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Icarus
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I came across this old thread of blogs (http://www.cornerofberkshireandfairfax.ca/forum/general-discussion/post-your-blogs-thread/) and noticed that a lot of the blogs are inactive now.

 

Why do you guys think this is the case?  Are there fewer value investments out there so less to write about?  Are the economics of blogging not worth it for the authors?  Do they just get burned out from writing all the time?

 

I'd love to get your perspectives on this and if you guys know any new blogs out there that are good.

 

   

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I do think there are far fewer opportunities in the market today than a couple of years ago, so yes, there is less to write about.

 

Other reasons that could cause bloggers to stop:

 

- Some very successful bloggers get hired by investment firms or start something of their own. That usually stops them from posting or dramatically reduces posts. Clients are obviously number 1 for them from then on and good opportunities are scarce. Also, a goal of the blogger might have been to build a public track record to obtain a position at an investment firm. Once that goal is achieved there is no more need to maintain a blog.

 

- You're not going to make much money from running advertising (like Google Adsense) on a value investment blog. Visitors are going to see ads for forex trading and other speculative trash like that. To monetize a successful blog you either have to put up a paywall, start an investment newsletter or switch over to SeekingAlpha which offers a premium subscription model for authors.

 

- It's hard to get many visitors to a blog that presents obscure investment ideas. That means it's hard to get any feedback on your ideas initially. Only when people find out you're actually offering valuable ideas do they start to comment and e-mail more frequently. To reach that point can take a lot of time and effort though and most people will give up well before that.

 

If you get little feedback from visitors, are not making any money and have no intention to start a career in money management, what reason is there to blog?

 

Some of the above has been true for me. Additionally I noticed some authors on SeekingAlpha taking ideas from certain websites and blogs and presenting them on their premium offerings. Reproduced in their own words of course, so they are not violating copyrights or anything. I'm not going to present investment ideas so some guy on SA can put "his idea" behind a paywall and charge his subscribers for it. I decided that I'm either going to put up a paywall myself or put my time into something else. Burdensome EU regulations concerning VAT rules has so far stopped me from launching and continuing to publish new ideas on my blog. I'm still figuring out what to do.

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I write the Oddball Stocks blog (http://www.oddballstocks.com).  The short answer is there are no economics of blogging, you are putting your writing and thoughts out on the Internet for free.

 

The advertising route isn't worth the effort.  You need 50k hits per month before advertising networks will work with you.  These guys pay $300-500/mo.  Below 50k hits you're looking at adsense, which might be $200/mo or so.  Maybe if you write clickbaity headlines people will click on the money making robot ads.

 

There are many ways to skin a cat.  I can't speak for why others have quit.  As NeverLoseMoney pointed out for a lot (I'd venture more than 50%) a blog was a way to get a job.  I still think this is the best route to a job in investments.  You will create visibility and build a brand for yourself.  This is invaluable.  If you're looking for a job then a value blog is one of the best routes.  I've had numerous job offers and offers to manage money as a result of my writing.  It was eye-opening that if I wanted to get into investment management I could either go to school, interview, work my way up a ladder.  Or.. write for a few years and skip those steps straight to managing money.

 

If you don't enjoy writing then don't start a blog.  A lot of people think they'd enjoy blogging, but they aren't writers.  I've always enjoyed writing.  I was the kid in college who when assigned a 15 page paper due Friday thought "that's an easy assignment."  Anything writing related has always come easy to me.  This isn't true for everyone, I know some people struggle to put their thoughts in words.  If that's true maybe a podcast is better, or some other media.  I can't do videos, I have no idea how, and the process of creating them isn't fascinating.  But there are investors who do really well with self-videos, it's different for each person.

 

The natural place to start writing is with ideas.  This is really the only thing you can write about for a while.  There are problems with ideas.  The first is only a small percentage of your readers will ever act.  Most will read and either bash the idea or disregard it.  You have to be writing a LOT to keep people interested.  If you're always writing about ideas that percentage of readers that don't like those ideas will drop off and maybe never come back.  There's also the risk someone takes the idea and "sells" it on SeekingAlpha.  This might feel like betrayal, but I have no issues with it.  No ideas are truly unique, there are always other investors in every company.  I used to think I was the first to find some weird European or small companies until I wrote about them and invariably that day I'd get an email from someone saying "this is my biggest holding I've held it a decade.."

 

I took a different tract with my blog.  I created a premium newsletter where the actual ideas are shared, and on the public blog I write more about general investment concepts.  This might seem like a strange approach, but I think it's the best approach.  Here's what I've learned.  The investing public at large doesn't want individual ideas.  Some percentage of people do, and those are the ones you want to cater to.  In my situation I have a newsletter where I freely share these little gems with a smaller and more focused group.  The larger public wants information that is thoughtful and considerate, but that they don't need to act on.  In other words most blog readers just want to be entertained.  If you can entertain with words you will find success.

 

When I switched from each post being an actionable idea to being more evergreen "how to think" my traffic skyrocketed with less posts.  This is desirable because I don't have the bandwidth to write as frequently as I used to.

 

Another consideration is it's really hard to continually find things to write about week after week month after month.

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Thanks for the detailed replies and insights into the blogging business.

 

It makes sense that a lot of writers use it to find a job in the industry and quit afterwards with the low ad revenue.  I guess the blogs are more like a marketing channel than a business.

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To add a little bit to the discussion: I think that writing down your investment ideas with the idea that other people will read and criticize it is a very good way to check your investment thesis. If you can't write a good thesis down, it's probably not a good idea. And if you try to anticipate the questions other people might have you are sort of forced to make sure that you are not forgetting anything. Starting a blog is also a great way to build a bit of a network, so you have more opportunities to learn about attractive ideas that you wouldn't have found on your own.

 

But guess I'm one of the exceptions, blogging for almost five years now. You indeed see most blogs pop-up and disappear quickly.

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

I'd like to chime in with my reasons for writing a blog:

 

1. writing it down more formalizes my thinking which helps me make better decisions

2. helps my writing skills which sucked

3. creates a written history of my analysis for later review

4. gives back knowledge to the internet community that has help me so much, I think of how I can know so much because of free information provided by others; be it computer information, home improvement, or free software

 

for me I know I can never make money from it so I never tried.....

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I'd like to chime in with my reasons for writing a blog:

 

1. writing it down more formalizes my thinking which helps me make better decisions

2. helps my writing skills which sucked

3. creates a written history of my analysis for later review

4. gives back knowledge to the internet community that has help me so much, I think of how I can know so much because of free information provided by others; be it computer information, home improvement, or free software

 

for me I know I can never make money from it so I never tried.....

 

But you have made money from it (see items 1 & 3 with 4 & the whole pay it forward, karmic thingy as a kicker...)

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Hielko's blog is very good. I am upset I did not see it before.

Thanks, nice to hear :)

 

And yes, that's also how I "make money" from the blog. Getting new idea's from readers, receiving feedback, and growing as an investor is all quite valuable. Worth a lot more than the few $ you can make with referrals or ad-sense or stuff like that.

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I'd like to chime in with my reasons for writing a blog:

 

1. writing it down more formalizes my thinking which helps me make better decisions

2. helps my writing skills which sucked

3. creates a written history of my analysis for later review

4. gives back knowledge to the internet community that has help me so much, I think of how I can know so much because of free information provided by others; be it computer information, home improvement, or free software

 

for me I know I can never make money from it so I never tried.....

 

But you have made money from it (see items 1 & 3 with 4 & the whole pay it forward, karmic thingy as a kicker...)

 

yes :)

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I really enjoy blogging and would love to post more, I just don't find great ideas very often. This entire year I've only made four "core" investments (plus a few small short-term plays) so there's not a ton to write about. I suspect that's the case with a lot of bloggers. The market is up a lot the past several years so the opportunities are thinning out.

 

It is extremely valuable though. My investor network is multiples of what it was before I started my blog. I probably need to listen to Nate and post more general investing stuff as opposed to trying to focus on specific ideas.

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