For several months at least, I’ve been mildly preoccupied by the nagging feeling that everything we know about the Internet is wrong.
- SEO isn’t the most important (or among the most important) element(s) of writing a “successful” article?
- page views are not actually an accurate measure of one’s reach as a writer?
- comments are neither a qualitative nor a quantitative reflection on the writer’s soundness of thought or skillfulness of craft?
- link bait is nothing more than that: bait?
- Adsense, banner ads, pop-up ads, and almost all other types of monetization of blogs and websites are really limited in their efficacy (not to mention their creativity)?
- the experience of “consuming” “content” online didn’t have to be primarily passive?
- even if you knew all the preceding points were true, you refused to write generic vanilla prose on a site that looked like any other site, with banner ads and an “About” page and a blog roll that’s not a curated list but a back-scratch exchange?
I spend an inordinate amount of time online because my work on the Internet represents an inordinate amount of my income. I look at hundreds of blogs and websites each week and I can’t think of a single one I’ve seen lately that has blown my mind (or even, truthfully, really piqued my interest).
I don’t say this as a criticism of individuals. My own blogs are pathetic, suffering from neglect and inaction because of this nagging question. I know, for example, that I don’t want to monetize any of my blogs using these strategies. I don’t like visual or intellectual clutter, like columns with covers of books I’m reading, that will lead you, should you click through, to Amazon. And I don’t want to write like an automaton, even if it means low page views.
I can’t help but feel that we’re all missing something. Something big.
In our imitative gestures, so certain about the formula for “what works” online, we’re stifling our own creativity and preventing ourselves from experimenting with possibilities about alternate models for the presentation, delivery, enjoyment, and, yes, monetization, of content online.
I feel like answers are floating around me, still just beyond my reach. Here, though, are some things I’ve been reading that, in one way or another, are helping me gather my own thoughts. I can’t really explain all of these– there’s not necessarily a direct connection to the question I’m posing– but they’re all, in one way or another, helping me discern new possibilities.
- Ari Herzog’s recent reaction to an Everett Bogue post in which Bogue allegedly claimed he was turning off comments on his blog because, well, the comments sections of blogs tend to attract the lowest common denominators (and on this point, at least, I tend to agree, though not universally, and not necessarily to the point that I think comment sections need to be deleted). Admittedly, I didn’t read Bogue’s original post… because it’s no longer available online.
- I have, however, checked out Bogue’s new site, where he plays around with some interesting ideas about the Internet and writing and self/other promotion online.
- Various stories about book authors on do-it-yourself tours, mostly those I’ve read in Poets & Writers over the past year. Though I don’t want to compare print and online (because I think the comparison is forced and takes us right back to a non-creative way of thinking), there are some interesting parallels.
- A Chris Guillebeau article about monetization that I can’t find right now.
- This article from Food and Wine, which is three parts fabulous and one part “Hmm. How does this work, money-wise?”
How about you? Do you think we’re going about the Internet all wrong… or at least not too creatively? Do you have crazy ideas for new possibilities? Ramble on in the comments (because you’re not the lowest common denominators).