Does valuable content still exist?

One of my new years resolutions/goals was to write every day. While more times and not this “writing” consists of run-on sentences and incoherent thoughts of that given moment, I do strive to write about something substantial that I can actually post for others to see. In order for it to be something post-worthy, it needs to be useful, thought-provoking content. While I struggled coming up with today’s personal writing prompt, I began to think about how difficult it’s become to write valuable content in today’s day and technologically-driven world.

In reality, it’s easier than ever to write something and be able to share it with your networks and strangers alike. Yet, given that we’ve become people who need to consume information immediately and quickly, it’s difficult to generate content that will get into the right hands.

The space is crowded with “freelance writers,” and in order to stay relevant we need to include:

  • Long-tail keywords
  • SEO-optimized terms
  • Headings
  • Subheadings
  • Oh, and bullets are easier for readers to digest!

If you want your article to be archived on Google, the rule of thumb is to write about 1,000 words. But if you want your article to have the potential to go viral, someone should be able to digest the content in under 3 minutes.

Your headlines should be concise, but appealing. You know what I’m talking about —

  • The Top 64 Coffee Shops to Visit Before You Die
  • The 4 Things You Didn’t Know about Cinnamon
  • The Top 12 Exercises You Can Do From Your Couch

I constantly struggle with wanting to write something people will read and that will get my name out there, while also writing something I want to write about. It’s a constant internal debate between writing for virality versus writing for soul.

You wonder how people fall for fake news? Because a buzz worthy headline like Denzel Washington Backs Trump In The Most Epic Way Possible can get over 10k shares while a NYT Op-Ed on Sensible Stewardship of Our Nuclear Weapons can gets lost in the ether.

The most recent evidence of this struggle occurred this past Wednesday, when Medium announced they were cutting 50 jobs and changing their business model. Ev Williams, Medium CEO, shared this information with his readers to explain how the organization came to this decision. He referred to the problem he had set out to solve when he first founded Medium in 2012,

“The current system causes increasing amounts of misinformation…and pressure to put out more content more cheaply — depth, originality, or quality be damned. It’s unsustainable and unsatisfying for producers and consumers alike….We need a new model.

But eventually, when it came to building and growing this new model, they were faced with the fact that they “didn’t yet have the right solution to the big question of driving payment for quality content.” Ev Williams and the team at Medium are true heroes for struggling writers. When faced with the decision to become successful business-wise in exchange for consequently becoming an extension of the broken system they set out to fight against, they chose to take a step back and reevaluate. Reminding themselves of the original goal they set out to accomplish and pivot the company, rather than staying the course and becoming another pawn in the big-business game.

It’s a frustrating debate between me and myself every day, especially as I strive to write on a daily basis. I write as an outlet and a means of self-expression, and a way to share that self-expression with those who might feel the same way. I write to uncover ideas from those I aspire to be, unearth questions within myself, and generate likeminded conversation with strangers. I don’t expect those reasons to be for everyone, but I don’t want to lose site of it in a world of words.

So with that, I’ll end with a THANK YOU to Ev Williams and Medium, and a quote that keeps me focused.

“You write because you need to write, or because you hope someone will listen or because writing will mend something broken inside you or bring something back to life.” — Joanne Harris

I’d also like to leave those still reading (was this too long or just long enough?) with the question — Why do you write?