I built dozens of content management systems that generated millions of dollars in value.
Matt Mullenweg built one content management system, gave it away for free, became a leader in the open source revolution and generated more than a billion dollars in value.
Maybe I was charging too much!
Since 2003, I have run my blog on software I created. A decade ago, I was using Blogsmith, which still powers Engadget and Autoblog and ultimately became the platform AOL.com runs on. Last year, I was using Crowd Fusion, which still powers TMZ and Ellen‘s websites and was used for high-profile projects at Best Buy, MySpace, Warner Bros and News Corp.
Now, my blog runs on WordPress.
I don’t have time to tinker with old, unsupported PHP code. All I care about these days is helping brands, agencies, influencers and creators of all kinds make amazing social videos with my app Clipisode.
All of the custom things I needed to do with my site can by done on WordPress. And not just the WordPress that you can download and customize. It can all be done on WordPress.com. That wasn’t always the case. Now it is.
We announced a great new feature at VidCon Australia this summer: Clipisode automatically transcribes every clip that comes on.
All clips. For free.
But we don’t show the words over your videos like everyone else’s ugly closed captions. We smartly work the captions into the episode’s theme as “open captions.” So instead of getting something that looks horrible with layers on top of layers of typos like this:
In January, I was back in the LAUNCH Incubator working on my presentation. I was planning to introduce a Recurrency app that made it easier for creators to engage and include their supporters each month. But the feedback I got was a surprise: “Do I have to use your failed crowdfunding startup if I want to use this amazing app?”
One of our friends spent a full year planning her Kickstarter before flipping the switch — and she crushed it. But too many people think you just walk up to a crowdfunding service, turn it on and then the Internet sends you a check.
It all comes down to doing the work.
My Medium post The End of Recurrency looks at what Recurrency did that was unique, reveals that we almost acquired another business and explains what investors hate about recurring crowdfunding services like Patreon and Recurrency. I also thank a lot of people for being a part of our journey.
When I was searching for something new to build in 2014, Jason told me about the problems he was having with Mahalo on YouTube.
At the time, a single YouTube subscriber was worth an estimated $0.10/year to publishers, but an email subscriber was worth $1.25/year. For Jason’s shows, collecting 100,000 email addresses could mean the difference between breaking even and bankruptcy.
Oh man. Workarounds to capture email addresses? I had seen this before with Facebook and iTunes. YouTube was being an evil gatekeeper.
If you want to make a living doing what you love — playing guitar, writing books, drawing webcomics, podcasting, reviewing movies, playing video games, making YouTube videos or filling Pinterest boards — all you need to do is find 1,000 True Fans. When you have one thousand people each spending a hundred dollars on you every year, that’s a $100,000 salary. Now you can quit your job and focus on your art!
The biggest thing that creators miss is that fans need constant attention and acknowledgement. Fans need to be rewarded, but rewarding and including them isn’t easy, which is why we eventually shut down Recurrency and created Clipisode.
“Adblockalypse” is the end of days for publishers and advertisers. Once it arrives, content creators on the internet will never be the same again. Many will be destroyed. The ones who survive will be forever transformed.
I’ll never forget how my friend Carolyn introduced me at a backyard party a few years ago:
“This is Brian Alvey. He invented blogging.”
I immediately corrected her:
“I didn’t invent blogging. I perfected it.”
I’ve told that story on stage many times. While it might sound conceited, there is a lot of truth in the statement. Jason and I weren’t the first people to build a blog network. But we did create a really efficient one that grew quickly and was acquired for a lot of money in less than two years.
I gave Jason some grief when I interviewed him on the 500th episode of This Week In Startups. I asked him if he’d ever had an original product idea. He was noticeably defensive, but if you name anything that Jason has a hand in building, it has always been a reaction to someone else’s product.
Twelve years ago today, I hosted my first Meet The Makers conference in New York City. Later that year I did two more events in San Francisco and NYC. The events were incredible, featuring interviews with the people responsible for some of the biggest online products and sites like Monster, DoubleClick, Google, E*TRADE and MapQuest.
In 2003, I put the live events on hiatus to build my blog network, but I continued producing long form interviews with a variety of creative people: web designers, entrepreneurs, authors, marketers and even cartoonists.
Looking back on my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with hundreds of amazing brands, but hosting Meet The Makers is easily the best job I ever had.
The tagline of Meet The Makers was “Creative people in a technical world.”
Soon, I will bring Meet The Makers back to continue exploring the tension between art and technology while profiling people who have built amazing things that we all wish we’d created ourselves.