I contribute regularly to a number of different sites.
Many of them are paid gigs (that’s how mama brings home her bacon). But some of them, like Brazen and Lifehack, I do free of charge becausethey bring something every bit as valuable as $$, if not more so—traffic. [Note: I do get paid for my duties as Assistant Editor for Brazen, but my bi-monthly posts are written with no compensation.]
I’ll admit I haven’t been as good lately as I wanted to be when it comes to my Lifehack posts. I initially aimed to do them twice a month, like I do for Brazen, but as the weeks have gone by, I’ve found myself adjourning that to-do until next week’s list, then the week after, then the week after.
This is not like me. Whatever other things I let slide in my life (and there are lots) to keep the Big Things on track, my regular posting schedule is not one of these, because that is one of the Big Things. Which is why it really bugged me that I was slacking off so badly with Lifehack. Until this week, when I realized why.
Secretly, in the back of my mind, I’ve been doubting more and more lately how much ROI Lifehack was really worth. And finally, after much internal debate, I’ve decided it’s not enough.
Here are a million posts we have so much good content read it all there’s more coming tomorrow can you believe how valuable we are AAAAAH!
[Also note: Stepcase Lifehack, which this post refers to, is not to be confused with the larger and better-known Lifehacker.]
It used to be that Lifehack posted maybe 2-3 posts per day—a digestible number for a reader to get through. (I belong to the email lists of every blog I write for, to keep an eye on my competition see what my colleagues are up to and what topics the blogs prefer to explore.)
Some of the posts Lifehack published were a little fluffy frou-frou, offering not much more than a few generic paragraphs about owning your life and following your dreams and other ganked-from-Oprah non-advice that doesn’t really constitute a solid, terribly original or terribly useful post. But there were also plenty of genuinely decent posts on productivity, lifestyle design, and other subjects—and their audience was large enough—that when I was accepted as a contributor, I assumed it was a worthwhile venture to try. Plus I got one Lifehack post picked up by Lifehacker, which was reinforcement to me at the time that it was a blog worth sticking with because it could get me some exposure (that’s what she said).
Then, things started changing.
Lifehack started pushing out more and more posts per day, until now they’re up to around 6-7 posts on each daily email they send to subscribers. If most readers are like me, with dozens of blogs they follow, it’s a little overwhelming to see 6-7 posts on one single blog’s email. Even if those posts are killer, chock-full-o’-goodness pieces, after a while, the topics start to blend together.
Another post on how to fulfill my goals? it makes a reader think. Didn’t I just see, like, 2 posts on that same topic yesterday?
In addition to the overwhelm, the more posts the site tried to push out on a daily basis, the weaker the content started to get. Some posts weren’t even posts, just quotes from famous people. (Which, Blog Advisor Cordelia points out, should be a tweet or an FB update, not an entire “post.”)
I felt like I’d be wasting my time trying to come up with a fresh-spin topic to write on (especially since I could barely remember which topics had been covered that week, let alone in the recent few months) and then writing the hell out of it when the majority of the posts I was seeing now were not killer, chock-full-o’-goodness pieces. They were more and more often a few generic paragraphs about owning your life and following your dreams and other ganked-from-Oprah non-advice, written in a personality-less style that had me reading less and less posts out of each new email I received from the blog.
I finally had to unsubscribe, fed up with being inundated with fluff pieces as though a huge landslide of posts each day meant the site was providing massive amounts of fresh, unique value.
It wasn’t. It was just providing massive amounts of fluff.
That’s when I realized I had to jump ship.
I am a blog snob. You should be, too.
I take the blogs I choose to write for very seriously. My time is limited now, so I can only afford to write for sites that give me a good return on my investment, be it monetary or traffic-wise.
And I don’t believe the way Lifehack is running things provides much unique value to its readers, or much ROI to its contributors.
So not only do I have to ditch it for the sake of my own bottom line, but I’d like to point out to anyone currently following blogs or running a blog of their own:
Readers’ time is valuable. They couldn’t care less if they only see you post once a week, if that once-a-week post is full of value, ridiculously interesting, and written in a way no other blogger writes in. Readers have a zillion-and-one options of blogs to follow, and you’re not going to be able to compete if all you have going for you is sheer, overwhelming volume. Readers deserve better. And although not all of them will, many readers will eventually come to realize that.
Your writers’ efforts are also valuable. If you’re running a site with multiple contribs, you owe it to them to keep the writer pool extremely selective. Your site is only as good as the material it publishes, and every fluff piece you accept only devalues the worth of the writers who are putting real creativity and thought into their pieces. Less quality content equals less perception of value, equals less eyes on posts, equals less reason for the good writers to want to stick around. Equals even less perception of value.
Yes, I am a blog snob. And if you care about blogging as a means of providing value to people, you should be, too.
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