George is the blogger behind Fat Pitch Financials, the 5th most popular finance blog on the internet. George took a moment to answer a few questions about investing, blogging, Fat Pitch Financials, and his newest project, Value Investing News. He offers his insight into earning money from blogging, the key to good blogging, and where finance blogs are heading in the future…
VW: When did you start investing?
I have been involved in stock investing for over 16 years. I bought my first stock back in high school. However, I only really became an intelligent investor about six years ago. That is when I finally got what Warren Buffett was saying about investing. Before that I really didn’t know what I was doing.
VW: What made you decide to start blogging?
I decided to blog when I got fed up paying for the stock message board that I belonged to before I started my blog. I liked the process of writing down my investment research and then getting feedback from my online friends. However, I never really liked the unstructured nature of forums and I really did not like to pay to write. Once I discovered blogging in 2004, I realized that creating a blog would be a great way to maintain discipline and get feedback on my investment research.
VW: Interesting! How did you get the name Fat Pitch Financials?
Fat Pitch Financials’ name came from a Warren Buffett quote.
“That’s what we look for?. a fat pitch. And that’s what I would try to teach students to do.” -Warren Buffett (1998 Shareholders Meeting)
This came from his comment on Ted Williams…
“Under these circumstances, we try to exert a Ted Williams kind of discipline. In his book The Science of Hitting, Ted explains that he carved the strike zone into 77 cells, each the size of a baseball. Swinging only at balls in his “best” cell, he knew, would allow him to bat .400; reaching for balls in his “worst” spot, the low outside corner of the strike zone, would reduce him to .230. In other words, waiting for the fat pitch would mean a trip to the Hall of Fame; swinging indiscriminately would mean a ticket to the minors.” (1997 Chairman’s Letter)
I too try to wait patiently for fat pitch opportunities in the stock market. There are no strikes called in the game of investing, so I wait for perfect pitches.
VW: How has the world of finance blogs changed, and where do you see it heading in the future?
I never dreamed at how widely distributed and read financial blogs would become. Now when you look up quotes on Yahoo or Google you not only get major media articles, you also see the latest stock posts by bloggers on the quote page. There are enough financial blogs that you can find one covering just about any niche investment topic, technicals, value, activists, etc.
I think the future of financial blogs will be driven by the need to filter all the content being produced. Social bookmarking and social networking of financial blogs will shape the future of how financial blogs evolve.
VW: What blogs do you read?
I read a lot of blogs. My favorites stock blogs include ControlledGreed.com, Gannon on Investing, 10Q Detective, David Polonitza’s Blog, The Peridot Capitalist, ValueBlogReview and a few others. I also see several other blogs via ValueInvestingNews.com. I also keep up with blogging and web stuff by reading ProBlogger.net and SEO Book.com.
VW: These are some great recommendations. What do you think is the key to a successful investment blog?
I think the key to the success of an investment blog is creating unique and in depth research that is well documented. Blogs that go beyond the headlines and link lists catch my attention.
VW: Tell us about your new website, Value Investing News.
Value Investing News is a community driven value investing news site. You can submit links to news items, bid up stories to the front page, bid down stories, and make comments. Members are rewarded for the success of Value Investing News by sharing in the Adsense revenue.
I wanted to give value investors a place to get together on the web that was free of hype and was instead focused on high quality reading. Web 2.0 was starting to produce some great tools that utilize the power of groups. I wanted to adapt the concepts of Digg, Reddit, and del.icio.us to value investing. That’s my inspiration for Value Investing News.
VW: So it’s a web 2.0 site for the value investing community. Who designed the snazzy features for submitting stories and voting for favorites?
Much of Value Investing News’s features come from the wonderful Drupal CMS community. The software is great and is under constant development. I took what I felt were the best features and modules and combined them to produce Value Investing News. I installed and maintain Value Investing News all by my self. I’m an ultra low cost operation.
VW: Do you monetize Fat Pitch Financials and ValueInvestingNews, and is it enough to pay the rent?
As a value investor, I’m always looking at revenue streams. However, Value Investing News is just starting to pay the rent, especially since my rent is so low. As you might know, I provide a significant revenue share with my members by rotating their Adsense code on the stories they submit. I also actively seek sponsor’s for the monthly contests at Value Investing News. In the future, contest sponsor may become part of the revenue stream if I have more monthly prizes than I need.
VW: What’s your market prognosis for 2007?
I think 2007 will be a bumpy year for the market. The markets have been so calm that investors are getting complacent again. That will cause any big events to shock investors into panic. When panic ensues, here or abroad, I hope to be ready to take advantage of opportunities.
VW: Any final words?
I recommend that everyone look at their own competitive advantages this year. As an individual investor, I’ve discovered unique opportunities in going private transactions, tender offers, and other special situations. These opportunities keep me busy while waiting for fat pitches. I keep all my research on these unique small opportunities in my premium site, Fat Pitch Financials Contributor’s Corner.
These opportunities are what originally put Fat Pitch Financials on the map. I’ve leveraged my original Current Going Private Transaction List into a fairly successful blog, premium content community, and a social bookmarking site for value investors. Online I have take advantage of my ability to fill small niches by maintain a very low cost operation.
It looks like ValueWiki is following a similar path by leveraging wiki technology. I look forward to the success of your site.
VW: Thanks George. And thank you for sharing your time with ValueWiki!