Building the Airspace
As of late, I have been doing an obscene amount of writing and reading with little reflection or contemplation in between. It has been a bit over a month since the idea of a podcast turned into a website called The Airspace. That span of time, roughly 40 days has contained some of the most confusing and doubtful periods I’ve experienced yet.
The modern and social Internet is still a young beast but there already are giants that exist. AOL properties like Huffington Post, Tech Crunch and Engadget compete other modern towers like Gawker. Old media beasts like The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal are constantly capturing the most vibrant and professionally vetted stories. New players with massive funding, like the Verge and PandoDaily, also have a place. But, for the little guys with no real training in journalism, no genuine expertise in web development, essentially no funding, and very few contacts to boot, entering into media is a daunting thing.
An online publication thrives on the fact that it constantly injects new content into the web ecosystem. A new online publication has to the same at an obscenely fast rate. Why? Because establishment has its costs. If a site doesn’t update frequently enough it won’t gain and retain an audience. People won’t visit of their own volition unless they can assume something new will be there when they arrive. Once you establish a relationship where they trust a site’s (or brand’s) reliability, they then will enter in a contract where the brand’s new content gets pushed to them (i.e. liking on Facebook, following on Twitter). The Airspace has to emerge from complete darkness and start generating content so people will buy into the vision we have. But attaining an audience can detract from that vision.
This week alone I spent more time with development on the site and working with advertising issues than I did actually writing anything. I told myself, and the rest of the Airspace staff that I would write at least one new thing every day. I created four articles of original material and six pieces for the Ticker (I also made the Ticker itself). Three of the four articles ended up being hits for the week, the other was a bust, and the ticker articles managed to bring in enough viewers to justify the time spent on them.
Problem is, none of the things I wrote this week were planned in advance. I still have six half-completed articles—ones that could be super hits—sitting in draft form in iA Writer files. Those are the pieces I really want to work on, the ones where the facts are just roiling around in my head waiting to spill out, but I don’t have the time to afford them the attention they need.
If I could take the time and only write one piece per week, I know they would be hits, but I also know if I neglect the site for 6 of 7 days, I will have no audience to read my work. Consistency is essential in blogging. Try as I might to refer to The Airspace’s material as writing and practicing journalism, we’re competing for readers from blogs and content aggregation networks.
I would love to sit back and take the real Editor-in-Chief role where I would peruse my army of writer’s words looking for dangling propositions, logical fallacies, and unchecked facts. I would be able to really focus on my work and produce one masterwork of content to publish on Monday and still bring in the most views on Friday. Or just dare to write that piece and see if it flops or not. And if it does flop, it’s okay. I have a staff of great writers producing daily content.
But, that’s not where I’m at yet and that’s not where The Airspace is at yet. Accepting that writing the popular but slightly offhandish article is essential to keeping a website alive. When we have an audience, and funding, and full staff, I will be afforded the aforementioned luxuries. For now it’s write first and ask questions later.