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Jason Calacanis on an ‘Aloof’ Weblogs Inc

Jason Calacanis responded to a comment on this blog by Ray saying that Weblogs Inc come across as ‘aloof’ with the following comment which I thought has some interesting tidbits in it worth highlighting here on the main page.

‘The aloof is probably due to the fact that we are getting crushed with requests to partner on things, and partnerships take a loooooooooong time to close.

We’ve found that closing a partnership deal with someone could be thousands in legal costs and lot more of that in my time… so, we’re focusing on hiring bloggers to work on the blogs we’ve started and have on the launch pad right now.

a lot of folks come to me with an idea, but they don’t want to do the work–that is, they don’t want to blog every day for a year or two to build it. We really don’t need ideas… ideas mean nothing in this business, it’s all about execution of the idea. We have a list of 700 blog topics… chances are no good idea isn’t on it (in fact it has a bunch of bad ideas at the bottom!).

we work with bloggers–people who blog… i think there are a lot of “idea people” out there–whatever that means. we really don’t need idea people.

best j’

I can imagine the requests and ideas that must come across Jason and his team’s desks/inboxes each day – and the ensuing nightmare in sorting them all through. In the few instances when I’ve negotiated partnerships with other bloggers I know that it can be very time consuming – especially when you’re doing via email. I also can relate to his comments on ‘ideas people’ vs bloggers who are willing to actually put the work in over time – this a massive key to profitable blogging and such people can be difficult to find.

I will say that in the interactions that I’ve had with some Weblogs Inc employees and bloggers (massive generalization ahead – proceed with caution) that I too have come away at times feeling that they have been quite ‘aloof’ also – to be honest I’ve come away from a couple of email conversations feeling pretty small and ‘put in my place’.

However I also understand that sometimes the pressures of a busy life and constant emails from people mean that one tends to be more blunt and abrupt in their replies. Even the friendliest people I know can come across as disinterested, arrogant or even rude via email on a bad day. I can’t imagine the pressure that Jason’s team must be under to not only keep 75 or so blogs running but to keep growing the network. So with this in mind I’ve not taken any personal offence at the way that some of them have interacted with me.

I guess the challenge that all Bloggers (commercial ones or not) face as their blogs grow is how to remain connected to and interactive with their readers whilst still achieving the goals and objectives of their blogs. It would be a similar pressure that a growing business owner would face with their customers and employees – how to keep things personalized in something that is rapidly growing. I guess it boils down to priorities and personality type partly also.

Anyway I thank Jason for his comment – I appreciate that you’re willing to interact with us over here at ProBlogger as I know you must have a busy life. All the best with your continued expansion of WIN.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jason says:

    who made you feel put in your place? me!?!??!!?

  2. Darren says:

    I’d rather not say to be honest as I’ve not taken it to heart and have no on going issue with anyone – its been more than one person but as I say I suspect it was probably just one of those days.

  3. Jason says:

    That is very strange… we talk to tons of folks, my IM (jasoncalacanis on AIM/Yahoo/Skype) and email (jason at calacanis dot com) are always on, and my phone number is on my blog: 310 828 8284.

    not sure how anyone could feel the way you say, and since you’re not giving me any details on it and saying it’s water under the bridge i’ll leave it alone, but that is very strange to me. I don’t know the behavior of all 75 bloggers (in fact I’ve never met most of them), but it seems unlike any of us.

    best j

  4. Darren says:

    I’ve just responded to you with the details of what is behind this post via email.

  5. Duncan says:

    Personal experience is that Jason is a good guy who gets a bad wrap in some parts of the blogosphere, and that he has always responded graciously to questions and the like, sure, we all get far, far, far too much email but I can certainly tell you in terms of attitude I’ve found the people I’ve dealt with at weblogsinc to be first rate. I know this is going to sound repetitive but it could be a cultural thing? Sometimes Americans sound aloof when they’re actually trying not to be. And lets face it, you can’t beat an Australian when it comes to the use of colourful and emotive language :-)

  6. My ass. Aloof isn’t the right word for. Ignored. Put down. Disrespected.

    And the excuse that it’s just ideas doesn’t wash. Myself and several other bloggers have pitched ideas that we were more than willing to execute on, since the bloggers are already WIN bloggers. It’s 3 months, and nearly 50 emails later, and still very little response from Jason or Judith.

    I know several WIN authors considering leaving for this very reason. The line of “if you aren’t Engadget or a brand new blog…” comes up a lot from current WIN bloggers.

    All of that said, I agree that Jason’s a great guy, doing a great thing to pioneer a great industry. None of this is a shot on his, or Judith’s, character. But the reality is that from a communications (internally AND externally) WIN is encountering issues. When was the last time every blogger at WIN was contacted by anyone in leadership of the company? There are (at least) 3 of them. Surely they can write 30 emails a week to touch base with the people who make the company.

    Gah, I’m ranting again ;-)

  7. My last comment really didn’t express how much respect I have for Jason. I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed, and I know people have said I can be aloof or distracted or unresponsive at times as well. I’m sure this is NOT on purpose, nor is it part of his character.

    Also, my apologies in advance that my above comment was so “venemous”. It wasn’t meant that way.

  8. I just have to say I’ve had nothing but great experiences communicating with Weblogs Inc. myself, both externally and internally. As a WIN blogger, between IM, a mailing list, and email, I feel like I’m constantly in contact with the leadership of the company, and the questions I’ve had have been answered quickly.

    I’ve met Jason and Brian and several of the other WIN bloggers in person, and never experienced anything remotely approaching aloofness…

    I’m not saying Darren or Jeremy hasn’t experienced aloofness. I think it’s very easy for that to happen online. Heaven knows I end up appearing aloof to many people when I take weeks to respond to their email, and with WIN’s growth I’m sure they’re overwhelmed with far more email than me.

    I’m just saying Jason and everybody at WIN are great people and I’ve always felt well-respected despite being one of the “long tail” bloggers.

  9. Jason says:

    Jeremy,

    No worries Jeremy… we’re all in the same business and there is no way you can run an open company and give every single member of the public enough attention. We’ve got people who want to start KKK and right to life blogs with it… I can tell you they are pissed at not getting a response right now.

    I know you and I talked a couple of times about working on things but you’re busy with 10 different things So, it didn’t work out but I don’t think we ever ignored you. I think there is a difference between not being able to come up with something and not responding.

    Also, as I stated above we really can’t be doing “partnerships” all day long… they cost to much to do, they are complicated, and we have too many blogs we need to launch ourselves right now.

    The other issues is, I think some folks think we are in the business of being an advertising rep firm.. as in we will sell ads on your site. We don’t do this, we build our own brands, find great bloggers to work on them, pay the bloggers, and sell ads. That’s it… at least for right now.

    >> When was the last time every blogger at WIN
    >> was contacted by anyone in leadership of the company?

    Uhhh… I email everyone at least two or three times A DAY!!!! What do you base that on!??! That is 100% inaccurate.

    Also, all 75 bloggers are emailing each other all day long–like hundreds of emails a week. Plus the bloggers start chat rooms to hang out with each other on a regular basis now.

    Also, everyone has my phone, cell phone, IM, and email… so if anyone has a question/comment/concern they know they can ping me any time.

    >> The line of if you arent Engadget or a brand
    >> new blog comes up a lot from current
    >> WIN bloggers.

    Interesting… have never heard that. Does not make sense to me… but I’ll take your work for it.

    We put all our support behind all of the blogs.

    Now, it is true that new blogs get the benefit of starting up in an established network (i.e. if you started last year you had 10 blogs in the network, today you start with 75 blogs), so that is the only difference I can think of. Perhaps we should come up with ways to “relaunch” the old blogs so they get the spike that new blogs now get… but that might look odd.

    Obviously we put more bloggers on blogs that grow faster and have bigger markets (i.e. engadget, autoblog, etc), so that is true, but does anyone expect a niche blog to have 20 updates a day and five bloggers on it? That just wouldn’t make good business sense. So, all blogs are NOT created equal in terms of what we invest in them, but all BLOGGERS are created equal in terms of how we treat them.

    Those are the only two things I can think of that an older niche-focused blogs would feel upset about. However, we are in the process of redesigning all the blogs and moving them into the new version of Blogsmith so you’ll see them all get a facelift, new features, etc.

    we can do things better so, any feedback on what we need to work on I value… so, thanks for the flame!

    best jason

  10. And this is why you deserve the credit you receive :) My first comment shouldn’t have been so venomous, especially since everytime I first talk to people about you it’s normally so glowing. You’re one of the few people who’s willing to put it all on the line.

  11. I posted a long comment earlier that seems to have fallen into the spam filter or something, so I’ll distill it down to three key points:

    1. As a WIN blogger, between email, IM, and a mailing list, I feel like I’m in constant contact with Jason, Judith, Brian, and the rest of the crew. I have phone numbers if I need more immediate attention.

    2. Despite writing for a “long tail” weblog I’ve never felt like a second-class citizen–if anything my niche topic gets more attention than it deserves sometimes.

    3. I’ve met Jason, Brian, and a bunch of the WIN bloggers in person. They’re great people and I’ve never felt like anyone was aloof.

    I’m not saying Darren or Jeremy’s feelings are invalid–I think it’s very easy to appear aloof online when you’re busy, and I know I seem aloof myself when I take weeks to answer email. I’m just saying they’re good people and I doubt it’s intentional.

  12. /pd says:

    Jason : “So, all blogs are NOT created equal in terms of what we invest in them, but all BLOGGERS are created equal in terms of how we treat them. ”

    Thats the wrong way of approach bloggers. !!

    “Average managers treat all their employees the same. Great managers discover each individual’s unique talents and bring these to the surface so everyone wins” . Told me that !! :)-

  13. /pd says:

    opps.. heres the link

  14. Duncan says:

    Peter (lpd)
    I dont think that Jason is saying that, indeed reading his network of blogs I’d say that he’s doing a fine job of encouraging individual talents, but what he’s trying to say that there is a base standard in terms of how he treats all his bloggers in terms of communications, respect etc, which is not unreasonable. And can I add that the worst managers I’ve had are the ones that play favourites, whether your the favourite or not. You can still encourage individual talent whilst maintaining a reasonable level playing field in the way you treat people. Having been a manager of large teams I can tell you that its always a hard balancing act.

  15. /pd says:

    Duncun : agree w/ “in terms of communications, respect etc,”