Many technology entrepreneurs, after reaching some modicum of success, get the desire to publish their thoughts. If you are such an individual, it could be confusing how to go about this. Some believe that they have a point of view and experience to tell the world. Others need the ego boost of their names in print. There are those who do it to build their ‘brand’ and others to give back to the community. The truth is that it really depends on numerous factors what you should do.
Write for Someone Else’s Publication
This is the choice for you if you are vain and semiliterate. It could be a guest post or a regular feature. The publication wants people with some experience, which bolsters the gravitas of the writer. You will want to portray the kind of guy who it’s fun to have a beer with and shoot the shit. Like Bryan Goldberg from the Bleacher Report or Francisco Dao, both on PandoDaily.
You will be expected to write material that is controversial (albeit in your mind only), and that breaks with the expectation of an entrepreneur. You will be able to get ‘gritty’ in detail about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. You really care about receiving comments on your pieces and will probably respond to each one. You may get paid an honorarium for writing posts, but really, you’re doing it for the new Twitter followers.
Set Up a Personal Blog or Email List
Money equals wisdom plus experience. This is the favourite of the venture capital and angel class, filled with people like Paul Graham, Jason Calacanis, Fred Wilson, Dave McClure and Mark Suster. The platform helps them convey to the world that they have all the answers. They have enough sycophants spreading their word like the gospel, so they don’t need to worry about an advertising budget.
You may get paid an honorarium for writing posts, but really, you’re doing it for the new Twitter followers.
Much of their readership is comprised of aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to approach them to raise funds, and therefore need to be able to parrot back their philosophies like an attentive student. The goal is not to make money off the site, but to use it to bolster your growing ‘brand’. The blog will make you into a regular on the conference scene, as it will show that you not only have money, but also the ability to succinctly convey what you are looking for in future investments.
Create a Media Site
This is usually reserved for people who have been paid by others to write before, yet disagree with how things are going. As they lack deep pockets, such entrepreneurs usually need to raise funding to enable them to put together a skilled team to fill what they see as an obvious void in the market. This is probably the correct choice for you if you previously spent time at more than three publications in two years.
The list of recent publications launched in this genre includes: PandoDaily after Sarah Lacy left TechCrunch, The Verge after Josh Topolsky started This Is My Next after departing Engadget, The Kernel after Milo Yiannopoulos left The Telegraph (and other places) (Full Disclosure: This is being published in The Kernel) and NSFW after Paul Carr quit TechCrunch after being fired from every other position he ever held.
If you do this, you will be harshly judged by both competitors and readers for every misstep and crucified for every mistake you make. You may be mocked and will become the lightning rod for anyone who disagrees with any detail in any single article on your site. You will also become a regular on talk shows whenever a technology pundit is needed for a segment. If successful, you may sell out to a larger media or technology group and begin investing in companies you previously covered.
Purchase an Existing News Publication
If money is no object, you should just consider buying a traditional media platform. The older and more venerated, the better. Choose this way if you wish to be the topic of conversation at cocktail parties instead of hack days. Join the illustrious ranks of Chris Hughes who spent a percentage of his Facebook earnings on The New Republic, Jeff Bezos from Amazon who purchased The Washington Post with change that fell between the cushions on his couch and Jared Kushner who parlayed a bit of his real estate money to buy the influential lifestyle befitting the owner of The New York Observer.
You will receive an educated and influential audience who reads the publisher’s column while their butler pours their morning coffee from a silver carafe. Initially, your motives for purchase will be questioned, but after a few news cycles you will become accepted and relatively untouchable.