The Trouble With Clickbait | Alyssa J Freitas: The Trouble With Clickbait

April 6, 2017

The Trouble With Clickbait

The other day Joe and I were working side by side (he was grading papers and I was, surprise surprise, working on the blog) when he asked me "Why do you always use numbers on your blog?" He was referring to

01. This sort of thing where I use numbers to create lists as part of my posts.


At the time I answered with a variety of reasons (let's use some numbers to organize it, shall we?):
  1. I like the way they look
  2. It's a good way to organize the flow of a post
  3. It makes it easy for people to skim
  4. I read that you can get more people to click through to your site when you have post titles like "3 Ways To Prioritize Your Time" and "5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging" and "3 Ways To Save When Shopping"
Check it out now or pin to save for later! Have you ever found yourself reading far too much "clickbait" or perhaps even writing it yourself? Here's why I'm making a commitment to reduce clickbait-y posts on my blog
This got us started on discussing the prevalence of "clickbait," which is content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page. This sort of content (think Buzzfeed) is great for driving traffic to your posts, but not so great for creating an online space that facilitates discussion and dives deep on issues. I also think that it presents the idea that there are quick fixes if you just follow steps 1, 2, and 3, when in actuality it takes concentrated effort and time to make significant changes.

Now, that's not to say that sites like Buzzfeed or posts like my most recent ones are not worthwhile or that they don't contain good information. However, it made me examine my reasoning for creating clickbait-y posts and I realized a few things.
  1. Liking the way something looks is a good reason to do it
  2. Organizing posts is helpful to the reader
  3. I work hard on maintaining the blog and continually generating and writing about new ideas, therefore I don't like the idea at all that people are simply skimming what I have to say 
  4. My priority is not traffic (although it's great to know that a lot of people are looking at my site) - my priority is firstly to write about what I am interested in, secondly to write in a way that is helpful for others and can be a resource for their self improvement, and thirdly for people to not just stop by, but to return again and again because I am creating something worthwhile.
As you can guess, this left me in a predicament. I had four reasons for structuring and titling posts this way, and ultimately it was divided between continuing or making an adjustment. Nothing earth shattering has been decided upon, but I am making a commitment to myself and to you to lay off the "# of ways to..." posts and instead coming back to my blogging roots of writing for myself and to create stimulating content for you.

I don't know if this will result in renewed community around the blog (remember when commenting on blogs instead of just on social media kinda sorta used to be a thing?), but I do know that it will be a good challenge for me and will provide some fresh perspectives for you to read. It will also allow me to better explore the habits and intentionality that is necessary for self improvement that cannot simply be achieved by following a series of quick steps.

Have you ever found yourself writing for views instead of writing for value? What are your thoughts on clickbait?


-AJF
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