The Grass is Greener...

Jul 14th

One of the easiest ways to scale a business model is to rely on user generated content. This effectively turns readers into writers (free content) and marketers (brand evangelists promoting their own work). But at the same time it makes it hard for readers to keep reading all the content produced from those sources.

We subscribe to personalities and known shared biases. I read everything that John Andrews writes. I read everything Barry Ritholtz writes. The same can't be said for many group blogs. The option to water down what you are doing for a short term revenue boost will always be there, but the ability to re-gain attention and trust that was thrown away in the process is not.

The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be. - Robert Fulghum

Published: July 14, 2008

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Comments

July 16, 2008 - 12:01pm

Very truly said. The end quote - simply superb :)

By the way, try visiting our site.

July 20, 2008 - 2:03am

they are watering down their product while big G keeps getting stronger.

July 20, 2008 - 6:00pm

Hi Aaron,

I agree with you to a degree, but only to a degree.

The problem isn't in a group blog per se. It's in bringing in lesser-quality bloggers and the watering down of focus.

To prove my point, I look no further than your private community at the SEOBook forums, where people pay for the privilege of communicating. I get great value from your own communications there. I've learned a ton.

But I can point to a dozen others (at least) who participate in that community from whom I equally get value. I get value because of their deep knowledge of a particular topic or their unique way of looking at things. They open my eyes. They add a lot to the value of the community.

You see, I think a group blog can work. But it takes iron control over who you let post and some editorial oversight over what they write about (only from the standpoint of making sure it is valuable and quality stuff -- I don't mean controlling the opinions or viewpoints they express).

You probably get people sending you offers of guest posts all the time, and 95% of what you receive will be average run of the mill, rehashed stuff that's been written about all over the Web already -- or worse. All too often it is motivated by people wanting a free link, and not by participating in the community or by having something unique or valuable to say.

A good editor will end up rejecting the vast majority of it if he/she is truly exercising editorial oversight and not just accepting anything that comes over the transom.

But sometimes when you get really good stuff coming in, it adds tremendous value.

On one of my sites where I accept group contributions, some of the most requested "reprints" and linked articles have been by the guest experts.

By the same token, I enjoy the Techcrunch blog, and often get more value from writers other than Michael Arrington. I really liked Duncan's writing when he was there, and I like Erik's writing.

That said, I agree with your metaphor about the grass not being greener on the other side. It all depends on how much editorial oversight you exercise -- in other words, how much watering you do of that grass.

Anita

July 21, 2008 - 2:22am

Thanks for the great comment Anita. :)

July 21, 2008 - 2:38pm

Great post, when people take their customers for granted and/or not listen to customers, this type of thing can happen.

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