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Short Term Gains Versus Long Term Value

Liz and I just had a conversation that I had to write about. We were commenting how people sometimes sabotage their own efforts running after short term gains.

There are obviously unethical things people do to get ahead. Things like spamming. Shady black hat tactics. Affiliate cookie stuffing. Tricks. Attacks.

Then there are the less obvious things. Running after awards. Jumping on popularity contests and ranking lists. Begging for links. Digg baiting.

Why do all these things not only fail but actually cause your efforts harm?

Because when you focus on these things, you are not focusing on what really matters.

We have two eyes but only one focus. While you are focusing on instant gratification, you are not focusing on your audience. When your aim is anything other than providing value then your aim is off and you shoot your own feet. Rather than growing loyalty, credibility and trust you end up damaging your reputation.

Your first thought should always be “who is this going to help?”. Get the answer right and your long term growth is assured.

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Comments

  1. Yea! Chris! When I was in publishing, the editorial and design teams who worked in product development surely got tired of hearing two sentences from me — “Are we choosing for: our readers or ourselves? We can do both but if one, you know which we care about.” Every decision from a design change to a new editorial idea had to pass the “are we choosing our customers?” test. We sold that $9M company 3 years later for $35M. It was a good benchmark. :)

    What’s the point if no ones reading it? :)

    Thanks, Chris, for this post.

  2. Yea! Chris! When I was in publishing, the editorial and design teams who worked in product development surely got tired of hearing two sentences from me — “Are we choosing for: our readers or ourselves? We can do both but if one, you know which we care about.” Every decision from a design change to a new editorial idea had to pass the “are we choosing our customers?” test. We sold that $9M company 3 years later for $35M. It was a good benchmark. :)

    What’s the point if no ones reading it? :)

    Thanks, Chris, for this post.

  3. Yup, that is a great litmus test. So often I think people get addicted to the drug of short term traffic bursts, ego boosts and cash injections that a month, a year, or more is forgotten about. Then it is about feeding the monster rather than creating something of value …

  4. Yup, that is a great litmus test. So often I think people get addicted to the drug of short term traffic bursts, ego boosts and cash injections that a month, a year, or more is forgotten about. Then it is about feeding the monster rather than creating something of value …

  5. Yes, this rings true. Too easy to lose sight of that question, even with the best of intentions.

  6. Yes, this rings true. Too easy to lose sight of that question, even with the best of intentions.

  7. Yeah we can take our eyes off the ball for many reasons, so long as we get back on track I guess that is the main thing :)

  8. Yeah we can take our eyes off the ball for many reasons, so long as we get back on track I guess that is the main thing :)

  9. I think the same concept applies to monetization. Sure, you’ll make a lot more off AdSense if you place it prominently all over your site, but you’re also making your brand look spammy and undermining your long-term growth.

  10. I think the same concept applies to monetization. Sure, you’ll make a lot more off AdSense if you place it prominently all over your site, but you’re also making your brand look spammy and undermining your long-term growth.

  11. Agreed, and by optimising for adsense you end up optimising the site to efficiently send people away ..

  12. Agreed, and by optimising for adsense you end up optimising the site to efficiently send people away ..

  13. I agree with what you’ve said Chris, but something still doesn’t sit right with me… The reality is that making your blog known amongst the many other blogs out there is hard; damn hard. Yes, you’ve got to have good and often times great content, but then what?

    I feel my blog has some great content, but sometimes that’s simply not enough. So I have asked for links before. I prefer to call it networking as apposed to begging though. I would never ask someone to link to crap. And I would only ask someone to link to something that fits in to their blogs subject matter.

    So when one of my blog authors writes something that I think is quality I feel like I owe it to them to help get the word out on it. Call it my evangelical side, but why would I want to not spread the good word, er post…

  14. I agree with what you’ve said Chris, but something still doesn’t sit right with me… The reality is that making your blog known amongst the many other blogs out there is hard; damn hard. Yes, you’ve got to have good and often times great content, but then what?

    I feel my blog has some great content, but sometimes that’s simply not enough. So I have asked for links before. I prefer to call it networking as apposed to begging though. I would never ask someone to link to crap. And I would only ask someone to link to something that fits in to their blogs subject matter.

    So when one of my blog authors writes something that I think is quality I feel like I owe it to them to help get the word out on it. Call it my evangelical side, but why would I want to not spread the good word, er post…

  15. “I see you wrote about _____ I think your readers will find this XYZ useful because ________ ”
    “Please give me a link, I need traffic KTXBAI”
    One is begging, the other is not. Which do you do? :)

  16. “I see you wrote about _____ I think your readers will find this XYZ useful because ________ ”
    “Please give me a link, I need traffic KTXBAI”
    One is begging, the other is not. Which do you do? :)

  17. point taken :)

  18. point taken :)

  19. Chris, thanks for the article. As a new blogger, I am learning important information about how to do things right and through practicing that knowledge, my blog is growing. I was actually included in a list of links from Blogging Experiment yesterday because I have been leaving comments on his site. Ben and I connected because of Authority Blogger Forum when I went to his site to check it out. Thanks.

  20. Chris, thanks for the article. As a new blogger, I am learning important information about how to do things right and through practicing that knowledge, my blog is growing. I was actually included in a list of links from Blogging Experiment yesterday because I have been leaving comments on his site. Ben and I connected because of Authority Blogger Forum when I went to his site to check it out. Thanks.

  21. Glad the forum is helping :)

  22. Glad the forum is helping :)

  23. Great article Chris – but I wanted more. It was too damn short! This is such a valid topic.

    Getting the first StumbleUpon spike was so exciting… until I realised that many of those people weren’t even staying long enough to read the article. Maybe 1% of stumblers turn into long-term readers.

    And then you can try and artificially inflate an article on a social bookmarking site, but that takes effort and work and then what for? For stumblers that don’t stick around?

    We all want traffic and comments and blogging success… but chasing that is the tail wagging the dog. That comes when you provide something of value… right?

    So if no one’s coming to your site, how do you objectively evaluate whether your wonderful site just hasn’t been discovered yet, OR if no one really needs what it is you’re offering?

  24. Great article Chris – but I wanted more. It was too damn short! This is such a valid topic.

    Getting the first StumbleUpon spike was so exciting… until I realised that many of those people weren’t even staying long enough to read the article. Maybe 1% of stumblers turn into long-term readers.

    And then you can try and artificially inflate an article on a social bookmarking site, but that takes effort and work and then what for? For stumblers that don’t stick around?

    We all want traffic and comments and blogging success… but chasing that is the tail wagging the dog. That comes when you provide something of value… right?

    So if no one’s coming to your site, how do you objectively evaluate whether your wonderful site just hasn’t been discovered yet, OR if no one really needs what it is you’re offering?

  25. “We have two eyes but only one focus”
    Did you watch Crouching tiger hidden dragon tonight, or maybe kung fu?
    Lots of great gobs of info in the forum, I spent a good coupla hours over the past few day there, maybe it’ll be my new haunt, sorry im a bit of alurker, till I have something intelligent to say. Unlike now. Ok Im a dork,
    But seriously you cant totally discredit shady, many of the largest corporations got that way because of shady. Ie Billy bob gates. Now hes the real slim shady.
    Desperation and inexpereince is where this starts, it hopefully leads to experience and seasoning after a short while
    Cheers and beers from Canada
    Shane
    PS : stupid ass question here , why do the comment forms ask for email addresses and what happens to the email addresses when theyre entered and can we ethically capture them :-P

  26. “We have two eyes but only one focus”
    Did you watch Crouching tiger hidden dragon tonight, or maybe kung fu?
    Lots of great gobs of info in the forum, I spent a good coupla hours over the past few day there, maybe it’ll be my new haunt, sorry im a bit of alurker, till I have something intelligent to say. Unlike now. Ok Im a dork,
    But seriously you cant totally discredit shady, many of the largest corporations got that way because of shady. Ie Billy bob gates. Now hes the real slim shady.
    Desperation and inexpereince is where this starts, it hopefully leads to experience and seasoning after a short while
    Cheers and beers from Canada
    Shane
    PS : stupid ass question here , why do the comment forms ask for email addresses and what happens to the email addresses when theyre entered and can we ethically capture them :-P

  27. I agree with the thought Chris had put forward in the post. Short term gains never take you further.

    Rajesh Shakya
    Helping technopreneurs to excel and lead their life!

  28. I agree with the thought Chris had put forward in the post. Short term gains never take you further.

    Rajesh Shakya
    Helping technopreneurs to excel and lead their life!

  29. http://www.douglaskarr.com/2007/07/05/blog-tipping/

    I agree but I think I found a happy medium. I wanted to get some attention on my blog but didn’t want to go ‘evil’ so I started “Blog Tipping”.

    That is – make a specific request tracking back to my post and I will review your blog and try to throw some tips your way to improve your blog’s layout, Seach Engine placement, etc.

    Thoughts?

  30. http://www.douglaskarr.com/2007/07/05/blog-tipping/

    I agree but I think I found a happy medium. I wanted to get some attention on my blog but didn’t want to go ‘evil’ so I started “Blog Tipping”.

    That is – make a specific request tracking back to my post and I will review your blog and try to throw some tips your way to improve your blog’s layout, Seach Engine placement, etc.

    Thoughts?

  31. I think you’re totally right, Chris.

    What gets me is bloggers who have just started a new blog without a PR ranking, and they stuff their pages with advertisements… the three AdSense ads and links, CJ, Amazon, whatever… Like a reader is going to want to read a 0 PR blog like that.

    This is my first visit to your blog, but I have been to your new forum under “Blogger.” Nice vords of visdom on this entry.

  32. I think you’re totally right, Chris.

    What gets me is bloggers who have just started a new blog without a PR ranking, and they stuff their pages with advertisements… the three AdSense ads and links, CJ, Amazon, whatever… Like a reader is going to want to read a 0 PR blog like that.

    This is my first visit to your blog, but I have been to your new forum under “Blogger.” Nice vords of visdom on this entry.

  33. 2 eyes and One focus….That should be coined Chris. I see it happening all over the place. Getting huge stumble for posts which might not have any worth.

    Last one month when I was on tour, I had to just stop thinking of what My blog will earn and think How can i keep my readers happy with new content…and I was able to do it.

    You can be always have a site which is having good alexa, good money but at the end you will know if it was really worth witout an audience

  34. 2 eyes and One focus….That should be coined Chris. I see it happening all over the place. Getting huge stumble for posts which might not have any worth.

    Last one month when I was on tour, I had to just stop thinking of what My blog will earn and think How can i keep my readers happy with new content…and I was able to do it.

    You can be always have a site which is having good alexa, good money but at the end you will know if it was really worth witout an audience

  35. My blog has had a longterm perspective from the beginning. My goal is to create something that will be a great resource when someone does a search on my topic five years from now. This has influenced everything from site layout to post length to participation in memes.

    I actually have no idea how it’s affecting my traffic now. One thing I’ve noticed is that I can end up using it as an excuse though. “Oh, my traffic is stagnant this month. Well that’s fine because I’m longterm oriented.”

    Well really it’s probably because I was half-assed about finding readers and maybe my overall plan needs tweaks to make it more appealing.

  36. My blog has had a longterm perspective from the beginning. My goal is to create something that will be a great resource when someone does a search on my topic five years from now. This has influenced everything from site layout to post length to participation in memes.

    I actually have no idea how it’s affecting my traffic now. One thing I’ve noticed is that I can end up using it as an excuse though. “Oh, my traffic is stagnant this month. Well that’s fine because I’m longterm oriented.”

    Well really it’s probably because I was half-assed about finding readers and maybe my overall plan needs tweaks to make it more appealing.

  37. All good points. I have certain policies about selling Text Links, I personally don’t do it. Personally because of long term growth I think it nukes your outbound links. Also adsense I agree. What’s the point. Although some might say I am a short termer I tend to keep many projects that are more long termers behind the veil of secrecy I think its ok to have some short term gainer sites and also some long term stables. That’s my take. Thanks for sharing this nugget of wisdom.

  38. All good points. I have certain policies about selling Text Links, I personally don’t do it. Personally because of long term growth I think it nukes your outbound links. Also adsense I agree. What’s the point. Although some might say I am a short termer I tend to keep many projects that are more long termers behind the veil of secrecy I think its ok to have some short term gainer sites and also some long term stables. That’s my take. Thanks for sharing this nugget of wisdom.

  39. @K-L – Well for a start the better job of targeting, creating value and knowing your audience, the easier it is to promote. For example, a widget that doesn’t do anything is going to be a harder sell than an instant face lift in a pill, the first example is hard slog, the second almost sells itself. Getting the ball rolling is the hard bit, that means going out and commenting, linking out a lot, networking, forums, etc. Once you have even a small audience you can get feedback, then you have something to work on.

    @shaners – Hopefully when you submitted a comment you will have been emailed with a courtesy note thank you. Submitting a comment though is not opting in for your newsletter though so don’t think of adding them to a distribution list :) Many bloggers have grown loyal audiences by striking up conversation with their commenters too.

    @Rajesh – I guess the distinction is short term gains at the expense of long term ones …

    @Douglas – I think anything on brand and that creates value is spot on, so great idea :)

    @Jason – Thanks, hope you are liking the forum :)

    @Ashish – Yup, the audience is the whole point, I don’t want a revolving door but to make a real connection with people

    @Chris – Yes you always have to keep in mind the steps required to get to your goal and how you will monitor what works. A growing RSS/email readership and valuable comments are good indicators. Also what people are saying about your blog on other blogs and in forums.

    @David – What do you mean by nukes your links? Do you mean Google stops them passing PR? I don’t care so much about that (I don’t blog thinking about Google :) ) but I can see it would be a tactical problem in many scenarios.

  40. @K-L – Well for a start the better job of targeting, creating value and knowing your audience, the easier it is to promote. For example, a widget that doesn’t do anything is going to be a harder sell than an instant face lift in a pill, the first example is hard slog, the second almost sells itself. Getting the ball rolling is the hard bit, that means going out and commenting, linking out a lot, networking, forums, etc. Once you have even a small audience you can get feedback, then you have something to work on.

    @shaners – Hopefully when you submitted a comment you will have been emailed with a courtesy note thank you. Submitting a comment though is not opting in for your newsletter though so don’t think of adding them to a distribution list :) Many bloggers have grown loyal audiences by striking up conversation with their commenters too.

    @Rajesh – I guess the distinction is short term gains at the expense of long term ones …

    @Douglas – I think anything on brand and that creates value is spot on, so great idea :)

    @Jason – Thanks, hope you are liking the forum :)

    @Ashish – Yup, the audience is the whole point, I don’t want a revolving door but to make a real connection with people

    @Chris – Yes you always have to keep in mind the steps required to get to your goal and how you will monitor what works. A growing RSS/email readership and valuable comments are good indicators. Also what people are saying about your blog on other blogs and in forums.

    @David – What do you mean by nukes your links? Do you mean Google stops them passing PR? I don’t care so much about that (I don’t blog thinking about Google :) ) but I can see it would be a tactical problem in many scenarios.

  41. @Chris
    Yeah Goog has a history of nuking pagerank passing ability on sites who sell links. Another example of selling short term gain instead of focussing on long term. Although i think its ok to have a short term focused project not all your projects should be short sighted. IMO

  42. @Chris
    Yeah Goog has a history of nuking pagerank passing ability on sites who sell links. Another example of selling short term gain instead of focussing on long term. Although i think its ok to have a short term focused project not all your projects should be short sighted. IMO

  43. Very good points. So much blog writing has become shallow because people are trying to get the prize before they earn it. Even then, the prize they do obtain is short-lived, nothing compared to simply working on writing exceptional content.

  44. Very good points. So much blog writing has become shallow because people are trying to get the prize before they earn it. Even then, the prize they do obtain is short-lived, nothing compared to simply working on writing exceptional content.

  45. Fantastic! Concentrate on the value you are providing your clients and your marketing will be blissfully easy…

  46. Fantastic! Concentrate on the value you are providing your clients and your marketing will be blissfully easy…