Goals aren’t worth the pixels they’re written in unless they’re revisited from time to time, so now is the proper time to look back on 2012, and see how the year shook out in terms of my long-term efforts to build a career out of all this stuff I do online.
Back in January I laid out these goals on my original Blogger site, so I’ve excerpted those bullet points below:
Double the readership at OTF, targeting 5 million page views for 2012
Well, we had a shot at this one, but ended up falling well short due in large part to the NHL Lockout, which has diminished interest in the Nashville Predators to almost nothing these days. At the end of July we had racked up over 2.1 million page-views year-to-date, so if activity had ramped back up as usual in September and October we had a real chance to make this goal a reality.
Being honored as Best Sports Blog in Nashville was an added bonus, however.
Design advanced hockey stats templates for teams & players for use in OTF articles
This has gone nowhere, unfortunately. While it remains on the wishlist, I would have to either build and automate the updating of my own database, or build something that scrapes another site. The first task is too involved technically to be worth the effort, and the second would be better off done by those sites themselves.
Publish at least one article per day at Hockey Gear HQ, and earn at least $10,000 there
Part of the plan there was to use tools to automatically create multiple posts (i.e., write something around an item tied to one NHL team, and use the tool to create variations for the other 29 teams), but that didn’t work out so well. There was one item which drove affiliate sales at a brisk pace (Reebok Zig Tech running shoes, with designs for each NHL team), but the vendor ran out of stock until recently, so those sales dried up for most of the year.
Changes in Google’s algorithm dealt a serious blow to search traffic at Hockey Gear HQ as well, dropping traffic to roughly 20% of what it had been before.
So instead of 365 articles there last year, I posted 93. Earnings were closer to $2,000 than $10,000.
Revise and expand my fantasy hockey e-book this summer.
This is another item which went nowhere, due to the NHL Lockout.
Grow the HGHQ email newsletter list to 1,000 subscribers
This has been a particularly disappointing part of the year, and relates to the overall lack of progress with Hockey Gear HQ. The main vendors I was hoping to work with changed much of their attitude towards affiliate marketing during the year, reducing the value I could provide to newsletter subscribers.
For example, there had been talks with one key hockey equipment supplier about giving me the ability to offer special discounts to subscribers, or run contests with gift certificates as prizes, or produce equipment reviews… but suddenly they had a change of heart and all that talk disappeared. At other times, I’d find an advertised deal and pass that along to Hockey Gear HQ readers, only to find that special changed within a few hours (what I had told them would be a 20% discount turned out to be only 10%). That kind of incident destroys trust with readers.
Unless there’s real value to be passed along to readers, I’m not going to bombard them with email, or try to build that newsletter list. Hockey Gear HQ hasn’t done nearly as well as I’d hoped this year, certainly.
Produce at least one video blog each week, either for OTF or HGHQ.
Video has been a real bright spot from 2012, and while I didn’t hit the video-per-week benchmark, I’d call this area a success. I produced 24 videos for the OTF YouTube channel as part of SB Nation’s push on the video front, and that number would have been much higher but for the Lockout. The two videos I posted for OTF have received over 3,000 and 5,000 views respectively.
I’ve learned a lot about the tools and techniques of video blogging, and look forward to doing more of that in 2013 (who knows, maybe I’ll do some for this site as well).
Post at least one article per week here at OTF Classic, touching on issues relating to sports blogging in general (social media, search engine optimization, tips & tools, etc.)
Instead of posting at OTF Classic (my original Blogger site), I set up this site, which can serve multiple purposes (SEO, social media, blogging, local blogging, etc.). It’s been well-received so far, and in the year ahead I look forward to writing here regularly.
All told? While I fell short on most of these goals as they were stated in January, 2012 was still a year of tremendous progress. Since most of my online activity is hockey-related, the NHL Lockout undercut a number of these points. There were also accomplishments which were on that list but came up during the year, and represent tremendous potential for 2013:
- The launch of the Nashville Sports Hub, where I hope to build upon my experiences at OTF, but on a larger stage
- The creation of this site, and the extension of some consulting I’ve done for Harlow Salon into a business serving customers who want to get more value out of their existing web properties
- OTF itself continues to grow as a platform. Even without a specific goal there, I ended up publishing 990 articles in 2012 (running the gamut from Game Threads to analytical pieces). Once the NHL returns, I look forward to the potential there.
As to specific goals for 2013? I’ll flesh those out over the coming days, and post them here once they’re ready.