Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yeah, but does Robbie Joyner have a blog?

I subscribe to a lot of shared feeds via Google Reader, and there was a particular item in my feed that had been shared by a bunch of people, including Rob Diana, Louis Gray, and Jesse Stay.

But before I talk about that item, I want to explain who Robbie Joyner is. From the entry in the Kevin and Bean Glossary:

Kevin’s neighbor as a child. Whenever the show interviews somebody who accomplished something at a young age, Kevin invariably pipes up that “When I was [that age] I was still throwing rocks at my neighbor Robbie Joyner.”

But Kevin did OK for himself (well, other than that little murder thing), despite the fact that he was (or so he claims) an underachiever at a young age.

The item that Diana, Gray, and Stay shared was written by Marshall Kirkpatrick, and it is entitled How To Quit Your Day Job & Become a Professional Tech Blogger. Kirkpatrick is someone who quit his day job and became a professional tech blogger. This is (part of) what he said:

Not so long ago, I was working at a convenience store, selling candy, soda, beer and lottery tickets. I had just graduated with an undergrad degree in political science and I discovered the world of blogging, RSS, etc. in the last few months I was in school. My plan was to do consulting for nonprofit organizations about how to use these new tools for research and promotion, but I had to pay the bills – thus the convenience store gig. Maybe you have a better job than that now – but I still think this is good advice.

After mentioning some things that he did (one of which I'll come back to a little later), Kirkpatrick wrote:

In blogging I tried to add unique value to conversations and I tried to do a good job at important little projects I started. Both Barb [Dybwad] and Marnie [Webb] ended up hiring me to write for them at Netsquared and at AOL’s Social Software Weblog, within just a few months of our having met face to face. Once I had both those gigs, I quit the day job at the convenience store.

Networking, projects, commenting...Kirkpatrick did all that stuff, as well as starting his own blog. The "How To" post links to the first blog post that Kirkpatrick wrote - one that described the goals of "Marshall's Web Tool Blog." Here's part of that first post:

What I intend to do is start a consulting and training business in the use of new web tools. Tools like...

* RSS - content syndication, push and pull
* Search - including automated search, metasearch and other search tools
* Blogs - easy web publishing
* Wikis - collaborative knowledge development
* Social bookmarking - popular cataloging of online content
* Podcasting - radio on demand/ MP3 content mixed with RSS syndication
* And anything else that's exciting and useful!

Read the rest here.

Kirkpatrick's first post was written on March 23, 2005. Let me share another post with you, written by someone else. This post appeared on October 14, 2003:

Why did synthetica start with fake bluegrass sounds? Why not? This is the Ontario Empoblog, or the blog for Ontario Emperor, which has nothing and everything to do with Canada, New Mexico, and Texas, but also California, which is a location in California. It exists in cyberspace, which is also synthetic.

The Ontario Empoblog may or may not touch on a variety of subjects, including music, poetry, poker, the supposed familial relationship between Brian Eno and Slim Whitman, the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop (1,121 - I checked), various comments about frogs, and the nature of nature.

Yes, people, I have been blogging longer than Marshall Kirkpatrick, since I wrote this post about a year and a half before Kirkpatrick wrote his first post. Now you'll note that Kirkpatrick's post is much more serious than my post, but THAT'S not the reason why Marshall Kirkpatrick is now a co-editor at ReadWriteWeb while I am the super-duper Senior Editor of Empoprises.

No, the reason why Kirkpatrick has been much more successful than me is because he has been more focused on his goals. For example:

[T]he Social Software Weblog one was where I had the best opportunity for visibility in the larger tech blogging world. The pay there was miserable, it was something like $4 or $5 per post, I don’t remember. I worked that job as hard as I could, though, writing 3 to 5 posts a day. I also had another job writing as a subcontractor for an international currency speculation blog, writing 6 posts about currency speculation every weekday before 9am PST. That was nuts. So I was writing about 10 posts a day, of various lengths and about different topics, at three different places.

Forget for the moment that he was willing to take the low pay; just look at the sheer number of posts that he wrote. Now I'll confess that I'm writing this post on a Saturday afternoon, and I've written a couple of other posts on this Saturday, when I've had a little bit of time to do so. But would I be willing to wake up very early in the morning and write six posts about currency speculation? Probably not.

So I'm not as dedicated as Marshall Kirkpatrick, and despite my 1 1/2 year head start, I'm not as experienced as Kirkpatrick. But I can look at what I have done.

In the nearly seven years that I've been blogging, I've created a number of blogs, publicized a solution to a technical issue regarding the Motorola Q, made one of Robert Scoble's top lists (under my old Ontario Emperor pseudonym), wrote a blog post about Shel Israel's departure from FastCompany that became part of a huge multi-pronged conversation about said departure (links here), wrote a number of things about Oracle OpenWorld that were covered by Oracle itself, and became the leading online authority about former sportscaster Tracy Simers (list of links here).

But those aren't necessarily the things that excite me about my time blogging. I still love the Annie Jacobsen parody I wrote in July 2004, the fake David Byrne/Laurie Anderson collaboration I discussed in November 2003, my August 2006 re-evaluation of I Chronicles 20, and my December 2006 share of the "Gerald Ford was eaten by wolves" sketch.

And yes, I have addressed the whole Brian Eno-Slim Whitman thingie on occasion.

And as for Robbie Joyner, I don't know what happened to him. Maybe he became a major league catcher.
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