Web content can be compared to perishing flowers, seasonal plants and evergreen trees. Consider the three kinds of web content and how they fit into your online strategy.
How valuable is the news that Barrack Obama won the 2008 Presidential election? It was big news remember? Everyone was talking about it for a couple of days. However, within a few hours everyone in the world knew of Obama’s victory and that piece of news alone could not sell a newspaper.
The news cycle moved on to cabinet appointments and other news, all of which also quickly became old news. People have no use for yesterday’s newspaper.
The reason news is called news is it has to be new to have value. There is just is no money to be made with old news. In many ways, news is like perishing cut flowers, good for a few days at best.
There is second kind of content that is not old news but hardly timeless. A guide to buying the best TV or this year’s fashions is only useful for a few months at best. In subjects like technology and fashion the information changes fairly fast so content has a limited lifespan of usefulness. Travel information is another example of seasonal content with a limited lifespan.
The basic fact that Hawaii is a chain of islands does not change but major travel guidebooks get updated every year or two to reflect changing prices and options.
This type of content is essentially seasonal, like a corn stock. It is very useful but the usefulness ends after the season passes and the information becomes outdated.
There is third type of content that has a very long life span of value. Take relationship topics for example. Around the world millions of girls ask everyday of the year, year after year “How can I tell if my boyfriend loves me?” Girls have been asking this question since there were boys and girls will be asking it as long as there are boys.
If you can provide a quality answer to a timeless question, there will always be value in that answer. Similarly, an article on how to unplug a toilet or a course on how to learn German is going to find an audience forever.
Timeless content is evergreen like a tree that never sheds its needles and lives on for many years.
To make money online successfully requires a strong understanding of the difference between perishing, seasonal and evergreen content. When you buy content, or create it yourself, you must consider the useful life of the content and how it can best be deployed to earn money. All information falls somewhere on a scale of relevance over time.
Yesterday’s weather forecast for today is on one end of the range and something like the Bible (the oldest book in the world) is on the other end of the range. All other information falls somewhere in between these extremes. The news of an accident on a bridge is really interesting to someone stuck in traffic but the value of that traffic report is worthless in 30 minutes. A good road map, however, can be sold for decades with minor periodic updates.
CNN provides breaking news, but they have a whole infrastructure to discover and deliver the news fast to a very large audience. CNN can succeed with news because they have scale and reach far beyond what the typical webmaster has. If you can not hope to compete with CNN and the other big media outlets on news, why bother?
If news is out, the webmaster must choose between seasonal and truly evergreen content. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Seasonal content is often good for selling things and since competing information is also seasonal, the older competing information is always expiring. If you can get your new iPad review in front of readers with a link to buy the iPad you can make good money as long as the iPad is hot. People are looking for new information on seasonal topics like software, technology, home renovation, and fashion everyday with the intent to buy. Buyers attract advertising dollars and buyers make affiliate marketing work for the webmaster. In short, seasonal topics allow for fresh content creation with limited competition but a long enough lifespan to make a rate of return on the content creation cost.
Truly evergreen content does have value but it is often harder to monetize. Historical facts for example, once put out there, never expire. Therefore the competition offering the same information builds and builds over time to the point that the information becomes essentially worthless because it is so widely available you can’t monetize the content very well. If Wikipedia has the answer, along with a million other websites, how much can you sell the information for?
Therefore for most webmasters the answer to making money with information is to create and publish seasonal to nearly evergreen information that either supports something you are selling or attracts relevant higher value advertisers to your website.
If you are always optimizing the useful lifespan of the information you are buying, creating and distributing you will attract more traffic and see the financial rewards of your efforts.
Explore the range of information that can be offered from perishing to evergreen. For most webmasters looking to make money online, the right answer is not evergreen or perishing news, but seasonal information that attracts readers looking to spend money.