The prospect of AI dominating the information space appear very threatening to the landscape of personal blogging and traditional "SEO" strategies, because it may in fact completely replace the use of search engines and give users instant answers to any question thinkable. Of course, I do not engage consciously in SEO because of ethical considerations, and not least, the amount of time I would waste doing so, but nevertheless, the majority of Beamtic's traffic do in fact originate from search engines, so AI is likely to do tremendous harm to that.
Mostly I have been amused by asking ChatGPT unlikely and irrelevent questions, but although i find such dialogs with AI humorous and entertaining, the resulting answers by the AI are, in fact, not bad, and often they are even absolutely brilliant. For instance, just contemplate ChatGPT's answer to this Kick and scream question, or that "jump down" from Earth, onto the Moon question. The questions are completely daft, but the answers are brilliant and fairly factual and informative. AI does not need to provide 100% factual answers like humans do, it just need to guide you on the right track to be able to solve a given task or problem you are dealing with.
Now, I like to write articles, and will probably continue to do so in spite of AI taking the lead in the information space. But it is a bit heartbreaking to witness the potential complete destruction of an entire industry, because to an extent, there will no longer be a point in owning and maintaining a website unless you are selling something – there is just not going to be any reward or personal gain in it for you – and even for webshops, it may make more sense to simply use an existent platform to sell their goods. Is that really the kind of internet we want?
E-mail marketing and Social Media
Jakob Nielsen, famous usability expert, has deduced that direct lines to end-users will become more important as AI is going to replace the use of search engines. Unfortunately, I think he is right. But many of us do not run a newsletter, and we also have had no reason to maintain one. Perhaps it is about time I start to rethink ways to reach users? But wait! I think Newsletters are spammy, irrelevant noise – why should I join "that game"?!
As a user I almost never read them, and I would hate to "join the game" for the simple reason that it is a marketing practice I hate.
Surely there must be ways to still attract traffic naturally using nothing but shear quality of content? Newsletters never seem to give me any value as a user, because their content is just too random and un-targeted, and I find it to be an ancient and outdated practice that likely carried over from the days of physical mail – wait that is actually still a thing! And we still get direct to dumpster "spam" in our physical mail boxes that we never specifically requested as well. Oh, well, quantity over quality for some I guess.
The one newsletter I did find useful was from clothing webshop Zelando, but I unsubscribed when they started sending me newsletters advertising womens clothing!
What we probably need is some way of creating targeted newsletters based on users interest, but that too seems to be a frown upon and dying trend. Targeted ads are erroneously viewed as evil by those in the privacy "religion", and making money on ads, is, itself a very hard thing to do these days. I have often considered simply removing AdSense from my website, because I have not made any significant amount of money on it. It does not even cover my hosting expenses currently, and the ads are often out-of-place, lack decent margin to neighboring elements. AdSense are not even properly responsive when re-sizing the browser. The problems with implementing AdSense are still numerous in spite of auto-ads. Personally I completely disabled the spammy and irritating vignette ads.
Opt-in newsletters, where users pick the categories of interest themselves is of course different than automatically targeting content to individual users, but it may, unfortunately, also be less likely to catch the interest of users because of varying content of blog posts. It, at least, will demand a minute attention to detail and consistency. I think it can work, but, we have to be careful what we promote, and at the same time we probably want to automate these types of newsletters so we can focus on writing.
Social media is another place where we can promote our content, but in my experience, it is also very hard to gain attention in this space, and the posts often end up being low-quality and spammy in nature. Perhaps that is simply the nature of social media, and to an extent, social interactions in general. E.g. Even in real life I have numerous irrelevant "small talks" and "joking" that actually hinders productivity, but, yet serves a social purpose.
It looks like at least some bloggers are fairly successful using social media. E.g. nixCraft, Invisible People and PPC Ian. I still view or read content posted by those on occasion, nixCraft being the newest addition.
Unfortunately, in my experience it is typically very hard to establish yourself on social media without relentlessly spamming your stuff. Facebook and Twitter seem to actively limit reach of less established accounts anyway, and I have only had moderate success with Beamtic's YouTube channel – I practically stopped posting videos because they kicked me out of their partnership program, and I feel like I rarely have time when doing a full time job as a web developer anyways.
It feels like the amount of time and dedication to succeed is increasing exponentially – in reality it is probably much easier than we think, but everything will often feel hard until you actually have some meaningful success doing it.
Then again, I hate this centralization of everything on the internet. It is bad for the internet, it is bad for users, and it is bad for authors and bloggers, mainly because they will be forced to share their revenue with these big and centralized platforms. You may have noticed Jakob Nielsens's article was published on substack.com rather than he's own website. That sort of centralization is unfortunate, but I can understand why authors feel forced into joining these abusive platforms. It is increasingly harder to gain readers on a personal blog, because social media, and indeed just platforms in general, tends to favor on-site content. E.g. They want you to publish directly on their platforms so they can get a bite of your cake – let's push and hope for some regulation that ends that malicious practice.