Here’s an informative video that inspired a spirited conversation in my household:
I can understand the overwhelming temptation to appease and filter for THE ALGORITHM when you’re making a living off your YouTube and online efforts. But there’s a loss of voice, akin to the loss of agency that casual listening creates. Rather than choosing we’re being chosen.
There’s an SEO plug-in installed on my blog, and it tells me that I should optimize my titles and my content for traffic-catching metrics. I was paying attention to its demands for a while, changing snappy short titles to longer (less fun) ones that complied with SEO-recommended character limits. I was told to insert keywords into the content and always attach eye-catching featured images (I was never good at that aspect). I’d get stressed out when the plug-in told me that I wasn’t adhering to the internet’s mysterious ordinances.
But, here’s the thing: there are many blogs and newsletters that I love, and none of these follow the rules. Some of these authors have a voice that flies in the face of these rules — one-word titles, blog posts with only a few sentences, the minimalist of
There are those who are going for mass and, according to their goals, choose to follow the rules. That’s cool. Derek Muller, in the video above, is doing so grudgingly but he’s in the machine where 5 million vs. 10 million views have a direct impact on his project’s budget. Veritasium is a channel with — at the least — staff and travel requirements, so there’s a good reason to keep the views and funding high.1And it’s a well-done science channel, worth your subscription in my opinion. But my needs — and the needs of the bloggers and channels I follow — are different. We’re looking for that longterm connection and an audience that’s on board because of our way of saying things. It’s not that Derek doesn’t want that — it’s evident from his video that his voice and point of view are essential and he’s struggling with maintaining these — but the success of his platform is affected by more important things. On the other hand, at this point, I measure my success by people enjoying what I do and, to paraphrase Seth Godin, missing me when I’ve gone quiet.
I’m thinking about the direction of this blog all of the time. I change my mind about it constantly. But what always sticks is that I want it to be fun for you and — most importantly, if I’m honest — fun for me. I’m using this to find my people, to have conversations, and make those connections. And I’m using it to find potential friends, collaborators, clients, and employers. An SEO plug-in’s suggestions won’t be much help there. I see these imposed guidelines as a detriment and I’m happy to resist. So expect the blog to get more personal, more specialized, and obtuse — my private-made-public playground. No holding back the freak flag.