Everywhere I look and everyone I see seems to look at writing on the web as a money making opportunity and scoff at the thought of it being a creative conduit. It is indeed sad and pathetic to believe that the essence of writing is to get a nibble at the carrot at the end of a stick, a chance to get a payout, to gain some places in a ranking system, to pander to the reducing attention span of people on the internet and cynically copy or steal, for the reasons mentioned above. Throw around buzzwords like rankings and “shareable content”, make a pseudo numbered list and then the unkindest cut of all – saying it’s all “so easy”.
Indeed I am nobody to argue the growing popularity of giving people what they want in the form of lists and slideshows, and indeed I am no expert on the diminishing feasibility of making money through writing on the web. And, the internet never lets me forget it- the fact that I’m a nobody, when it comes to providing easy, shareable content.
I’m sure what all this isn’t nearly as eye-catching and accessible to our reduced attention spans as “5 reasons you will fail as a blogger” or “This man’s story of overcoming a creative block will inspire you and make you cry”, and I know this doesn’t count as quality content and I do not disagree.
I’m even fighting my natural tendencies of launching or attempting to launch a scathing attack. Yes, anger and frustration have helped me produce what I believe are my best works. This is important as I’m beginning to feel like I’m using the anger and resentment as crutches, and my over-reliance to them might cripple me and then turn me into a “creative paraplegic”.
I keep getting told to consider more “lucrative forms of content”. People tell me there’s “no point” in writing anything anymore, especially about the things I write about, where there are thousands upon thousands of people writing the same things, and millions of others copying them for cynical cash-ins. Before someone gives me the “good artists copy, great artists steal” spiel, I’d like to say that stealing and reinventing is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about copying outright, ripping off wholesale, in an attempt to, as I previously said – get some “Dolla Dolla bill Yo” for the lack of a good enough term for it.
This sort of wholesale ripping off of things isn’t just cynical- it’s downright harmful, toxic even. For every major news outlet out there, there are tens of thousands of smaller websites that simply copy, some give credits to the original while many do not. While I’m not against individual expression, I believe there needs to be some sort of significant, positive change. Some “innovation”, if I may use a term bandied about in the tech sphere all the time. I simply do not understand how anyone can be satisfied as a blogger, by simply copying and pasting content found on other websites. The news broke, it’s already out there, there’s no need to reiterate it. Bringing something new to the table, a new idea, some wishful thinking, even some fantastical and wild speculation- it’s all good, if it’s something different and it’s an original thought.
When people say tech blogging is “easy”, they make this assertion based on the fact that so many thousands of people are simply taking facts, figures, images, and re-creating, copying, and re-posting things, just for the sake of driving traffic, and squeezing every penny out of ad revenue services. In that sense, it is easy. “Content is king”, they say. Nobody ever specifies the nature of said content anyway. It’s all fair game here, and originality is not really necessary anyway.
I, for one, would like to see more originality, more opinions. The gadgets themselves may have gotten me hooked to the world of tech blogging, but the varied opinions of industry veterans, columnists, analysts- that’s what has kept me here. I love reading well formed, articulated opinions about the goings-on in the tech world. Some are frivolous, some serious but what’s important is that they put out something that’s not just a list of specifications, or an album of leaked images or a horrendous attempt at squeezing in as many “hot keywords” as possible into the blog post. Even though I may not agree with the opinions mentioned by them, the way these people are able to put those ideas across is what makes them engaging.
In this sense, blogging is much more difficult. Coming up with opinions, corroborating these opinions with proof, statistics, and links to other content in a way that would help the reader to understand the opinion better, and not just attempts to get those backlink-forward link-etc link things to improve SEO, is not easy at all.
Bloggers go to great lengths to make sure their posts reach as many people as possible. What’s sad is that the content itself is just some formulaic mishmash of keywords, images, and other things that need to be there to appease the mighty SEO overlords. (Hail Google). If only they could concentrate on the content itself, rather than the payout, this whole thing wouldn’t leave such a cynical aftertaste.