While I’m by no means a fortune teller, mostly because they don’t exist, I feel like I’ve had a fairly decent track record when it comes to where things are heading on the Internet.
It’s, of course, not possible to perfectly predict the future of making money online, particularly with large language models, search results, and content creation as a whole having big question marks above them.
But let’s try anyway.
If nothing else, it’s food for thought. It’s worth considering every perspective so you can put your energy in all the right places.
First, what’s the future of content sites?
If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you have a content website or at least are somehow connected to one.
And with ChatGPT getting better every day at being as good as you, it can be worrisome.
I have four predictions for content.
Search traffic is likely going to continue tanking… for a majority of sites.
We’ve had a really, really long run where building a site full of repurposed information can make you money – sometimes a lot of it.
With generative artificial intelligence here to stay, this two-decade business is likely going to die.
Ironically, the millions of sites popping up right now, fueled by ChatGPT-created content, are actually gasoline on the fire.
While Google is leagues ahead of Facebook when it comes to the sophistication of their algorithm, I’m somewhat reminded of the rat-infested landfill Pages became.
Saturation usually leads to one thing…
Consolidation. There will simply be less sites that matter.
We’re already seeing niche sites get crushed and larger ones with high domain authority trend upward. So this is hardly a groundbreaking prediction.
But think about it:
- Generative AI will be able to deliver information on just about anything.
- Less traffic will mean you can’t make a living with a site (built for Google), which will affect how many people even bother attempting it.
- And the ones remaining, which are providing a value that generative AI cannot, will get even more traffic without millions of small ones sniping low-hanging fruit keywords.
For quite a while, I haven’t really understood why Google doesn’t incorporate some sort of verification system.
I believe they will be moving toward some version of that.
The world wide web might just become a lot smaller – or at least tighter.
Content is going to be better than ever.
We have to look past the current website landscape. What we’re seeing now actually is a mess.
Much better content has fallen and been replaced in search results by stuff that’s actually worse.
But that’s because this is just the first wave.
What’s going to happen is that content is going to get really, really good… out of necessity. Because generative AI will raise the floor on “quality.”
This isn’t a bad thing for the world. It’s bad for anyone who loses their business, of course. But for the world, it means we’ll essentially commodotize information, and the only way to succeed is to make something better than this new baseline.
Pick literally any tool created since the dawn of time.
Fire. A hammer. The computer.
They all replaced old (worse) methods. Before the hammer was invented, they used to take their young child and pound the nail in with said child’s head.
That’s probably a lie.
But hopefully you get my point here. If your judgment is clouded because this transformation sucks, I get it. It really does suck for a lot of people.
It’s just time to raise our game. And it’ll be worth it because:
The creators who survive will make more money than ever.
Not because there will be less sites or less creators.
But because, with this “tighter” version of the Internet, actual deals can be made between tech giants and those they want to include as part of their ecosystem.
I believe that a unique, valuable library of content that generative AI can’t replicate – especially when it’s a library that needs updated often – will see massive licensing deals.
How you create that library of content that AI can’t just ingest is a topic for another article.
Let’s move on to predictions related to generative AI, ChatGPT, LLMs, whatever you want to call it.
Where is all this AI stuff actually going?
This is a much bigger discussion, but I’m going to keep this section in context of this website and my skillset.
ChatGPT, as a content creation tool, will no longer be viable.
Again, hardly groundbreaking stuff here.
But it’s only a matter of time before this saturation kills the entire strategy.
Let me clarify though: I don’t mean using ChatGPT in your content creation process will die. I mean using ChatGPT to generate articles in minutes and then expecting to get traffic to them.
And to that point, ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence will settle in as business tools. They’ll become a part of our day to make our jobs, our businesses, and our lives easier.
What they can create with a few clicks will not be a viable business, no matter how magical and impressive it becomes. Because saturation just doesn’t work like that.
Easy = almost immediate saturation.
OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, et al will get away with murder.
Ingesting the hard work and copyrights of millions of small businesses to create tools that turn you into multi-trillion dollar companies is about as gross as it gets.
But they all play by the rules of ask forgiveness, not permission.
Of course, they won’t do either one, but you get the point.
However, this is why I believe as they dismantle the mom and pop shops and work out licensing deals with the bigger (and extraordinarily unique) players, it will all become “above board” over time.
And we’ll all forget about it.
Remember YouTube? It was a copyright infringement factory, and the original owners would have likely been sued into oblivion if Google didn’t buy them.
And Google did so because they had the means to fight lawsuits and “do things right.”
What we, as small business owners, need to do is position ourselves to be absolutely indispensable to the Web so that we’re included in the next wave of Internet money.
It makes me sad to even write that, but lying to ourselves doesn’t pay for a trip to Fiji.
95% of existing AI tools will die.
I’m really not even predicting anything with an ounce of audacity at this point.
It goes without saying that every Tom, Dick, and Harry throwing “AI” into a random idea and calling it the next big thing will not survive.
Not only are they largely useless, but OpenAI and Google will simply turn the good ones into features – and you’ll die.
I don’t recommend going that path, but hey… I don’t know everything.
And now, some other random predictions.
There are some things that don’t neatly fit into the content or AI category, so here we go.
Newsletters are finally going to see the money they deserve.
Google and social media traffic has always been the primary focus for an overwhelming majority of publishers because, for the most part, it’s a much more straightforward source with a clear ROI.
Get X traffic to your website, make Y money from display ads. Do whatever you can to increase X so that Y increases too.
Email can be tough if you don’t know what you’re doing. Simply sending your latest article to your userbase and expecting them all to click can work, but it’s an extra step.
And monetizing within your email with display ads literally gets you a $1-2 RPM, which means you need tens of thousands of opens to make any money worth pursuing.
Forget about the “make money online” and finance niches you’re likely very familiar with because I’m referring to your average niche: travel, pets, home improvement, and so on.
Right now, it’s incredibly difficult to get meaningful sponsors. Paved is actually pretty good in my limited experience, but still… it’s a far cry from where things are going to be.
Especially when Google and social traffic dry up, I think email is finally going to get the attention it deserves.
Not only that, but it’s a higher quality experience for everyone when the right advertiser is paired with the right email publisher.
ConvertKit, Beehiive, Paved… they all know there’s a massive gap here, which is why they’re trying. We’re still in the infant stages, so build your massive, engaged list today so that you’ll stand to make a lot of money later when advertisers wisen up the power – and have an easy place to buy sponsorships.
Deepfakes won’t actually be a problem – in the long run.
With the election next year in the United States, there’s a lot of talk about the damage deepfakes can do.
For example, if a video of a candidate having sex with a pig were to surface, you might believe it especially if you’ve seen the first episode of Black Mirror.
Then you probably won’t vote for him because that’s weird.
As you probably saw, Mr. Beast, Taylor Swift, and other big names just had to Tweet and release statements that deepfakes of them were, in fact, fake.
My view on things becoming easier and more widespread is that they simply lead to saturation and then stop working.
Much like the senior women on Facebook overwhelmingly know to completely ignore the human trash posing as interested men, only to scam them, the world will become skeptical and deepfakes will stop working.
That doesn’t mean they don’t pose a threat in the shortterm. Watch out for that pig video.
Short form video won’t always dominate.
Content consumption sort of works in an ebb and flow way. With TikTok, Reels, and Shorts shoving 15 second videos down our throats, we’ll hit a point of desensitization.
Then something else, probably even more braindead, will take over for a while.
But there will be an inverse effect as well that brings new appreciation to longer form video and content.
It’s easy to forget how much we’re all in the thick of these fast-moving trends, but over time, I see the Internet, digital technology, and AI maturing into staples of life.
Life where we still highly value authenticity and human connection.
But I’m probably wrong about everything.
This article only scratches the surface of how we can think about the future and how it pertains to finding – or maintaining – success.
If I emphasize just two things out of this entire article, they’re:
The two often go hand-in-hand. When everyone is touting the next big life-changing technology or advancement, it’s probably overblown.
And it’ll probably settle in as something less worrisome and less amazing than you think.
But it’ll certainly lead to saturation. Nobody wants to miss the hype, and like a get rich quick promise, it clouds judgment.
We should all try to keep a level head and be aware of the threats to our businesses – but then go on to do the one thing we can always do:
Continue making our businesses better. Because constant improvement and iteration can’t lose.