Writing for Buyers vs Writing for Cynics

6 fundamental laws for online publishing

  1. Most popular free online content contains factual errors, but it is still popular due to an affinity readers have for the author, and/or the ease of understanding what they are writing.
  2. The more you know the easier it is for you to denounce someone who knows less than you in your field, though doing so will rarely build brand loyalty, and often attracts the wrong kinds of customers. Call this phenomena the Threadwatch effect...good for attention, but bad for monetization. This is especially true since people new to the market are willing to spend money to build their businesses, but more established market players are more ad blind and more cynical to most commercial offers.
  3. If you are selling stuff online you are not your own target audience. Every field has far more novices than experts, and experts rarely buy because they feel they already know everything and have got burned so many times in the past.
  4. Most online content is recycled. Local substitution is a fact of life, and probably has been for thousands of years, only now it is faster and cheaper. Unless you add pretty pictures, write for novices, and aggressively market your best content at launch someone is going to recycle it (with errors) and get credit for your work. Competing publishers can polish up posts you wrote *years* ago and be called a visionary for doing so! If you are not making your work accessible to novices then you lose.
  5. The more mindshare you have in your space the easier it is to get weak references from people outside your space who occasionally graze upon your topic. When people who know little about your topic look at your field they care more about format than accuracy because they typically do not realize when they are reading factual errors.

From a business perspective, one of my bigger errors with this site is that I tend to write more for the cynical person who loves SEO than for people newer to the field who are more likely to buy. That is not to say that we do not have people sign up every day, but that we are only targeting the fraction of the customers that we could.

The hard part about changing is that I typically write about what interests me the most, using my own interests as a filter. Dumbing things down would be walking / swimming in uncharted territories, and I don't think I would enjoy it all that much.

Published: July 12, 2008 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


July 12, 2008 - 7:02pm

It's pretty important to write about stuff you're passionate about, otherwise you're going to get bored and lose steam. I've found this with a few good ideas that I tried to start, but they never quite worked out. Just as the sites got going I became bored with them...

Plus if you have a good business, and a good community going now, are you sure you WANT to make it more attractive to people who know NOTHING? I had read your book and website for a few years before you launched your training program, so I got a lot out of it. I also find the people in the forums very helpful and experienced, and that makes it worth the price of admission all the more. If the forum was filled with people on their first day of SEO Training, the value might go down a bit.

July 12, 2008 - 7:08pm

Hi Nick
I agree with what you are saying. That is why I ended off this post the way I did, saying I wouldn't enjoy dumbing things down too much. :)

Jack Rack
July 14, 2008 - 6:27am

Writing for the cynical person who loves SEO shows readers that you are being blunt and honest, and maybe that actually drives up your conversions.

July 14, 2008 - 11:56am

Nice post Aaron, I especially agree with point 4, you have to recycle your own content before other people do because there will always be someone out there waiting to do it.

I also find writing for complete newbies difficult but then by the same note how would I know if a new person to the field would find my piece good or bad? You don't because as you said, you're very rarely your own target audience.

July 14, 2008 - 3:43pm

It's easy to say that you should write about what you love or you'll get bored, but the big money is always in things that no-one loves.

Like loans and mortgages etc.

No-one in the world wants to write about those dull subjects, but there is still gold in them there hills.

July 14, 2008 - 3:49pm

True. A lack of passionate competitors means the bar to compete is generally pretty low, especially if you are good at link baiting and/or have great domain names.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.