Sunday, November 20, 2011

No Longer Daily

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

We recently had a theme week, and I mentioned that I wanted to write a bit about the untapped well of potential that was the theme week. This is basically the idea that a theme week, when chosen well, provides a topic that both Nathan and I can get three posts out of. In the year of 2011, where we set out to post daily, a few more theme weeks might have been helpful for getting us through.

I also wrote a post at the start of the year discussing the trouble with daily goals. For some people a daily goal is the most helpful tool, and for others, like Nathan and me, it can be a burden. The problem is that we both tend to get focused on certain things for a while, and then we become focused on other things for a while. That is why the daily blog, when not officially a daily blog, tends to sometimes not be posted to for months at a time.

There were a number of things that we tried to do to help us get through the year, but they were met with varying degrees of success, including the degree that isn’t success.

Reserves – The idea was that we would always have so many reserves in place that we could choose the better of the posts to post. The problem is that we often ended up using the reserves as emergency posts when we didn’t have time to write one, and rebuilding the reserves seemed difficult. The odd thing is that when you’re publishing with such high volume, things like reserves and scheduled posts have a way of cycling through quicker than you expect. You might have eight reserves one week, and two weeks later, you have two left, wondering what to write.

Every Other Day – We split the writing duties pretty evenly. Most weeks Nathan took Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I took Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. This made sure that we each wrote three posts a week, and that neither of us would have to write more to achieve our daily goal. What about Saturday, you ask.

The Serial – While Nathan had a “sorta-like/hate” relationship with the serial, by year’s end 52 of the 365 days (about 14%) will have been days that we didn’t have to come up with a topic to write about. Sure, we needed to come up with the next part of the story, but we had a topic. This also allowed us to have a semi-consistent schedule for posting without having to figure out whose week it was for an extra post.

The serial is actually where the point of this post started. When I went to Nathan’s a couple of weeks ago, we had a brief discussion outside before I left. I said, “I’m presuming you won’t want to do another serial next year, unless you have some idea that you haven’t shared.” He told me that I presumed right. Then he asked if we were going to have the same daily goal for the blog next year. I told him we didn’t have to. Here are the reasons that I think that continuing to write a daily blog is probably a bad idea at this point.

Interest and Number of Topics – The biggest problem is that Nathan has been burned out on it for quite a while now. He has said that the burden of coming up with topics has been rough. I agree. Though I don’t think we’re having trouble coming up with topics, as much as we’re having trouble coming up with topics that we’re interested in writing about. I’ve gotten to a point where one of my weekly features (that has been put on hold for theme weeks and other stuff for a couple of weeks) is me going through all the topics I brainstormed and writing what I can about each. While it has made for some interesting writing here and there, it is not the ideal writing circumstance. I haven’t been burned out, but I haven’t been getting quite as much enjoyment from it.

Volume – Another thing is simply that when we write, we don’t tend to ever do 200 word bursts that sometimes passes as a daily blog. Even Seth Godin will write blogs that are readable in less than a minute, as well as blogs that take a few minutes to read. Nathan and I tend to write at least a page every time we sit down to write the blog. This became such that I started limiting myself to avoid really long posts. If I ever hit the 2,000 word mark, I would turn it into a multi-part post. When I did the “Chris McGinty – Enemy of Debt” feature, rather than try to write everything that happened as it happened, I limited myself to 1,200 words, and just didn’t fret that the events I was posting were often a month gone by.

Promotion – The thing about a daily blog is that it’s probably pretty pointless when you aren’t trying to get people to your blog to read. We do write some good stuff (we write some stinkers too) but we’re not focused enough that we get many consistent readers. I think there is a readership out there somewhere, but until we try to find that readership, I don’t think they will find us. We had a lot of goals at the start of 2011, and many of them fell prey to my goal of finding enough work to pay my bills. One goal that I had with the daily blog was to find a daily readership, but it’s hard to do when the best you can do is put tags on your blog.

I spoke with Nathan recently to determine what we would do with the blog in 2012. My suggestion was that we each try for seven posts a month. This would keep the blog consistently updating while not being quite as burdensome on us. He wasn’t sure that’s what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to focus on the other things we’d not completed this year. I told him that the irony of that is if we’re doing things, we’ll have material to write about. That was one of the problems with topics. When we got together with Miguel at the Water Gardens to re-shoot some footage, I didn’t have to rack my brain for what to write about. I had a whole four hours of activity to discuss, and it was probably more on topic for a blog that’s supposed to be about our creative work than the blog has been most of the year.

We’re not sure what we’re going to do in 2012 as the blog goes. It seems like it will be unscheduled, and that we’ll only post when we have something to post. I feel we should have some sort of schedule, be it: seven posts a month; or six, five, or four posts a month; or a minimum of one post a week from each of us. Something that keeps the blog from not being updated for weeks and months at a time.

At this time, I still have the CTFU brainstorm topics that I can go through. Depending on how involved Nathan wants the new “Chris McGinty – Enemy of Debt” to be, I have that. Nathan will likely have stuff to write about once he isn’t feeling a deadline pressure to find something to write. And I’m sure that if we get back to project work in the coming year, there will be that. I’ve thought that perhaps Nathan and I can do some writing sessions together, whether it’s when I come over or maybe over the phone where we take a set amount of time to write so much in order to generate material. We’ll see.

At this point though, the purpose of this post is just to say that we won’t be posting as much next year. If you read our blog with any regularity, but haven’t ever commented, now might be the time to comment. While we’re almost certainly not going to do daily writing anymore, it might be more motivating to have some sort of schedule if we know we’re being read. At this time though, the time pressure of three and a half posts a week is too much.

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