Cashing in with Cashmore at Blog08

Here’s another Blog08 post, originally written for Londonbloggers.net

Pete Cashmore, the famed creator of Mashable, the social networking news site, was the first speaker at Blog08, telling us how to build a blog empire. He should know, because, as the Blog08 site tells us, Mashable has 5 million monthly pageviews and Cashmore was recently named the 22nd most important Web Celeb by Forbes.com

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(Forgive the shot; the light and people’s inconveniently-placed heads conspired against my dream of a Magnum photographic moment at Blog08! )

The twenty three year-old English-born, Scottish-raised internet entrepreneur was at ease on stage as he imparted his wisdom to the crowd. He confided that he’d been unwell as a youngster so hadn’t been able to attend college or university, concentrating on the money-making opportunities that the internet could provide him. At first, Cashmore had wanted to build his own social network, but while he was working out how to do this, he started blogging about the social networks that already existed or were then in development. That’s how Mashable came about and now his site is THE authority on social networking.

In a nutshell, Cashmore says that in order to build a blog empire, you have to eat, live and breathe the business, which is exactly what he’d done himself. In Mashable’s early days, Cashmore existed on four hours’ sleep per night, but the effort paid off, didn’t it?

Here are his main tips for blog success:

  • 1. Build something you love. No one fell in love with a market opportunity.
  • 2. The passion for what you do will help you work hard with little sleep if necessary.
  • 3. Don’t waste too much time making your blog look good. Content is king. If you blog about what you’re passionate about, well enough and for long enough, eventually someone will take notice.
  • 4. Just do it.
  • 5. Read, write, comment, improve – and repeat. Blog, eat and sleep – for years, if necessary. Seek out interesting blogs related to what you do and subscribe to them. Use Google reader. Do not worry about funding yet.
  • 6. Use WordPress as your platform. In Cashmore’s opinion, WordPress is the most extensible platform for a blog.
  • 7. ANALYSE. Look at your stats and steer into the areas where you’re successful. Find out what’s working on your blog. Extend it. Serialise it. Give readers what they want. Use analysis sites like Woopra, getclicky.com and Google analytics, which Cashmore thinks is the best. Check out your referrers and stats twice every day. If people are checking out your site via Digg, then target Digg.
  • 8. MONETISE. Mashable uses Google Adsense but Cashmore doesn’t think it’s that effective. He says that CPMs are not that great either. Look into niche advertising and find a network selling ads across your niche. Think about direct selling. (Mashable sells ads on its sidebar). Consider creating a marketplace or job boards.
  • 9. Cashmore’s favourite networks are:
  • TWITTER: This engages your audience, reaches friends, creates ripples so you don’t need a big hit. It’s a good tool for tracking conversations and syndicating headlines and for finding negative feedback about your site quickly so you can act on it before it becomes farther-reaching.
  • FLICKR: Isn’t great for traffic-building but is good for creating community.
  • FACEBOOK is most effective if you work with groups but loses effectiveness at scale. How many REAL friends do you have on Facebook?
  • DIGG: Here you can vote for the best stories. It’s useful for learning how to write a rocking headline. A blogger asks “Is it okay to DIGG yourself?” Cashmore replies: “Yes, but the system is starting to make this harder.”
  • STUMBLE UPON: this is a useful tool for watching what’s popular but here it is not so good to vote for your own site.

 Cashmore then takes us to the next stage: you’ve built a successful blog and it’s been recognised, monetised etc. YOU’VE GOT COMPANY! His tips about staffing your blog company are simple:

HIRE carefully, frugally and remotely. Personality isn’t that important if you’re working with someone on an internet platform, so if you like what you see of their internet presence and it’s what you need at the time, then that should be sufficient proof that they can help you.

FIRE quickly, decisively and mathematically. Remember that people are assets so they need to make you more money than they’re costing you.

Then, before leaving the stage Cashmore took some audience Q&A, providing us with the following nuggets of information:

  • Cashmore IS Pete Cashmore’s real name. Someone thought it might not be, probably because this internet guru has more cash than he can shake a stick at! He said he’d rather have been called ‘Cashman’, however, because it sounds funnier.
  • Cashmore as a name has it’s origins in meaning ‘castle man’, which is what castle caretakers were once called.
  • He receives about 400 e-mails per day.
  • His view is that a blog takes a long time to set up properly, but once that’s been done, it’s stable. 

 Sadly, by the end of Blog08, Pete Cashmore still hadn’t invited me to a Mashable party, insisting I wear party-on clogs. I suppose there’s still time. As some consolation, however, I did get to sit next to him at dinner and his chocolate lasagne dessert looked amazing. But that’s another story…

 Useful links:

Mashable: http://mashable.com/

Get clicky: http://getclicky.com/

Woopra: http://www.woopra.com/

Google analytics: http://www.google.com/analytics/en-GB/

Cashmore reviewed by Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/2007/12/18/web-celeb-fame-tech-cx_de_07webceleb_1218top_slide_23.html?thisSpeed=20000

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. w1kkp says:

    This is so interesting, Epic. Never heard of this guy and my first and last twitter was in response to you! But, lots to think about here, thanks for posting it.

    Chocolate Lasagne? I’m thinking, “Yuk!”

    Is this so wrong? Would you be able to take me anywhere without fear of embarrassment?

    Like

  2. epicurienne says:

    Hi Pat, if you lived closer, I’d take you EVERYWHERE!
    The chocolate ‘lasagne’ was a few squares of pastry cooked to crispiness, with dollops of chocolate ice cream in between. It looked great. No bolognaise or bechamel involved in this one, I promise.

    Like

  3. planetross says:

    There is some good info in here and a lot of common sense.

    Like

  4. epicurienne says:

    Hey PR, yes… lots to digest from the Mashable Man. Personally I still can’t get my head around monetising, and at the conference not much mention was made of people who blog for the genuine enjoyment factor. I definitely fall into that category, and I think quite a few of our online community feel the same.

    Everyone – the interesting part of these reports from Blog08 is how they get the opinions flowing. Let me know what you think – do you monetise? Yes/no, good/ bad results, what’s the long-term aim of your blog – if you have one?

    Like

  5. w1kkp says:

    This is interesting, Epic, as I just wrote one of my readers in a private email, my evolution of thinking on this “monetise” topic. In the beginning, I thought maybe I would try to monetise it, eventually if I enjoyed writing it and had enough photographs, and, in fact, posted frequently enough. Well, frequency has not been an issue and I totally enjoy it but something else happened that I could not have foreseen: I feel that the blog itself is an experiement in my own creativity and each day, each reader contributes in part to that well. So, we are sort of partners in this ancient ritual of creativity.

    Now, I feel, if I do realize any commercial aspects from it, it shall not be the blog itself but things that perhaps were “born on the blog”..Now, I should totally trademark that phrase, don’t you think??

    In other words, in present thinking, I would not want advertising of any sort because that would confuse me, never mind my readers.

    Now, just watch, you’ll go visit my blog one morning and discover a big “Viagra” ad on it or something!

    Like

  6. epicurienne says:

    That’s my issue – how much control you end up having over ads that ultimately can make a site look like a mess? For instance how appropriate do you think it is to visit a food blog (as I often do) only to see diet ads popping up to the side? I think that’s where selling ads directly TO the advertised is probably the safest bet if you want ads displayed on your site. Also, they tend to pay per click, so for someone with my sort of traffic, it just isn’t worth it.
    Pat – thanks for your feedback. I find the varied opinions on this sort of topic quite fascinating.

    Like

  7. razzbuffnik says:

    This was very intering. I’m a bit conflicted about why I have blog.

    One of my reasons is to practice writing and another is to record my life. In the back of my mind I do think about making money out of it but I feel that I’ve still got a way to go in focusing on what I want to “sell”.

    Like

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