Saturday, 20 May 2017

The 1,000th POST

According to Blogger, this is the one thousandth post I have made to Irresistible Targets. I have written about my antipathy to creating stories based on numbers that happen to end in zeroes: Trump's first 100 days, the 50th anniversary of this assassination or that Summer of Love,  but it keeps hacks in business, and I am nothing if not willing to grab an easy hook.  I reckon a thousand posts works out to somewhere short of a million words over the past nine years, and pondering that I realised that this is something like a novel a year, were I inclined that way.

Of course not all the writing has been specifically for the blog: many of the pieces posted have been published elsewhere first, and some I have given to others to republish. Sometimes, I publish a link with my notes on my own writing, occasionally that runs longer than the piece itself.

According the Blogger I have had almost 634,000 page views, which would average out to 634 per post.
The viewing figures are usually lower than that per item, which I don't understand, but I am sure there is a good explanation for it. Still, the work is reaching some people, and I know from the viewing figures of pieces I've written for literary magazine blogs that 600 is actually a pretty impressive number.

But it doesn't quite seem impressive enough to justify blog for blog's sake. I feel like I'm back in the fanzine world I wrote for occasionally in the early Seventies. So as I have done at various other milestones along this blog's way I have a couple of questions to pose.

First, should I continue? I will confess that in past few months I have had trouble writing, unless I am on a paying deadline. I have a paper stuck to the wall in my office with what I thought were good ideas for feature pieces and a list of reviews to write because I have been invited to screenings or sent books, and they have not been written. I find myself back in the place I was more than 20 years ago, when my MLB job left me and I went freelance, sending stories off unsolicited and selling some of them (while seeing a few appear, with a few changes of course, under other bylines...welcome to London hackery.) I take this mini- writers block as an unwillingness to commit fully to retrace that path. I also take it as recognition that the editors I pitch to, and their audiences, are shall we say, younger than they were or I am, so sometimes I am speaking to a soft wall of incomprehension.

Now I do want to write those stories, and my inclination is to do that if only for myself and the small coterie of the IT faithful. But here is question two: how best could I 'monetize' as they say, Irresistible Targets. I tried once with Google ads: when the total reached something like £20 I tried to collect, and the process of 'validating' myself with them defeated their paying out to me, as I assume it was intended to do.

I could re-launch IT on another platform (different blog, website) which might allow for contributions.
I could set up a paywall website, though that seems counter-productive. I could put a paywall on a website including IT, which might allow for subscribers to my sporting wisdom, particularly during the NFL season.

Any suggestions, advice, encouragement or support would be welcome from you, the readers. I first set up the blog thinking it would be a good way of increasing my 'exposure' as all the people who offer you the chance to contribute for free to their money-making outlets tell you is beneficial. I went back today and looked at my first post (you can do that too, here) and recalled I had actually started THREE blogs: one about art, one about sport and other amusing pastimes, and this one intended to be primarily about crime fiction. At least I wasn't insane enough to continue on those paths! I do recommend my art coverage though, the blog was called Untitled (Reflections... , though most of the pieces I have added here at IT over the years.

While IT has created some exposure, it has not translated into anything beyond itself. Is there a good way to move beyond that, or should that be reward in and of itself?

Or, since 1,000 is supposed to be such a nice round number to mark an accomplishment, I could just leave it there.

1 comment :

Rich said...

Hi Mike,
I’m one of probably a good sized number of regular visitors to IT, based off the plugs on Americarnage and the talksport show, and enjoy your writing, and tv/pod contributions.
Empathise with the existential crisis completely having had my own short lived blog site, they are a real labour of love, especially when traffic isn’t high and comments are few and far between. From my point of view, it would be sad to see you shutter IT as I enjoy your voice, find your articles on film, culture and sport very informative particularly on subjects that I had maybe no more than a passing knowledge. However, I couldn’t argue that decision if you feel you aren’t getting at least a basic fulfilment out of it, never mind financial.
Monetization suggestions. Online ad revenue requires high volume page clicks and unique users in order to really reap any financial rewards, which is tough to drive as a one-man band and without third party network support. I’m not a fan of paywalls to be honest, they only work if your branded content is so strong and posts frequent enough as to warrant the financial subscription. I'm not saying it wouldn't work, but there's so much free content out there that it is tough to pull off.
I think blog based sites, like blogspot or blogger, aren’t particularly well suited to search engines so it is difficult to pick up passing traffic, unless someone is specifically directed to you or is searching for a specific topic you have written on. To me, maybe setting up your own site and registering a Carlson Sports type domain might be the way to go, but I’m sure there are more experienced folk than me that could advise better.
What a lot of US podcasts and writers have done is go down the Patreon channel and received ‘donations’ for their work. Not sure how that works from a UK tax position, but I hear the Cayman’s are a lovely place to podcast from this time of year. One blog that I particularly enjoy is an action film centric one called www.outlawvern.com. Again, he's a one man operation, and seems to be making it work but it's hard to know. It may be worth taking stock of what others are doing and what works and what doesn’t.
Based on the breadth of your career and the experiences you’ve had, there must be a memoir book in you to. A mix of Bill Bryson and Clive James! Either that or it’s finally time for a self-published ‘Pocket Essentials’ style retrospective on Sam Peckinpah. ;D
Whatever you decide to do, I’m in!
Best,
Richard