“Bad methodology makes everyone happy,” said David Reiley, who used to head Yahoo’s economics team and is now working for streaming service Pandora. “It will make the publisher happy. It will make the person who bought the media happy. It will make the boss of the person who bought the media happy. It will make the ad agency happy. Everybody can brag that they had a very successful campaign.”
Marketers are often most successful at marketing their own marketing.
The suits saw blogs as a cheap and easy means to display ads. Every site started looking the same, to keep things cheap, and the writing had to get quicker, because ad rates kept falling.
All that to say – do it yourself.
Buy a domain name, start a site on WordPress.com, and now you’ve got a site. The site is the same as any Deadspin or Gawker or any other beloved site you used to enjoy but was destroyed by the dudes in sport coats. It’s the same in that there’s a URL that anyone on the planet can access using a browser, and there’s words on a screen for them to read.
Sure, the economics have changed, but the demand has not gone away. The trick is to make something that people are willing to support with their dollars. That means “same old same old” won’t cut it.
Niche the fuck down and find an audience that lusts for what you do. Find other creative people who crave the same thing and ask them to write for your site.
HOW WILL IT MAKE MONEY is putting the cart before the horse. Make something today, when no one is looking, when you only get 35 visits a day. Do it over and over again, for a year, or two. Build a brand, gain trust.
The reason we’re in this mess is because the entire publishing platform was built on display ads that people ignore (or blog), and inflated job titles like VP OF SECONDARY DESIGN METRICS.
Remove the garbage ads (be nice to your readers), and the dead weight, and suddenly a website doesn’t need to make $45,000/minute to keep the checks from bouncing.
Build it yourself, on an independent platform (like WordPress), and own your work.
You buy your concert tickets through a website, and just about every article you read via social media lives on a website, so yes. Yes you do.
Don’t let the lack of LIKES or COMMENTS or even traffic sway you.
“Facebook, Twitter and other companies use methods similar to the gambling industry to keep users on their sites,” said Natasha Schüll, the author of Addiction by Design, which reported how slot machines and other systems are designed to lock users into a cycle of addiction. “In the online economy, revenue is a function of continuous consumer attention – which is measured in clicks and time spent.”Social media copies gambling methods ‘to create psychological cravings’
We have been conditioned since we abandoned our blogs that ENGAGEMENT is key. That public, viewable metrics are king!
Like any good practice, it takes time to see results. If you’re running, taking photos, anything – it might take years. Even a decade.
Sure, you can get the quick jolt by writing something witty on social media and it gets 35 likes. Or, head down, write, create, craft on your own space (like this website), and five years later you have a giant body of work on display.
I had fun putting MetalBandcampgiftclub back together again. I had been tasked by one of the helpers of the thing to take over the Twitter posing over the summer, and I totally dropped the ball.
What the heck is MetalBandcampgiftclub? Well, back in 2016 some friends of mine were having a rough time, and instead of wallowing, they decided to gift some wishlist items to friends on Bandcamp. Positive motion, you know? We were all interviewed for it in Bandcamp back then about the whole thing.
And I happen to know on good authority that the whole thing generated tens of thousands of dollar in revenue.
I’m relaunching it via an email list (you can sign up here) because not everyone is on Twitter these days. And, I really didn’t want to grow this again by expanding into Facebook and Instagram. My thinking; if you have a Bandcamp wishlist, you have an email address.
Now whenever there is a birthday (or a few birthdays), I will send out an email with links to those wishlists, and a recommendation or two.
The site was built using WordPress.com. New logo images from Vecteezy. For the emails I’m trying out Revue instead of Mailchimp since I wanted to play with something new (try it for yourself using my referral link).
The joy of this blogging thing is that anyone could read it. Sure, I could post some thoughts on Twitter, and some people could read it. But there are people who don’t use Twitter. Same with Facebook. Or don’t have an Instagram account.
If it’s on the web, it’s free and open. You don’t need an account to read this.
Social media lured us with the LIKES and “engagement,” but blogs, or writing on the internet in general, has much more room to grow. Longer legs.
What’s posted on Twitter at 8:03am on a Tuesday is gone by 9:12am, and the next week? Practically gone forever.
But a blog – I’ve only restarted my own domain name just a few years ago, but it’s all here to see, for anyone and everyone, and not locked away in some social media silo.
We’ve seen sites we love sell.. shirts, sure. But I mean, there’s sooo much to be sold out there.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
- 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 (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org), or leave a comment over at and have me on your show! Get in touch!