I’m a big fan of Axios’ “smart brevity”

Axios smart brevity example
Smart brevity in action. And look at that delightful padding to the left of the numbered list.

I work hard to remember what I like and dislike as a digital reader when I’m working as a digital writer.

I get the sense the folks behind Axios do the same thing. Take a look at this post. Continue reading “I’m a big fan of Axios’ “smart brevity””

Sometimes there’s a gap between the keyword you think you’re ranking for and the keyword you’re actually ranking for. And that’s okay.

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.

I’ve been using Google’s Search Console with this project. While poking around in this tool, I’ve discovered there’s sometimes a significant gap between the keyword I think I’m ranking for and the keyword I’m actually ranking for. Continue reading “Sometimes there’s a gap between the keyword you think you’re ranking for and the keyword you’re actually ranking for. And that’s okay.”

Bill Simmons and Marc Maron discuss their early days with podcasting

Bill Simmons spoke with Marc Maron on a recent episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast.” It was fascinating to hear these two long-time podcasters discuss the evolution of the format.

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 …”).

And they said it wouldn’t work: Digital subscriptions are a thing now

Pennies
Pennies. Via Olichel on Pixabay.

Farhad Manjoo has some good news for those of us who want this internet experiment to work out: People are paying for stuff .

This paragraph caught my eye:

“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.

I guess I’m not alone.

Why every web publisher needs to know its essential metrics

Caroline O’Donovan offers an excellent summation of online analytics and their accompanying repercussions:

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]

Put another way: Choose wisely.

Here’s what good web production looks like

Video section on the ESPN.com homepage
Video section on the ESPN.com homepage

This is a screenshot of the video block that sits half-way down the ESPN.com homepage.

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.

“The beauty of science”

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.

I’m so glad this marketing consultant got in touch with me

I got this in my inbox today from a “marketing consultant.”

Foddernetwork.com Team,

I thought you might like to know some reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for Foddernetwork.com.

Wait, wait! I know this one!

I’m not getting enough “Social Media” (capital “S,” capital “M”) and “Organic search” (capital “O,” not sure why it’s a lowercase “s”) because it’s been years since those sites were updated.

That little fact is what makes the postscript on the original message so confusing:

PS I: I am not spamming. I have studied your website and believe I can help with your business promotion …

Two things:

1. When you say you’re not spamming you most definitely are spamming.

2. If you clicked through to any of the sites listed on foddernetwork.com you’d see they ceased publishing quite a long time ago. Your extensive study of my web properties must have missed that. Odd.

And while I’ve got you here, esteemed marketing consultant, here’s a tip: Your tone needs work. You can think I’m an idiot, but don’t let me know that.

Kevin Spacey knows what’s up: The audience won, so knock off the nonsense

“Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it.”

   — Kevin Spacey, James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture.

That’s a single quote from this fantastic compilation of Spacey’s recent speech:

The full text from Spacey’s speech is here.

Via Gawker