Word on the web is professional content is back in vogue, and amateur content, specifically the half-hearted drivel riddled with misinformation, is out.
Good riddance, I say. It’s not always easy to distinguish yourself from the crowd of professional and not so professional writers out there. It takes work, guts, insanely long hours, caffeine, research, creativity, and alcohol. Lots of it. Preferably 80 proof, well-aged, or imported. Lots of it.
Finally, once you think you’ve made it – and as a writer, “made it” means something along the lines of not having to eat ramen noodles anymore, moving out of your parents house, and upgrading that 1986 Toyota Celica with the peeling paint that you’ve been driving around since your sophomore year in college to something a little nicer and more reliable – you soon realize there will always be someone younger, wiser, more hip, more experienced, or better informed coming up from behind.
This realization will make you feel like you are losing your edge. You will get depressed. You will cry. You will take up smoking and realize you hate it. You will start dressing like a Goth and realize it is dumb. You will cry. You will sleep for weeks. You will cry. Eventually, however, and only after much deliberation (writers love to deliberate), you will come to accept that the race to stay ahead of the competition is back on, and, in fact, that it never really ended (alcohol helps with this step, in particular).
Now, once you accept this fact of creative life (and life in general, for that matter), as long as that competition consists of experienced pros and industry gurus, fine. Competition is healthy, hard work is good for you, and stagnation, professional or otherwise, should be avoided at all costs.
However, when writing for the web, your competition often consists of a large body of ill-informed, amateur hacks taking weak shots in the dark, invading your beloved forum with poorly-researched opinions, error-laden articles, and hastily formed ideas. And you may find yourself asking, “Is it really worth it?”
Lucky for me, and others who make a living crafting online content, a shift seems to be underway as I write this. It seems the seasoned writer is back in demand – and the rookie scribes are on their way out. The cause of the shift? It is likely two-fold. On one hand, web professionals and dot.com CEOs have finally realized the quality of content on their respective web properties largely dictates how much they can charge for advertising. On the other hand, web users are demanding more from the online experience. Add those two things together and the result is an increased need for well-written, reliable, and engaging content.
As writer Tony Dokoupil explains in “Revenge of the Expert,” a recent Newsweek web exclusive:
Fueling all this podium worship is the potential for premium audiences—and advertising revenue. “The more trusted an environment, the more you can charge for it,” says Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis, a former AOL executive who was previously involved with several Web start-ups. It’s also easier to woo advertisers with the promise of controlled content than with hit-and-miss blog blather. “Nobody wants to advertise next to crap,” says Andrew Keen, author of “The Cult of the Amateur,” a jeremiad against the ills of the unregulated Web. (http://www.newsweek.com/id/119091/page/1)
So there you have it, people. Writers, turn on your Macs. Get out your pens. Pour the shots.
The race is on.