Can the Average Person Get Rich Blogging?

November 28, 2007

Yes and no (there is never a simple answer).

Now that I am back from lounging on the beach, I thought it was time to get back to blogging, and what better way to start than with a debate over whether or not people can really make money blogging. On Read/WriteWeb today, Alex suggests that . Well, yes and no.

I really liked Anne Zelenka’s response on Web Worker Daily. Her take is that

you can earn money because of your blog instead of with it. Blogging can be the centerpiece of your professional promotional and networking activities, leading indirectly to new money-making opportunities. Plus, blogging offers psychological riches — through the opportunities for personal expression and social connection it brings you.

The best reason for an individual web worker to blog isn’t to make money directly with the blog. It’s to boost your online persona, to make professional connections, to learn about your field, and to attract new opportunities, whether paid or unpaid. And note that unpaid opportunities are not necessarily less important than paid ones — because they can provide you with attention, reputation, education, and new connections.

(Quote from Anne Zelenka: Web Worker Daily)

I absolutely agree. I don’t make any money directly off of my blog (no ads here), but it has made a huge difference in my career. My career was in a bit of a lull until I started blogging a few years ago. At the time, I worked at Intel and did my job really well. I received great internal recognition, but almost no one outside of Intel knew who I was.

When I started blogging and actively commenting on other blogs, people started recognizing me. I went to conferences and people would approach me! I started getting emails from people who read my blog and wanted to know if I was interested in being on panels for conferences. While I do not make money off of Fast Wonder directly, I do think that I have made more money indirectly through blogging. Through blogging and getting involved in a bunch of unpaid tech community activities (organizing BarCamp, Ignite, etc.), my career has improved in so many indirect ways (financial and job satisfaction).

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What Does it Mean for Movable Type to go Open Source?

June 5, 2007

While I like to see Movable Type going in the direction of open source, I am also a bit skeptical. According to Movabletype.org:

“The Movable Type Open Source Project was announced in conjunction with the launch of the Movable Type 4 Beta on June 5th, 2007. The MTOS Project is a community and Six Apart driven project that will produce an open souce version of the Movable Type Publishing Platform that will form the core of all other Movable Type products.”

Aside from their inability to correctly spell open source (or run spell check), they are not particularly clear about what will be in this new open source “publishing platform” vs. their commercial products. By announcing the new open source project along with the beta of their new version (not open source), it is a bit difficult to see how the open source project will fit in with their commercial products. I suspect that some of this announcement might be to put Movable Type in a better position when compared to open source rival WordPress to reduce the numbers of people migrating off of Movable Type due to licensing concerns over the past few years.

Skepticism aside, I really do like to see commercial companies embrace open source. If Movable Type embraces the open source community in a collaborative fashion, this could be a great step. Companies who work with a community to create an open source product that is awesome by itself when used without the commercial product can successfully sell commercial products with additional functionality and services needed by enterprise customers. I sincerely hope that this is the direction that Movable Type is headed.


Clearspace X Community Software

May 15, 2007

Yesterday, we issued a press release about Jive Software’s new Clearspace X product. Clearspace X is:

a special edition of Clearspace for companies interested in creating productive and engaging online communities for their customers and partners. In the past, companies have had to “glue together” separate applications for blogs, wikis, documents and forums, resulting in disconnected people and content, and low participation rates. Clearspace X unifies these collaboration tools into one system, bringing them together through a clean, user-friendly interface and integrated incentive system.

Using Clearspace X, companies can quickly and easily create compelling public-facing communities, enabling users to share information and ideas with each other via discussions, structured wiki documents, moderated blogs and even files (like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF). Users can keep abreast of recent activity in the community through email notifications, instant message alerts and RSS feeds. (quoted from the Press Release)

We use Clearspace internally to manage our company as a community with constant interactions using discussion forums, document sharing, wiki editing of documents, internal blogging, tagging, and much more. This software is the main reason that I was able to be so productive my first week on the job. Clearspace X is similar to our Clearspace product, but tailored to the needs of an external community.

An added benefit of my role as Director of Developer Relations at Jive is that I get to give the product away for free to non-commercial developer teams. This includes open source projects, student coding projects, and other non-commercial teams of software developers. I’ll have a simple web form for requests available on the Jive Software website in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, drop me an email if you qualify for a free license of Clearspace X: myfirstname at Jivesoftware dot com.


Dogfood: aka Week 1 at Jive Software

May 10, 2007

My first week at Jive has been a whirlwind of activity, and I think that I have been super productive for the first 5 days on the job.  I’ve completed a first draft of how we might build Jive’s new developer community on our newly released Clearspace X infrastructure. I am re-working the process for how we give away free licenses of Jive’s Clearspace and Forum products to open source projects. I’ve put together a new demo script for our CEO to use at BarCamp – customized for what I think will be the audience at BarCamp. I was also able to get confirmed speaking engagements at Defrag and OSCON this week.  All this while being constantly distracted with last minute BarCamp details as the co-organizer of the BarCamp Portland event this weekend (note to self: next year, do NOT start a new job the week that you are holding BarCamp!)

How was I able to get all of this done while getting up to speed in a new company?  It comes down to dogfood, specifically, to eating our own dogfood at Jive.  We use the current Clearspace beta product for all of our documents, to hold discussions, for blogging, and more.  Most of the information that I needed was already in Clearspace.  For new information, I just started discussions in Clearspace where I asked other Jive employees about things like what to name the new developer community, how to promote our new developer community, and more.  I posted all of my work as wiki documents in Clearspace, and because everyone uses it, I was able to get feedback and information from across the company.

We are also avid users of our Openfire / Spark IM solution with every Jive employee already populated in our buddy lists from day 1 on the job. I worked with an employee in Canada over IM to help him reproduce an issue that I was seeing in our beta product, discussed our Ignite community with our CTO, negotiated with our web developer on resources to get some web forms completed, and much more.

I have to say that Jive seems to be a great fit for me.  I’m working with people who are just insanely smart, who live web 2.0 technologies, and we’re working on some really cool collaboration software.  Did I mention that we are hiring?


News: Online or Print Format?

March 26, 2007

InfoWorld announced today that it is folding the print magazine to focus on events and online content. I think this is a good move for InfoWorld, and it made me think about how I personally use online and print content.

I still subscribe to several magazines, and it is a great format for anything that is not time sensitive – cooking, business analysis, etc.; however, I gave up my print copies of technology trade magazines and other news sources long ago in favor of online access facilitated by RSS feeds (official news sources, blogs, and podcasts). Technology moves way too quickly to be suited to longer lead time print format publications. Even articles in daily newspapers are usually out of date by the time the print version arrives on your doorstep.

Most of my daily news comes from podcasts, which I listen to during any downtime activities (getting ready for work in the morning, doing dishes / laundry, grocery shopping, driving, and much more). Podcasts are an ideal news format for me, since I can get quick snippets of news from NPR, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNET, InfoWorld, … If I need more details on any story, I can always check my RSS feeds or Google News to find a few in depth articles with more information.

Over time, I think that we will start to see news moving away from print sources in the direction of online content. Like with the InfoWorld example, this will happen first for technology publications. Although most newspapers have embraced online content, Newspapers will be one of the last to move their news to an online-only format. They are still the best source of news in rural areas and other places where access to the Internet is more difficult and for older readers who may never be comfortable using the Internet as a primary source of news. I could even see newspapers gradually shifting more of the news content onto the Internet while focusing the print version on news analysis, lifestyle (fashion, cooking, travel, etc.) and other features (comics, crossword puzzles, etc.) I still think that magazines have their place, but not as a primary source of news.