While at SXSW Interactive earlier this month I was fortunate enough to spend a little time with some of the Weblogs Inc bloggers. It was great to get a little insight into how one of the original blog networks has grown and is now currently operating a couple of years after it’s sale to AOL.
One of those that I met was Victor Agreda Jr. When I asked him what his role was he told me that he was a ‘blog producer’ at a number of WIN’s blogs. The idea of blogs having a ‘producer’ immediately intrigued me and I asked him if he’d be willing to do a mini interview to explore it. Here it is:
Darren: How long have you been working with Weblogs Inc? How did you get the job with them?
Victor: I started blogging for Weblogs back in 2005 with Download Squad. I originally applied for TUAW, in part because I was the top-ranked commenter (at the time comments were given 1-5 stars by the bloggers) and I had huge numbers of comments.
I later wound up on TUAW as a blogger (about 6 months later). My full-time gig began a little less than 2 years ago. I was brought on partly for my tech background, and partly because I speak Spanish.
Darren: When we met in Austin you described your role as a ‘producer’ of a few of Weblogs Inc’s blogs – can you unpack what a blog producer does for us?
Victor: In fact, my AOL title is “programming manager” but “producer” is probably more accurate. I come from a film/video background, and “producing” our blogs is pretty similar. I make sure the trains run on time, people get paid, content is getting posted, etc. Basically middle-management (which means I get to watch everyone having fun while blogging).
Darren: Which blogs do you work with?
Darren: What is the biggest challenge for you in your work?
Victor: Finding and retaining top talent. I used to say ‘especially in tech’ before we launched DIY, but honestly, it is all pretty rough. Either folks have their own blog they are monetizing (no matter how small– but people like to “own” their stuff) or they are lacking in some critical fashion (can’t write).
Darren: Does WIN employ producers on other blogs? Do their roles differ to yours at all?
Victor: We have two others at my level, plus one person one level up the career ladder (Barb, who manages 3 f/t Joystiq editors). We split our properties up among “verticals” so, for example, Willy would manage Cinematical and TV Squad, while Kristi handles Slashfood and Aisledash (entertainment vs. lifetsyle blogs).
Darren: Do you have any advice or tips for smaller to medium sized blogs that want to step up in terms of professionalism and growth?
Victor: Building a team is crucial, always. Once you grow beyond just yourself, it is important to have a talent pool who can bring a variety of skills to the table. This usually means a level of tech-savvy (people shouldn’t be afraid of wikis or simple HTML) plus a certain level of management ability. There also gets a point where you need someone focusing on sales!