Let me begin by thanking you, my readers. Writing and producing Total Footblog has been an amazing experience. And I thank you for making it all worthwhile.
For starters, Total Footblog helped me strengthen my writing skills, churning out no fewer than 408 articles of original content over the past 31 months. That’s an average of more than 13 articles per month, almost one every other day. And at an average of 1,500 words per story, that makes the final tally around 612,000 words in total. Hopefully at least a few of those words made a difference.
This adventure also taught me a lot about being a journalist. Having served more than two decades as a marketing communications professional, I’m far more accustomed to working with journalists than working as one. Yes, I have ghostwritten off and on over the years, and I even wrote bar reviews for the Beer & Tavern Chronicle back in the 90s, when being a beer snob still meant something. But my work at Total Footblog gave me an entirely new perspective. And I hope it will make me a better public relations professional moving forward.
Another reason for embarking on this blog-turned-online-magazine is that it allowed me to explore the evolving world of online marketing. I had written copy for a number of Web sites and even managed online content on a daily basis, but this was the first time that I built my own site and personally handled all aspects: design, content, and production. And while I had supervised search engine optimization efforts before, this was the first time that I handled it directly as well, building an audience organically and fine-tuning things based on Google Analytics. In the end, we were averaging 6,641 unique visitors each month according to Google Analytics (or 10,840 views per month according to WordPress).
Total Footblog also helped me hone my social media skills. I had been responsible for managing a company’s online presence in the fledgling days of social media, but this gave me an opportunity to explore and experiment with various platforms and approaches without the risk of jeopardizing anyone’s reputation but my own.
Years ago I had worked on some research into what goes viral online, so I had that advantage. But it still was a challenge to break through the clutter and find and grow a small audience among the Internet’s faceless masses. And, lacking any sort of budget, it was all done organically, slowly building my reputation as an expert and respected provider of content. I didn’t have the largest social media following, but I may have had the happiest. And I’m proud to note that my last Tweet read: “Unfortunately my jugs weren’t big enough!”
However, the greatest gift I received from Total Footblog has been the opportunity to discover and write about all the wonderful soccer stories here in New York City. I thought I was fairly well-connected in the New York City soccer scene when I started, but it proved to be only the tip of the iceberg. And I felt like I learned something new almost every week.
In particular, it’s been a great privilege to share the stories of local charitable organizations and unsung youth soccer programs. The mainstream soccer media doesn’t give them a lot of coverage, which is a shame. Especially since I’ve always gotten more positive feedback on those types of stories than anything I’ve ever written about a professional team or player.
And along the way I have had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people throughout the soccer community, here in New York City and beyond. I am grateful for the many new friends I have made, and hope to maintain those relationships well into the future (except for the wankers…you know who you are).
I also take great pride in the fact that Total Footblog was banned in at least one New York City private school for being a distraction to the educational process. Sometimes it’s the little things that give you the greatest sense of accomplishment.
Why? For The Love Of God, Why?
So, if it’s been such a fun and insightful experience, why am I closing down Total Footblog? It’s a simple question of ROI – return on investment.
As noted, I cranked out more than 400 articles in the past 940 days. Keep in mind, before I even published those stories, I had to research them. That often involved interviews, site visits, and tracking down information online. Then came the writing, which I tend to labor over – clearly far more than many soccer writers I have read. After that was the editing. Yes, you may have spotted the occasional typo and such, but hopefully far fewer than you find on most other sites. And then came the graphics, and the many photos I had taken, sorted through, and edited for publication.
Of course, a lot of time and effort also goes into developing and maintaining the facade of being a soccer expert. I have had to do a lot of reading, and watch a lot of games. And, as mentioned earlier, I had to maintain a daily social media presence that hopefully positioned Total Footblog as an enlightened source for soccer information.
All of that takes time, a lot of time. And as I fine-tuned the site with Google Analytics, preparing to monetize it in hopes of getting some return on that investment of time, I started to realize that I’d never be able to generate the kind of income I had grown accustomed to by publishing a soccer site. The only people interested in advertising were gambling sites and other companies that I felt were too far off topic for my readers. Plus, online ad revenue is a mere pittance unless you are one of the big boys, and it would be years before I could ever hope of achieving that sort of momentum. Besides, the bottom line is that I wanted to write, not sell ad space.
So Now What?
As for my future plans, I will continue to do freelance work in the marketing communications field along with the occasional copywriting assignment. Most likely I will return to that profession full-time, hopefully within the realm of the soccer world. That should help replenish the coffers for Brasil 2014. After that, well, who knows what might happen.
Will I ever write about soccer again? It’s a safe bet that I will someday. I love soccer, and I love to write. And while my “retirement” from journalism might seem abrupt and final, so was my “retirement” from marketing a few years ago. I’ll always keep an eye out for the next opportunity.
So, with all that said, I bid you all a fine farewell. Heartfelt thanks for taking the time to share my passion, opinions, and observations. I’ve kept the last few articles up for posterity, but they too will come down eventually. If you need to reach me, you can find me online at Dobens.com.
All good things must come to an end. And I’d like to end this the way it started, listening to the music of GoldFish, the soundtrack to South Africa 2010.