Observer’s Jason Camps made a plea for publishers to focus on creating content that people love rather than on the cheapest solution. Camps’s scathing critique of the publishing business was laced with humor, suggesting not to treat readers like a rat in a skinner box. It’s ridiculously spot on.
As funny as it is, Camps’s subject really is serious business. No matter what kind of business we run online, we are in the publishing business. Our job is to produce great, sensible content. And he’s right, publishing pieces just to have more content is for… uhmm… (just fill in the rest of this statement after reading the article below). We all know it won’t get anyone’s attention.
Here’s the op-ed extract. The article sounds harsh, but since we figured it’s worthy of a share, we just replaced some of the author’s words to fit our blog. Anyhow, what Camps is saying is absolutely true. Mediocre content is a waste of publisher’s talent and reader’s attention. Sloppy. Unpalatable. A lousy waste of time.
“To cook delicious food is not good enough. It’s good enough if you’re eating at home, but we’re trying to create nostalgia, emotional triggers, etc. Anyone can make a delicious potato truffle soup. What people can’t do is honor the execution of doing something elevated.” – Grant Achatz
If you’re an independent content creator, you need to.. Embrace excellence.
Stop pumping out the writing equivalent of flavorful food just to have more content. It won’t get you noticed.
Because we have a real (bad) posting problem in business / entrepreneurship / startup focused writing.
Even “respectable” websites like Entrepreneur.com contribute. Of the top 10 stories on Entrepreneur as I write this, only two cover useful business issues (one article about Alibaba founder Jack Ma, another about Jay-Z’s issues with Tidal).
The rest are bad posts.
These contain nothing of value. They’re just more content. You’ll click because you think an article might help you become “freakishly productive”, but (SPOILER ALERT!) it won’t.
Anybody can create a (bad) post — just take a few minutes to google the topic of choice and reword things. It’s uninspiring. Just like food that merely focuses on flavor.
“But people like this stuff!” Yes. They do. And entire businesses are built around (bad) posting.
But those sites are only viable because they produce A LOT of content. Throwing (bad) posts at the wall to see what sticks. Some pump out hundreds a day.
Why do they do that? Because some (bad) posts touch on your interests. Others don’t. But people know there’s another potential hit of dopamine just around the corner. So they keep clicking along in their digital skinner box.
Don’t treat your readers this way.
You, writer who wants to get noticed, cannot match this effort. Let’s be generous and say you can crank out 3 (bad) posts a day.
That’ll get you 3 clicks from a content junkie. Then they’re off somewhere else for another fix. Probably forgetting about you five minutes later.
Think about how you actually use the internet. I bet you generally approach things in one of two modes: Browse or Engage.
You’ll browse places like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Cracked, Buzzfeed, fucking ENTPREPRENEUR.COM, etc. Just mindlessly clicking around.
You engage with captivating sites or writers. You find these people while browsing. But they have a voice. A unique outlook. Something to say.
These things shock you out of browsing mode. They turn your brain back on. They’re like the nostalgia and emotional triggers Grant Achatz tries to hit with his food.
Take the same approach to your own writing. Dive deep. Create content that’s meaningful to you. Offer real value. Challenge yourself. Do something elevated.
Stop (bad) posting. It’s for (slackers).
We’re entering a time in the digital publishing industry that being good is a requirement, and too many people are just putting out “good enough”, mediocre content. It’s easy to forget that creating value generously for readers is the imperative of any content publisher.
Good to come across articles that remind us that excellence isn’t optional. Yes, no matter how sneering.
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