#30 | Efficiency ≠ Cutting Corners

Earlier this week I read Niche Site Lady’s newsletter (if you’re not a subscriber, you should be) titled “How Long To Spend On Each Post”.

It followed an earlier tweet where she said:

“If you’re not spending at least 4 hours or $100 per article, it’s probably not good enough.”

NSL went on to further clarify that what she is specifically referring to here is long-form, SEO-optimised content.

The feedback received since has been surprisingly all over the place, so I couldn’t help but throw my hat in the ring.

Here’s where I stand…

I think about this 2017 exchange between Jerry Seinfeld and the Harvard Business Review often:


You and Larry David wrote Seinfeld together, without a traditional writers’ room, and burnout was one reason you stopped. Was there a more sustainable way to do it? Could McKinsey or someone have helped you find a better model?


Who’s McKinsey?


It’s a consulting firm.


Are they funny?




Then I don’t need them. If you’re efficient, you’re doing it the wrong way. The right way is the hard way. The show was successful because I micromanaged it—every word, every line, every take, every edit, every casting. That’s my way of life.

The spirit of this message, that the right way is the hard way, has rung true for me throughout every facet of my life.

That said, a fundamental distinction Seinfeld leaves out that I would add is this – there is a huge difference between cutting corners and being efficient.

Cutting corners is attempting to reach a desired outcome without putting in the time, thought or energy required to achieve the highest quality outcome.

Being efficient on the other hand, is getting to the desired outcome without sacrificing quality.

An obvious example to drive this point home:

There are two carpenters framing a new home. One uses a hammer, the other a nail gun. The carpenter using the nail gun completes the same amount of work, with the same quality, in half the time.

I don’t think anyone in their right mind would argue that the carpenter using the nail gun was somehow “doing it the wrong way” simply because he was more efficient.

In this sense, efficiency should clearly be encouraged.

The problem in the content creation game is that it’s easy to conflate the two and many who believe they are being efficient, are actually just cutting corners.

I know, because I’ve fallen into the same trap.

In the early days of my first site I created every article from scratch. Between research, writing and editing those initial posts took me well over 4 hours to publish.

But eventually I started to abuse the brand swapping technique, and soon articles that took me 4+ hours ended up taking less than an hour. At one point, I published over 40 articles in a single month!

There will never be a definitive answer as to why my first site tanked but the bottom line is this – if 100% of those articles were written from scratch, on net the quality would have been higher.

So by my own definition, I was cutting corners.

AI is here to stay. And there are a ton of incredible AI content creation tools that are only now just starting to reach the masses.

Like all tools, none are inherently bad.

The daunting challenge presented to all of us is to identify the tools that truly make us more efficient vs the ones that hide under the guise of efficiency, while really just translating to cutting corners.

It’s not always black and white and it all depends how you use them.

Here’s what is black and white for me…

If we’re competing for the same keyword and you use an AI writing tool to create a 1500 word article in 10 seconds that you then spend 30 minutes editing, I will beat you on quality 100% of the time.

*With the most recent Helpful Content Update looming large, the timing for this follow up statement is risky but here goes.*

The bet we all make is that on average, Google will ultimately reward the highest quality content over the long run.

This is the framework that Mike and I have used to approach every single thing we’ve done with Niche Twins and it’s how I’m approaching everything I do with Startup Stumbles.

All any of us can do is pursue quality over everything.

With that, I ask everyone who believes you can win the quality content game in less than 4 hours and for under 100 bucks…what have you filed under the ‘efficiency’ category that really belongs under the ‘cutting corners’ category?

Have a weekend. ✌


On a personal note, I feel for everyone who has been massively impacted by this latest algo update. I’ve been there…multiple times…and I fully understand the mental toll it can take. All I can say is let the dust fully settle before doing anything drastic with your site. In the meantime keep pursuing quality, keep doing the right things and trust that this one gets corrected.

mike keith always be publishing

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