Erick Schonfeld: How to TechCrunch
Jul 30, 2008
Formerly a magazine writer for Fortune and Business 2.0, Erick embraced blogs highly successfully (especially for a traditional media guy).
Founded by uber-blogger and valley personality Michael Arrington, TechCrunch is the most popular tech blog and probably the most linked-to blog on the Internet.
Summary below (not verbatim) and Video here and after the jump.
How do you run a successful blog?
Show up every day – actually every hour now – to post often, post new and post interesting.
The blog world has actually become a lot more competitive in the last year or so, so you need to give new information or give an original point of view that takes things one step further in terms of analysis. Blogging combines opinion writing and reporting.
How is TechCrunch different from magazine writing at Fortune or Business 2.0?
For one thing, I don’t get any sleep now.
I used to write stories that were 4,000 words or more that I reported by talking to 50 people or more. This gave me a complete story, a definitive tale.
Blogging, however, takes place one thought at a time. Each post is not a complete story. A series of posts will build on each other and those reading actually become sources to round out the story. You learn from readers who leave comments and contact you. The “truth” comes out of this evolution. You do not try to discover some “truth” and then package it all together and present it to the audience.
You feed readers snack food?
No, not snack food. We give our readers nutritious morsels, not junk food. We just use a different way of reporting to get the full story.
Many people don’t understand this – even our readers – and they sometimes take us to task for not being as authoritative as, say, The Wall Street Journal. Sometimes we are as authoritative as The Wall Street Journal, but sometimes we have an opinion or idea that we want to get out there. Sometimes we have a rumor that we think is pretty good and worth talking about.
The barrier for posting is not that it has been fully verified as true, the barrier is whether it is an idea worth talking about. It could be true, it could be untrue and we’ll make it clear how confident we are, but a blog is a different animal from a newspaper or magazine. We are still experimenting with blogging and how it works.
Could there ever be a TechCrunch Magazine?
A magazine based on a blog would probably be made up of little news morsels and longer opinion pieces. That might be an interesting magazine, but by the time it arrived in your mailbox, it would be too dated.
Does blogging requires knowledge on a topic since you riff off the news, rather than report?
No, that is not true. You get many viewpoints off, but at a different time in a different way.
I don’t necessarily collect all 50 interviews before I write a blog posting. I might talk to five people who tell me enough to write a posting. That posting will then get 100 comments, including 20 people whom I should have interviewed. Those who comment are CEOs and authorities in the field, so they add their perspective to the post.
Sometimes I create a whole new post based on their comments.
Because you depend so much on your own knowledge while blogging, it might be difficult to be a “General Assignment Blogger”.
I don’t agree.
We cover so many different companies, from Google to Amazon to newly launched start-ups, that it is hard to have the specialist knowledge. I often don’t know a lot about the companies that I am blogging about, but certainly I do have greater strength when writing about companies about which I am knowledgeable.