Attention grabbing headlines, link bait, squeeze pages, list building, social media and blahging.
These are the chew toys that have made me sad and tired and cynical.
It got me thinking. See, I read plenty of blogs about making and promoting websites. I bring the best stuff to my clients — and write about the subject — so it’s my job to be on top of what’s going on.
It can get depressing.
The atmosphere reminds me of the one leading up to the dot-com bust. The web seems like easy money, so entrepreneurial-minded people are trying to cash in their get-rich-quick cards.
For blogs in particular, everything is about driving traffic and readership, being perceived as a niche expert, and upselling leads on a product or service. Eyeball theory all over again. Bubble 2.0.
I’ve always been skeptical. My first post here was about how much harder it is to figure out “which to” than “how to” given the abundance of talking heads. I cautioned against The Bandwagon.
Too many people see newfangled tech as some kind of philosopher’s stone that turns everything it touches into gold. News flash: you’re not Midas, and making websites is not chrysopoeia. It would be an apt analogy to compare this misperception to a cause of the 2008 financial crisis:
There is an orgy of optimism surrounding sophisticated tools that allow for the wide distribution of shitty assets masquerading as something worthwhile.
In other words, it has become progressively harder to differentiate between what is worth caring about and what isn’t.
As my readership grew beyond friends and family — and I started checking my traffic stats daily — I started to slip into that irrational exuberance. The articles here didn’t always reflect my toeing of the dark side, but my marketing strategy did. I wanted more traffic, so I networked on Twitter, commented on widely read blogs, and built a readership in Stumbleupon.
None of it was satisfying and it sucked up a lot of time I could have spent on stuff that mattered. But the worst part is that it worked.
These tactics bring you traffic and money. But making a little bit of money has never been hard (just get a job).
Traffic is a drug. You start talking and someone listens, so you get louder and more people listen. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to write a blog about the Top 10 ways Ducks Quack just because someone will read it.
When Technorati came out with their 2008 State of the Blogosphere, there was some controversy surrounding their claim that blogs with over 100,000 unique visitors per month were pulling in $75K+ in revenue. Fred Wilson, another guy I respect, revealed his blog with 150,000 unique visitors per month was pulling in only $30K (for charity).
Few are willing to admit that not all traffic is created equal.
The beauty of a blog is that it changes over time. I had a strategy when I started writing here, but not a real mission. That led to an execution that measured success in the wrong way. But now I think I’ve got it.
I’m passionate about using the internet to redefine our world. That’s why I’m here.
This is a blog about creating websites worth caring about — websites that matter to people. Not coincidentally, these are the websites that make money.
This all translates to a few tangible changes that will take place here over the next few months. I’ll bring up the changes as they occur. The agenda is not entirely clear, which is the point. Let’s see where this goes. Thanks Merlin.