Giving Away Long Form Content Instead Of Self-Publishing = Clueless

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Even more platforms are opening up to allow anyone to publish longer-form content beyond shorter status updates. LinkedIn is the latest example. Medium earlier this year is another. And although Medium is minimal and beautiful, none of these platforms are actually innovative or solve problems that haven’t been solved in the past.

To hand over your content to a platform like LinkedIn seems a bit like a content Ponzi scheme to me for everyone except the influencers who actually get visibility. And further, they have arbitrarily chosen a group of seemingly random people to publish and share through their network at scale. This in and of itself should be an instant remover of reasons you would support such a platform: you could work harder on a post than their “influencers” yet their influencer content would always win. The deck is stacked against you.

You’ve been able to publish your own ideas, in whatever format you like, wrapped in your own template, with full access to analytics and ability to monetize how you see fit since the web existed. To give your content over to someone else and publish in their platform (with any degree of consistency, but even once) basically admits building your own site is “too difficult” for you. Or that you’re clueless about the importance of ownership.

I’ve been advising people to be platform agnostic for as long as I can remember which is counter to what many content-centric tech startups would like. But if you are serious about devoting time to sharing meaningful ideas over a long period of time, you have to ask yourself: why am I giving this away to another company to run-ads against or use to incentivize people back to their platform? Do I not care enough to have my own brand of media on my own domain that’s sharable cross-platforms? Do I not want to be the beneficiary of my own work? Do I want to give away my time to help make another company more successful? The only reason you should answer yes to that last question is if you have equity in said company.

I personally don’t see any “prestige” to sharing content wrapped in a brand that isn’t my own, save perhaps contributing to another actual site or brand of media in the same category. The horizontal plays to suck up as many ideas from all verticals don’t really give you much other than a wrapper which isn’t difficult to come by. It is obviously false social proof that only fools the bottom of the barrel. And if you only attract these people you’ll have terrible customers and clients not worth the time.

If your ideas are worthwhile and you put in the effort to build a community acquisition of visitors is doable on any platform. And make no mistake: unless a platform is actively promoting or featuring your content, you still need to put in this work.

I guess I struggle at the benefits of handing ideas over to another company that is a content platform when open source solutions like WordPress exist. I do a lot of things for free (all my music is given away under creative commons for example and I’ve never made money off it). But I do make ad revenue from my writing, and see nothing wrong with being compensated for your passion. I do see something wrong about giving away ideas to someone else when you’re missing all that comes from owning what hosts them.

You don’t build increasing returns over time and momentum in whatever you’re doing — whether it is building a reputation so you get new clients, selling widgets, monetizing your ideas — by handing over your work to others without a strategy. And if your digital strategy lacks a hub, a home base, you may have tactical wins but you’ll never see sustainability. Of course, those who want quick fixes or are benefiting by hyping platforms won’t get this. But those who are serious do. I’m not saying don’t use social and only share ideas on your own site. For sure you should do that and matrix out the appropriate sharing / snippet strategy to drive users to accomplish your goals¬†at a place optimized for this. I am saying be smart about where you focus time.

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