Recently I wrote a guest blog post for PeerIndex, titled YQL-ing the PeerIndex API. It was a very interesting experience and it made me rethink why I like to write in general and specifically for the web. These are my thoughts on the topic of producing content for the WWW, driven by the example of the mentioned blog post.
Do something and talk about it
I used to think that people who frequently talk about what they do are just egocentric show-offs, who actually don’t really know anything. While I still generally feel that way, I made a couple of realization some time ago:
- If normal people (like you and I) don’t talk about what they do, then the content on the Internet will definitely be dominated by the products of nonsensical spammers, “social media experts”, SEO cheaters, and other people of similar behavior that don’t produce value. I cannot allow this to happen, so as I consider myself a normal person, I need to contribute to useful content out here!
- You need to expose yourself in order to be found. With that I mean that even if you are doing great stuff, there is a certain amount of marketing involved to enable other people to find you. How good is something really if nobody knows about it? So it is a necessity to talk about it, like it or not.
- People are very tolerant when it comes to ignoring content that they are not interested in. I am in no way suggesting that you should become a spammer but there is no harm in producing a tweet, blog post, or other content from time to time. If people are not interested then they won’t be disturbed by it either.
For example the aforementioned blog post only happened because I am interested in YQL and I played around with YQL and the PeerIndex API and then posted my experiments on Twitter. This is how the PeerIndex team found me and later on asked me to write the post YQL-ing the PeerIndex API. Nothing magic about it, talk about what you do and interested people will listen.
Don’t become a Spammer
Yes, I mean you! Spammer! Don’t spam! :)
In response to my PeerIndex blog post, I saw some tweets (see below) that were so strange that I had a hard time believing that these things really exist.
So that’s what people do? For real? They pick up random tweets and then RT them from multiple accounts? For what? Are there even tools that support this kind of activity or what? Anybody knows? I really don’t get it.
Don’t worry about SEO but care about Analytics
When you start producing content, don’t worry about how to improve your ranking in the search engine rankings. If you produce valuable content, people will find you. You can still try to optimize things later on when you realize that there is a general interest in what you do but please don’t try to become a “SEO expert” before you even start - you can probably imagine how much I disapprove this term due to its frequent misuse. Posting a link to your content on Twitter is probably a good enough start to find some audience.
You can still do little things in order to find out a bit about your audience. For example if you are using bit.ly to share your links, you should check out the bitly Info Page+ for the content your produce or share. You can check out the bitly Info Page+ for my blog post as an example. This can give useful insights into which of your activities generate more interest/traction.
Contribute, contribute, contribute
Do something, and give back where you can. While this is an easier thing to do for developers due to the abundance of Open Source projects that we can contribute to, I believe it is also possible for people that don’t write software.
Give useful feedback to other people. Don’t write “that’s great” only. You can of course do that because some feedback is better than no feedback but at the end of the day, don’t we all want a real discussion about the topics that we are interested in? Instead of reading 10 x “That’s great”, wouldn’t you rather want to read one constructive comment/question? I certainly favor the latter.
So in summary. Do your thing. Talk about it. This is not for eternity, content comes and goes. Most importantly, don’t worry about what other people might think about your content. If you are neither a spammer nor a troll, then there is nothing to loose.