Joshua Topolsky wrote a great post that claimed “your media business will not be saved.” When I boil his post down to its essence, it left me with two major themes:
- There is no silver bullet magic “thing” that will save your publishing site
- It’s not about volume, it’s about connection
The argument about outstanding publishing is the same argument software developers have about purity of code. Users of software have never cared about the purity of code, except for the 1% who are experts. They only care that the software does what they want it to do. If the code does it elegantly or not is irrelevant.
In that same vein, few people truly care about publishing excellence. They want to get the information they want, in a convenient fashion. If it happens to be very well written, it’s a bonus.
Given the adage that you should not bring up problems without solutions, here is my three step plan to save your media business:
- Understand that the Internet has changed publishing permanently. You can no longer talk at people, you have to have a conversation with them. Users are no longer passive, and it’s very easy for them to have a voice. If you don’t let them express themselves, they will go to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest to do so.
- You must have your own platform. Sure, ride on the back of Facebook or Google. Take advantage of other platforms and their eyeballs. Just don’t expect their large numbers to translate to anything meaningful for you. And understand they can change the rules of the platform at any time. You can complain about how unfair it is, but honestly, you’re trying to make money off their platform. The only way to build value is to have your own platform.
- Most importantly, you must create and curate content. If you don’t write original and compelling content, you will not win. But you likely don’t have the time or bandwidth to write everything that your readers will want – so make sure you curate content that is relevant and meaningful. Lastly, seek out the content and ideas of your readers.
We have written previously that hyperlocal digital publishers have a huge advantage in that they are serving a focused and targeted market. And they know more about that community than any other publisher or tech platform. To re-quote Joshua, you don’t have to be large, it’s more important to connect. If you do these three things, you will have built something that can last, scale and connect. Otherwise, you’re left to the endless “tricks” that Joshua discusses to try to goose your results and chasing the next quick fix.