It has made us a ton of friends. It’s also put me in a position to put together another long stretch of everyday blogging next year and it’s put our goal of building Sourcerer into a blog that runs on collaboration within reach. Totally worth it.
Diana and I have proven we’re able consistently to produce good content, manage a contributor-based operation, organize collaborative projects, and find clever ways to use other social media to support it all. We have 50 weeks worth of archives on two blogs and enough related social media to back it up. We also have relationships with a ton of other bloggers. The two contributors who have joined us most recently, David of Comparative Geeks and Luther of Infinite Free Time, are friends we met through WordPress. As long as we can maintain enough contributors to post fresh content frequently, my anxiety over the need to post every day is gone.
I trust the television and comics to carry us to the end of the year. We may simply be done posting on Mondays and Tuesdays for awhile. I’m putting most of my time into planning, writing a lot of posts for later, and strengthening my relationships with other bloggers.
Relationships with other bloggers are what that Follow Friday on Twitter that Luther and I did last week was about. It’s what my Facebook restructuring is about. Not about growing my accounts immediately; about finding better ways to keep up with people who have taken an interest in these blogs for months. I paused in the planning long enough to do that stuff because it was fall break last week and my final opportunity of the year to give a big show of support to friends of these blogs.
And speaking of the Facebook restructuring. If you’ve known me for awhile and we’ve had enough conversations to build a sufficient level of trust, I’m open to discussing Facebook friendships. The bloggers in my Facebook network are the only ones who are interacting with me over there, so friendly bloggers can have all my Facebook likes and shares forever as far as I am concerned.
I’ve received enough interest in my idea to do the April A to Z Challenge here to proceed with planning. I’ve got a schedule up and I’ve drafted posting guidelines and strategy notes. I’ll publish those as soon as I can. It’s 2,000 words and doesn’t need to be read all at once, so I’ll break it into separate pages and post as needed.
If enough people stay on board through the end of the year, we’re doing it. Diana, David and I are likely all doing A to Z on other blogs, so this can’t turn into just the three of us doing A to Z here. That would be too much on all of us and leave us no way to post regular contributors for that whole month. But I will have my personal A to Z taken care of well in advance, so I can easily write ten of the posts if that’s what I need to do to make it happen.
Planning for another round of The Feminist Friday Project will get under way within a month. We have some issues to discuss about how to organize it from here on out, and I want everyone who has a stake in that project to have a chance to join in.
Here is my plan with specific details and a timeline.
- My Tolkien series for Part Time Monster and my A to Z for Just Gene’O finished or mostly finished, and A to Z topics for Sourcerer completely assigned by January 2.
- Kickoff date for Feminist Fridays to start sometime in January and run through Mid-March, then a second round to begin in early May. At least four weeks’ worth of posts agreed to in advance, and more would be better.
- Register for A to Z early for good list placement. Use my Twitter and Facebook to build buzz about the A to Z Challenge and meet A to Z bloggers once people start chattering about it. Use the A to Z comment threads, topic reveals, etc. to find new readers. Know who among our friends and regular readers are doing the challenge and help them by tweeting and sharing their announcements, topics, etc.
- Use the A to Z posts here to link to our most popular posts and to the blogs of people who contribute. More on that when I post the planning documents. A to Z is about discovery. It guarantees new visitors, but you only get one chance to sell them because everyone who’s doing the challenge is visiting five new blogs every day. That means the new readers you see on day one might not come back for a month. If they don’t like you enough to follow or bookmark you, you’ll never see them again.
- Give Sourcerer a better look and more useful categories before April. This one is contingent on getting the writing for early spring done.
To accomplish all this I have to spend a ton of time writing in November and December. It’s what I plan to do over Thanksgiving and during most of December. Once we get late into November, you’ll see me less than you’re accustomed to seeing me. I’m not going completely silent and not shutting down any blogs. But I’ll have to cut back to a Saturday Coffee post only at Just Gene’O and be a lot more disciplined about my social media habits. That means you’ll see me here when I’m checking comment threads or scheduling posts, at Twitter for only a few minutes in the evening, and on Facebook only when I go there to check my messages.
If this works and we still have enough contributors on May 1 to keep going, Sourcerer will be a clean, seamless pop culture blog with a larger audience than we’ve ever had, and Just Gene’O will be the hub in the blogosphere for a small but well-connected network of WordPress bloggers who collaborate across social media. From that point forward, we’ll have a written post in the morning and a photo feature in the evening five or six days a week here for as long as we can sustain it.
If we make it all the way to July, we’ll start a slowdown the week after July 4. We’ll wrap up our major projects and spend the last two weeks of the month clowning around. We’ll write August off, traffic-wise, and figure out what fall tv series we can blog to get us through the end of the year while we’re all dealing with back-to-school insanity. Then I will start planning for 2016.
Once we pull this off, I’ll quit worrying about growing the audience for my personal blog. I’ll be content to blog Tolkien, do the Saturday coffee thing, and post this planning-type stuff at Just Gene’O. I’ll use my photoblogging and social media blogging to make sure Sourcerer posts twice every weekday and has readers on Sundays. I’ve put a year of my life into getting to the point where I could write this post and have enough people read it to make it worthwhile. The next year is make or break for this blog. I want to see it stable enough and running smoothly enough to allow me to get back to putting serious time into some fantasy fiction by the end of next summer. That’s totally doable if people keep contributing.
How does all this strike you?
I’ve hit a minor snag with my Twitter account growth and may have to let it settle for a couple of weeks before I do another growth cycle. It’s not a serious problem and my goal of 5K followers by year end is reasonable. The problem is that the discovery feature is giving me nothing but authors. I love to have hordes of authors in my network, but I also need Tweeps who operate specifically as bloggers and geeks. I’m having trouble finding them. Advice and introductions to bloggers and geeks who tweet are welcome.
I’ve stumbled into what looks at first glance like a respectable network of women bloggers organized by state. I haven’t had time to evaluate it to see how big it is or what sort of bloggers they have as members. I am not sharing links today, but it looks promising. I’ve also discovered a couple of blogging groups based in Birmingham, Alabama. If you don’t know the Southeastern U.S., Birmingham is one of the largest cultural centers of the Deep South. That means a high concentration of bloggers, geeks, and pop culture junkies. In other words, lots of people we might want to meet. I am looking into that, as well. If you happen to see anything similar coming out of Memphis, Nashville, or Texas, do let me know. For all practical purposes, I’m NOLA-based, and regional connections would be helpful.
I know it’s perilous to plan six months out for a blog that runs on unpaid contributions. It’s even worse not to plan, though. And contributions do pay in something. Luther and I were goofing around on the announcement thread the other night and I jokingly told him his new gig pays in tweets. There’s a kernel of truth in that silliness.
If you pay attention to the blogs I link to and the people I tweet with, you’ll see that giving this blog regular support pays in engagement. And not in a transactional way. I don’t do quid pro quo. I take regular support to mean you must be interested in what we’re doing and you must want to get to know us. So I reach out as often as I am able. When I see a way to help you with something that’s important to you, I do what I can. And I wonder if whomever that was digging around in Luther’s archives the other day went looking because he joined us.
I’m officially recruiting a regular gaming blogger, a regular tv blogger, or both. Those are what we’re missing. Gaming would be good, but I have no idea how our current readers will respond and it might take awhile to build an audience. A dedicated tv blogger would be sweet, because our tv reviews have done well, but everyone who writes them also does other things. The reviews often put pressure on our schedules because they have to be posted either right after the episode or right before the next one to do any good.
Must be a blogger I can trust with access to the dashboard and be able to deliver posts that need minimal editing. I will give them the Monday morning slot to start. If we need to modify the schedule to put something else there at some point, I’ll guarantee them Tuesday mornings. I’m open to every-other-week or monthly posting if weekly is too much. It needs to be someone who isn’t already blogging here and their blogging has to be their portfolio. I don’t want emailed writing samples. Put the word out, if you don’t mind, and if you know anyone who might be interested, I am open to recommendations and pitches.
I’ve played the man behind the curtain for a year. That’s been good for a lot of laughs. People seem to enjoy me being the sorcerer. I’m still every bit the sorcerer, but no more man behind the curtain. Now I’m hosting a #MadTeaParty on Twitter and assembling a pirate crew. Both of those should also be good for a lot of laughs next year.