Burnout and what to do with this site

Hi, readers. Nice to have you here. Sadly, your number is small.

As mentioned in yesterday's trade recap post, it's been a bit since there was new content here—we went a few series without opposition primer page updates, we didn't cover the trade deadline leadup, no general posts on the state of the M's, and the player profiles are embarrassingly out of date.

It's not what I had in mind when the season started, but there are only so many hours in a day.

Back when I took this over from Jon Wells, who created the Grand Salami brand with a magazine sold outside Mariner games and sometimes at local retailers as well as by subscription and made it successful for 25+ years, my thought was to create a website that would contain the same basic structure as the magazine and give it a couple of years to find its audience. By that time, with luck there would be enough revenue to break even and even pay for some writers to create semi-regular content to supplement what I did myself. Didn't work out that way.

The way people consume content on the Internet is different now. All traffic is now completely dependent on social media and RSS aggregators, and almost zero readers here make use of our RSS feeds. Our Twitter reach has not grown much beyond what we got in the initial launch and 95% of this site's traffic is from Facebook groups (and I'm grateful for those, despite my ambivalence about Facebook as an entity). OK, if social media is how people get to the site initially, great. But there is very little activity within the grandsalami.net site itself, by which I mean there are very few internal links followed. Readers come to a specific post from a Facebook link (or occasionally a Twitter link) and leave. Interaction with readers is less than minimal and it is a rare day indeed when a comment comes into a post that is not from a spambot. The online magazine format doesn't work.

Ad revenue over the four-plus years of this endeavor has been insufficient to even cover domain registration, let alone hosting or legitimate use of photo material. Merchandising efforts remain in the red as well. Begging for volunteer writers is not only tiring, it goes against principle—writers ought to be paid, after all. And I've got to pay my bills, so time has to be spent elsewhere on things that actually, you know, pay money.

So building the audience hasn't happened, traffic is essentially limited to one-off visits with no "flipping through the pages," and ad revenue is a pittance. We sold a few T-shirts and a couple of scorebooks, not nearly enough to recoup their costs.

Also, I keep saying "we," but it's the royal "we." Mostly it's me. Which is why there hasn't been new stuff for a couple of weeks and why when there is it's not been a lot.

So things are going to change. I don't yet know how they will change, but there appear to be a few options:

  1. Shut everything down.
  2. Alter the format to be, essentially, just a blog since no one explores the site.
  3. Close up grandsalami.net but move Mariner coverage posts to a personal blog that also talks about non-baseball things and consolidate (that site has been almost wholly ignored since I took over GS). Maybe move ad spots over there too if it isn't too ugly.
  4. Do a big expenditure and hire someone to promote on social media, someone else to write daily content, and bring in occasional columns from writers like Jim Caple and Mike Gastineau as the print magazine used to do. Which is to say, pretend things went as planned and there was now enough revenue to do at least some of that but instead do it with my personal savings and hope it will someday recoup.

Number 4 seems like a pipe dream after the last four years of doing this, so I'm not considering that.

It's a terrific year for the Mariners, a fun season with a lot happening, so this is a lousy time to be feeling burnout. I'd like to keep this going, just as I wanted to keep the print mag alive in some way when I started this, but we'll see. Depending on Facebook for single-view visitors does not make for enough ad delivery to pay for anything and I've got to do better with time management in order to keep the lights on, metaphorically speaking, and I spend more time on this site than on any paying clients.

So for now content and other updates may continue to be sporadic while I consider next steps. Most likely there'll be a revamp into a simpler format, but time will tell. In the meantime, I invite any comments from non-spambots on what y'all like about this site and what you consciously bypass in order to inform my thoughts when/if I do my revamping.

In the interim, of course, go Mariners.

Comments

  • Posted by Bill on August 4, 2022 (7 days ago)

    Great post, Tim. As always, you write extremely eloquently, and I appreciate the thoroughness and accuracy of your thoughts.

    I fear that I, too, pretty much only read your posts. In my ideal world, this site would sail along with juicy commentary from Caple, Gas, you, etc., along with your great M's cartoons & the other old print features; hell, I'd dig it if the print edition were still sold outside Safe-Mobile FieldPark.

    But, mostly lamentably where this city's concerned, things change. I'll respect whatever you do of course -- and would love to see your trenchant M's commentary continue, even if it's absorbed into your personal blog.

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