This interview with “tech entrepreneur” JD Lasica is the third in a series of interviews by B.L. Ochman with successful bloggers. The series examines the business models and marketing tactics of A-list bloggers.
JD Lasica apparently doesn’t value sleep very highly. He publishes three blogs, is co-founder and executive director of a worldwide new media project; is the author of a popular recently released book about digital freedom. He has been writing about the impact of emerging technologies on our culture since 1998 and is a senior editor for Online Journalism Review and a columnist for Engadget.
He claims he’s written more about grassroots media, video, podcast, webcast, and digital photos “than anyone in the world.” And, oh yeah, he also has a wife and a young son, lots of interests, partnerships and clients. Whew! I’m tired just thinking about what he does.
Three Blogs and Many Collaborative Projects
Blogging since May 2001, Lasica publishes:
* New Media Musings which charts the development of grassroots media
* Darknet.com a blog related to his new book of the same name, covering “Hollywood’s war against the digital media generation.” Lasica says he “spent weeks building the site with resources and tools. It’s a lot of fucking work.” Read the mini-book
Darknet, Lasica writes, is “the vast, gathering, lawless economy of shared music, movies, television shows, games, software, and porn.” Howard Rheingold, the new media visionary and author of Smart Mobs, who wrote the foreword to Darknet, says it’s a “comprehensive look at the restrictions being placed on our digital freedoms by the major media powers.”
The technology is outpacing the law, it’s outpacing what kind of conversations are happening in Congress today, where there’s an impulse to crack down on this kind of behavior, rather than to enable or to celebrate digital creativity, says Lasica.
* His third blog is about Socialmedia.biz an affiliation of consultants (including me) Lasica started earlier this year to work together on a project basis to bring the tools of new media to corporations.
Lasica’s Blog Business Model: Reputation Building for Consulting
He spends only three hours a day for all three blogs and is tapering off on the social media blog by just commenting on major developments. His blogs get between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors a day. People knew his name from OJR, he says, but he still had to learn the ropes of what it means to be a blogger and what expectations the audience has. “It’s not like I feel like posting is a job I have to do. It’s second nature.”
He makes approximately $10,000 a year from classified ads and Blogads. “I’m basically a writer, we don’t make much.” The blogs foster trust, he says. He’s been invited to speak at Harvard, for example, as a result of a combination of the blogs and the book. “It all really adds up and I’m trying to find the time for all this.”
Dana Blankenhorn calls this business model “The Chuck Barris Business Model – The bloggers are selling themselves, looking for work.”
Lasica is co-founder and executive director of Ourmedia a global not-for-profit repository and community site that stores and preserves works of grassroots media such as
* home-made video,
* independent films,
* oral family histories,
* audio files,
* text works,
* software and more.
Ourmedia promises to host and store social media free, forever. It’s open to amateurs, hobbyists and professionals alike. “The only requirement is that you must be willing to show off your work to a global audience.” The site already has gathered more than 5,000 videos.
Blogging Brings the Audience Closer Than Ever Before
Lasica says he started blogging because he “saw this as an amazing, vibrant new communication form — a way to communicate and have a dialogue with my readers in a more direct way than possible before. This is a way to get beyond traditional media forms and get the audience to become part of the dialogue, generate ideas, tell me when I’m full of shit, correct something in story.”
He calls himself a tech entrepreneur and says the business model for his blogs is to attract speaking and consulting work through them by establishing himself as an expert. He says he’s trying to parlay the ideals behind Ourmedia, which is just a few months old, into several opportunities.
He has zero promotional budget for his blogs. “None.” He promotes through the blogosphere, for example, sending out copies of his book to bloggers. At a book release party a week ago, he gave bloggers a 67% discount if they agreed to write about Darknet. “You still need traditional media to get the word out about a book,” he says, “but a conversation will start in the blogosphere and maybe will catch the attention of traditional reviewers.”
Toward that end, he is doing virtual book tours, visiting and writing for a variety of blogs. He calls it a Blogger Book Tour. Setting it up, he says, is “just a matter of asking people if they want to interview me, do a Q&A, review, or an online chat.”
It seems, Lasica says, “that a lot of it is schmoozing with the right people. I am against the idea of the A-listers being the only bloggers who count.”
He sends emails to other bloggers, but will “never send out press releases because I don’t read them. People want to hear your genuine voice.”
Advice to bloggers starting out?
Lasica’s advice to new bloggers: don’t get frantic about building a large audience overnight. “It’s more important to find your own voice, create relationships. Find a niche and go to town, don’t try to write about everything.”
Plans for the future? He’s toying with podcasting, multimedia blogging and digital storytelling. “I’m waiting for the bugs from Ourmedia to disappear and then I’ll do multimedia blogging.” Incredibly well, no doubt.
Other What’s Next Successful Blogger Interviews:
Seth Godin, All Marketers Are Liars
Alice Marshall, Presto Vivace
Steve Hall, Adrants