So, while I’ve been in semi-retirement mode when it comes to blogging over the last 7 months, I’ve gotten that blogging itch recently. Yeah, I’m trying to blog whenever I feel like I REALLY have something to say and not just for the sake of having a hot take.
Today, I wanted to blog a little about the blogging genre as a whole. I gotta tell you guys, it feels like the blogsphere is in remission. I’m not talking about the quality of hot takes, but just how the blogs seem to have disappeared. Specifically on the Sabres side. I think at one point I calculated that there was like 60 Sabres blogs around 2012. It was ridiculous. Everyone had a blog. I kid you not, the Sabres blogger summit – Do they still have those? – that I went to in 2011 (AKA: Ted Black’s pizza party) had like 20-30 in attendance. Sure, some of them probably bullshitted their way into it by posting 3 stories in 3 years, but there was a bunch that did an adequate job in being known. As for the Bills, well, it hasn’t really grown. There’s the SB nation guys and those who are tied to a bigger parent company (USA Today/Fan Side), but that’s kind of it. Now, let me explain, a blog to me is one that isn’t attached to like a local news outlet. I don’t count Joe B. or Sal C. as bloggers because they work at a “legit” outlet. I’m talking about the mom and pop shops like this site here. As Bernie Sanders would say if he was running for blogger president, the middle class of bloggers is basically dead.
It could be me being detached, but aside from Twitter, where the hell are people getting their Buffalo fan/blogger sports takes?
Well, as the purveyor of solving mysteries, I’ve decided to try and figure this out.
Twitter was the best and worst thing to happen to your blog
I’m not going to pretend to be some sort of sage when it comes to the evolution of social media. I didn’t start blogging until the summer of 2009 and at that point I had never heard of a blog. Yeah, I was a REAL late bloomer. After I started blogging, most of the feedback I got came from the comment section of your article. I remember seeing like a 100 person comment thread on a blog post on Katebits site. It was in essence a giant thread on a message board (Are people still on message boards?). You felt you had a better connection because it always seemed to be other bloggers commenting and it was a tight, smaller community. Getting a reaction is all the motivation a blogger needs when it comes to feeling they aren’t wasting their time.
Then Twitter was born and your comment section was basically put to rest.
When I started blogging, Twitter was in its infancy. Aside from Mike Harrington and Nick Mendola, no one in the Buffalo media was on Twitter during that time. Imagine the peace and serenity we had on Twitter then. Now, everyone is on Twitter and have more followers than ever before. You can easily tweet to someone an opinion about the piece they wrote and you’ll get instant feedback or discourse. And for that, there’s really no point to having a conversation in the comment section because you can do it on Twitter.
This isn’t just for bloggers, but for mainstream types as well. Just go to their tweets that link them to their article and you’ll see they get way more comments on Twitter than in their comment section. I don’t even think the authors at WGR/TBN even check their comments in their articles (Note: Could be cause the commenters are lunatics nowadays), let alone post a reply to them. Its interesting, because our site itself has gotten much more traffic than in the early days, but the feedback on the comment section hasn’t existed in awhile.
Now, if you can have the same types of conversations on Twitter today that you had in your comment section back in the day, then why not just have your takes ONLY on Twitter? And that’s where the rub lies. Hot takes can easily be put on Twitter instead of your blog. I mean, aside from loving to write about the teams you cheer for, why else do you blog? It’s so you can have people read and comment on your takes. Come on. As much as we all bitch about Twitter, we will never leave it because we love getting attention on what we say, negatively or positively. What is the point of tweeting if someone doesn’t interact with you?
Case in point: The guys at “Dear God, why us sports?”
Matty Renn, SBA, and Barrister are on Twitter a shitload. I think Barrister has a fucking I.V. from Twitter to his vein at this point. They are constantly giving astute takes on Twitter. It’s much easier for them to probably have a take on Twitter because more people will read/interact on there instantly than on their site. Plus, it’s less work for them.
I WISH all 4,000 of the Buffalo Wins followers read the pieces daily, but for the most part, they don’t. However, I’ve always felt most of my interaction came through Twitter rather than my own website. And because of that, why not just tweet your takes rather than write a 600 word piece that won’t get nearly as much interaction on your actual site? Look at all-22 Vines. Its so much easier for Yardsperpass to tweet out a Gif of Tyrod missing a WR and getting a RT/Favorite than putting a bunch of GIFs on your site that would take 30 minutes to load. All he needs is Jeremy White -Who I think feels a tremor in the force like Obi-Wan felt when people died on Alderaan in IV whenever an all-22 clip is tweeted- to RT it and boom… Your message and conversation starter is on.
Sure, Twitter can help when it comes to getting people to your site, but the discussion will hardly ever move to your site. So, why the hell involve your site as the conduit between you and your reader when Twitter is a better at conversing?
Clicks equal pennies
So you remember watching American Pie 2 when Tara Reid and that dork who was the pitcher in Rookie of the Year were talking about how many sex partners they had been with? Basically they both said 3, but as someone astutely pointed out to them, it was a lie. If you are a girl, if you say 3 it is really 9. But if you are guy and say 3, well, it’s really 1.
So when you talk to a blogger who tells you they get 25,000 visits a day, its really like 400. Everyone lies about traffic. And, unfortunately, in order to make any sort of money off your site, you need to get like at least 500,000 hits weekly. Hell, maybe daily. Bloguin (Our Parent company) used to tell me that in order for them to give me money, I had to get at least 10,000 unique visits for me to make a dollar. Yeah…let’s just say I was lucky to get 10 bucks a month and I’m lying when I say that. It was less.
This is why the conversation stays on Twitter because there’s no money on your site. None. If most blogs got paid even like 200-300 a month, I’m sure they’d be trying desperately to put their All-22 GIFs on a separate platform instead of on Twitter. It amazes me how Buffalo Wins has been for the most part consistent when it came to putting out content 3-5 times a week because there was nothing in it for any of us on a financial setting. SB Nation is a mega company that can basically lock and load big time sponsors, yet, their head editors get paid probably like 500-1,000 bucks a month (Yeah, not exactly a giant life changer unfortunately. Fuck corporations) but for the rest of us? We are fucked.
Sure, some of it could change if an editor could cold call every business in Buffalo. They could ask for 30 bucks a week and in return they can put up a banner of their business on the site or give away a free Pandora’s box Bills Dildo on Twitter. Yet, the majority of us don’t have the time because we work at regular 9-5 jobs (More on that later). And even if you are calling businesses, there’s still that mystery to your site in order to get money. I think we are still considered a newer medium and business owners are more than likely older. We all know that older people tend to be the ones buying the paper still and that it’s still kind of a work in progress when it comes to the marketing/sales world of website advertising.
Additionally, you have way too many people who write for free. Yeah, we never got the memo from Joker about not doing anything for free if you are good at it. Once the free precedent is set when it comes to the market, then you, as a writer, are fucked because they’ll just find someone else to do it for nothing.
There are two types of bloggers: Aspiring writers who want to write sports for a living (Not me) and those who do this as a hobby (Guilty). That’s it. What I’ve come to see over the years is that the aspiring writers eventually get a job where they can make some money writing for their local paper or a SB Nation type site. Eventually, they retire and move on to those greener pastures. We’ve had a bunch of guys do that at this site and I’m very happy for them.
Then we have the father/single older guy who does this for fun. Well, it is fun until your wife/husband wants you to spend time with them. Or when you got to be a dad or mom and there are more pressing things than writing about Tyrod Taylor Vs. The World. Or when you have to work at your day job for 40-50 hours a week and you don’t want to do work for free. Or when you just want to go home and zone out in front of your TV and not see a stupid DM from Me or Rich begging for you to write. It gets old because priorities change and you can’t blame them for that.
Fuck our teams
There’s been a bunch of times over the years where I’ve listened to the WGR Bills postgame show where Schopp/Bulldog talked about how they have NEVER done a Bills postseason show together. Its pretty amazing when you think about that since they’ve been together since like 2003. Well, this site has been running since 2009 and we have fallen into that same trap. Its not that writing negative stuff is bad for my soul. In fact, I find myself to be a better writer when I’m pissed off and angry. However, when you are constantly writing the same pissed off narrative year in and year out, it gets really old because you end up using the same stupid analogies. But that’s me. I’m a gluttony for punishment kind of guy. However, there are other writers who want to write about fun shit like a playoff run. Unfortunately, the Bills haven’t delivered anything close to that. I’ve “employed” like over 40 writers at this site over the years and a majority are into it…until the teams start sucking and their motivation dies just when the team’s playoff chances do the same.
And if you think winning doesn’t have anything to do with blogs popping up, think again. When the Sabres blogsphere blew up, it basically happened right after their back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 05-07. That’s when tickets at HSBC were going for like 70 dollars on Stubhub for cheap seats. Plus, when Pegula bought the team in 2011, that put even more energy into the keyboards of bloggers because of the hope, players, and money he brought to the area. Unfortunately, that all died when you saw the product afterwards.
I think a combination of the tank, the lockout, a playoff drought (2011) and a playoff series winning drought (2007) gave a bunch of bloggers writer’s block. I was for the tank years, but I sure as hell wasn’t for blogging about it on a weekly or even daily basis. Cheering against your team is one thing, writing about how much fun it was to see them lose 6-1? Fuck. that. noise.
I quit blogging in April due to a combination of being sick/bored of blogging about the same storylines and feeling my own efforts weren’t getting rewarded enough. Sure, I’m not the most polished writer in the world and I’m probably not worth a minimum wage salary, but I can tell you this site is worth more than the 20 bucks or so we were getting a month. Now, I may sound like I’m coming off as being a little bitter and I’ll be frank, I kind of am because I feel writers are taken advantage of in the bloggerverse. However, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this. Hence the reason why the whole genre has been deflated for the last few years.
I really do hope this is just a valley in the whole genre. Maybe a winning Sabres/Bills product will help turn it around. Maybe some asshole with money will hire a bunch of new age bloggers to run a site and not just hire WGR/BN retreads like (716) Store did with Trending Buffalo. If those things don’t happen, then it really comes down to discovering the niche for the first time as being your catalyst.
It really is a young man’s game when it comes to blogging. Its cool at first, but when the teams and money start bottoming out, so does your love for writing about it.