Thursday, 29 January 2009

The 5 Cs of online publishing

I've been thinking about what online publishing is to me and the elements that I feel are vital in maintaining a holistic offering with integrity. Apologies in advance for the density in the writing - I wanted to keep the post 'digestible'. I'm just having fun with this, so please feel free to add your two cents/pence by commenting.

The Cs (in order of progression):

1) Content

It goes without saying really but if a site doesn't have a unique and solid content proposition that it's going to be very hard to be sustainable. The core product is the foundation for everything else to be built on, so quality is critical.

2) Collaboration

No one is perfect. Most people aren't outstanding or capable of leading (aside from someone like Seth Godin). To produce something truly amazing out of a one person outfit is difficult. The origins of the web lay in collaboration between educational institutions. Better ideas are always generated by working with others. Google's whole ethos is collaboration and look where it's got them. Personal brands are only created on the web from collaborative brands first; you need communication with your audience before you amount to anything greater.

3) Conversation

You can have the best site and offering in your market, but what does it amount to if people aren't talking? And I'm not just talking about the obligatory conversations happening in the comments sections in blogs or forums. Visitors to sites need to be talking about them offline. To friends, associates, family, colleagues, strangers - word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable. Conversations are important for collaboration and collaboration is needed for producing original content.

4) Community

If you have conversations, regular and repeated visitors, site evangelists, new users and so forth you will have a budding community. Much has been written online about 'community' so I don't want to go into too much detail here - it's also pretty much inherently obvious.

5) Coexistence

This is a new addition to the Cs. The web is a complex ecosystem which is growing fastidiously every day. I've already touched on 'content saturation' here but it's important to note that you will always have new entrants to the online and offline markets, especially in publishing. The barriers to entry for online content production are practically nonexistent, with anyone being able to set up a blog for free and upload videos onto YouTube. Yes you need to be aware and prepared but also rational and realise that as long as you have your position down pat and are keeping your core readership happy you will be able to still exist in the food chain. News share sites and the 'mashable' kind are in a very strong position, because they don't act carnivorously. And number two, collaboration rears its head again!

I have a final C that I would like to put out there, this is more of a mantra than a must-do.


I've see it too many times - websites that are promising but upon further inspection just sound arrogant, aggressive and pretentious. You know charm is lost when you see that Wikipedia refers to the BlackBerry Charm, phone charms, lucky charms and charm bracelets before the origin of the world. Even the awful TV series gets a look in. An example... I do not want to be greeted with an 'about' me page written in the third person about your life, when you are Gen Y and haven't really achieved anything yet. Let's not forget it - afterall, charm is the biggest attractant you can have! Humble people are truly unique.

To summarise:

1) Content 2) Collaboration 3) Conversation 4) Community 5) Coexistence


  1. Hi Kate,
    I agree about the (often undervalued!) charm of humility. But I can't quite agree with the idea that you shouldn't talk about your achievements in your "About" page. If only because in our current economic downturn, a blog can be a very useful job seeking tool. I think balancing the self-promotion with humility and credit to others where it's due is the key. :)

  2. Hey Sarah,

    Just joined Geek Girl Dinners as I checked out your About page. Which btw is perfectly charming and humble! :-) I completely agree with your sentiments. Perhaps I was being a little harsh and idealistic at the same time in my post.

    I guess the way I blog is completely removed from seeking anything from doing so. E.g. I don't expect a return on blogging at this point in time. My purpose isn't to get into a top 100 list etc.

    That said, I was thinking about putting together an online portfolio/CV that would be external to blogging.

    As you have mentioned, it's all about balancing the language and tone used, people can toot their own horn by all means as long as they keep it factual and 'humble'. It's like press releases, the more flowery they get, the more I think they are 'trying to polish a turd'.


  3. Hmmm. I expected to see customer in there. That is, giving people what they want...

  4. Nice one Anon but it would have been nicer if there was a name behind that insight. :-P


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