I truly feel this one.
“One of the major problems with salesbros is that they think “always be closing” is a mantra to live by because they didn’t understand the point of Glengarry Glen Ross, which is that salespeople are nightmares. That’s why there’s always some silly pop-up chat at the bottom of every website now. No, Pamela — if that is your real name — I don’t want live assistance booking my yoga class. You are hogging valuable screen real estate.
This is some real tragedy of the commons s—. The web is becoming a miserable experience because some salesbro who is trying to meet his KPIs is doing stuff to marginally increase the number of paying customers. (And you know, the h— with the rest of us!) The more each site tries to create its own little walled garden, the less valuable the open web becomes.
I suspect this has gotten more common lately because of privacy concerns. See, a change to EU privacy laws means it’s not as easy to track users around the web; Apple’s privacy initiatives on its phone similarly make this harder. In the case of publishers, I assume the company is trying to create a richer ad profile for me to better compete with Facebook and Google. Plus, you know, maybe they can sell my email as part of a targeted marketing list. So what we’re looking at here is creating a worse user experience in order to pursue a variety of scummy money-making schemes.
There are no real public spaces on the internet
And that sucks because there are no real public spaces on the internet. Here in reality, I can f— off to a park and hug a tree and sit on a bench and do stuff without ads, without anyone trying to track me, and without having to pay a dime. There was a time within my memory when people tried to make websites feel like semipublic places — you could hang out on someone’s cool blog and enjoy yourself. Sure, there might be a banner ad, but that’s like paying a buck for coffee and then just sitting in a diner all day with free refills.
The semipermeable paywall? I understand that. S—, if I’m reading more than 10 of your articles a month, I probably should subscribe. Fair’s fair, and writers have to eat just like everyone else. But I’m starting to feel like I’m being strip-mined for data, and for what? Google already has access to my email. Why on earth does it need more of my information? How much more of my life does this behemoth want to surveil?
I don’t know, man. I was on the internet in the 1990s, and I remember when people just made stuff for fun — as a gift to other people. It seems like there’s less and less of that spirit remaining, and it’s why the internet sucks now. It’s why I have to append “reddit” to my Google searches to avoid getting SEO glurge — the for-profit stuff drowns out everything else. It’s why people are using DALL-E for newsletter header images to make sure their newsletter gets a bigger card in a social media feed — because it doesn’t matter what the image looks like as long as it exists. It’s why people intentionally put errors in their TikToks to juice engagement — because all the people commenting to tell you you’re wrong boost you in the algorithm. This is the bad place!”
This is something I’ve noticed. You used to be able to find lots of great information by doing a simple web search. Now most of the articles that come up are SEO-based garbage with little new or useful information.
Many of the good blogs are dead and gone and many of the new ones are just things like “Andrew’s Garden” or something like that, that is just a big mess of third-world created articles about electric lawnmowers with Amazon links.
Pinterest used to be a good-looking site where you could gather ideas onto boards. Now it’s loaded with third-world garbage. Great photos that then link to spammy sites.
There’s a definite balance between trying to make stuff because you love it, and trying to make some money. It’s a tension. I don’t take sponsorships on my YouTube channel because I don’t want to spam it up. Instead, I sell my books as a way to monetize what I do. If you love my videos, maybe you’ll send me a few bucks by buying a book.
I still get some AdSense revenue, which I am ambivalent about, but I don’t advertise Chinese LED lights, garden apparel, VPN companies or electric bicycle manufacturers, no matte how many requests they send my way.
On this site, I do have Mediavine ads running, though I have often considered ditching them. If my book sales get high enough to make me now need the extra few hundred bucks a month, I probably will get rid of them one day.
Mostly, I write and share videos about gardening for free, and trust that I will get enough book sales to keep us afloat. Thus far, it’s worked just fine. I’ll also sell tickets to the occasional event for those who want to meet up in person.
I hate advertising in general, and I hate most companies. Yet I love people and love gardening, and I love to encourage people to grow food for their families.
We could make a lot more money if we went hard-core on marketing. There are a few schemes I have considered, which might free us up financially, but haven’t pulled the trigger on.
Maybe I’ll do a crazy marketing blitz at some point to pay the house off – I’m not immune to the draw – but my favorite thing is to just share our gardening with a like-minded community of people.
Chasing every penny has wrecked the internet – if we can avoid being part of the problem, that would be the best.
Heck, I turned off pop-ups on this site, even though I got a ton more newsletter signups back when I had them.
Still… if I went full-tilt, I could buy a Mustang. Or, even better, a Kubota!
Can you imagine how easy it would be to move mulch around with a tractor? I could even put a wood chipper on the power takeoff and make my own mulch!
PLEASE BUY WHATEVER I AM SELLING ON THIS SEO-OPTIMIZED WEBSITE OKAY THX
I’m headed to the garden. Thank you all for being here.