Mission Failure and Changes Coming Monday

by Chuck Westbrook on March 27, 2009

For many reasons, the momentum around this project is gone.

The time has come to either pull the plug or re-evaluate and try again, doing some things differently. Next week, we’ll begin trying to figure out which it is going to be.

On Monday, I will be revealing a new domain, a new design, a logo, a name, and a tagline. For the next two weeks, I won’t be featuring a blogger. Instead, I am going to talk about the project itself–what worked, what didn’t, and some options for moving forward.

We’ll see where that conversation takes us. I look forward to figuring it out together.

-Chuck

PS Failures aren’t so bad. Especially when you set them to ragtime music.

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First Thoughts | Blog Hiker
03.31.09 at 9:31 pm

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1

R.A. Porter 03.27.09 at 11:05 am

That sucks, but I think I know one of the reasons it might have been meandering. Since each fortnight’s blog was so different from the one preceding it, I suspect some people dropped out as soon as they hit a blog that didn’t interest them, even if the next one would have been more to their liking.

I would imagine most social networking pros, for example, saw no use in our group blog and might have given up at that point.

While it was easy enough to subscribe to one extra blog for a two week stretch (and in a couple of cases, stick around permanently,) I’d wager some people wanted a more instant and constant return on their investment of time.

Maybe multiple tracks of blogs would work better, although it would require much more work or delegation on your part. Then the people could just follow the tracks that interest them: marketing, humor, writing, personal, etc. That would turn the project into something more like a rotating blogroll, I think, but it might be able to keep more people engaged over the long run.

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2

Josh 03.27.09 at 12:01 pm

Ooh. I suppose that’s a bit of a shame, but I suppose it can only be a good thing if the project returns better than ever - I agree that it was maybe a bit flawed; I certainly found it hard to keep track of these new blogs when they happened to not hugely interest me. Here’s to the new era, then, or something.

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3

GEMMERZZ 03.27.09 at 12:06 pm

I believe that, as with any project or community, you’ll always find that many will drop off eventually. The upside, though, is that those who stick around are truly supportive of the initiative and are dedicated to its success.

While your broader goal may have been to expose the world to many underappreciated blogs and, in turn, bring them more traffic, I think it’s safe to assume that none of us merely want 2 weeks of random visits and comments. There needs to be an understanding that, in the end, the few that stick around will be the ones you (as the blogger) want to have… and it’s thanks to YOU (Chuck) that the blogger & reader have found each other.

It’s sort of like dating and you’re eHarmony. You can’t blame yourself if the chemistry isn’t there. ;) But you can take credit if at least a great friendship spawns itself.

I think all your readers (myself included) still read your posts and follow along. I also think we comment on and engage with those blogs that we can relate to and I don’t think there’s failure in that at all. After all, I think we’re looking for those readers who will stick around… and you’re weeding out the ones that won’t!

Either way you decide to move forward, this is/was a great project and I commend you for such a great idea and for all the work you put into it!

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4

James A Woods 03.27.09 at 2:42 pm

One thing I’ve missed as the project has progressed are the early posts - the discussions of traffic and exit interviews. They added value because I could learn from them. Lately it’s just been introductions.

The whole thing has been fun, and you’ve introduced me to a couple of blogs I’ll be reading long term. I’m excited about reading your thoughts on the project come Monday.

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5

John Lacey 03.27.09 at 3:54 pm

Yes, Chuck, ragtime msuic makes everything better!

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6

LisaNewton 03.27.09 at 4:16 pm

I second a couple of the reasons already given in the comments. Howver, I do think failure is the wrong word. How about a reorganization. I look forward to seeing the new domain and how you plan on doing it a little different.

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7

CJ 03.27.09 at 8:47 pm

I have to say that I agree with almost everything that has been said so far in comments - most particularly R A Porter and LisaNewton.

If you could run several channels at the same time with differing types of blogs, then one other idea might be to feature snippets from the new posts for each of those latest blogs, which would help readers to decide which, if any, of those blogs they’d like to follow for the fortnight.

I know we’re sort of trying to be a community here, but the readers are also customers too (in a way) and, like any other supplier, we have to please the customer first - if you see what I mean - capture his/her imagination so to speak, in order to hold their interest.

Does any of that make sense? ‘cos it sounds a bit gibberish to me :)

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8

Laurel Plum Online 03.28.09 at 2:57 am

I have not been at all active in the forum, so I do not know what activity was or not going on there.

I have loved being introduced to the new blogs and have continued to read several after their two weeks were up. I am disappointed that you are considering dropping the project. I would not consider it a failure.

But I also agree with James A Woods. I was most looking forward to all of us working with each other, giving any and all input on all aspects of the featured blogs including writing styles, site design, demographic focusing, blogging frequency, sharing connections, whatever. I never realized it was intended to be simply a match maker service for readers and writers. There are many avenues for that already.

I thought the goal was for us all to learn things from each focus period that could help all of us improve our individual sites. That was what most attracted me to the project - much more than the temporary surge in traffic. The learning from and teaching one another.

Maybe that WAS happening in the forums and I missed out. But I think if you were to bring that aspect back in using the main project site for the discussion (maybe a particular topic each day), you would be able to continue very successfully with sites/blogs rolling over as they evolved and new ones entering the project frequently. Just my two cents.

I wish you a lot of luck with your decision to continue, reorganize, or move on. It must be a big weight to carry.

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9

B J Keltz 03.28.09 at 10:20 am

I didn’t have time to be active on the forums unless I had specific comments on site design. However, I did go to each selected blog, subscribed to each, commented on all but a few, and kept more than half on my reader permanently. When the material was even a little appropriate I put it on my main blog. If it wasn’t, but interesting, I put it on one of my other blogs to help them build links and a smidge of traffic.

It was not a failure at all in my eyes. I participated when I could, and developed relationship when appropriate. If the blog didn’t interest me, I still had it on my reader for a while in case anything changed.

So many of your early commentors thought (or gave the impression they did) they were signing up for their blog to be considered. I know you and others worked to dissuade that notion. It is likely those who were in it for themselves are those that fell away. Those of us left understand that there are rewards in doing things for others and helping them succeed. I’ve enjoyed it.

I hope you continue, and will be here to support you no matter which direction you go.

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10

jenx67 03.29.09 at 5:06 am

Look at all this fantastic feedback. Laurel makes some great points - especially paragraph 3, which refers back to James Woods. Best of luck, Chuck. I know it will all come together.

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11

Writer Dad 03.29.09 at 11:50 pm

I’m with Lisa. It’s not failure at all. It’s a chance to reevaluate and take what worked the first time and couple it with the ideas that never would have been born with moderate success to take the venture closer to soaring. It was and is a great idea, Chuck.

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12

ejly 04.01.09 at 11:56 am

Chuck, I’d like to understand why you feel the project was a failure. What were your criteria for success in the first place? I understood that you were bringing readership to under appreciated blogs, and I think it worked for many of them. I now read Zoe and Johnny and Kristin regularly and check out Ryan when he blogs and Richard sometimes too. For me as a participant, it was a success because I fond 5 new blogs that I like. No, I didn’t like them all. But if you had a 100% success rate you’d be a freak anyway and we wouldn’t like you. How do the member blogs feel about the experience - did they get more readers, more comments, more inspiration to take their game to the next level?

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Chuck Westbrook Reply:

I don’t think it was an abject failure. Traffic died off and so did discussion. I should have said it was on its way to failing.

Several of the member bloggers feel great about it. A few didn’t see much impact, mostly the more recent ones.

Join us at Bloghiker.com for more of the discussion.

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