Now that CHSSoccer.net is entering its second year, it’s time for me to start talking publicly about one of my original goals for the site.
Yes, I hope that someday it generates regular revenues for me and the people who contribute assigned content. But no matter how much money the site makes, it won’t be a success in my eyes unless it also expands interest in local teams and supporters’ groups.
The best way I know to expand interest is to expand the conversation. Which means that I want to grow the number of independent voices who write about, talk about, and otherwise express care about the local soccer scene. And starting now, I intend to get serious about it.
I pay some writers and photographers for assigned content. But what I’d really like to be doing is linking to soccer blogs other than my own. There are lots of smart people in the Lowcountry who know more about soccer than I do, and I learn about the game from listening to them. If they were writing online about their observations and opinions, I’d not only learn from them, I’d link to them.
And here’s the trick. If you’re blogging out there by yourself, it can be awfully difficult to build an audience. It takes time and effort.
But once you’ve got an audience, it isn’t hard to share that audience. Heading into the opening match of the 2013 Carolina Challenge Cup, this site had an audience of roughly a dozen. Today that audience numbers in the thousands. Even during slow weeks in the off-season.
So here’s the pitch: If you think you might be interested in blogging occasionally about local soccer, or adding local soccer to whatever other topics you blog about, I will not only help you get started, I’ll help you get readers.
1. Never blogged before? I’ll walk you through the steps to get you started. I can’t do your work for you, but I’ll make myself available as a resource. I’ve been blogging since 2003, so I’m generally familiar with the territory.
2. I’ll link to your site. If you’ve got a blog that writes at least semi-regularly about some aspect of the local game, I’ll profile you and your site and put the link to your home page in navigation menu here.
3. I’ll link to your posts and galleries. Email me when you publish a new post and I’ll link to them in the news articles and round-ups I publish here. If I think something you wrote was particularly interesting, I’ll quote from it and link to your post URL.
4. I won’t steal your stuff. No republishing the full text of your posts in the name of “aggregation” (unless we come to some agreement on that separately). Bad karma. But quoting excerpts or using one of your original low-res photos with a link to the source is a great way to drive traffic your way. Which means it’s mutually beneficial. Good karma.
5. Your blog/gallery becomes your resume. The best way to get offered a paying assignment on this blog (covering a match, shooting pictures writing an analysis, etc.) is to show what you’re capable of doing by doing it on your own site.
The (wishful thinking) Battery Panel
While I remain interested in covering and promoting other levels of the local game, the editorial focus here in 2014 will be on the Charleston Battery. That’s in part because I’m a fan, but also because your reading patterns in 2013 taught me that Battery stuff is what interests you the most.
In Portland, Ore., where I kinda fell in love with the game all over again, there’s a vibrant online community of people who write about and cover the Timbers and the Thorns. From lots of directions and perspectives, some with a neutral tone, others with varying degrees of attitude and insight. What that means is, it’s pretty easy for sites in the Pacific Northwest to round up writers with multiple perspectives and ask them to weigh in on questions.
My dream? I’d like to send out a few questions every week of the season to people who are actively writing about the Battery on their own. Then I’d publish the results here, with links to the writer’s blog or news website. But to do that, I need more people to be writing about the club. At least three.
If you’d be interested in getting an invitation to something like that, meet these criteria:
1. You must have your own site with a public web address, or be a regular contributor to another website or media outlet. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional journalist or just a fan.
2. You must write something about the Battery on a regular basis (let’s say nothing less than once every two weeks during the season).
3. You must have watched or listened to the most recent Battery match, whether live or online.
4. Bonus points if your work includes reported content, rather than just opinion.
If any of this interests you, please email me to get the conversation started.
Here’s to building interest in Lowcountry soccer in 2014!