stop and smile.
  • Most bloggers should stop trying to focus on making money with their blog and just have fun doing it. Adding a zillion ads and add-ons is off-putting to the reader, the return of a couple of cents and maybe dollars is not worth the aggravation to readers. The irony is that the most successful bloggers with high readership numbers and probably reasonably good ad revenue know how to maintain a balance between content and advertising.

So we've walked 100 miles and there's at least a 1000 more. Regardless of our future, Tony and I would not change our decision to start TheGoodBlogs. It's more fun than anything else I've ever done, like riding those new wacky rollercoasters. Once it starts rolling, you wonder why on earth you ever jumped in. Then the ride begins, your mind and stomach goes on an incredible journey pushing limits you've never reached before and when it's over, you're amazed it was only been a short period of time and the only words you can utter as you stagger off the ride is.... "again!"


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