Tom Webster, writing and speaking


Added on by Tom Webster.

This is not an original thought, but it is a thought I've been having lately: "content" is killing authorship. Have you ever published something on Medium? I have. I did it because I had a piece that I thought warranted a larger audience. Maybe that was arrogant.

Here it is:

The URL is impenetrable. You can't find this on Google unless you have the patience of Job. The "byline" is minuscule compared to the title. Helpfully, you are told that this piece will only take you 4 minutes to read. I timed myself. I think that's drastically underestimating the dense thicket of my prose.

Anyway, I posted that on Medium because it kinda didn't belong here on Brandsavant, and my personal blog was eaten by the failure of Posterous. Just as surely as Facebook's continual algorithm-tweaking underscores that we can never count on the web's ephemeral "real estate," Medium, too, will be a place where your content goes to die, anonymous, and alone. Indeed, this very post, written on Squarespace, may eventually slide off into the sea, unloved. I'm not unaware of the irony here. I courted it.

Truth is, I think a lot of individual bloggers are seeing their traffic go down. I don't think blogs are dead. Bloggers, on the other hand, might be an endangered species. Frequency is killing it on the web right now, and most of the successful site owners I know are publishing content at least once per day, and often more. To do this, they employ guest posters. I am one, for a couple of these sites, and I certainly do not disparage them. But, like Medium, the identity (and that's more than just the avatar) of the author is not exactly prominent on these winning sites. It's the content, content, content--which is, of course, what the audiences for these sites want. And I am not making a quality vs. quantity argument, necessarily. The few sites I do write for do an extraordinary job with both, which is why I contribute.

What I've noticed about my writing on these sites, however, is that the number of people who read my "content" is higher than the traffic on my own site, but I do not get comments proportional to that increase in traffic. I don't know why that is. Maybe it's the "velocity" of content today. Maybe it's the fact that my writing is a touch less personal on these sites. Maybe "community" is inversely proportional to the number of unique visitors. Maybe people just comment less. Maybe my writing sucks more than it used to. 

I'm not being entirely facetious about the last theory, either. I wonder, as I "calibrate" my writing to serve as content marketing, if I've lost sight that wonderful piece of advice that I've most recently heard from Chris Brogan: write to one person. So that's what I did, today. I wrote this for you. There, that felt better.

Authorship matters to me, I've realized, and the more "my content" is spread, the more diluted that authorship becomes, and I am at least partly to blame for that. Does "authorship" matter to you? Or am I just a "content dinosaur?"

Your comments, as always, are welcomed wholeheartedly.