Don’t Get Seduced By Numbers

There is a thinking on the web and it goes something like this: x piece got x amount of traffic so that must mean x piece is good.

This is bullshit.

The truth is, nobody really knows what scales and what doesn’t. There are so many key contributing factors — timing of the piece, the subject matter, the angle, headline. The least crucial factors are who wrote it and whether it’s actually good.

What success looks like online has been flawed for years. Ever since traffic became the key goal, most websites have focused on traffic as an end strategy. Whether what they’re doing is valuable, that’s not a concern.

While traffic and data can help identify what is important to readers, let us not forget our own free will, the thing inside us — some call it intuition — which allows us to create something because we think it has value, not they.

And the they I refer to is not the millions of people who might click on a link, but the couple thousand, or even few hundred — or heck, even the one person — who might also find it interesting, and think that little thing has value.

There is a reason why a baseball game is not 9 innings of players hitting home runs. No team wins by swinging for the fences every time up to bat.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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