I was on vacation when David Beisel posted this piece: Stop! You Shouldn’t Blog. The Risks of Professional Blogging, in which he related a discussion he had had with another VC about the negative implications of blogging (as/for a VC). The main points of contention were:
- Blogging is viewed by many as a fad. Whether or not this ultimately bears to be true, the viewpoint is a real one. Should one associate their career and personal brand with a trend that perhaps may fall by the wayside? What will be the reputational effect if/when one stops blogging?
- Bloggers are sometimes perceived to have many negative attributes. Some believe that bloggers are overly-bearing “used-car salesman-types” in selling themselves or the extremely ego-centric people who speak the loudest but don’t really know what they are talking about.
- Professionals (especially VCs) should have a network already to leverage; blogging could signal that one’s network is weak. Blogging is in effect a “networking” activity which connects people to other people. Some view bloggers as those who don’t have a strong network and use it as a crutch, or as those who aren’t successful in other networking venues.
- Professionals are busy people; blogging could imply that one isn’t busy with “real” work. Serious blogging takes serious effort, and all professionals are limited by the amount of time that they have during the day. Perhaps bloggers can’t find productive uses of their time and are using blogging as a meager substitute for nothing.
- Blogging provides an uninhibited permanent record to ones’ thoughts. Yes, permanent. Everyone is wrong some of the time. (In fact, VCs are wrong a lot of the time with their investments). When someone is wrong and there is an easily accessible record of it, that individual must either admit the error if his/her ways or ignore it to cover it up. Both of these are difficult actions to take, and could potentially leave someone worse off than taking no vocal opinion at all. And with the internet being archived in the manner that it is, it’s clear that anything published online will be able to be accessed forever.
I wanted to offer my views/counterpoints – even after such a long period of time:
- Blogging might be a fad as a delivery mechanism, but VCs have been writing newsletters, publishing articles and submitting op’ed pieces for the longest time, and will continue to do so. Blogging just offers a two way conversation that these other medium could not deliver.
- The same remark can apply to VCs participating to conferences/panels on topics they are not experts in. They do it anyway, even if they can’t go back and edit out their mistakes (like you can do on a blog).
- I don’t think that you can substitute a rollodex, attending conferences and networking events, appearing on panels, etc. with a blog. It is complementary. It does however raise your profile and visibility in your target audience (and on Google). Unless of course appearing on Google is also a sign of a weak network.
- Yes, serious blogging is hard work, and often you blog at night or you only blog once in a while. Allen Morgan’s blog was nominated as the Time Top 50 Coolest Blog in the Entrepreneurs section, and he posted less than 20 times.
- When VCs are wrong, and invest in companies that go by the way side, this can’t be hidden either. And the concept of cover up does not bode well in an industry supposedly made built on reputation and trust. And I admire VCs who push the disclosure to another limit: if you have never read it, take a few minutes going through the hilarious Bessemer anti-portfolio, that lists all the opportunities they passed on.
Having now spent over a year blogging at the rate of a few posts a week, I can’t come up with anything but positive results with the experience – except for a few short nights every now and then. Note that I am not suggesting that each VC firm must have one or more bloggers, but having a few new voices contributing on different, less covered, topics is great. The latest I have noticed is David Cowan (from the same Bessemer’s anti-portfolio fame) who has started posting very interesting pieces on the security market.
Saying that blogging is not meant for everyone, fine. But stating that it is bad because of the implied risks, especially the ones listed here: pffhhh.