Short Term Content Versus Evergreen Content

I’ve got a confession to make. I used to be a short term traffic junkie. I ran other websites where I’d get up early in the morning or stay up late into the night, blogging about the news in that space. And no it wasn’t SEO related subject matter. But I learned something on the way–short term content can be huge if it scores but–just like that wad of cash you brought into a strip club–it’s gone in an instant. And it’s not coming back.

I used to play a lot in the reality TV space, working with Survivor, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Amazing Race,  all sorts of man-on-street, mindless TV fodder. It’s easy traffic to have to because most TV networks have awful site architecture, hide all their content in flash, and couldn’t rank for Fuzzy Pink Sock Puppets in Los Angeles if their lives depended on it. But here’s the lesson I learned: that traffic is fleeting. You can get a massive influx of visitors and, while they may not be big ad clickers, you can count on 2% of the population to click on just about anything … if you shove it down their throats. But then a week later, that traffic and that keyword is gone. Sure, you’ll get the secondary hit when the show gets rebroadcast in Europe or Australia, but it’s just not the same. If you want to keep the traffic coming you have to keep chasing it.

You can still see people chasing this dream: just look at the secondary stories on Techmeme …

At some point, though, you’ll realize it’s a lot of work for a lot of glory but not a lot of payout. Things may have changed now that there are multiple on-demand copywriting services like demand media who can crank out articles like Hostess cranks out Twinkies, but the economics don’t work unless you have long-term, big budget, branding-minded display advertisers. You can still see people chasing this dream everyday: just look at the secondary stories on Techmeme.  It’s all page view journalism.

If you’re looking to build a steady income without having to be chained to your laptop, look into building content and websites based around evergreen content. Now I’ll be honest: running a website about How To Install a Koi Pond or Choosing a Retirement Home for Your Aging Parent is never going to be as sexy and exciting as blogging about the latest version of the iPhone, but it is going to be a lot less work and, if you do it right, be a lot more dependable from an income perspective. That’s not to say you should ignore news events, just don’t depend on them … think of them as the icing on your cupcake.

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