Alex's Tech Thoughts

Keeping At It

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For the first few months of starting this blog I received about 5-10 pageviews per post. Not many were reading and I mostly wrote for myself. I stuck to it and kept writing. Four times a week, every week. I wrote to express my thoughts and share things I learn as I go through this exciting startup world.

The blog has since grown, I started contributing to Forbes in 2012, guest posting on bigger tech blogs and generally just reaching more people. It’s great and I don’t think I could have ever imagined it when I started this blog in 2010, four years ago.

This brings me to Brian Kil, my former colleague at Dwolla. Brian picked up writing a few months ago and while he doesn’t write four times a week he tries to write a few times each month. Early on he got a few readers here and there. A few times he told me he was considering stopping but I told him he just needs to keep at it.

Well just a few days ago Brian became an official contributor to Huffington Post’s business section. His hard work paid off and now his voice is being heard by more people. I’m proud of Brian and think there is a great lesson to be learned here about keeping at it.

You can find his first post here. Go Brian!

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Taking A Break

I love this blog. I love writing. But I need to take a break until the end of the year.

I have a lot going on. Some of it I can talk about, some of it I can’t. Right now I need to use my writing time for a few other things. It’s also the holiday season, so many days will be skipped.

I will still be writing my Forbes posts. I also may write a post here and there. I’m just stepping back from writing 4x a week so I can get some things done that need to get done.

Also, I could use some help with more topic ideas for posts. If there is something you want me to write about, don’t hesitate to email me about it.

I will be back to writing regularly after New Year’s.

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Break Blogging Forbes
Post #500!

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This is a pretty neat milestone. This is the 500th post that I’ve written for this blog. Not all of them were tech, as I had an NBA posts here and there, but definitely a lot of work.

I’m really glad I started writing back in November 2010 and have never stopped (you have @msg to thank for that). It’s a great outlet and I recommend it to others. The difference between “great” and “next level” is writing and sharing knowledge. See Chris Dixon, Elad Gil, Josh Elman, Fred Wilson, Marc Andreessen, Albert Wegner, and others.

You don’t need to write every day. Hell, you don’t need to write every week. But start writing and sharing. Maybe do one post a month. Make it good. Spend an hour or two on it. Share it with friends and family for feedback. Post and share. You will thank yourself.

Okay. So three things here:

1) I want to thank two people who have helped keep the writing alive. The first one is my Mom. She looks at each post before they go live and gives edits and comments. If you would see the first draft it would look like gobbledygook. Thanks Mom. You rock.

The second is my friend Ellen DaSilva from Twitter. She helps edit and give feedback on all my Forbes articles. She is virtually my ghost editor there. My articles would be at a 5th grade reading level without her. So thank you very much Ellen.

2) I will be adding an extra post going forward. I have used Friday for Flashback Friday whenever I remember to share it. I’ll keep doing that, but now I’m going to add a post that will feature my favorite article from the past week. It will just be a link and maybe a sentence or two on why it was awesome. Cool? Cool.

3) Last thing is that a neat company called Castify took my blog and turned it into audio podcasts where people can listen to professional voice actors read the content. It is pretty awesome and you can find it here.

Thanks for sticking around and reading and I hope to improve this blog with every post.

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Milestone Blogging Castify
The Lazy Persons Guide To Having A Blog and/or Creating Content

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The most frequent question I get about this blog is how I create so much content every week and how to start a blog. I’ve written about my process and how it works for me. But let’s be honest, most people either don’t have time or are lazy. So I’ve compiled 4 ways you can have a blog and create content and still be lazy.

1) Give Your View

You don’t need to come up with original content. Let others. Take other people’s posts, and give your view/opinion. I did this just last week with a Fred Wilson post.

2) Interviews

Write an intro paragraph or two and then display the interview. This turns a few good questions and an introduction into a 500-1000 word long piece. The work here entails coming up with good questions. Not bad!

3) Slideshows

See Business Insider.

(Actually to be perfectly honest, some of their new long-form content is awesome. Two articles I loved this past week: #1 and #2)

4) Lists

This post is a list. I could have titled the post, “4 Ways To Create More Content For Your Blog.” Lists help get content out. It’s a lazy person trick. It also helps drive traffic. My most trafficked posts are lists.

These are just 4 quick ways to start pumping out content. My recommendation would be to do at least one day (a week) of original content and fill the other days with some of the above. Remember - you don’t need to start from scratch every post.

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Lazy Web Content blogging Tips
Short vs. Long Blog Content

I’ve often struggled to consistently write long posts. The idea behind Alex’s Tech Thoughts has been to share things I’ve learned and thoughts I have about business development, startups, and technology. I typically try to keep my posts short so that they are easily digestible on the go.

But recently I’ve been thinking about writing fewer articles. Instead of four posts a week, I’d do two longer ones that would be more substantial. The downside is that they wouldn’t be in the bite size forms that they are now.

What would you like to see? Do you like the short posts or would longer be better?

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The #1 Reason Why People Don’t Blog

I receive many reach-outs specifically about how people can start blogging more often. After two years I’ve figured out the #1 reason why people don’t blog.

The number one reason is that they are afraid their writing isn’t any good. A few other reasons I’ve heard are: I don’t have enough time, I don’t know what to write about, etc. But time and time again, people are worried others will be critical of their writing because it isn’t any good.

To this I typically say, so what? No one is expecting Pulitzer Prize-level writing from a blog. Just write!

If you are considering picking up blogging, just start writing. You may have one or two duds along the way, but write about things that interest you and I guarantee you’ll find a readership.

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Respond To All Your Comments

It is really important to respond to all your comments (blog, press article, etc)- good and bad.

I recently was on a friend’s blog and there were 5-10 comments per article, a nice amount for a regular person’s blog. The comments, some of them questions about the post, went unanswered. I looked back at older posts and I saw a similar situation- great posts, a handful of unanswered comments.

I think that taking a few minutes time out to respond to both your supporters and naysayers is very important. It’s not to say you need to build a community around your writing like Fred Wilson or Chris Dixon, however fostering conversation and connecting with people interested in what you are writing about is half of the reason to do it.

If you have a blog and don’t respond to comments, try to rectify this by setting some time aside to respond.

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Alex’s Tech Thoughts In PDF

I received an email from a guy named Marc Luna last week. Marc has taken some of my blog posts, structured them, and put them into a PDF.

Marc separated the material into 8 different categories:

  • Words of Motivation                                                                                                               
  • Breaking Into Startup-ville                                                                                                       
  • Best Practices for Early-Stage Startups                                                                                     
  • Best Practices for Individuals                                                                                                    
  • Startup Observations                                                                                                              
  • Tech Trends                                                                                                                               
  • General Observations                                                                                                              
  • How To Become A Biz Dev Samurai     

It’s pretty awesome. If you’d like to download the PDF, you can find it here.

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Getting Noticed

I was heading to the airport on my way to SXSW on Thursday March 8th when I got an email from a UCLA student named Bryan Chang:

Hi Alex,

My name is Bryan Chang and I’m a senior at UCLA. As a non-techie entrepreneur aspirant, I find your concise writing highly informative and practical, and fell in love with it, especially on BD-Partnership topics. Yet, your old posts are not appropriately tagged, and thus missed other great posts (surfed joyfully through archive myself :).

Understand you’re darn busy and may not want to revisit your 150+ old posts to retag them all. As an avid reader and beneficiary of your insight, I’d like to offer you this free help to go over every single post to tag them properly, to better serve not only you but end users of your blog (readers).

If interested, please feel free to get me anytime: XXX.XXX.XXXX, @XXXX, or XXXX@gmail.com.

Thanks for your inspiring hustle + insights, and look forward to connecting with you!

Cheers,
Bryan Chang

I’m not sure how Bryan knew this, but I just recently started adding tags to some of my blog posts and was trying to figure out the best way to categorize my previous 250 posts. I’d realized it was difficult to read only about a single topic on my blog posts, whether it is about press or business development. Tagging my old posts would be the obvious best way. 

To make a long story short, I emailed Bryan and told him I would love for him to tag the old posts. We are working on a joint google doc and should have all the old posts tagged in the next few weeks.

The biggest takeaway from this is that Bryan took the extra step to get noticed. It wasn’t an obvious thing, but he found a way to make me respond, immediately. That skill is innate and the best people know how to get noticed. Thanks Bryan, your future career is looking bright.

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My Tentative Roadmap For Forbes Articles

After one week of Forbes articles and seeing my bandwidth, I have decided to become a fortnightly contributor to Forbes (instead of weekly). I think this will be more manageable with my schedule and it will help me keep the quality up.

That being said, I’ve written out the titles/high level overview for my first 15 posts (subject to change).

Article 1- What It Takes To Raise Seed Money In 2012

Article 2- The Four Golden Rules Of Partnerships (redux)

Article 3- Three Stages When Disrupting An Industry 

Article 4- Breaking Into The Tech Industry (redux)

Article 5- Can Developers Be Bought Off To Build?

Article 6- Physical Networking Is Not Scale-able, Social Media Is (redux)

Article 7- Is It Time For Ed-Tech To Shine?

Article 8- Putting Yourself In A Position To Get Lucky (redux)

Article 9- Everything You Need To Know About Business Development

Article 10- Nothing Is Stable (redux)

Article 11- Companies That Excite Me Right Now

Article 12- Joining A Funded Startup Is The New Two-Year Banking Plan (redux)

Article 13- Everything You Need To Know About Internships

Article 14- Why Facebook Will Be Around For A Long Long Time (redux)

Article 15- How To Close Deals

Wild Card- Five Stories About People Getting Jobs In Extraordinary Ways

Redux means I have written about it briefly before. The articles for Forbes will be much longer.

Would love feedback and suggestions in the comments!

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Forbes Entrepreneurship Blogging
Thoughts On Article Titles And Link Bait

One of my most popular posts of all time came out last week. It was called “5 Key Things Needed To Improve Your Digital Identity." Link bait works and I don’t think it is really all that bad.

I have two theories on why this is so.

Theory #1: There is an overabundance of news and articles in this age of information. People would love to read a lot of it, but there are not enough hours in the day to even read one entire outlets output (Side note: this is why something like Techmeme is so valuable). Blogs like mine are competing with tech blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable as well as with biz journals like WSJ and Forbes. Having something catchy in the title helps when you are competing with the overabundance. 

Theory #2: You can’t blame readers for wanting to know what they will get out of an article from just reading the title. When someone puts a number in the title, the reader knows what they are in for. Top 10, The best 5, etc. The reader can skim over the bold headers and decide if they want to read the rest. When you have only a few minutes to read, this makes life easier.

While I don’t usually try to go with a link bait title, I think it can be very helpful. I actually work backwards in my blogging style. Whenever I have an idea, I jot it down in a Tumblr draft. Almost always, the idea is the title of the post, and if I have further thoughts, I include them in the body (to remind myself what I was thinking about when I added it). The titles of my posts are very often exactly what my post will be about. As you can see in this post’s title. I think this is welcome for people deciding whether they care about what I have to say regarding a particular topic. 

What do you think about blog post titles and link bait?

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Blogging
5 Key Things Needed To Improve Your Digital Identity

Having a solid digital identity is more important now than it has ever been. I’m not just talking about your self-worth. It’s crucial for job opportunities and 21st century due diligence (i.e. google search). You NEED to have a good digital identity. Here are 5 tips to improve whatever you are currently doing:


1. Make your Twitter legit

  • Switch your Twitter account to @firstname+lastname or @initials.
  • Add a short bio to your profile- a brief and high level overview (long bios are tough on the eyes and people may think you don’t really do anything).
  • Start following people/things that are in your industry (or in the industry you want to be in). Remember! Twitter is an interest network, not a social network.
  • Start tweeting/sharing news articles that you find interesting. BE ACTIVE! Share at least one article a day. @ reply people who tweet interesting things. Be part of the conversation! 

2. Acquiring websites

  • Pick up or buy the following websites:

YourFullName.tumblr.com (get it on tumblr.com)

FullName.com

AlternativeFullName.com

  • Buy them for 2 or 5 years- you will get a better deal.

3. Create an About Me page

  • Go to about.me and grab about.me/firstname+lastname. 
  • Link up all your accounts and add a short bio.
  • Add a photo of yourself and background.
  • Add the link to your signature on every email you send (you can access this in the setting for your email).

4. Work on your blog

  • Now that you have picked up your Tumblr account you should start thinking about blog post ideas.
  • Make a draft every time you have an idea but also spend time thinking of a theme.
  • The theme could be lessons learned, tips on x, y, and z, how you are unique/different, etc.
  • Decide how frequently you want to blog. Once a day, week, month, etc. Stick to it.

5. Go to events (not really digital, but kind of)

This list was originally made for someone close to me that wants to get back in the game, but can be applied to anyone looking to improve their digital identity.

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Digital Identity Twitter AboutMe Blogging Events
Commenting On Other People’s Blogs

I love it when people comment on my blog and respond to every one.

I realized last week that I almost never post comments on other people’s blogs. 

Well, that is going to change.

Just like I enjoy getting comments on posts, I am sure other people do. I feel like they are part of the conversation I started and would like to be part of their conversation too.

So please keep the comments coming here and look out for Ataub24 commenting on other blogs going forward.

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