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Legal Project Management: Thoughts, tips, and discoveries related to the management of legal projects.

Off-topic Sunday: Legal-Project Management on Hub Pages

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Hubpages now has a page on legal-project management. Unfortunately, its content is a rip off of the Wikipedia article on LPM, with some slight modifications to the wording, and no citations or links to primary sources. This serves as a good example of why I've long lost interest in sites like Hubpages. 

Hubpages seems to be modeled after Squidoo. Authors submit content. Hubpages helps monetize this content with ads, sharing a portion of the revenue with the authors. I was among the first users of Squidoo, which is better designed and more feature-rich than Hubpages. I made some pocket change from some of my pages, but I have not actively used Squidoo or services like it for a few years, other than to occasionally update some existing pages. 

Not only have I not found Squidoo and Hubpages to be worth expending a great deal of time generating content for, I've also not found them useful as information resources. When I run a search in Google and see a Squidoo or Hubpages site returned (which is common, more on that later), I ignore them. In my experience, most content on Squidoo, Hubpages, and their ilk are shallow, often written by people with little substantive knowledge of what they are writing about, and are at best a collection of links that appear on the first couple of pages of a Google search.

I know that there are social-media "gurus" gnashing their teeth right now, ready to point out exceptions and to lecture me on the power of such sites to boost your exposure in Google search results. They will also point out that these sites are one of the few ways that most people can make any money off their on-line content. They are right. But I still don't find these sites worth much of my time and feel that most professionals should stick to other avenues to getting their content out.

Here are what I see as the pros and cons of Squidoo, Hubpages, and similar sites:

Pros

  • They make it very easy to create and publish content on-line with little technical knowledge.

  • They do all the search-engine optimization (SEO) work for you, and seem to do a good job at it. If you play the game right and follow their content-creation guidelines, you'll find your content appearing in the first page or two of Google search results, especially if you are writing on a less common topic.

  • You can make money for yourself or (at least with Squidoo) your favorite charity. Very few people make enough money to do this full time (although some do), and most professionals are not interested in the spare change they can make from their content, but if you are going to go through the hassle of putting content on-line, why not post it somewhere that will throw a little money towards your favorite charity?

Cons

  • Little to no control over the placement or content of the ads.

    To me, Hubpages articles look ugly and unprofessional. I just do not like reading articles on that site because of all the distracting ads. Squidoo does a much better job with the design, but you still do not have much control over the content. If you mark your page as G-rated and safe for work, so to will be the ads, but you may find your competition's ads appearing on your page and you will certainly have a lot of completely unrelated products and services advertised on your site. 

  • Caters to the lowest common denominator of the knowledge economy.

    I'm not sure if the concept of "the long tail" has gone out of fashion (that was so Web 2.0 snorts the social-media guru), but these sites are designed to take advantage of that effect. They allow anyone to write about anything they know about or are interested in and make it easy to do so. In addition to ego-gratification, they also offer you the possibility to make a little money.

    I have no problem with that. In the very earliest days of Squidoo, it was a fun, quirky experiment. It was Seth Godin's baby, so that made it seem worth checking out, and in the early days, you got to participate on conference calls with him. What can I say, I'm a sucker for listening to Seth Godin speak. In the beginning, Squidoo mostly consisted of a lot of fun pages by enthusiasts of various topics.

    But they quickly became overshadowed by semi-spam pages created by the SEO types trying to make money by generating a great number of pages on commonly-searched for topics, and filling it with content scrapped from Wikipedia. Squidoo is now the digital equivalent of walking certain streets in China--for every useful item you find, you have to run the gauntlet of shouting vendors selling knock-offs.

  • Most articles are written by people with little or no understanding of what they are writing about, and who have no desire to spend the time to understand the topic they are writing about.

    The concept of these sites is that everyone is an expert on something--so encourage them to write about it. Some of the pages on Squidoo and Hubpages do this: parents sharing tips; lenses and pages on obscure hobbies; and experts sharing their expertise on lovingly crafted lenses.  Most, however, are people looking to make a few cents by scrapping content from other sites or writing a short summary of a trending topic. In almost every instance that I've visited a page on Squidoo or Hubpages, I would have been better off searching Wikipedia or finding some good blogs on the topic.

My conclusion over the years is that those seeking to stake out their name on a given subject should not use sites like Squidoo and Hubpages as a primary means of doing so. Your time is better spent starting a blog, writing for an already established blog or e-newsletter, and publishing articles in well-known industry publications that allow you to also publish them on your Web site and in sites like JD Supra, Docstoc, and other document-sharing services. 

That said, I do maintain a few pages on Squidoo, including one on legal-project management. I do so, however, mainly as a means to drive more traffic to my blog-- committing some of the sins I've complained about above. That said, you can waste a lot of time creating pages on sites like Squidoo, Hubpages, Knol, etc. Eventually, you run into the same problem as social-networking sites, how many should you join? Eventually the time spent managing all this social-media content leads to diminishing returns. 

Over the past few years, I've found myself pruning my social-media activity, rather than chasing after an endlessly long tail of click-throughs. Looking at Google Analytics for this blog and at how I've made contact with people I want to be in contact with, it is more clear than ever that laboring away at understanding your area of focus and working hard to create good content still beats out SEO tricks and content-generation shortcuts.

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Juicy bite-sized morsels of legal-project management from the week ending Saturday, January 29, 2011. Hubpages now has a page on legal-project management. Not surprisingly, it is a disappointment and I couldn't help but to rant about Hubpages and its ... Read More

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Paul C. Easton published on January 30, 2011 4:46 PM.

LPM Tidbits for Week Ending 1/29/2011 was the previous entry in this blog.

Is Legal-Project Management a Buzzword? is the next entry in this blog.

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