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I apologize for the lame title, but it’s the best I could come up with (yes, even with ChatGPT by my side!)
I want to gauge the potential for creating an official non-profit professional association for web publishers. If you like the idea, please use this form so we can connect.
Working from home as a web publisher can get lonely at times, so I always value the opportunity to connect with like-minded publishers.
Seeing how our struggles are often similar, I had been toying with the idea of forming an official association for quite some time now.
Imagine a professional organization that could offer members the opportunity to grow as web publishers by learning new skills and networking with one another.
Wouldn’t that be cool?
Setting up this kind of organization would be quite the project, so life (and work) always took over, and I never got around to doing much about it other than occasionally mentioning it to other people in the biz.
Events taking place over the last few months made me look at this idea again. How about if we had an association that could also help us voice our concerns as an industry?
Specifically, I believe web publishers have a unique perspective on both the AI content revolution, as well as the Google antitrust lawsuit.
Both are issues that affect the wider population. When I talk to people about them, I’m constantly surprised at how little the average educated person knows about how the Internet works.
We know how it works. We have valuable “insider information.” And I think it’s time for us to share that knowledge, not just to promote our own businesses but also to educate the public.
Why the Need for an Association?
Let me start by touching on what is a massive pain point for many web publishers today: The recent Google updates.
I am sure many of you have read this thorough analysis of the update by Eric Lancheres. While Eric stresses that these are just theories at this point, one key insight is shared by many others in the industry:
The latest core update seems to have targeted niche sites.
As I explained in a previous post, I believe these niche sites play a key role in curating information and making it more accessible online.
Yet someone at Google decided that their own view of what’s helpful and what’s not is more important than my opinion or yours. Or that of the average internet user, for that matter.
Google has near-total dominance over Internet searches. To a great extent, they control the information people consume when they go on the web. With an ongoing anti-trust lawsuit that questions the legitimacy of that dominance, I think we should all be concerned about that.
And as web publishers, I think we should be voicing those concerns loud and clear.
This is not an anti-Google declaration
Google has been a cornerstone for the growth of the digital world, opening up amazing opportunities for web publishers. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for smaller publishers to navigate the ecosystem due to the lack of transparency of algorithm updates.
And with the issues raised in the antitrust trial, maybe we should not accept this lack of transparency at face value just because Google is a “private company.” It’s too strong and dominant to be measured by those standards.
And this isn’t something a single publisher can do much about. But perhaps a strong association could, by pulling resources to get legal advice and professional PR services.
The goals of a web publishers association
While Google’s lack of transparency is a significant concern, it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things a web publishers association can do for us all.
My suggestion is to create a supportive and educational environment for web publishers. After giving this much thought, I came up with a list of potential goals:
- Advocate for fair treatment from search engines and other platforms
- Provide members with educational and networking opportunities (e.g. Mastermind groups and webinars)
- Develop ‘Points of Contact’ with platforms like Facebook, Amazon, etc., to help resolve member issues
- Become a voice in public discussions, sharing unique insights about the future of the Internet
- Create ethical guidelines for our industry
- Negotiate bulk discounts on products and services for members
Do any of these resonate with you? Then keep on reading.
I’ve never done anything like this, but I have been talking to people who do have some experience with running non-profits. The following insights are based on that.
Creating a robust and meaningful organization requires significant funds. We would need to incorporate legally as a non-profit, of course, but beyond that, organizing the various activities will require time, effort, and money.
However, first, we need to gauge the level of interest. Our immediate focus is on bringing like-minded web publishers together.
The first step is, therefore, to reach out to web publishers and see who’s interested and what exactly they are interested in.
For this purpose, I created a short form. If you’re a web publisher and find the concept intriguing, please take a few minutes to fill in the form.
The form also serves as the starting point for our mailing list. This mailing list will be unrelated to the Yeys list, so if you want to stay updated, please use the form to sign up.
If I get enough people interested (at least a few hundred), I will email those who signed up through the form to let them (you!) know what the next steps are.
Next, if you could please share this post or even the link to the form directly, that would be appreciated! Reaching out to more web publishers is key. If you have your own mailing list, a Facebook group, a forum, or an X account, sharing there could help us reach more publishers.
Lastly, if you’re a large publisher who can contribute more than annual fees, please let me know. And as usual, comments, ideas, and feedback are always welcome! Just leave a comment below!
P.s. These are early ideas. Alas, there’s a very good chance nothing will come out of this initiative. It all depends on how publishers such as yourself will respond. If you think we should at least give this a try, fill in the form now and keep on sharing it.