Websites Should Sell Stuff

We’ve seen sites we love sell.. shirts, sure. But I mean, there’s sooo much to be sold out there.

Apparently New York Magazine opened a shop, which seems odd, right? A music site could sell music (like Bandcamp’s store in Oakland, CA), but what’s a magazine sell?

In the beginning of 2018 I envisioned opening a shop for Skull Toaster based around classic metal magazines, like a museum of sorts, which then of course would have merch to buy to keep the lights on.

And heck, existing store can do it backwards! They already have the store, now start a site! I think of the countless record shops and music equipment stores and metal-themed restaurants that could use their brand to pull in artist and bands and designers, interview them, then put all those assets on the website for people to see for years to come (rather than disappear in the river of social media posts that are gone in 3.2 minutes).

Do websites still matter? That’s pretty much where you buy tickets, and do your banking, and emailing.. yeah, websites still matter. Make sure you got one in 2019!

Assemble a Team

It only took me a few decades, but I feel like I have a team finally. Someone I riff idea with via text a few times a week. Someone I chat on the phone week a few times a week. Another that I swap emails with.

When I was doing Skull Toaster, I used to have a roster of writer friends helping me with the nightly newsletter. After awhile I started doing all the writing again, though I’m not sure why. One thing that I lost from that? The idea of team! There were no more emails that meandered into other subjects about home life, or day jobs, or puppies. Poof. Gone. And I know Skull Toaster suffered because of it.

See, that’s the thing about putting yourself out there; other people will see it. Which then leads to emails and conversations on Twitter. Then maybe you start working with those people who like your stuff. Or you join forces and start something else.

The Engagement of Archillect

Most any media outlet, marketer, band, whatever would love if a Tweet hit 109 RTs, and 446 likes. And those numbers are low for that account, but probably because it’s so recent.

Apparently Archillect is some AI driven image “curator” and poster, so it seems there’s very little human involvement. I’d include a quote from the site but they’ve disabled the ability to right-click / copy text on their site which is… ironic.

All that aside, it’s amazing that an aesthetic, a “vibe” can get so much traction, yet actual humans writing, uploading videos, and talking don’t resonate as well.

Ditching Medium

Something always felt off about Medium. I’ve tried a few times to write there, but it never stuck for me. One of my favorite sites, Signal Vs. Noise, moved there a few years ago, and it just never felt the same. I know they had great success there, but I saw today they’re leaving.

Beyond that, though, we’ve grown ever more aware of the problems with centralizing the internet. Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.

Signal v Noise exits Medium

Later.

INTERVIEW: Dumb and Dumbest Podcast

Listen to me talk with Matt Bacon and Curtis Dewar on their ‘Dumb And Dumbest‘ podcast, on the subjects of social media, marketing, internet metrics and more. Click below, or listen over at Ghost Cult Mag.

Some highlights:

  • My continued distrust of Facebook
  • How I stared Buzzgrinder and Noise Creep
  • Building Skull Toaster from the ground up
  • How to build engagement on Twitter
  • Helpful books I’ve read

Let me know your thoughts (hi@sethw.com or seth@closemondays.com), or leave a comment over at and have me on your show! Get in touch!

Not Fake

You know what’s not fake?

Coffee shops, record stores, and diners filled with wonderful people who know your name – that’s real.

Shows filled with people who paid for a ticket when they had a zillion other entertainment options at home on their couch – that’s real.

Long emails with old friends, message threads with friends far away, phone calls with best friends – those are real.

So much of our work is built on a foundation of for-real relationships, connections, and places. They’re hard to measure or quantify, but that doesn’t make them any less real.

Meanwhile, the promise of the internet and log files and Google Analytics promised us cold, hard metrics that would gauge and improve upon.

And here we are, years later, questioning if anything on the internet is real or not. Do we give up, throw away our Twitter handles, and cancel our internet service?

No.

But maybe we count metrics that matter, like actual customers, instead of “eyeballs.”
Revenue, instead of (possibly fake) likes.
Profit, instead of (possible fake) comments.

Not Knowing is Okay

Maybe we all need to leave social media and start blogging again. Then we just need to follow everyone’s blogs in an RSS feeder, and then that will fix everything.

Just replace all these apps and social media outlets with an RSS feeder loaded with 100s (or 1000s) of sites that will display a notification of all the un-read blog posts we need to get through.

If the goal is to keep investing time in knowing what everyone else is doing, then I guess that’s a solution. But maybe we can save those 7+ hours and get back to reading, making music, taking photographs, or going on walks.

Getting Lost Along the Way

This from ‘Quitting Instagram: She’s one of the millions disillusioned with social media. But she also helped create it‘ at The Washington Post:

“There was so much pressure to do things that ‘scaled,’ to use the Silicon Valley buzzword,” said Josh Riedel, the third (Instagram) employee after Systrom and Krieger. “But when you have over a billion users, something gets lost along the way.”

My first job was at a tiny grocery store in a busy vacation town. Everyone knew one another. Lots of hand written notes in the employee areas. The express check out aisle was built out of wood.

Then we moved to a bigger store. Suddenly there were people we didn’t know. The charm and grit of those small aisles was replaced by a vastness of overhead lights and neon signs.

Now years later that quaint express lane has been replaced by self-checkout lines.

Lots got lost from that progress, from the growth, from the expansion. I mean, easy to just think nostalgia, right? But same goes for this website stuff.

You’re not “succesful” unless you have a ja-gillion users, or followers, or listeners. The allure of “big enough” is rarely praised.

First Ten is Still Relevant almost Ten Years Later

I love this bit from Seth Godin, riffing on his 2009 post, ‘First, ten.’ There is no sense trying to win 1,000 fans if you can’t see the 10 right in front of you.

“Do your first 10 see your thing and thank you and move on,” asks Seth, “or do they go tell more people?”

If they don’t tell anyone, you need to work on that. Back the drawing board. No amount of tactics or tricks is gonna make it spread, you need to bake that into what you’re selling.