Writing For The Web

How to make your work stand out in the age of Silicon Valley media dominance

With sites like Medium, Quora seeming to dominate is writing independently even possible?

I speak with writers quite a lot. I read and comment on lots of writing these days because quite frankly there is a bunch of writing going on with the web now 30 years into its stride.

It seems incredible, but once upon a time prior to about 1997, if you wanted to be published you had only a limited scope of options, and those options were determined by very few powerful people.

As writers, and communicators we are terribly spoiled these days, and it is also true that just about anyone can publish whatever they wish but there is a caveat, just because you choose to publish does not mean your work will be noticed, let alone regularly consumed and acknowledged!

Yes, of course I am describing the one enormous problem all content creators have on today’s World Wide Web: gaining the attention of the right people.

When the WWW was first launched way back in 1990, it had begun as a CERN document management solution. That’s right, the web was originally a solution for project managers and scientific people to enable them to keep track of published documents, diagrams, and other media.

It was because of this origin that search engine technology was first put together as being heavily skewed towards the written word.

Of course, the web, and search technology has moved along since those earliest days of the 1990’s, and early 2000’s.

Today writing is exploding online, along with audio/video and graphical media; we have seen the rise of Silicon Valley media platforms.

For aspiring writers, and other content producers the choices seem to have shrunk down to publishing on Medium, and possibly finding freelance work on ‘Problogger’ and freelance sites.

But is this really the only way?

We are all striving to gain attention

The primary wisdom of building your independent media platform has begun to slide away, younger writers are being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers commanded by the Silicon Valley media projects, to the extent that setting up their own ‘blog’ or content headquarters seems futile. Because, well who is going to visit their domain-based site, let alone actually read/watch/listen to their content?

Don’t be seduced by this dynamic, we need to extend our vision and consider the very long term picture: you can keep contributing and publishing to the major platforms, this is a good idea, but always publish to your independent location first off. Publish everything you produce: Podcast, Video, Written work to your independent domain-site because this builds your foundations, it incrementally adds to your identity, it combines over time to represent your name and your sphere of work, your link with the subjects you choose to produce for.

Paradoxically, the numbers and the interested specificity of readers begin to gain focus, and you are at least now counted as being a web location, you are not merely being absorbed in The Borg’s empire.

This might take a couple of years to gain shape.

I am surprised with the impatience of some people, they tell me: “I published my own blog 3 months ago, and I am only getting 200 visitors per month!’ But the difference here is that those 200 souls have a precise interest in what you have produced, while the 3,000 readers on Medium could’t care less, even though 100 left a generic ‘great article man’ type comment. In 6 months it could very well be 500, this time next year 3,000.

Patience, belief in your destiny, solid forging ahead, stop expecting to ‘go viral’; this idea is poison.

Virality only occurs in coagulated groups, nobody ‘breaks the internet’, the vast majority of successful writers have a highly boutique appeal, not a mass audience.

I see it as my job to encourage, and bolster the mavericks, the quirky, the non-generic writers and content producers; not because I am so successful, but because I have a macro perspective on media based on over 25 years working with the web, and information technology, I am not loading up affiliate links to ‘Hostgator’ or offering the usual prescriptions to blogging here, I have a genuine intention to help creative, and thoughtful people, because, just because.