June 5, 2018

Why I'm Pivoting Readory After 2 months, 2k+ Users, and Two Top 3 Product Hunt Launches.

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    I'd like to challenge your assumptions:

    • There are so many people sharing articles not enough of them stick long enough to get comments/engagement.

    • Too much advertising articles without enough quality content.

    • Why would users social share an article from Readory if they could just share the source.

    First, I believe the last one is a silly question. Why does anyone do anything? If your question would be valid, then all aggregation platforms would never be used because "they could just share the source" (Google News, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, 9gag).

    People don't care much about the source. They care more about the entertainment.

    Next, the top two points can be answered via the same reddit/9gag/... principle: The usual way to solve these problems, is via a custom algorithm that determines "Top"/"Popular".

    Usually, this involves a combination of:

    1. User points/rank/popularity from past contributions determined by the community.

    2. Domain authority (domain rank) from the source domain.

    3. Additional points for number of backlinks to the article.

    4. Automated spam detection.

    5. You could apply NLP to determine some attributes of the content that can change the weight of the article's score, but I wouldn't look at this until your platform is already working.

    6. The time when it was posted. Give new ones (that are trending in popularity) a chance to appear on the front page.

    7. Manually bonus points to domains which you personally know will publish valuable content most of the time.

    This algorithm sorts articles by the likelihood that they're valuable content and lets your users do the rest (vote). The "bottom of the barrel" content never gets a chance.

    So what do you think? Does this make sense or is there a reason my thoughts don't apply to Readory's audience that you haven't mentioned yet?

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      I agree, the last question is a silly question considering the success of Reddit.

      Also some great insight regarding the combinations for an algorithm you mentioned. I hadn't thought of additional points for backlinks and NLP. The rest have been implemented and did get some degree of success in improving the content.

      I did leave out alot in order to shorten the summary of issues and focus on the future options.

      The biggest issue with Readory is user engagement and reward, the type of users that get real reward from Readory (being able to share articles to boost their SEO) are content marketers and some bloggers. This would be okay if those content marketers and bloggers were sharing the readory comments section of the article on social media or promoting it to boost our online presence. However, this doesn't happen as they would prefer to share their source (obviously) thus preventing us from growing sustainably. There were a few things I tried to do like trying to encourage following/subscribing etc but the sort of moderation and social feeds that were needed to incentivise it for individual articles would be ugly and not time efficient at all.

      Thanks so much for the feedback, I am curious to know what you think about the two options i mentioned

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        ❗ Some pages are broken. ❗ Clicking "Explore sources" (not being logged in) gives a 500 internal server error, and same thing for this sign_in page I got redirected to after clicking a user's name to visit the profile.

        I feel that Readory has a good first focus (written content, which implies quality written content), but your value offer feels just a little lacking.

        Compare to Rand Fishkin's new SparkToro Trending, which is Readory but exclusively for web marketing: https://sparktoro.com/trending

        Here are some things you could benefit from (to be tested & validated with your own users!):

        • SparkToro Trending uses ranking and social proof by having users log in with their social media (Twitter, which gives him access to all links you've posted + instead of domain ranking, he counts the number of people that tweeted this link.

        • Improve filtering and separation of content types (topics) without actually separating them. I found your tags to be too "hidden" while they're actually an important part of your website. If I don't see a way to filter only relevant content immediately when browsing Readory, I feel like your website would need too much of my attention to "figure it out" (which I'm not willing to give because you haven't given me any value yet).

        • At a smaller community size, you should focus on user interaction in curation (voting), NOT comments! Comments = discussion platform = not what Readory is about. Readory is about seeing curated content and finding good sources (at least for me, my impression).

        • Your 🔥 icon is too invisible, but the voting is your primary interaction. You could use this Unicode emoji I just used to make it more visible already, but it might not be enough. Maybe even place it at the left of an article instead of the right so it gets more attention (assumption, to be tested)? Change the color as well, that gray you use makes it fade into obscurity. The action you want me to take should 🎉 catch my eye 🎉.

        • Minor UI detail, but it genuinely bugs me that "trending, new, all time" is centered above post details only instead of being centered above post + voting/trending. (Small detail, keep it last because it has less effect on your bottom line.)

        • At 2 "votes", some articles are already Trending yet are spam, garbage content ("Finance Assignment Help", "Economics Assignment Help", "Business Assignment Help"). Require much higher standards before putting something on your front page (because the first page is your brand & value).

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          Sebastien you've made some really good points again all of which I agree with, also I had never seen SparkToro before but it's idea is fantastic.

          This gives me a lot to think about -- I appreciate it totally.

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    Hey Johnny,

    I feel option 1 would result in the most original content being published directly on Readory. For the most part bloggers don't really see any substantial gain or headway being made until quite some time into their online career. Therefore a platform that offers financial incentives to do them based on their user engagement would definitely be a major selling point.

    Also, I feel like readers tend to gravitate more toward original content. Readory can be to new writers what incubation centers are to start-ups.

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      Love that idea, thank's for the feedback!!

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    I’m wondering, how many of your registered users are readers only versus those that post articles? I would imagine most of your users simply signed up to share their content rather than to engage.

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      exactly, and that is the issue

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        What does the site provide that would attract readers?

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    Hi Johnny,

    Given all the responses so far, have you made a decision or are you still thinking it over?

    Have you considered affiliate marketing like Amazon associates? Tie in blog posts or links with, say books or videos, that have a similar topic.

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      I hadn't thought of that at all, and it's a really good idea.

      I am leaning towards option 2 tbh....

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    Since I predicted that Readory will fail (http://discuss.bootstrapped.fm/t/readory-the-platform-for-online-written-content/5758/9?u=kjk), let me make similar prediction re: both options.

    If you think that no-one tried to be a middleman between writers and advertisers then you didn't do research. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_farm which was, for a time, a profitable strategy of paying people to pay articles and getting paid with AdSense. Google killed them all with algorithmic change.

    Those kinds of businesses only work at massive scale. You need advertisers to attract writers and you need writers to attract advertisers. Chicken and egg.

    Medium raised $132M, is working on similar idea for 7 years and is probably still unprofitable despite being crazy successful at generating traffic and pivoting their monetization strategy several times.

    YouTube also ran a loss despite wild success and it took Google several years post acquisition to get this business to make profit.

    AdSense pays peanuts (I speak from experience) and that's doubly true for content that isn't SEO targeted at niches that attract lucrative advertising (like mortgages).

    Add to that your cost of customer acquisition (both writers and readers).

    There's no way such a business is viable.

    As to the second idea, I don't quote get how it would work or why would anyone want to do that.

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      How has Readory failed it's not stopping? I am merely pivoting, if anything I have a stronger baseline of users and Alexa Score to make whatever change I make a success...

      It's been 2 months and our SEO ranking has boomed on Alexa, we've had two top 4 PH launches.

      Also many of your predictions were wrong (users being fake) amongst others.

      Now getting to your actually idea of option 1, I agree with you the more I look into how I could pull it off the more unlikely it seems that I could compete with Medium. Perhaps setting it up as write.as / a minimal blogging platform and selecting writers to partner with us could work though. I could put specific ads on their posts (one's that I have agreed) with an example company like Revue etc and share revenue based on the amount of traffic their post brings... I understand that is similar to content farming, but we would avoid a algorithm penalty by only working with HQ writers.

      In regards to option 2, I think it would work because people would engage more in a magazine (sharing on fb/twitter) that has commentary rather than just a link someone enjoyed. This way the person has to curate a few links, give a commentary thus would more likely to have engagement.

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    Option 2 reminds me of the now defunct gibbon.co, which defined themselves as "Playlists for Learning". Users could create playlists of articles which you could progress through and read through a gibbon.co wrapper, and those who made the collections could preface and bookend articles with their own comments/articles. I miss the service quite a bit myself, but they struggled to make a profit - even after they pivoted to sell the service to businesses.

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      Interesting, I tried to see it on the waybackmachine but couldn't get a good look... They sound really similar indeed

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    I like option 1

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      Thanks Alex, how come?

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        I think paying writers for their content with increase the quality of articles on Readory. The opportunity to get paid will attract writers to the platform and they will bring their audience along.