SEO for Small Websites

You interested in SEO? Perhaps you should be…

One of the things I mentioned in my Sunday post about my current Amazon Affiliate failures, was the fact that I’ve never really done my homework on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

As this has finally caught my attention, I will be sharing what I learn as a complete and utter newbie in this arena. One thing I’ve seen quickly, is that there is TONS of experts on this.

Another YouTuber (Irene Iron Fitness) and I have emailed back and forth a bit after we stumbled across each others’ videos. If you are curious about RV travel around the US and how to cook and stay fit at the same time, this is a great channel to check out.

Aaron (the husband) was gracious enough to shoot me an email with some research he did on YouTube/Website SEO…I’ll be writing about his advice soon. One person (on YouTube) he pointed me too was Neil Patel.

Rather than re-hash what Neil says in his video, I thought I’d share one in which he talks about a bunch of free tools – some of which I’d already discovered, some not. His titles are a bit click bait-ish…but his content is good and broken down well.

These free tools seem like a great place to start. If you have any others please let me know!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

A quick thank you to…

Rather than post another one of my vlogs today, I wanted to say thank you to all of you reading this.

As I take the next 2 weeks off my regular posting schedule, I can honestly say that I have had the most engagement and activity on any website I’ve ever had to date over here at PatagoniaDad. Thank you!!

I hope that people enjoy the various kinds of posts I put out each day, and that the regular nature of what I post does not bore you…and if it does let me know! I truly enjoy sharing what things I’m reading, what inspires me, what is on my mind, the music I listen to, and videos of my various family adventures via my vlog.

The fact that some people found my little corner of the internet and gave it a like or decided to follow means a lot to me.

If you ever feel like reaching out, you can always email me or hit me up on the various social media spots.

Until then…May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may his face shine upon you and bring you peace.

4 Reasons Good Leaders are Hard to Find

22 years old and I was in charge of 40 people…what the hell do I do?

22 years old and I was in charge of 40 people…what the hell do I do?

Even though I had been preparing for this moment for the past 4 years, I had so much to learn. I had taken leadership and ethics classes, read books about leaders past, attended lectures by well known industry pioneers…and I still had no clue what I was doing.

I know what you’re thinking. Big surprise. I was 22.

So you already know my first point…

1. You Can’t Teach Experience

All the training, books, or lectures in the world cannot substitute time spent circling the sun in a leadership role. As a leader there are lessons you learn that cannot be taught, growth you experience that cannot be absorbed from a book, and wisdom you gain that cannot be arrived at by the end of a 1 hour lecture. You have to make my own mistakes and hope that there are people around you that are experienced enough to give you room to err.

Fortunately, I had such people in the earliest parts of my career. Not to say that I was a bumbling idiot who relied 100 percent on his more experienced co-workers…I wasn’t that person…but I do count myself fortunate.

You’ve probably heard the stat that 9 out 10 small businesses fail. This is commonly exaggerated and actually closer to 50-70% depending on time measured. Per a Washington Post article:

“About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more. As one would expect, the probability of survival increases with a firm’s age. Survival rates have changed little over time.” – Small Business Administration

source US Bureau of Labor Statistics
source US Bureau of Labor Statistics

After about 6 years in the workforce, I made my first attempt at a career change. I was one of those entrepreneurs, that tried and failed to open my own business. Again…big surprise. A bank didn’t want to loan me $300k with only a few years of experience under my belt. No matter how many people I had led in the past.

2. “Self-awareness” is Not Common

The best leaders that I have worked for, had an uncanny ability to know when they lost their cool, pushed too far, supported a bad call, or just made a mistake that affected people. This self-awareness always manifested itself in an apology from my bosses to the leadership team or even, in rare cases, to every employee in our organization.

Apologizing is a skill not everyone learns well, regardless of age or experience.

There is something truly powerful that happens when your boss says, “I’m sorry. I messed up and I’ve learned a lesson. Let’s fix this together”. That admission of humanity, especially by very senior leaders, does a lot to bring people together to support not only the organization, but also to support the person that was willing to admit his or her faults in hopes of wanting to get it right, vice just wanting to be right.

(shout out to Colin Cowherd for that adage)

3. Balancing Emergence vs Effectiveness is Tough

Emergence vs Effectiveness is best explained by giving the extreme examples of each.

A purely emergent leader might be someone who is dynamic, knows everyone, stands out due to their personality, great persuader….”plays the politics” well. BUT may not know much of the true workings of the organization and, many might say, their skill level is low.

On the other end is the solely effective leader who is very knowledgeable of the ins and outs of the daily mechanics, works well with everyone, seen as a technical expert….can lead every small team in the organization. BUT may not “play the game” well or “doesn’t do” office politics.

Ring any bells?

I learned about these two extremes from the CEO of Hogan Assessments while at a conference and it struck a chord. How is a company supposed to develop leaders that have that balance? This is a huge topic being tackled in the human resources realm right now and it’s not an easy nut to crack.

image via
image via

4. Trust

If a company is hiring someone to a management/leadership position, one of the the unspoken questions that company is trying to answer is “Do we trust this person?”. Interviews and resume verification can help…no-one will hire a person who’s last boss said they were “sort-of a good worker”. While there are also very few job fields that come with an inherent sense of trust when seen on a resume. Law enforcement and military are among the rare professions that typically come with an inherent sense of social trust due the nature of the work.

I believe trust must be built through honesty, practicing what you preach, and learning how to be vulnerable – but that’s an entirely different topic to be tackled another time, and honestly cannot be determined in an interview or written on a resume. Therefore, unless one of those in your company’s applicant pool is an experienced veteran, a known internal hire, or vouched for by someone else you already trust, hiring a potential leader directly in to a position of responsibility is a complete gamble.

image via Wikipedia
image via Wikipedia

This list could (and should) be a lot longer than four reasons why good leaders are hard to find. I’m sure there’s 50 reasons. Yet, these four seem to be the things I have seen over and over in my 15 year career. I have led many people, and been led by many leaders, seen good versus bad, experience inspirational and cautionary.

If you can be humble enough to learn from those with experience while you gain your own, strive to be more self-aware today than you were yesterday, strike the balance of political maneuvering vs efficient work, and learn how build trust…then you’ll be one of the rare ones.

A Good (if not great) Leader.

This Will Help You Understand Veterans on Veterans Day

This will help you understand Veterans Day…

I have a confession the make to you…

If you knew me in my youth, then you would know that I was one of the most UNLIKELY people to end up in uniform.

I sort of stumbled my way in to the military…

I had never really thought about signing up to serve. I was a California kid that had hopes of being a college athlete. By a sheer stroke of crazy luck, there was a coach at United States Naval Academy that knew one of my old coaches. That was the first domino that fell, among many, that led to my application and acceptance to this historic, prestigious, and (very) military college. 

Little did I know what I was signing up for.

Upon reporting to my boot camp (or plebe summer as they call it at the U.S. Naval Academy) I was greeted by a steely eyed detailer. Next to him sat a female detailer, just as steely eyed and ready to whip some new recruits in to shape.

image via wikipedia
image via wikipedia

Detailer 1: “Plebe! From now on the first and last words out of your mouth will be sir or ma’am. Do you understand?”

Me: “Yup!”

Detailer 1: with a brief look of confusion before a grimace sets in “PLEBE!!!!! From now on the first and last words out of your mouth will be SIR or MA’AM!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!?!”

Me: “YES…I understand you” I said trying to make my words more clear and slow…thinking that would help.

Detailer 2: looks over at me and tries to hold back a sympathetic smile while still being steely eyed and serious

Detailer 1: with his face turning red, anger becoming visible “PLEBE!!!! The FIRST and LAST words out of your mouth from NOW ON!!…WILL BE!!! SIR OR MA’AM!!!!! DO – YOU – UN-DER-STAND!!!!”

As the word ‘UNDERSTAND’ rung in my ears it hit me…oh shit…I did not start this right.


It went downhill quickly for me from there.

I tell you that story because how I came to serve is unlike most…

A Quick History of Veterans Day

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect.

image via wikimedia
image via wikimedia

One year later, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time by President Wilson, who proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory”.

Over the following decades the name changed to Veterans Day, it got moved to a different date, then got moved back…but one thing never changed.

The widespread agreement that a date to honor our military veterans was needed.

“Raise Your Right Hand and Repeat After Me”

Over the years, my perspective has drastically altered from that first day when I was yelled at for not saying Sir. I have been trained ad nauseum, deployed overseas, known people who paid the ultimate sacrifice, helped with disaster relief, and seen first hand how hard it is to wear the cloth of our nation day in and day out.

I have had the honor of swearing in both officers and enlisted. Across all branches of the military. The people I have met over the years always stun me when they talk about why they join.

image via US Army

So who is the kind of person that answers the call to service of our nation?

I want you to picture yourself, reading the Sunday paper (or scrolling through your newsfeed) and on the right side down at the bottom corner of the page you read this classified ad…

Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash
Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

Wanted: In need of people who are willing to work hard. Literally!…harder than you’ve ever worked in your whole life. We will spend a lot of money training you for the highly technical job that you select. No kidding…we will actually train you to exhaustion because you may experience some stress in your workplace. Our ideal candidates must be willing to live in a tin can that floats across the world’s oceans, march for hours in far off countries and then sleep in a hole that you dig for yourself, or possibly strap yourself to a rocket with wings…with a bunch explosives attached to it. If you want to be a part of this organization it does not do political affiliations so you MUST be willing to defend not only those who love you…but also those who hate you…and those who do not understand what you do or why you do it. Anyone applying for this job must be willing to sacrifice time with their family. You must be willing to miss birthdays, family weddings, holidays, and possibly the birth of your children. But don’t worry, you may or may not be able to call home on those special days…it just depends on how “busy” things are at work.

Ask yourself….who would read that and say…huh!…sounds like a good deal. I think I’ll give them a call.

However…our veterans know that if you had kept reading and turned the page there was one last line for that ad that made it all make sense.

Continued… If these job requirements sound a little extreme…Here’s the bottom line…if you apply for this job…you must be willing to SERVE – YOUR – COUNTRY….because we are looking for soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines.

image via pixabay
image via pixabay

The veterans we celebrate on November 11th are those who answered that call to service. I write here to celebrate your service and thank YOU for what you taught this California kid who just wanted to be a college athlete.

I write here to celebrate your service and thank YOU for what you have given.

Thank you for sacrificing time away from your family for months at a time.

Thank you for standing your post and missing that family wedding.

Thank you for waking up early on your birthday not to blow out candles, but to take the next watch.

And God bless those who had to miss the birth of a child.

Service to your country is sacrifice.

And I thank you, my fellow veterans, for yours.

Thank you.

Your Goals May Be a Mirage Hiding a Cliff

People think that summiting the mountain is the goal…they’re wrong.

People think that summiting the mountain is the goal…they’re wrong.

If you start a new job, build your own business, or begin a training plan to climb a mountain, you better realize that your goal should not be promotions, contracts, or summits. All of those things are the result of a lot of hard work and dedication, but they should not be the outcome you seek.

After finishing college, I took up rock climbing to fill the void that being a college athlete had filled. Like most people I started in the gym to establish my confidence and skills, and before long I was lucky enough to befriend folks who climbed outdoors.

Fast forward a couple years and I was now an experienced indoor and outdoor climber, working part time at my local gym, climbing bigger projects outside, and even volunteering with a local Mountain Search and Rescue Team.

The more I was around my outdoorsy kin, I learned lesson after lesson…but none stuck out to me as much as this one.

It’s not about making it to the top. It’s about making it back down.

Photo by alan parker via unsplash

In the Search and Rescue world, “the way back” is always at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Why? Because SAR folks are out there rescuing people who reached the summit and didn’t plan (properly) on how to get back down to safety!! It is quite literally, life and death on the side of a mountain if only one half of the equation is considered.

The same can be said of a lot of things in life. (maybe not life and death…but failure and true long term success)

Author and entrepreneur Ryan Holiday was recently interviewed by GQ, and addressed a comment about how motivation should not be outcome focused:

I work with lots of different writers. I ask, “Why do you want to write a book?” And whenever someone tells me it’s because they want to be a New York Times’ bestseller, I’m out. Because it’s a bullshit goal. It’s a goal that you have almost no control over. So the idea that you are going to spend a year or two years or five years of your life engaging in a process to get an outcome that you don’t control is insanity.

When your motivation is not really outcome focused, and you intrinsically like the thing, I would argue that the best work comes from that place.


Writing a book (or climbing a mountain) is a fantastic pursuit, but when the goal of that process is only recognition (a summit in the mind of the writer) you are destined to ultimate failure. You may summit that mountain, but you will be up there all by yourself, with no plan and now way down.

You will freeze to death in the cold of desolate success. Unless you consider the whole journey.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.

–Ernest Hemmingway

How to avoid the outcome focused cliff

1. Don’t get locked in on the goal

Avoid being like the intrepid Wile E Coyote, who gets so focused on catching the Road Runner that he falls into the canyon amidst a cloud of dust. Force yourself to step back and look at the big picture. Only then will you see the hazards that are just past the “prize” and know to adjust course to avoid disaster.

2. A partner can keep you in check

In the mountain climbing world, a solid partner is not only competent and as motivated as you are, but will also not be afraid to tell you when to turn around. It’s easy to be so motivated to achieve the goal you set for yourself, that you lose sight of everything around you. Like a snow storm that envelopes the top of a mountain, reducing visibility to only your own feet; your career dedication has the potential to harm you more than help.

A worthwhile partner can pull you out of that haze and show you the abyss you were about to march right in to. We all want to see that life changing sunrise come over the horizon…but sunrise is when visibility is at its worst….your partner can tell you that light you see is a train about to hit you, not the sun.

3. Accept the cliche: you have to love the process

If you are reading this article then you’ve probably heard “you have to love the process” a thousand times. That’s because it’s true. In the context of this article…if you don’t love the process and are only focused on the goal you set, you will be let down once you reach that goal. Sure you’re a success…but was it at your own expense? Others expense? What’s next?

Passion for the process safeguards you from those potential pitfalls; and that “process” may mean different things for different people. For some, it may mean the actual work, for others it may be the people they work with, and yet for a few it may be the overarching mission of their organization. Either way, the passion is there and will keep you steady.

“The big picture doesn’t just come from the distance; it also comes from time.”

Simon Sinek

Implementing this ethos in your life and career takes time. It’s hard when all you see in the short term is the restrictions all around you, not allowing you to do what you would like. Yet, if you can keep coming back to those three things to steer away from that cliff…you will be shocked at how beautifully things can turn out for you in the long run.

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams via Unsplash

You Cannot “Do Anything You Put Your Mind To”

Think about that phrase…

Think about that phrase…

It is incredibly misleading and ripe for abuse.

Yes I said it.

Like the infamous teacher who told his graduating high school students that they were not special, I am telling you that none of us can do whatever we put our minds to.

As a kid, I remember thinking that I could jump my bike of a home made ramp. I can do anything I put my mind to right?

I may have been about 12 or 13 years old and one day I decided that I could build a ramp, set it up in my parents drive way, and jump my bike off of it. With my vast years of experience and know-how, I went to the busted up shed not far from my house, gathered some pieces of wood to make a ramp, grabbed my Dad’s hammer and some nails and went to work. It wasn’t anything fancy, but sure enough, I built a ramp.

What do you think happened next?

Photo by Mohammad Hoseini Rad on Unsplash
Photo by Mohammad Hoseini Rad on Unsplash

Nope. Wasn’t that.

“Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.”

–Jim Horning

Do you think that Laird Hamilton just thought about surfing a 20-30 foot wave and went out and did it one day? No experience?

Hell no.

He probably spent years surfing different breaks all along the coast, keeping an eye on the weather so that a big swell wasn’t missed. Talked to other surfers who had some experience before scouting out a big wave spot that was right for him. Checked it out once, twice, three times.

I would bet he even backed off once or twice before ever dropping in on a wave so big, that if he fell wrong, it could hold him under water for minutes…potentially drowning him.

“Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.”

–Buzzy Trent

This image captures the culmination of my true point.

Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash)
Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash)

You can do anything you put your EFFORT in to

Nike says “Just Do It”.

Their marketers recognized that they are in the business of inspiring action. People don’t finish races by thinking about them.

T.S. Eliot said:

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

Thought can spark, mold, and give birth to something real… but the end of “putting your mind to” something should be a focused effort manifested through action.

Only through effort, trial, error, more effort, failure, adjustment, and even more effort can you succeed.

Photo by Joseph Ngabo on Unsplash
Photo by Joseph Ngabo on Unsplash

During my late 20s I worked in recruiting in the Los Angeles area.

At one point I thought to myself “I’m good at this. I can be the top recruiter in the nation in my field”.

Yet unlike when I was 12 years old with my bike ramp, I already had a few years of experience and knew what I was doing. With intentional thought and planning, I looked at what the previous year’s top recruiter had done and set my sights to beat that.

Then…I worked my ass off.

What do you think happened next?

About a year later I got a call. “Scott, you’re the top recruiter in the entire western region of the United States. Congrats! We’ll call you after the national board meets.”

I had beat the numbers of the previous year’s top recruiter and while I didn’t end up winning the national level award (I was runner up)…I still considered this a giant success. My career trajectory altered drastically after that and then only picked up steam.

My EFFORT paid off.

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash
Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

But it took time.

Don’t let thoughts of eventual success scare you away from initial failure

I’ve failed more times in my life than I care to admit. Personally and professionally. You have too.

Don’t shy away from that fact. Own it. Reflect and learn. You are stronger, smarter, and better for it. Failure is ok. Failure is a part of life.

Your effort doesn’t always equate to the initial success you thought you would have. It does equal progress and growth, even if that progress isn’t a straight line and the growth is painful. We are not special.

You cannot do anything you put your mind to.


You can do anything you put your effort in to.

And that is special.

If You’re Not Moving Forward, You’re Drifting Backward

3 Rules to Help You Find that First Success in Business

I’m a new boss. Things are good…and I have decided to ignore the age old advice: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

I came in to a good situation with my current job. My people are good, they know what they’re doing and (largely) do it pretty well. As the new boss, I find myself asking the question…do I need to press to make things better? Or will I risk running into a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” situation? It is tempting to just sit back, relax, and enjoy what is sure to be a smooth couple years here.

If you were in my shoes what would you do?

Would you ask yourself:

“Is that who I am?”

“Is that how I got here?”

“Is this a formula for further success?”

My answer to these questions is a resounding “No”

So this past Saturday, I wrote the below on a post-it note and stuck it right on my computer monitor.

If you’re not moving forward, you’re drifing backward.

Picture yourself sailing accross the vast ocean of life. There is wind in your sails, favorable currents beneath you, and you cruise right through life events like high school, college, or starting a career. Then the wind changes and life tosses you around like a wild storm that howls across the waves, doing its best to drown you. Your life currents will always vary wildly and often try to push you in a direction you don’t want to go. Many times you have to break out the oars and start rowing, or build an engine and keep it fueled to keep moving in the direction you want.

If you stop rowing and just hope that the winds will get you there….you will be disappointed. If you stop moving forward, you WILL drift backward.

Josep Castells via Unsplash
Josep Castells via Unsplash

Life is like the ocean. It can be calm and still or rough and rigid but in the end it is always beautiful.

How many ways can we apply this in life?

  • work
  • play
  • exercise
  • relationships
  • that next project or hobby you wanted to start?

Even if you take the most incremental step forward, that means you have not drifted backwards. I wouldn’t even settle for maintaining the status quo. Life moves to fast for the status quo to remain…the status quo.

With all this in mind…what do I do?

If I bring this back to my current situation…the new boss….let’s apply three rules that I have learned during my 15 year career, that I am confident will steer any organization towards success.

1. Just try something

Ignore Yoda’s advice of “there is no try”…that’s bull. In the tech world the big companies that succeed often say that it doesn’t matter if you fail, as long as you fail fast and fail forward.

Try something until you find what works. Even it it only works a little.

2. Make people the most important thing

Too many companies pay this second point lip service and then wonder why they have such a high employee turnover rate. Some estimates say the employee turnover rate for big tech companies is 40% each year. If you think about how big some of these companies are…those are astronomical numbers.

Ever heard of the e-commerce company Next Jump? It has a couple hundred employees between New York, Boston, and London; has annual revenue in the hundreds of millions; al with a turnover rate of 1%.


Their story is quite incredible and while most companies will never have a “no fire” policy…most companies don’t invest in their employees the way Next Jump does.

3. Iterate Through Constant Feedback

Just like our example of sailing on the ocean of life…currents are never a straight line. If you want to maintain your direction, you have to constantly accept instrument feedback and adjust accordingly.

The same goes for your business/project/new job. You may have a vision of where you want to go; but remember, you’re putting people at the forefront. If you truly do that, you need to listen to them, consider their feedback, respond (to prove you actually listened), then act.

What business do you think will be most successful? The one that is only directed by it’s single leader? Or the one that leans on the collective intelligence of all its employees?

My money would be on the latter.


(Ok, kind of a bonus rule that’s not a rule)

Many may see this last point as untenable. What about down time? What about employee burn out?

However, if you do those first three steps, what you will have done is create an organizational culture that is truly sustainable. It won’t stop. A culture that tries new things, puts its people first, and then actually listens to and acts on the collective intelligence of those employees….tell me who would not want to work there?

That’s a business that is more family than business. Growth will be inevitable because the employees will grow as people first…and as employees second.

You’ll never drift backwards when everyone is rowing in the same direction.

So what do I do as the new boss? First I just have to try something.

The Great NFL Enhancer

My Thoughts on Fantasy Football

How fantasy football spices up your Sunday afternoons

I want to crush my opponents.

Like General Patton I will show no mercy to my enemies and hope to send them whimpering away come Monday morning. Never mind that I only hope to do so in what has become a favorite time waster around many an office and college dorm. Fantasy Football.

Many football fans say that “fantasy football ruins the way you watch the game!”, and for quite a long time, I didn’t participate in these fantasy “leagues” or office pools that seemed to excite so many of my coworkers. But a few years ago I decided to cave in and give it a try, and boy did I get sucked right in. So bear with me while I disagree with the nay sayers and argue that fantasy football actually enhances the way you watch the game.

First you get a new time waster that gives you the ability to marshal fantasy forces and hope that on Sunday you are as brilliant as General Patton. (when in reality any success is more akin to Scooby Doo-like luck)

Second, I have actually started watching more games than I would have in the past; merely due to the fact that I’m tracking my FF players. Does this mean that I root against “my team” (the Chargers) because my FF running back is Darren McFadden who plays for the Raiders? Nope. It means that I hope that McFadden runs like a panzer tank toward the end zone and that the Chargers go scorched earth on the Raiders’ defense and score 42 fantasy points.

Third, Fantasy Football gives you something talk about on Monday morning at work when you want nothing to do with whatever you get paid for. This can be a great equalizer for the work place (if you and your coworkers don’t get too competitive in some workplace league). Male and female football fan alike can brag about how well their quarterback or wide receiver did on Sunday or lament at how Chris Johnson doesn’t perform now that he got his big paycheck.

So, does being able to brag about your fantasy team actually enhance your Sunday afternoon in front of your TV?

Well if you have a good team it does! And that’s the fun part, if you’re a beginner (like I am) then you can join a beginner league. If you think that you’re the fantasy football equivalent of Admiral Nimitz at the Battle of Midway, then you can compete against others of your superior football intellect. Whomever you are, those games that you never cared about before are all of a sudden more watchable because “you’re running back” is playing. So give Fantasy Football a chance and let’s hear it for football season!

The Dismal State of the Digital Media

This article popped into my inbox from a while back. It’s a pretty harsh look at the state of digital journalism, why “native advertising” has grown, and why there aren’t more full time gigs out there for talented young writers.

This article popped into my inbox from a while back. It’s a pretty harsh look at the state of digital journalism, why “native advertising” has grown, and why there aren’t more full time gigs out there for talented young writers.

In case you haven’t heard, journalism is now in perpetual crisis, and conditions are increasingly surreal.

But for every crisis in every industry, a potential savior emerges. And in journalism, the latest candidate is sponsored content.

Also called native advertising, sponsored content borrows the look, the name recognition, and even the staff of its host publication to push brand messages on unsuspecting viewers. Forget old-fashioned banner ads, those most reviled of early Internet artifacts. This is vertically integrated, barely disclaimed content marketing, and it’s here to solve journalism’s cash flow problem, or so we’re told.

​The idea of native advertising just seems wrong to me. Perhaps it’s because I’m one of those people who exhaustively research a potential purchase, wanting to know all the good and bad aspects of something. Balanced writing seems to be hard to come by and native advertising is only making it harder.

Last spring, the American Society of Magazine Editors relaxed its guidelines for native advertising, changing “Don’t Ask Editors to Write Ads” to something resembling a wink and a nod: “Editors should avoid working with and reporting on the same marketer.” So much for the firewall.

​Another bad sign for the industry.

And so it is that American journalism, in this late decadent phase, has come to mistake its biggest rivals for its dearest sponsors.

​The author paints a pretty dim picture for his chosen profession. He seems to think that big brand publishers, who have money to pay writers, should stop paying “name brand” journalists so much and instead hire a few more writers at lower/reasonable salary. That makes sense but doesn’t seem like a solid long term solution.

​I don’t pretend to know anything about the journalism industry…so what is the answer?

The Rest Is Advertising | Jacob Silverman

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