Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I have to say I love the forum at Digital Point. It has one of the worst signal-to-noise ratios on the web, but over the years I've got some great tips and deals from there. There's been a lot of crap as well, but hey - we's got to learn somehow. I check there often, and I see a lot of stuff that makes me smile every time I visit. Be it 10,000 original articles for five dollars, MySpace account 20 zillion contacts for ten dollars or another webmaster newbie asking why his AdSense account got banned - it has it all.
Another reason I enjoy Digital Point is it (and similar forums) lay bare the rise of a whole army of lazy webmasters, all looking to be the next big web thing. We all want our sites to be successful, that's all well and good, but unfortunately at Digital Point, there's many with little actual will to stand out from the crowd and do something unique. Most are looking for, or selling quick 'sure-fire' solutions that are anything but.
I've sort of touched on this trend here in the past, and indeed been guilty of being caught up in the madness myself once or twice. How do I mean? Well, take for example the old favourite of Pixel Advertising. It goes like this - someone does something, makes a ton of money off it, a whole industry suddenly springs up trying to emulate it whilst completely missing the fact the boat's sailed already.
As much as we like a shortcut, in some cases it can also be detrimental to a web master's site. Duplicate content, spammy services, links from bad neighbourhoods, banned URLs, etc. Digital Point isn't alone in being a focus for these dubious services, you see it wherever webmasters congregate. There's a whole cottage industry trying to get rich, one dollar at a time, offering ebooks, databases of stuff and sure things.
And if it's for sale in such quantities, you can guarantee someone there is buying. At times it feels like some would even sell their left kidney for something as meaningless as a PR7 backlink. All sorts of behaviours and cultural misunderstandings abound, and this sort of laziness is also apparent in the sites that many are concentrating on making in a misguided attempt to grab a slice of online success. Unfortunately for most of them, they are doomed for the same reason the Pixel Advertising clones were doomed - the time has passed.
The fact the pan has flashed would also explain why there's usually loads of these sorts of sites for sale there as well. Fortunately for the jaded and spent webmaster, there's a boat full of newbies there to gleefully pick up the slack when they've realised the futility of what they were doing.
These lazy sites fascinate me - they're being mass produced on an industrial level and there seems to be no shortage of webmasters willing to try them out. In my own lazy, list-obsessed style, here's my run down of ten sites that frankly, webmasters should avoid getting involved with. Unless, and this is a big unless that 99.9% of all webmasters trying one of these sites won't be able to do, unless you can do something radical with it.
Many will try these, and clutter up the web with endless copies of cookie-cut website scripts and pointless ventures. But, here's my tip - don't waste your time on 'em. Choose your niche, make it about something you love, make it original, build it up. There.
We all got to start somewhere, and I have to admit I've been guilty of pointless web sprawl. Partially, as a result of stuff I'd learnt at places like Digital Point. Now though, I've stopped, my focus is on less sites and making them as unique and original as possible (in the main - I still do the odd experiment.)
There are webmasters out there who already knew this, and they're there on Digital Point as well - their advice is priceless. Figuring out who they are is the fun part. Unfortunately, many of us were too busy making pointless sites, rather than concentrating on quality.
If you're a webmaster and you're thinking of starting a site from the list above. Think twice - would your time be better spent developing something you've already got rather than trying to replicate what's already gone? I know what I want to do from now on.