Pull up a seat. Make yourself comfortable. We’re about to get real on blogging risks.
As we near the 2nd anniversary of The Scoop Blog Network, I think about how I felt when we first launched to how I feel now. When we launched our first blogs, I was full of rainbows and unicorns, launching blogs left and right. I swear to god, it was almost like blog Oprah. You get a blog! And you get a blog! AND YOU GET A BLOG! EVERYONE GETS A BLOG!
No blogging experience under your belt? No sweat! We can teach you! Hate Twitter? Easy, we can figure something out so you don’t hate it so much! I was all about creating niche communities that were missing in Fort Collins. Spaces for people who wanted to know more about history, politics, people, arts, food, outdoors – you know, the stuff that makes a city livable.
I never thought it would be easy, but I thought it would be doable. Because I thought professional blogging was doable. I had already been doing it myself for four years on Feasting Fort Collins, and successfully at that. I could totally build the framework for other people to follow.
The months went by. We launched 14 blogs. FOURTEEN BLOGS. It was awesome. Then there were the blog pitches that rolled in like the ocean tide. Some weeks my inbox was flooded with people wanting to blog for the network. Other weeks were slow. And then I’d have another week of rejections to send out.
I always thought about three things when considering a blog addition to the network:
- What was the content longevity? Was this something that a blogger could write about for years on end?
- Would businesses be interested in advertising? Could we build a niche community to fit an ad demographic?
- How easy would it be to continue this blog with a different writer?
If a potential blog didn’t qualify after these three questions, the pitch was rejected. Never mind the writer’s experience – I thought we could train people up as long as they were passionate about their blogging topic. We could come up with content strategies for those milestone hurdles that every blogger comes upon at 3, 6, and 12 months into it (this is a separate blog post all on its own).
However, I did make a few exceptions. There were a few blogs that we launched that may have been strong in one qualifier, but weak in another. We may have had endless longevity, but it would be difficult to continue the same path with a new blogger. Or blogs that had the potential for fantastic content that would contribute to our community, but didn’t really fit an ad demographic and would be a hard sell to get funded. I took these risks because I believed in the content. I really felt (and still do) that they were growing assets to the community.
I lived in Vegas for many years and no stranger to betting on black. I was willing to take a gamble with some blogs. But that’s the thing about Vegas – you don’t always walk away from the table a winner. Sometimes you take a chance and lose. The trick is not to lose it all; you have to know when to walk away.
That’s exactly what happened with Faces of Fort Collins and Notify Fort Collins. Both were blogs that had great potential but were higher risk than our other blogs in the network. We took a chance, we tried to make them work, but it’s time to walk away from the table. So for the first time, we’ve retired blogs.
It was not an easy decision, especially since I’m not one to give up. But it helped to think about it in terms of ice cream. Ben and Jerry’s was my go-to inspiration.
Ben and Jerry’s makes numerous ice cream flavors every year. I’m pretty sure they’re near 100 flavors. They have their standard flavors that will always sell, like Chunky Monkey, Chocolate Therapy, and Vanilla. Then there are the flavors that they took a chance on, then ultimately pulled them off the shelves to be sent to the “flavor graveyard.” These are flavors that might have had potential, but people weren’t keen on buying it, like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Or maybe it was a flavor that only worked for a short amount of time, like Sugar Plumb.
But, just because they take a flavor off the line, it doesn’t mean the company closes or the other flavors don’t sell as well. Frankly, the other flavors sell themselves. That’s true for the other blogs in The Scoop Blog Network. We’ve sent two blogs to the blog graveyard, and we might send a few more, but there are core blogs that will always be successful – the Chocolate Therapies, the Chunky Monkeys, and the Vanillas of our network. That’s what keeps us going.