What’s Wrong With Steve Rubel?

Steve Rubel had a rather nasty reaction to my free Viral Copy report. It’s obvious he hasn’t actually read it, because if he had, he wouldn’t be able to make the completely wrong-headed assertions that he does. But what I really don’t understand is his intra-day flip-flop on the subject of traffic.

Here’s Steve this morning:

Over at ProBlogger, Aaron Brazell has written an outstanding tutorial on how to integrate tags into your blog and why this is important. I tag nearly every post and I have been seeing my traffic from Technorati’s tag pages climb ever since.

But here’s Steve tonight, in his hysterical attack on me entitled “It’s Not About the Traffic!”:

However, I guarantee if you regularly add value to the community, your traffic will grow. But don’t get it into it just for the traffic and, going a step further, don’t pay a lot of attention to your traffic data. I don’t nearly as much as I used to. This was one of my key learnings over the past year.

I agree 100% about adding value, Steve. That’s exactly what the report says to do (you really should read it). But devoting a post to gaining more traffic from Technorati in the morning, and then ranting that traffic doesn’t matter in the evening? Strange.

Keep in mind folks, Steve is where he is today (Edelman and all) due to a cheap PR stunt back in 2004, less than two months after he started blogging. If you don’t remember, on May 25, 2004, Steve swore off all mainstream media for a week, vowing to read only blogs. Back then, Jeff Jarvis called it a “bogus gimmick” and a “PR stunt without substance” (link here, scroll down to the Carb News post on the old Buzz Machine).

Steve used a clever little PR gimmick (that would never work for an unknown blogger today, mind you) to literally propel himself to the enviable point he is now. Nothing wrong with that, unless of course, two years later, you look down from your A-List perch and proclaim that traffic is now bad.

Except from Technorati, of course.

I’m going to write this off as a bad day for Steve. Or maybe he’s just trying to do me a big favor, in which case I thank him. :)

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Reader Comments (28)

  1. says

    I’m looking at this issue on “the fence” side. First i do believe that all human are ceated equal and same goes for blogs. Even a blog need a traffic don’t you think so? If a blogger don’t need a visit from readers, tweak their Robot.txt to avoid search engine crawlers and such.

    At Performancing.com, they list down several blogs that are not worth looking for traffic and i totally against that statement. Again, all blog need some nice traffic. I’m confused about Micropersuasion.com on this matter. The reason is, blog is an “open” place for million of readers out there and as a person that i fond of, he should look at blog as an “open” sharing spot.

    On one point, yes i do agree with Steve about blog is for community. I’m totally against splog and normaly splog do drive-in some huge traffic ( affiliate and Adsense etc ). I strongly believe that blog is a “human-to-human” basis. I do apologise if my comment leave a scar on both party.


  2. David says

    Your CSS needs a tweak – a couple of characters down the left margin are being chopped off in IE.

  3. says

    I wouldn’t feel too bad about it… For instance, I read the post, checked to see what he was so upset about and spent the next couple hours reading through your archives. You’re in the feed now, etc. and I’m really glad to have found the blog. (gosh, it’s almost as if the old saw about no bad publicity were true!)

    Nice work. The design is beautiful and the content is brilliant. Simple and effective, bueno.

    Not sure I would have responded by bringing up old dirt on Steve, though… pointing out the inconsistency in position is fine, attributing it to a mood swing, whatever. But I think that when you say “cheap PR stunt” you lose the moral high ground.

    I mean, hell, you had me at “free pdf of well-written, usefull info.”

  4. says

    Hey John, I was just paraphrasing what Jeff Jarvis said about the stunt. I thought it was a brilliant move by Steve back then, but he sounds like a hypocrite now, and I’m not willing to let him get away with it.

    Your point is still valid though, sometimes it’s better to say nothing. Welcome aboard.

    David, thanks… I’ll hit up my designer on IM.

  5. says

    Why the backlash, Brian?

    When you do that, do you realize it makes you no different from the people in the Ivory Tower?

    Relax, and enjoy this little unintended PR-glory that you are getting.

    And yes, my compliments to you on writing an extremely purposeful article.


  6. says

    I actually thought this was a fairly mild response, especially since I think Rubel is engaging in link baiting himself (see strategies 4 and 11). :)

  7. says

    Hi Brian. Thanks for the Viral Copy Report. I’m looking forward to reading it cover to cover.

    I think you are being a little narrow-minded about Rubel. A clever PR stunt may have opened the door for him, but adding value every day keeps people like me checking his site very often. That I found your site is proof of the value!

  8. says

    Harry, if I came across that way, I’m sorry. I read Steve every day too, and I even thanked him for his tagging post yesterday morning in his comments.

    He *does* give value every day, but my point is, he used a similar tactic to one of the 11 in my report to gain initial attention 2 years ago. Now that he has tons of attention, he denounces a guide that helps people do the same.

    Am I the only one that sees hypocrisy there?

  9. says

    I’m kinda with you on this Brian – having a blog presence with a business purpose without generating traffic is pretty much a waste of time.

    Steve yo-yo’s on topics but that’s part of his charm. He gets called out and responds so he ain’t all bad.

    Tip: take a look at Guy Kawasaki’s site and the post about A-listers – great cartoon awaiting a caption – lots of takers. I put my own take on my own site.

  10. says

    Anyone who says traffic doesn’t matter, relative to having a web presence, is either disingenuous or has a ton of traffic already. In Steve’s case, likely both.

    I can’t stand the almost pious attitude that blogs are somehow different than all other marketing, PR, and advertising tools available to business and professionals – it’s different in its form, but alike in its goal. It sounds pure to say “I’m not writing for the traffic”, but it’s a lie.

    Everyone with a website, blog, landing page, or any other combination of web presence wants, hopes, tracks, and fully intends to have a lot of readers, subscribers, and links – traffic. And, whether for ego or professional gain, they hope to enjoy everything that comes with a large audience.

    With your FREE report, you sought traffic the most sincere way of all…add value in hope an audience finds you and responds with readership, subscription, and participation in your site.

    You’re offering great, well written, thoughtful, and employable content. Keep it up and your audience will grow.

  11. says

    Dennis, yeah, I love that cartoon. I think I’ll post it here with the caption “Copyblogger Sucks!” :)

    Jim, thanks a lot. That’s great to hear, since I am also a loyal reader of yours!

  12. says

    Whenever I think of getting traffic to a site, I always arrive at “Content is king.”

    Even if you are using a blog to get traffic, you won’t get it with crappy content. The Viral Copy Report and Rubel both say that. Maybe Rubel has so much traffic that he turns his nose up at people still trying to generate it. Oh well.

    But hypocrite is a little strong.

    Are you executing Link Love Strategy Number Four, “Attack of the Cowboy and the Mary Chain?”

  13. says

    Pablo, from looking at your blog, you already are. :)

    Harry, I see this as defending myself, not attacking. Anyway, I think we’ve beaten this horse to death already. People can make up their own minds about both me and Mr. Rubel.

    That’s the way this whole social media thing works, right?

  14. says

    Steve Rubel saying that you don’t need to look at traffic stats and traffic, as it’s not important is rather like Bill Gates saying that he doesn’t look at his bank balance as much as he used to, and now, of course he doesn’t create products for the money……. but he did once! Just like Steve went after ” link love” once. Sometime its good to remember where you started.

  15. says

    At the end of the day, Brian, you’ve created a really good report – clean, concise and very readable. I’m sure many will find it of real value … Kudos to you.

  16. says

    Thanks very much, Dave and Martin.

    Chartreuse, the last thing I need today is you coming over here and stirring things up (nevermind that that’s what I do over at your place). Now I know how annoying I must be! :)

  17. raj says

    Brian, I think it’s a combination of linkbait and linklove. From the few a-listers that I’ve bothered to read, only the extreme right-wing blogs don’t fencesit. Rubel and Scoble regularly flip-flop in what they are saying, but I’ll still read Rubel anyday over Scoble, as Rubel is more amusing. And my feeling, from comments posted, is that Rubel’s readers are more open-minded than Scoble’s.

    But that said, I read your blog nearly every day, Rubel’s infrequently, and Scoble’s almost never – unless someone else reports on something stupid Scoble’s said lately.

    Scoble is like the Howard Stern of blogging, in terms of eliciting reaction and getting readers. But no matter how stupid Stern’s comments may be most of the time, he’s at least intelligent in reality :)

  18. says

    Wow, Raj… you’ve really been busting out of your shell lately. Bold looks good on you!

    Actually Scoble emailed me *from an airplane flight* to acknowledge my email to him and tell me he’d read the report when he got a chance.

    I thought that was pretty cool.

  19. says

    Confession — I stopped reading Rubel because I didn’t find anything stimulating, just barely-annotated link lists and catty comments about how the other half ought to live. Basically, no content, just traffic-bait.

    Brian, if I were you I’d stop sending him traffic 😉

  20. says

    Dennis, you’re wrong. Rubel never responds and that’s the bigger problem.

    If you can’t lead by example, don’t pretend to be a leader.

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