The ability to find a couple hundred people — maybe even a few thousand — who are interested in that one hobby, movie, TV show, team, etc. that you’re excited about is an amazing thing. I’ve experienced this a bunch of times, most notably with communities that formed around “The X-Files” and “Lost.” I had a blast writing and theorizing and talking about these shows. Those experiences wouldn’t have happened if I’d been limited by geography or time. My enthusiasm would have been stunted, and that’s just not right. If you love something, you should be able to really love it.
What’s important here is that the great things about the internet still exist. They’re still built in. And if we choose to emphasize those attributes, to double down on what’s good and avoid the pitfalls that are clearer now than ever before, it can continue to benefit us.
I’ve been working on a keyword project. The idea is to identify high-volume keywords in areas where my company is invested. Specifically, we put on a bunch of events and each of these events aligns with a technical area. These areas revolve around unique technologies and techniques, and technologies and techniques just happen to map beautifully with keywords.
So, we’re building original content that’s constructed to rank well for target keywords. And we’re doing this in a non-sleazy way that’s editorially sound and won’t make my journalism degree burst into flames.
Of particular note: It took a long time for Simmons and Maron to figure out how their podcasts would work and how they’d approach them. They tinkered and pushed until they landed on the right combination. It’s a reminder that when you have a nagging sense you’re on to something, persist until you can’t persist anymore.
Listen for: The embedded ads during the episode (no, really). Companies like Stamps.com and Squarespace are ubiquitous podcast advertisers—so much so, Maron was able to finish Simmons’ ad copy on the fly (“click the microphone in the upper-right corner …”).
“Apple users spent $2.7 billion on subscriptions in the App Store in 2016, an increase of 74 percent over 2015. Last week, the music service Spotify announced that its subscriber base increased by two-thirds in the last year, to 50 million from 30 million . Apple Music has signed on 20 million subscribers in about a year and a half. In the final quarter of 2016, Netflix added seven million new subscribers — a number that exceeded its expectations and broke a company record. It now has nearly 94 million subscribers.”
Netflix has nearly 94 million subscribers.
That’s an amazing number. Those aren’t “users.” Those are people who pay for the service.
For years I’ve joined the chorus lamenting the impending doom of creativity, content, and culture. No one will ever pay for anything .
I think back to that moment 10 years ago when I realized that online advertising was a race to the bottom for all but a few massive companies. I was distraught. Really, I was legitimately upset. I was fascinated by the internet’s possibilities, yet it seemed to be built on a pile of sand. I wondered how it would all play out. I wondered if I needed to find a new line of work.
And yet, here we are.
When I consider my own digital subscriptions I’m struck by how easily and naturally they’ve arrived. At a certain point, each one just made sense and just fit in.
If you measure performance in pageviews, you encourage slideshows. If you measure performance by social shares, you encourage clickbait headlines and giant Like buttons. Finding a metric that lines up with a publisher’s goals is one of the most important things it can do to encourage better work … [Emphasis added]
Notice each video has a specific and properly formatted headline. No clunky ellipses. Every word carefully chosen. Even the spacing matters.
These are the subtle cues that separate excellence from mediocrity. Taken individually, these efforts don’t matter much. But put them together — all the thoughtful edits, all the care that goes into media selection, all the language — and they create the sense of professionalism that’s a hallmark of top-tier organizations.
In a wonderful piece on the limits of science, Robert Krulwich concludes with this bit of excellence:
… that’s the beauty of science: to know that you will never know everything, but you never stop wanting to, that when you learn something, for a second you feel crazy smart, and then stupid all over again as new questions come tumbling in. It’s an urge that never dies, a game that never ends.
I’d extend that line of thought to anything that’s tough, tricky, confounding, ambiguous and important: You may never get there, but you always have to try.