An Interview with Jay Yarow of Business Insider on Link Bait, Blogging, and Tips for Startups

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By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)

Blogging is serious business. At least that is what many bloggers would have you believe. The truth is, everyone just needs to chill out a bit. That is why I am a huge fan of Jay Yarow of Business Insider. In fact, that is why I am a huge fan of Business Insider, in general. While the site has been recognized as a very serious publication for years, Jay doesn’t take himself too seriously.

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If you follow him on Twitter (if you don’t, then do!), you are surely accustomed to his sarcasm and wit when it comes to the world of technology. While Jay always has deep and spot-on insights on the space, he always gives them with a smile on this face. At least, that is what it looks like from across the world.

I have been following and reading Jay’s work for years and am excited that he agreed to this interview. Enjoy his insights.

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1: Who is Jay Yarow? Give me some context, personal and professional.

Pro blogger at Business Insider. I’ve been with Business Insider since 2007 when I was an intern working with just Henry Blodget, Dan Frommer, Peter Kafka, and Michael Learmonth. Those four guys are all unbelievably great.  Today, the site is stacked with all sorts of different, talented people. There’s too many to name here, but Joe Weisenthal and Nicholas Carlson are the two people I’m closest with and find to be the most inspirational. At the time the site was called Silicon Alley Insider, and it was just focused on tech. It was, and still is, my favorite news site in the world, which is why I joined and remain today.

On a personal basis, I was a skateboarder growing up. I mention this because skateboarding forces you to be creative. You have to look at the world in a different way. Where most people see a bench, or stairs, a skateboarder sees something to use for tricks. I think that creative thinking shaped my world view for a long time.

Nowadays, I’m a golfer, which is kinda boring.

2: Ok let’s just get this outta the way. You know I read and enjoy SAI but many claim that the titles and slide shows are link bait and cheap traffic increasing tricks. Can you address that claim and how you view the strategy of Business Insider?

The strategy of Business Insider is to create an invaluable, intelligent, fun business news site.

Part of the reason we started Business Insider is to bring fun to business journalism. The headlines are a part of that.

Traffic tricks are pointless. They just piss people off. The point is to make people stoked they clicked.

As for link bait, I think people have a weird definition of the phrase. I think link bait is good. I think click bait is bad.

Here’s the difference: Link bait means your wrote something so compelling that someone else feels they either have to respond or they have to link and point other people to what you’ve done. That’s the goal of a writer — compelling ideas that are shared. Click bait just means your wrote a provocative headline that people click on. This can be a let down if the underlying story is not good.

3: The ongoing struggle between traditional journalism and blogging. How will it all play out?

Personally, I find this to be a boring question. (No offense!) It’s playing out, if it hasn’t already played out. There is a balance between the two. There’s a little bit of reporting, a little analysis, a little aggregation, and a little linking to others.

4: Let’s talk mobile. Is it a done deal or does Windows, BlackBerry, and others like Mozilla still stand a chance?

It’s a done deal. iOS and Android have taken over the world. Microsoft has incredible resources and a resilient CEO, so I wouldn’t count it out. It has a chance at getting some share points. It’s a matter of how Google defends its lower end of the market. BlackBerry has some fans, but it’s hard to envision it staging a big comeback.

5: Five tips for Startups to best reach out to Business Insider?

1. Do something so awesome that we reach out to you before you can reach out to us.

2. Make your pitch email insanely short. We get a lot of email.

3. Try to get an intro via someone that knows us previously. A cold email, even if it’s clever is still awkward.

4. Get lucky! I have no clue what can work, but sometimes the right time of day, or the right wording can click. I have no idea what it is, so I’m going to have to call it luck. So, I guess buy some four leaf clovers, or other such lucky objects?

5. I greatly admire and respect anyone with the stones to do a startup. It’s hard. I also admire people that email us, even it is annoying. I know, because part of my job is cold calling and emailing people hoping for a response. So, while I probably won’t answer your email, and would rather you didn’t email me at all, I understand why you’re doing it, and I respect it. Don’t take it personally if I don’t write back.

Thanks Jay, appreciate the time you took to answer these questions. Keep up the great work.


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hilzfuld

Hillel is Co Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at ZCast, a company taking on the pain of modern audio broadcasting. Hillel also blogs for many influential sites including TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others. Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more. Hillel has been named Israel's top marketer, has been featured on CNBC, Forbes, and many others and was recently added by Google to its marketing experts program. You can find and talk to Hillel on Twitter. He is @Hilzfuld.