Be KindOctober 11, 2005
Since a lot of the recent technology acquisitions have involved blog-related technologies and companies, interest in profiting from blogs is at a fever pitch. Every company with a blog now thinks that dollar signs should be part of the URL, i.e. blog$.bandwagon.com/easymoney. Many companies are now starting blogs exclusively for this purpose, something that almost guarantees failure.
Content that was once free now requires a paid subscription or, for the less aggressive marketing department, is now filled with randomly generated ads. The New York Times keeps asking me to Upgrade My Relationship with them. I don't know what that means, but somehow I feel dirty just reading it.
Other sites have gone the route of providing partial content in the RSS feed. The idea here is to tempt the user with a small portion of the article or post, but force them to visit the site to read the entire thing. This is the pre-bubble belief that eyeballs=money. The feed becomes little more than the notification of new content, eliminating more than 75% of the incredible benefits of RSS.
The Washington Post recently launched a political blog that sounded intriguing. I subscribed. Since I don't normally read The Post, at this point they've gained a reader. As I become addicted to the blog, I may look into what else they have to offer. I may write a post about how great the Washington Post is and how you have to check out this cool blog. I may even subscribe to the print edition.
Instead, my relationship with them ended after one day when I discovered that they only trusted me with about 50 words per article. I have more than 20 free, high-quality options available to me right now that don't require me to guess which posts are worth my time or not. The alternative is too convenient and the return on investment (my time) too little.
Let me be clear: Everyone has content that they are willing to pay for and I don't begrudge a company from finding ways to pay for writers, staff, and infrastructure. I realize that money must often be part of the equation.
I only ask that you be kind and treat your customers with respect.
Don't place ads everywhere just because you can.
Choose your advertisers based on your customers instead of an algorithm.
Offer ad-free options where possible.
Never take lightly the loyalty of someone who reads your content day after day and evangelizes your brand to anyone who will listen.
And never equate a better customer relationship with more money.