It seems like forever ago that I suspended activity on the Cocoa Touch Apps blog to write for TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog). I was a young, ex-Genius, tech geek who thought that TUAW would be a great place to write, and it was… at least when I joined in mid-2009. We had a community that was funny, caring, and extremely geeky. Five years later, I found myself back at TUAW writing app reviews and Op-Eds, but the community felt very different.
It felt like a faceless, corporate entity and it ended up being exactly that. I was no longer hanging out with other bloggers in the chat rooms. An editor sent my assignments to me via an automated email system instead of the chat room. Each assignment seemed to get progressively worse; I found myself hitting the decline button with a steadily increasing sense of hatred. I hardly wrote anything at all, actually: two app reviews and an Op-Ed during this recent stint. It definitely wasn’t the environment I remembered.
Management kept me in the dark over the last few months. I had no idea what was happening behind the scenes (but there were rumors). I knew that Joystiq was shutting down, but it never registered that TUAW was next. I found out about the layoffs by reading The Verge in my Feedly stream. I did get an email later in the day telling me that my CMS access would be shut down and that I’d still be paid for whatever work I finished. I’m actually one of the luckiest employees in TUAW history; Aol laid me off twice from the same gig. When Aol spun itself out of Time Warner, TUAW cut back on staff and let a few of the noobies go. This time, though, it’s forever.
I want to make it clear that I’d never blame TUAW’s downfall on the writers/editors. In fact, I thank them for much of my success in life. They pushed me to become a better writer and taught me to care more about the content than the page views. In my opinion, TUAW, like many Aol properties, didn’t have the freedom to modernize itself into something more successful. Aol viewed TUAW as a niche site and didn’t want to invest any money to expand its reach. A page view and ad-based blog will never generate a reasonable amount of revenue in the world of YouTube, podcasts, product reviews, etc. All of those mediums have better monetization opportunities than the regurgitated news articles Aol gave to TUAW every day.
As a veteran blogger, assuming my eight years count, I’ve learned much about what works and how communities respond to different content strategies. Without a major intervention, TUAW was just counting down the days until it closed. That’s why I’ve kept this blog around for so long. Over the last eight years, I’ve been writing, testing, and optimizing this website so I wouldn’t have to rely on someone else’s publishing system forever. Yes, the blogging market is very saturated; every time one site shuts down, two more replace it. It really comes down to how well a site knows its audience. Even though there is still more design work to be done, I’m happy to be back here announcing the next phase of eciov. I’m hoping this site proves to be everything the TUAW folks wanted and more.
Introducing the new eciov
Over the last several months, I’ve added a slew of new capabilities to the website:
- Product reviews – Affiliate links are a great way for us to monetize the site and pay our writers without lame ads.
- I do a ridiculous amount of research before I buy anything.
- We’ll be sharing that information with you to help you make informed investments.
- No more crappy ads – In fact, we’ve done away with all of the Google ads. Most of you use AdBlock anyways, right?
- We will eventually bring in unobtrusive and tasteful sponsorships to help support the site.
- Podcasts – We’re going to continue producing our podcasts and bring in sponsors to help offset the cost of production.
- YouTube – This will be a large part of what we do moving forward. Short videos to help keep you informed.
- Forums – We’ve also added discussion forums to the site. We’ll be using them as our commenting system moving forward.
- It’s like Disqus, Livefyre, or Jetpack (from WordPress)… but better!
- This new system uses a social sign-on to post to the forums and access other eciov features.
- Writers – I’m also adding new writers to the site very soon. Over the years, it’s just been me… but now is the time for expansion.
- If I missed any TUAW writers who’d like a new home, please reach out to me.
That’s a lot of new stuff. We’re really excited to get it going, so tell your friends that we’re here. We’ll also be adding more social networks to our connect widget very soon. If you’re on Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, YouTube, etc. – we’d love to connect with you. As always, if you have suggestions for us, please get in touch via the @ button in the connect widget.
Thanks for reading eciov!