We talk to Richard MacManus, the man behind Read/WriteWeb.
Like so many bloggers, Richard MacManus started blogging as a hobby, a means of sharing his thoughts on technology. He was a corporate Web manager until August 2005, when he quit the day job and went to work for himself - his first venture into business.
Since its launch in 2003, Read/WriteWeb (www.readwriteweb.com) has evolved into a lineup of offerings that includes Web technology news, reviews and analysis. It is the first blog in MacManus’s Read/WriteWeb Network, a group of Web technology blogs. The other sites are last100 (a blog about Digital Lifestyle at www.last100.com) and AltSearchEngines (www.altsearchengines.com). Additional blogs for the network are planned.
Running the network is a fulltime proposition for MacManus, who lives in Wellington but often runs on Silicon Valley time. Read/WriteWeb has a global perspective and audience; half its readership is in the US.
Racking up nearly 50,000 page views per day, Read/WriteWeb was included in PC Magazine’s 2007 list of ‘100 Blogs We Love’. It also made the New York Times blog list, and MacManus has been a guest blogger at ZDNet.
From his home office, MacManus coordinates a team of writers who write from several locations around the world, and uses a combination of Skype and a San Francisco phone number to stay in touch with the US.
MacManus earns a good income working from home at something he enjoys - blogging. But Read/WriteWeb was online for almost three years before it was earning significant money through advertising.
Now MacManus is indeed his own boss, but he starts early and works late; proof that making it requires a lot of time and energy - and writing.
What was your intent in starting a blog? Was it personal?
When I started it, the intention was mostly to get down all the thoughts I was having about technology and just connect with people with similar interests.
What kind of time do you put into blogging and management?
As soon as I get up in the morning, I’m straight into blogging. And I can often go until quite late in the night as well. So, it’s a huge time commitment.
What’s the most difficult part of running a blog?
My challenge right now is building the business and creating unique new blogs and several other sorts of things. It’s just time management at the moment. I’ve got other writers to help me with the blog, so I just need to attend to all the business end and details nowadays.
Do you handle all the advertising business yourself?
I handle all of the sponsors on the sidebar but I use FM Publishing to handle other advertisements on this site, mostly CPM. It’s kind of half-and-half. There are thousands of articles on the Web site, so there’s a lot of content available to turn up in search results.
Do you put much time into search engine optimisation (SEO)?
Funny you should ask. I am currently trying to find out how to track my search results. Google is my number one traffic driver, but I think still there’s room for improvement.
In addition to SEO, have you made other efforts to bring in readers—like commenting on other blogs or linking to other blogs?
Yes. Especially in the early days, I commented on other blogs to drive traffic to my blog. At this point in time I still comment on other blogs, but I’m just so busy with other things that I don’t have as much time as I used to. And also I look on the blog kind of like a media property. It’s more about reporting on the news, analysing on the news. And there is the more personal kind of commentary as well.
What do you find to be the most gratifying part of blogging?
There are a couple of things: one is the fact that I’m creating something. I’m actually building up something that comes from my creativity and that of my writers. The other part of it is that I’m constantly in touch with other people all over the world that are interested in the same thing as me - all the new technology.
Do you have tips to offer bloggers?
It’s important being passionate about your topic, and focused. Pick a niche topic that you are interested in and know about. And you need to blog pretty much daily. Another thing that I encourage new bloggers to do is to reach out to others in the community who are experts and know their topics. Link to them and comment on their blogs and get into conversations with those people. They’re usually part of a whole new world going on, and they bring their own opinions and experiences. That’s what I found when I started four years ago. I didn’t know there was this whole other world with people talking about this kind of stuff.