2013 was one of the best, yet most difficult years for Hooked On Golf Blog. I was fortunate to take the HOG World Tour out of the country three times and play five of the world’s top 50 courses. I made many new golf friends and business associates, reviewed a ton of great golf equipment and waxed semi-poetic about professional golf and my own golf game (or lack there of).
Why was 2013 difficult? 2013 was a year of major changes in my world. First and foremost, it was the first full calendar year in existence for my new and awesome son, Master Seve. This little guy has been such a positive influence and has completely changed my world. I was skeptical about having a kid at the ripe old age of… old, but glad I did.
Needless to say, having a baby (now 14 months old) is quite time consuming and demanding. I spend a lot of time chasing this little guy around on all fours, giggling, and wrestling. Time I would have otherwise spent blogging about golf.
2013 was also the first calendar year I had what is referred to as a “day job.” Yes, for the first time in almost 50 years, I had 9-5 job complete with my first W2 and first cubicle. Big changes. No more blogging and being a sole computer geek at home in my jammies, working on my own schedule. That meant my time for blogging was in the wee hours before work and/or between times I wasn’t at work and wasn’t chasing Master Seve around.
I managed to squeeze 340 golf blog posts out of my strained cranium and limited schedule in 2013, almost an average of one per day. In comparison, 2012 was a year of 495 golf blog posts. The drop in content, combined with different algorithms for Google’s search, hurt the blog’s traffic a bit and especially the ad revenue in 2013. Over the years this golf blog had grown to such an extent that the cost of producing it was substantial, requiring some powerful and capable web hosting. That’s why I had to go to an advertising model to bring in some revenue. This thing had to at least pay its own expenses.
A positive, yet additional strain my schedule and my brain was accepting a golf writing position for a very large website, Answers.com. I became the “golf expert writer” and have produced some 90+ articles, reviews, and golf related stories there. That has been a fun gig and it will continue. Check out golf.answers.com!
In addition to all those things above, I do computer programming, web design and app development in my “free” time. Oh, and I do one other golf writing gig as a “ghost” writer for a golf company, but I’m not allowed to mention the name.
What is the point of the last few paragraphs? Mainly that I feel like I’ve kicked ass producing what I have, but wish I had the time to do more. It all adds up to a nutty schedule, but somehow I’ve managed to pull it off and that’s not going to change. Right now I’m looking back at 2013 to see what worked well and what didn’t, so I can strategize 2014.
What worked well was much of the content which usually has worked well here, insightful blog posts and commentary which readers find useful and informative. Hard to say what posts or kinds of posts did not work well. Some are more popular than others naturally.
I changed the site design this year to a mobile friendly version. That worked okay, but some screen widths could be a bit better, like my Nexus 7 or 7 inch tablets. That’s not content per se, but something which could have been better.
As mentioned, I noticed a drop in ad revenue from the google ads here, as well as a drop in other paid ads. Some drops were as much as 90%. Imagine that if you were in business. Not cool. Google has changed some things and search traffic is not as hot as it was. Other ad types are tighter too. So I tried some different ad providers and formats. I even leaned toward the more TMZ style content ad links. Honestly, those haven’t produced much and I think I’ll get rid of them soon.
I’ve worked the social networking end for a long time. HOG’s twitter followers are around 2,400 while my personal is at about 3,500. The HOG Facebook is has about 1,500 fans. I started up a Google+ account for HOG too and that one is growing, and surpassing by far the FB impressions. For a long while I’ve simply used the social media outlets to post links to my blog posts. I’m not exactly sure how many people REALLY click the links and actually read the posts. There are always those who click the like button on FB, but that doesn’t translate to an article read necessarily. I’ve been very frustrated and disappointed with FB. Since they changed their model for impressions, the HOG FB posts with links are only seeing 25-50 views out of 1,500 followers. They’re set up to make you pay for your fans to see your content. It seems like a waste of time at this point. Twitter blows away FB for HOG and so does G+.
I also think perhaps I should approach the social networking thing a little differently for 2014. Perhaps rather than just posting links to blog posts, I should use the social networks as a supplementary avenue for reaching people. Treat them as their own entities by creating content and doing more interaction within that scope.
Fantasy Golf 2013 gets a C grade. At the end of the season I sent an email to Nike to arrange the grand prize for the winner. As luck would have it my contact was on maternity leave. I didn’t know that and the winner started to get very irate, to the point of actually threatening me we legal action because his prize hadn’t come yet. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was being threatened with legal action because my free fantasy league which got this guy a new free driver wasn’t delivering it fast enough. I told the guy repeatedly that Nike had been sponsoring for years and he’d get his prize but I was practically stalked. Of course, the prize did ship and the guy got it. The end result was that I have NO desire to run a fantasy league this year. Who wants to get stalked/sued for providing a free service which gives people a chance at free golf gear? Not me. Maybe I’ll cool down about this later, but for now there will be no fantasy golf for 2014. Last year’s winner can thank himself for not having a chance to win anything else.
When HOG started back in December of 2004 it was uncommon and quite groundbreaking. It was only one of 3-4 other golf blogs in existence. Now there are hundreds. I was one of the first bloggers to do golf equipment reviews, course reviews and those types of pieces. Now golf blogs are a dime a dozen. Most are mediocre and many give us folks who work it hard a bad name. They’re all over social networks too. Time to differentiate HOG from the rest again, though I feel the quality content and photos do a good job of that already. I’m not sure how or what I’m going to do, but it is time for some change and new groundbreaking to happen. There is a lot of golf blog noise out there, much of it posted without so much as a spell checker and forget using the right “your” or “you’re.”
My next post will be more of a look forward with these previous comments in mind. Looking to the future and what changes and new ideas can be implemented.
Thoughts, opinions, criticisms, and suggestions welcomed. Tell me what you think.