Monday, April 14, 2008

Post #1000: What Have We Learned

Well, kids, this is a Big Number, and the post involving it is also a Big Post, as I've been working on it for a couple of weeks.

Fifteen months ago, I started FTT with the expressed purpose of (a) killing time at a job that didn't give me enough to do, and (b) writing about sports so that I didn't go crazy thinking that what the MSM was giving me wasn't, well, 99% horsecrap.

There were no readers that I didn't personally know already, no ads, and about five sports blogs that had any real traffic, as far as I could tell. Now, there's been well over 50,000 of you shuffling through at one time or another, though it's very much dependent on the links of bigger blogs. People have clicked from all over the world, and the ad checks have helped me feel a lot less silly about spending my time doing this. There are still five sports blogs with any real traffic, and FTT isn't one of them... but I do get to write for one that's getting closer to that.

And since a lot of what I've been shared has been in list form, here's one for this.

Top 12 Things I've Learned (Seriously) From Blogging About Sports

1. Sports blogs and writers that, for the most part, stop being about sports... are wanking.

Over time, the temptation to wank becomes overwhelming, especially if you commit to a steady and significant workload. But like Creeping Curmudgeonism (where all of the athletes of your youth were always better), it must be resisted.

If you really love the writer, you might want to watch them do this. Hell, you may even want to help, as an act of something approaching love. But it is what it is.

2. The only thing more played out and boring than an anonymous blogger pissing on your work is moaning about being pissed on.

I don't get a lot of this at FTT, but over at the Carnival there's usually a troll a month that gets his rocks off from telling everyone that they suck. Like hecklers to comics, you feel compelled to show your chops by replying, and sometimes, it's entertaining in that Good Wanking way. But not for long.

3. An audience that, for the most part, doesn't comment is not evidence of a lack of audience.

Try as we may, very few of us are going to grow up to be Deadspin or some other place with a very active community. I'd love to have that, of course, but at the end of the day, it's not what keeps me filling the bloghole. Respect from peers, and the compulsion to work things out for a historical record, is closer to the motivation.

4. The posts that you pour your heart and soul into will not, for the most part, get you traffic.

In a past life, I was an indie musician, and the songs that I wrote and performed were like this. The complex stuff where we were really original and clever flew over the audience's heads. The stuff where we dumbed down the instrumentation, hook and lyric got people waving their hands in the air.

Craftsmanship and care and attention to detail will only go so far, really. It's remarkably easy to spend that extra time putting in stuff that's not really necessary, or just getting in the way of the hook.

5. If someone invites you to write for their blog or appear in their pod or video cast, just say yes.

It's just good manners, and the person that's doing the asking is most likely more gregarious than you when it comes to making connections. Besides, you can always link to the piece to help fill your own bloghole, and that cross-linking is really the only way to get search engine success. Go and make friends already.

6. Jealousy towards someone else's traffic levels or link success is your lazy, lazy brain keeping you from honest work.

There have been studies, honestly, based around the relative link success of different sports blogs from other sports blogs. I suppose it served the purpose of getting me to click, but the rubbing one out ratio was just off the charts on that, and it made me feel dirty to even read it. I don't want to imagine the feeling the writer got from it.

7. Your team, blog, writing, favorite athlete, political candidate, personal tastes and religion sucks.

Assume this, and you'll keep from writing to the choir. Besides, in matters like this, Bill Simmons is a powerful negative example, kind of like how I don't drink very much from having a parent who had trouble with it.

8. Bloggers spend too much time writing about blogging, rather than, you know, blogging.

Duh.

9. Whenever you write a list, your mind will invariably stall out with 1 or 2 left to go.

Because that's the very best way to waste time while blogging, of course.

10. 90% of the success of your post depends on your image or video search.

So have another pussy shot already.

11. Blogger fights make the rest of the time you spend doing this look like working in a soup kitchen for the homeless.

(And yes, I'd like to pledge that I'll never engage in one again, but I'm too smart in knowing the limitless nature of my stupidity.)

12. Just on the off chance that you were reading this hoping to get to the I Quit Moment... well, sorry, there is no end to it.

And even if there were, you'd have to check back on whether anyone said a eulogy.

And finally, let me leave you with the best and longest video that I'll ever send you to. It's got nothing to do with sports, other than inspiring me to work better and harder, because I -- and you -- could have more serious problems. Bookmark it, spend all 77 minutes on it, then send it to someone you love. It's really worth it, especially at the end.



Thank you for reading, and the blog continues any moment now, really...

1 comment:

tracer bullet said...

Well, dang, Shooter. Normally I'd take this opportunity to say something hurtful that questions your masculinity and/or sexual preferences, but . . . hmm, I don't know what to say now. But, as this post was so heartfelt, I'll say that I'm glad you started and keep writing the thing. Best of all, FTT has afforded you the opportunity to meet me and I daresay that's worth any price.