Last week I read a post titled, The Web Needs You To… STOP BLOGGING!
I had already been wrestling with the idea of quality over quantity in blogging for more than a few months. And as I read the article, Mike Schinkel’s take on the matter reaffirmed some of my own conclusions. It really served to sharpen my perspective and added just the right amount of motivation for me to get serious about some of the changes I have been a bit hesitant to implement.
A Little History
Before ChurchMag was ever ChurchMag, it was The 8BIT Network, which consisted of six different blogs. Each of those blogs, Church Crunch, Church Create, Church IT, Church Code, Church Drop, Church ChMS, generated several posts per weekday, and only slightly less on the weekend. When we consolidated all six of those blogs into the one all-encompassing ChurchMag blog, we reduced our content stream, but it was still quite a few posts every day on one blog. While that was a steep decline, we were still producing a lot of quality content to be consumed by our readers everyday.
Generating so many posts every day seemed to be a good fit at first, but eventually it started to create some readership burn-out. It became somewhat apparent that all of our hard work was causing information overload, not the effect we writers were going for, and causing undesirable consequences with our readers. People couldn’t keep up, and as a result, were skimming through our many posts in their feeds, or even worse, unsubscribing. Over the course of the last year, we cautiously pulled that post number down again, while at the same time trying to increase the quality and relevance of our posts. Predictably this created a dip in our pageviews, however we did notice an increase in the number of return visitors to the site. The decision to exchange of quantity for quality seems to have been a net win — in terms of both content and readership.
Because Blogging Daily
Every blogger out there is sure to have heard the advice — blog daily. Blogging daily is a double-edged sword. Blogging frequently and hitting all the right SEO buttons is basically guaranteed to generate a net gain in pageviews. That is, however, not the key to establishing a solid core of committed readers. A community for any given blog is built slowly over time, with a steady stream of relevant content and friendly, honest interaction between writers and their readers. It is just that interaction that sets blogs uniquely apart from most other forms of writing.
So while pageviews do matter for a variety of reasons, community is really where it is at. A few months ago I was talking with a good friend of mine who is passionate about ChurchMag, and he mentioned to me that he didn’t always read the newsletter nor did he read and follow the blog every day. This hit me hard. I thought, “If this guy, who has been with ChurchMag from the beginning, doesn’t read every post, certainly nobody else would either. What needs to happen for this to change?” When your community is not engaged or is beginning to disengage, well “Houston, we have a problem.” When your biggest fan is not anxiously awaiting your next blog post, you’re doing it wrong.
Let’s Face It, The Internet Is Full
Once upon a time the Internet was new and it seemed we could not get enough of it. Slowly but surely with the never-ending streams of social media, viral videos and RSS feeds, that new car smell has worn off the information super-highway. The Internet today has become a required method of communication and means of information in our daily lives. When we look at the big picture of the Internet today we can see a clear depiction of the old dichotomy — can’t live with it and can’t live with out it. People are generally overwhelmed with the amount of content they have collected and try to keep up with. The more conscientious among us are beginning to realize that we have a love-hate relationship with the Internet and it’s relentless ability to pull us away from our real lives.
So what is the fall-out of this never-ending avalanche of content? There are many RSS feeds that sit abandoned, posts that never get read, newsletters that get unsubscribed from, and videos that never get watched. The new problem for bloggers is that the Internet is finally full. Let’s be honest, how much time do you have to read blog posts in a day? Who in their right mind would give up their precious time to read three 300+ word posts on ChurchMag everyday? I do not do that with any blog, so why would we expect that you would?
So by now your eyes have probably glazed over and you’re trying to find a happy place or if you are still with me you are probably wondering if I even have a point. Let me assure you, I do. We here at ChurchMag want to be the best in Church tech and creativity. In order to do that, we have to make sure that we are consistently producing meaningful and useful content for our community.
As ChurchMag launches a new logo and site design this month (or next), there has been and will be a shift in how we do what we do. For now that will probably look like a smaller number of, but better quality posts per day (don’t worry, we’re not cutting the fun posts). A few months ago, someone told me they felt intimidated by how much content we spit out. While I took some pride in that compliment (?), that is not the future of the web, and it is not the future of ChurchMag
It is time to up the quality on the Internet. It’s the only way to stand-out in the crowd and build a strong community of readers. The Internet needs more fresh, creative and insightful blog posts, not more rehashing of the same old information. We have renewed our commitment to serve up only the best of what we have to offer and we are in this for the long-haul.
Are you with us?