In addition to the variety of other writing that I do around the web, like discussing the dot com lifestyle and Internet marketing on this blog, a good part of what I do as a freelance writer is report on the tech industry. I’m mostly a gadget blogger, talking about the newest Android devices and such, but I also dabble into the “industry” side of things now and then too.
Considering the pace at which the technology industry moves and considering just how quickly information gets passed around on the Internet, there is an overwhelming urge to be the first media outlet to report on a story. You want to be the one with the “breaking” news and we see this phenomenon with all the traditional media outlets online too.
The Fragmented Presentation
But there’s a big problem with being first. When your priority is to be the first website to report on a big story, chances are that you don’t have all the details and much of the information that you do have has not yet been confirmed. Not only are you providing your audience with only part of the picture; the part that you are presenting may not be completely true.
Absolutely, there is a desire to be first, because the assumption is that your website will be used as the source when the story gets spread around the web. As a professional blogger and Internet marketer, this means that you’ll expand your brand presence and you’ll reap the rewards of all those backlinks… or you might not, because your information is incomplete, missing some key parts of the bigger story.
When I reported on the $3 billion Zalman bankruptcy scandal, I was not the first person to “break” the news. However, I was (among) the first to put all the available pieces of the puzzle together in a meaningful and logical manner. I went through the online equivalent of investigative journalism as best I could.
Providing Value to Readers
That way, the article that I did end up publishing covered all the major points. I talked about Zalman’s bankruptcy filing, but I also hit on the bigger story: how a trio of executives from parent company Moneual conspired for years to produce falsified sales documents, fraudulently qualifying for over $3 billion in bank loans that they may never pay back. I discussed what this meant for shareholders, for Zalman itself, and for consumers of Zalman product around the world.
The net result: my article was useful and informative.
Excel in Everything You Do
Even if you’re not in the business of reporting on this industry or that, it’s just as important to recognize that being first is no replacement for being the best. Being an early adopter has its perks, but you need to set yourself apart from all the other early adopters too.
In a recent post, John posted a video about how to live the dot com lifestyle and how he describes himself as “unemployable.” He is hardly the first person to ever make a living on the Internet. He is hardly the first person to monetize his blog. He was not the first person to sign up with MOBE. He was not the first one to post a video on YouTube about his MOBE earnings.
But you know what? He’s certainly doing all of those things really well. This blog is hugely successful and John’s earning huge payouts, not because he was the first to do it, but because he’s one of the best at doing it.
Apple didn’t invent the first MP3 player, Sony didn’t create the first video game console, and Canon didn’t manufacture the first digital camera… but they are all huge industry leaders in their respective niches, because they’re good at it. Being first is nice. Being the best is better.