Interview With Michael Pick of WordPress.tv Fame
Taking over a website never is an easy job to do and following up rock stars like Thord and Jeff makes things even harder, but never shy of a new challenge I am glad to present you with a my first interview for BloggerTalks and I am glad to announce a double header interview with Michael D. Pick of WordPress.tv fame.
I had the occasion to work together with Michael on Tubetorial and since then a friendship has grown. In today’s first part of our exclusive BloggerTalks double header I interview Michael and tomorrow Michael has the exclusive of interviewing me for the first time ever after more than 10 years of online presence.
Michael, thanks for participating to BloggerTalks. Since we worked together at Tubetorial.com much has happened for you. Almost over night you became the latest blog rockstar. Not once but twice. How did things happen?
Blogrockstar? I don’t get out enough to rock at much, but thanks all the same.
In terms of the stuff I’ve been doing the last couple of years.. I started out putting together “online magazine” type content, before the whole “magazine” theme thing became standard. But for geeky, open source kind of stuff – I was into p2p, open source art, culture jamming, that kind of thing. I got chatting to Italian alphablogger Robin Good and he showed me the ropes, and in the space of a couple of months I was full-time blogging for him. That was pretty cool, and I got to live in a few different places without the hassle of being tied to anywhere – Tokyo, Berlin, Malta(!) and the UK.
At that time I got into doing screencasting, starting out with reviews for Robin, and then branching into doing a few private jobs for start ups that had seen my stuff. At the time there weren’t that many people doing it, which helped I suppose. Then I decided to see where that would go if I did it full-time. In the early days of going solo you and I hooked up and did the Tubetorial stuff together, which was cool, and I carried on doing promos and demos for start-ups.
I started building up clients and gradually expanding my range to add a bit of motion graphic flavor to things, and then got into the whole dataportability thing, which led to me putting a promo together for that. That got picked up by an insane amount of (tech) blogs, and I suddenly found myself with more work than I knew what to do with.
Fast forward to about 9 months (and not a lot of sleep) later and Raanan, the VP at Automattic, got in touch about us working on some WordPress screencasts for the NYT. That evolved, and I was invited to join the Automattic crew as the project came to a close. Since then, back in August last year, I’ve been working on promos, tutorials and dreaming up WordPress.tv full-time, which kind of rocks.
You seem to be an exception in the WordPress.com blogging stable since you’re not the most active blogger at all. But before screencasts and animation you were an active and well read blogger when you wrote for Robin, how did focus switch?
Short answer: I’m crap at multitasking.
I’ve always been divided between words and pictures – back in the day my first degree was in film and literature. These days I spend all day working on videos about blogging, and at the end of that I don’t have much left in me to verbalize. So I’ve found that the other side of my brain has started getting more attention. I do blog, but I blog videos, and pictures – at smashcut.tv, and joltplusplus.tv respectively (and in the strictest sense of the word, WordPress.tv is a blog, totally built on WordPress, so I’ve been building blog content for months). I also do the WordPress.tv blog, and my wordpress-based “professional” blog.
But my feedreader these days is a stream of images and short posts about images. Or moving images. And I spend my free time wrangling with After Effects, Cinema 4D, Modo, photoshop etc. The cycle will doubtless happen a lot of times again in the future.
You recently moved to Sapporo and the town seems to fit your creative trails. On a personal level do you think Michael will become ‘blogger’ again or are blogs the perfect platform for your creativity?
It’s been about year and a half now, and I really like being here. Sapporo is a smaller city than Tokyo, but still about 2 or 3 million people. I miss some of the bustle of Tokyo, until I go there for a week, when I’m happy to come back. Honestly, I find it suits me creatively – when it snows for half the year you spend a lot more time in your own head than in the pub. Wouldn’t suit everyone, but I like it. Guess that’s why you see so much dreamy, leftfield art and music coming from Iceland and Scandinavia?
In terms of me and blogging – I can see myself using blogs more in the future, but most likely in a visual way. That might change, but these days I’m not interested in search engine traffic (no longer a freelancer), and my day-to-day life isn’t nearly interesting enough to type up, so the appeal is limited beyond the professional side of things. Maybe a webcomic blog. Or something handwritten and scanned. But most likely animated and utterly self indulgent.
Not that long ago Paul Boutin had a snarky article at Wired about the future of (personal) blogging. As someone who has written on some sites with very respectable traffic, do you think the one-(wo)man blog has a future?
I totally think that depends on what you’re setting out to do.
If it’s to make money, I think blogs can be an awesome way of building up reputation that can be monetized indirectly (speaking gigs, books, merch, job opportunities, courses, blah), and I also think that with the right, laser-focused niche there’s still ground to be covered. The days of whipping up a TechCrunch empire are probably passed, but blogs are being used more and more by huge companies and media concerns.
Anyone setting out to make a killing from adsense by selling “how to get rich on the internet” B$, writing a blog about Twitter, blogging, social media, tech or any of those heinous clichés had better wake up and smell the coffee if they aren’t bringing something *very* new to the equation. Those niches have been owned already.
Be a specialist in something, an obsessive, otaku, fixation level specialist. The world is full of generalists trying to sell magic beans or regurgitate the same echo chamber garbage. In short – if there’s plenty of information out there on how to get started at what you’re planning to do, you’re probably too late. The lazy way is to try and emulate – it feels low risk, but chase the stuff going on at the edges and I think the chances of making it big are much higher. The world needs more blogs about where to buy toenail clippings, obscure Japanese sound systems, and authentic victorian erotica. Not TechCrunch II.
And if money isn’t your primary goal – then, hell yes, the blog lives on and there a zillion things you can do to make an impact in the world through it.
Blogging and video content. Two totally different audiences. I must admit never to bother with video or podcasts as you know, which medium do you think will come out on top?
Neither. I mean the TV news and newspapers were always two different things – we’re talking two different media, with different consumption patterns. Text is scannable, concise and much more portable. Video is engaging and direct, but much more linear, far harder to produce well, harder to search for. The medium is a package – quality of content and understanding your audience are more important than either.
I get tired of seeing average bloggers jumping on video and becoming… sub-average video bloggers. I mean, making video you can’t hear, can barely see, and in need of an hour less of content. Don’t do video because it’s trending. Shit video is shit video, just as shit blogging is shit blogging. And people are far less willing to sit through bad video than they are to skim a semi-literate blog post. In both cases, there are resources out there – free ones – that make a whole lot of difference – but lazy video makers stick out even further than lazy bloggers.
Last but not least, Michael now you’re a blogrockstar, do you get laid more often?
I’m married, I leave the house once a month, and I shave less often than that. Does that answer your question?
It somehow does *grin*.
Thank you for your time, Michael and BloggerTalks wishes you even more success for the future than you already enjoyed in the last 18 months. It was awesome to see you evolve from beginning screencaster to where you are now. Well done and I look forward to answer your questions in the second part of our double header.
Cool – edit down if need be, being concise was never my strong point