An open letter to Erick Erickson

April 11, 2016 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Business and industry, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

Dear Erick:

To begin, I’d like to thank you and Bill Blankschaen for writing You Will Be Made to Care. I was pleased to be selected as one of those who received an advance copy for review, and even more pleased with the final result. Again, I was “intrigued by the direction that it went and by the emotions this book took me through as I read through it.” So congratulations for its success, and know that many of us appreciate you bringing up this necessary discussion as subsequent events have placed religious freedom squarely in the headlines again.

At around the same time as YWBMTC was in its final stages of editing and initial promotion, you were embarking on a journey which interested me as a blogger: trying to succeed with a sponsorship-based advertising system. As I wrote on January 11:

I’ve been impressed with (Erickson’s) new website, one which I can read without being overrun by annoying pop-up ads and false story breaks that only serve to increase page view count (in order to extort more money from would-be advertisers.) On Thursday he had a candid assessment of how his website was doing and so far he seems to be successful. Good news for those of us who value content over clickbait.

Thus, I was pleased to see a couple weeks back that your venture was growing, with a doubling of readership and significant increases in areas that you are trying to stress, such as listenership to your radio show and engagement with elected officials. I’ll grant that over time this may level off, but I think you have a long way to go until you reach that plateau given that you are still in the startup stages.

But there is one aspect of your three-month assessment that troubles me:

Our advertising model is very unique among conservative websites and, frankly, may come to an end as I’m struggling to fill sponsorships going forward. But it has been so different I’m actually getting attacked for it. (Emphasis mine.)

I was cheered somewhat that you then wrote:

But I have to try to work on that area to beef up sponsorships. What I do know is that it works. Several of the advertisers tell me they saw an uptick in donations, sign ups, and volunteers through their sponsoring the Resurgent. That makes me hopeful we will be able to keep this going a while, particularly as my radio presence keeps growing.

Now I realize that, compared to your site, mine is small potatoes: my page views in a good year might equal yours for a weekday. I also know that, while by necessity and God-given talent in my chosen field I work outside of media to help put food on my table, you are using The Resurgent and your radio show to put food on yours. You have a lot more skin in the game with your website than I do, as I’m just a part-time blogger. But I’m using my venue and an open letter format because I want to share my thoughts with you as well as encourage readers to go to your site, helping it to succeed. I believe in what you are trying to accomplish.

So I’m imploring you to stay the course on this sponsorship-based model as long as you can because I think it will eventually succeed and hopefully lead others to follow. I never felt comfortable with having the clickbait links when they were on my site, but it seemed to be the only way to get a modest revenue stream going. I’m praying The Resurgent changes that and provides an example to follow for other high-readership sites.

For about a decade I have worked as a remote contributing writer for a publication that has a donation-based revenue model with no advertisements, the Patriot Post. Like you, they have struggled to make their expenses over the last few years but by the grace of God they are still going. If their website can go two decades with the support of their readership carrying them through I think it’s possible for your enterprise to prosper as well with the weekly sponsors you are cultivating – with the results you’re getting they should become repeat business.

One thing we have in common is that we have both run websites for over a decade, so you know as well as I do the ebb and flow of working in the political commentary field. You picked a good time to make a successful debut, so my hope is this successful beginning prepared you well for the trials and tribulations still to come once the political season is over and interest wanes.

Again, I want to express my hope you can stay with your sponsorship-based model and keep the clickbait and pop-ups away from The Resurgent. While we both pray for a resurgence of faith to overspread our country, our little corner of the internet can use something worth following as well.

Sincerely,

Michael Swartz
Salisbury, Maryland

The milestone

February 27, 2016 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Delmarva items, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

This has been the political winter of my discontent.

You likely know I’m not a fan of The Donald, but this post isn’t going to be about him per se. The sheer divisiveness of Donald Trump’s campaign, however, is not only relevant to some of the things I’m going to say but also serves as a good analogy to a lot of what I have been seeing and hearing about other, more peripheral political issues.

Over the course of doing monoblogue I have liked to take stock on my anniversaries (December 1 each year) and when I reach milestone posts, of which this is one (post 4,500.) Some may say I do too much navel-gazing but it should be pointed out that the original intent of blogging was to be a public diary of sorts – in fact, the political blog RedState is simply a collection of the diaries various contributors put up. Normally it’s those given front page access who have their voices heard, but they also have the right to promote others as they see fit. Besides, Saturday is usually my slowest day reader-wise so this is as good as time as any to share some of these thoughts, one of which led off this piece.

While the original intent of all these websites was to promote a diversity of thought, it seems that there are lines in the sand being drawn that could alter the political landscape for years to come. Perhaps this is simply a repeat of the era when each city of any size may have had its Democratic newspaper and Republican newspaper, but anymore it seems like we have “Trumpbart,” “RubioState,” and so forth. (Maybe it’s my personal bias, but I haven’t seen a really pro-Cruz national site - let alone Kasich or Carson.) The folks at National Review don’t like Trump, the Trump backers counter that both Cruz and Rubio aren’t “natural born citizens,” and everyone has staked out territory from which to fight this conservative un-civil war.

We’re even seeing this extend to the state level in politics and the blogosphere. One such battle is ongoing between Ryan Miner (who blogs at A Miner Detail and does his own radio show) and the folks at Red Maryland (who pretty much do the same.) It would probably not be a good idea to put Ryan and Brian Griffiths in a room together right now, and to me there’s no reason to stoop down to the eighth-grade level because they back different candidates in a Congressional race. That’s not to say this is anything new, because when I first began there was a lot of bad blood between local bloggers in Salisbury that I had to work around since I was lumped in with them.

Perhaps it’s my nature, or maybe – just maybe – I’ve learned a couple things along the way, but over the years I have tried to write in such a way that I don’t lose any sleep by regretting what I said. My measuring stick for political candidates is mainly issue-based, so my dislike for Donald Trump is because I find him far short of being conservative enough for my tastes. The attitude he exhibits is just rancid butter on the moldy bagel that is Donald Trump.

But let’s talk about the future. I’m going to pick on Red Maryland for a moment, but there are any number of websites out there which qualify. It’s unfortunate that A Miner Detail is down as I write this (for what reason I don’t know) but they did a parody piece recently on clickbait articles. Yet if you go to the RM site (as I just did to check this) you get a pop-up ad for Windows drivers (probably malware) in the corner with each page and an annoying pop-up ad when you click on an article. To be fair, this is true with a number of “news” sites with the Washington Times coming to mind as another prime offender.

But if the guys who do Red Maryland, the Washington Times, and 100 other national conservative sites are making money with the plethora of pop-up ads and clickbait, and can sleep at night satisfied that they are doing their part to advance their cause, well, more power to them. It’s not for me, in fact, I just decided to pull the Newsmax and content.ad pop-ups off my site because they’re now pretty much populated with clickbait. I still have the Amazon account and will keep TrackBill because they are selling goods and services for which I am compensated on a commission basis.

Lately I’ve also noticed that RM is doing “sponsored” Facebook ads, which can be a somewhat expensive means of getting out the word. But I decided to join them with a very modest (as modest as I can get) boosting of my book review post that I did recently. It will run through Monday. It’s just an experiment to see if it affects traffic in any meaningful way.

But I think an alternative is possible. For several years I have written for the Patriot Post, which does not do advertising – yet I still get a modest stipend each month. (Modest to the point where I would love to have about 15 other such clients and just write for those all week. The commute would be a lot better – bed to my chair.) About three or four times a year they have a campaign to solicit funds from their readers, with the key one being around the holidays, yet they succeed in raising over $300,000 annually to support their operations.

Yet the example I have been following over the last few weeks is Erick Erickson’s new site, The Resurgent. They will accept advertising but it is limited to one sponsor a week that pays $5,000 for the privilege. So you have a very clean site with a minimum of advertising, and this is the sort of model I would like to see promoted.

Granted, it’s taken Erick about a decade to build his name up to a point where he can command that sort of coin, but if you went and followed my link ask yourself: isn’t that a lot better than pop-up ads and clickbait? Today is the day I declare monoblogue a clickbait-free zone.

The way I see it, my job isn’t to provide controversy or sensationalize the Maryland political world. My job is to educate and enlighten citizens, hopefully to sway their political beliefs in a more conservative direction. While I have other features such as my Shorebird of the Week or music reviews, those exist because I want to broaden my audience and also not burn out on political posts. To me, content is king but it has to be well-written – or at least as well-written as my talent and interest allow.

So that is my milestone. There are times I wonder just how long I’ll be doing this, but I suppose as long as I’m satisfied with the effort I’ll keep plugging away.

Odds and ends number 78

Here I go again, producing those little dribs and drabs of information that I need a sentence to a couple paragraphs to discuss.

For example, I don’t need to give much more than an “attaboy” to Ted Cruz for continuing to stand against ethanol subsidies yet succeed in Iowa, as Leon Wolf pointed out recently at RedState. Such a stance may not make me a lot of friends among the corn farmers locally, but I’ll bet the chicken producers would love to see a decrease in the price for a bushel and I suspect once the Renewable Fuel Standard is pulled it will give them a break. Let’s hope Cruz (or some other GOP candidate) follows through on this common sense. After all, according to my friend Rick Manning at Americans for Limited Government, the deficit last year was $677 billion so putting ethanol subsidies on the chopping block would make fiscal sense as well.

As Richard Falknor at Blue Ridge Forum points out, though, we have a large number of gutless wonders in our House of Representatives who don’t care that the latest omnibus was a budget-buster. Maybe they just need to read some advice from my Patriot Post cohort Mark Alexander, who reminded us of what our Founding Fathers said 240 years ago. We really do need a revival of the Spirit of ’76. (I’m old enough to remember the Bicentennial, by the way.) As Alexander writes about the current GOP crop:

Patriots, in this presidential election year, I invoke this timeless wisdom from George Washington’s farewell address (1796): “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” Indeed, there are among even the ranks of Republican presidential contenders some pretenders. Caveat Emptor! The future of Liberty hinges on the ability and willingness of grassroots Patriots to distinguish between the genuine article and the false prophets.

Yet while Ted Cruz seems to be one of the few who is standing up for conservative principles in Congress, as Erick Erickson adds at his new website, The Resurgent, the Establishment has decided to throw its lot in with Donald Trump to stop Cruz’s polling advances. Yes, politics makes strange bedfellows.

None may be stranger than those in the state of South Dakota where the drive for non-partisan elections I told you about a few weeks ago made the ballot. Local talk radio host Rick Knobe is spearheading the effort:

For too long, both political parties have been shouting over each other at the expense of the voters, and now have an opportunity to do something about it. Just look at the growing number of registered Independents, which now numbers over 100,000 in South Dakota. That number is growing here and across the country. When this measure passes, those 100,000 South Dakotans will have the opportunity to fully participate in the election process.

The state as a whole had 521,017 registered voters as of the 2014 elections so it appears about 20-25% are not affiliated. If it is adopted in this election, the state will move to a non-partisan primary for 2018. I suspect the two major parties will lose a significant amount of their support should this happen, so this is something to watch as it develops.

Immigration is one of the issues that has thoroughly disgusted a number of former Republicans who bolted the party when the elites adopted a pro-amnesty stance. Recently many Republicans (including the aforementioned Ted Cruz and our Congressman Andy Harris) supported a major expansion of H-1B visas despite a claim from the Center for Immigration Studies that found no evidence of a labor shortage in those occupations. One has to question how many semi-skilled workers are idle in this area due to the H-1B visa.

Finally, I’m going to circle back to Erick Erickson. I’ve been impressed with his new website, one which I can read without being overrun by annoying pop-up ads and false story breaks that only serve to increase page view count (in order to extort more money from would-be advertisers.) On Thursday he had a candid assessment of how his website was doing and so far he seems to be successful. Good news for those of us who value content over clickbait.

So ends another (hopefully) clickbait-free edition of odds and ends. Now my mailboxes are empty once again.

An aggressive beginning

Several months ago I told you about the “travel tax,” which has come up in the news again because Mike Miller believes he has the Senate votes to overturn Governor Hogan’s veto and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce is behind it. Indeed, there’s a post on what’s billed as Maryland’s premier conservative website regarding this but I was stymied in reading it by some scam invitation to get a free iPhone 6 – and probably all the malware I can unknowingly download. I’ll come back to that in due course; in the meantime I will fill you in on what is really happening.

My local Delegates are telling me they predict a bumper crop of legislation, and they may be correct – as of this afternoon, 180 bills had already been pre-filed, with 114 Senate bills complementing 66 in the House. (My, my, those Senators are busy beavers.) One bill I did not see among them was the Wicomico elected school board bill, which I would have liked to see pre-filed. Unfortunately, I think that time has passed.

Even with all that work stacking up it’s likely the first things the body will take up are overriding vetoes, with my interest coming from two bills I used for the 2015 monoblogue Accountability Project: SB340 (voting rights for felons) and SB190, the travel tax. Both passed with veto-proof margins in the Senate but neither had a comfortable enough House win – for an override the felon bill would need to pick up three votes and the travel tax one.

That one vote for the travel tax may come down to newly-minted Delegate Elizabeth Proctor, whose late husband James died in office earlier this year. James Proctor was the lone absent Delegate when the travel tax passed 84-56. Another new Delegate, Carlo Sanchez, replaced former Delegate Will Campos, who resigned after being a “yes” vote on both bills in question. As for felon voting, Proctor was absent while Delegates Michael Jackson and C.T. Wilson ducked the vote. In both cases, should opponents hold all their votes and pick up one the vetoes will stand. (Out of our local delegation it was the only Democrat delegate, Sheree Sample-Hughes, who predictably voted in favor of both.)

You’ll notice I basically ignored the Senate in both cases because all they need is the same vote they had the first time to override both vetoes – for the record, both our local Senators voted against felon voting but both favored the travel tax. So it wasn’t really news that Miller had his votes, nor was it groundbreaking to see the state Chamber of Commerce side with big business over entrepreneurs. It’s akin to the struggle between Uber and local taxi companies; oftentimes the Chamber backs the rent-seekers.

Now about that other website: it’s so funny because I used them as an example the other day. Apparently they have chosen to cast their lot with the clickbaiters of the world in the quest for advertising dollars. Self-promotion is one thing - and Lord knows all of us would like advertisers – but the ad was such that I literally could not close it, for a site which had all the red flags of being a virus-laden website. I have to question the integrity and wisdom of a site which uses those techniques.

Perhaps I’m not the biggest or best site around, nor is it lucrative for me in a monetary sense. But just remember – I’m not the one knocking you over the head with the annoying pop-up ads. All I have is a little tip jar and an Amazon affiliation, so if you get an Amazon gift card Friday hook yourself up through me.

More importantly, after the holidays it may be a good idea to ask your legislators where they stand on the travel tax (as well as felon voting.) Contrary to popular belief, it hasn’t been all fee and toll decreases since Hogan took office – if he were a purist he would have vetoed two other House bills which increased certain court fees. But encouraging entrepreneurship and making sure felons pay their entire debt to society before regaining their franchise should be no-brainers, shouldn’t they? There’s a reason a governor has a veto pen, so let him be the check and balance to an overreaching General Assembly.

A different approach to revenue

While this may sound like it’s tied in to yesterday’s post, I’m actually veering off in a different direction with this one.

Each day I receive Erick Erickson’s e-mail missive, probably because I’ve been on the RedState list for many years. Since Erick was the biggest part of RedState it made logical sense and his new endeavor has kept a lot of the same look, feel, and message. On Thursday, though, he had a post that looked at blogging and the entrepreneurship aspect of it, and he put out a proposal I found quite interesting.

I may be doomed to failure on this new radio website endeavor, but I am going to try something new in terms of ad revenue.

Over the past two years with my radio show, I’ve been growing an email list of radio listeners. That list has crossed 200,000 people. At the same time, this site, to which I have not dedicated a lot of time, is averaging about 75,000 page views a day. Again, it is not even my day job yet.

So when I kick things off again with the new design on January 4th, I’ve going to try a sponsor model instead of an ad model. In other words, I am going to strip away all the advertising and just do a sponsor a week.

What the Sponsor Gets:

They will get a graphic on the front page and a graphic on each post. It will be a static image so ad blockers cannot block it. They will not be in competition with any other advertiser.

They will also get a thank you mention on Monday and Friday that will make it in the emails of those days. So in the worst case scenario they’ll be getting 75,000 page views a day, plus 400,000 eyeballs in email over the course of a week.

What the starting price is going to be: $5000.00 for the week.

I do not need to make a huge profit off the radio website. I do need to cover costs, pay for the redesign, pay a staffer, etc.

We will see if it works. Hopefully, over time, I can raise the price.

I do not want Taboola throwing up on my redesign. I do not want pop up ads and auto play videos and semi-porn to draw in eyeballs.

I may fail. I may not be able to get the advertisers. But I am going to try.

So let’s look at this as a business model. Those of us who have revenue-producing websites don’t seem to have a lot of options on ways to make money.

First, there is always the old rumor that goes around about some billionaire benefactor like George Soros going around and propping up particular bloggers. That may well exist but I can assure you the Koch brothers have never stroked a check to me. (Maybe I’m just doing it all wrong?)

The second approach is to bleg, as several bloggers I know have to various amounts of success. Once in a great while I have passed on their tales of woe. Many of these bleggars’ sites also have static ads, the combination of which keeps bloggers like Peter Ingemi going. (You may know him better as DaTechGuy – have fedora, will travel.)

And then you have what many of the big guys and commercial media sites have: the ad-laden mess that Erickson is referring to. On a couple occasions I was an Examiner for that website, and the sad thing about it was that for all the advertisements cluttering up my posts and occasional slideshows I don’t think I ever got more than $50 a month. I pick on Examiner but the same is true for the Washington Times or rare.us websites as well as more local and regional sites like Red Maryland. This also encompasses the pure clickbait of the TEA Party News Network and groups like that. I don’t like going to those sites because they bombard me with ads and auto-play videos I don’t want to watch – generally I’m there to read and get out.

Erickson’s site as it exists today is actually very unobtrusive as it just has a handful of static ads on the header, sidebar, and footer. (It’s set up a lot like this one.) So there’s probably a small amount of revenue coming in but nowhere near the $5,000 a week he’s going to request.

There aren’t many who do sponsorship posts, or posts like my record reviews for which I am compensated regardless of whether I like the music or not. (The sponsor encourages the honest criticism.) So I am interested to see how a large-scale operation like Erickson’s fares under this model. $5,000 a week is $260,000 a year – I think he can afford a staffer, IT person, and still make a go of it with that sort of revenue.

Yet it’s also instructive of the power of marketing. Somehow Erickson has built up the mailing list past 200,000 even though I’ve never listened to his local radio show. (I’m sure familiarity through RedState has put many thousands on that list.) 200,000 e-mails has beget the 75,000 page views a day – over 500,000 weekly. It doesn’t work out to an economy of scale – a blog like mine that has 1,000 views a week at slow times like this can’t subsist on one $5 a week sponsorship. Needless to say, I can’t come up with $5,000 for a week although I’m sure my readership would increase.

Of course, there is the interesting question of what sponsors will come forth. Left unanswered is what criteria Erickson will have for advertisers, but the obvious advantage with his venture is that he gets to choose who benefits, unlike some other methods where someone else controls content and delivery. (They can make for interesting bedfellows because if I go to look at certain sites the cookies track with me. For example, I see Kathy Szeliga for Senate ads on a lot of places I go, even if they’re not Maryland-based.)

To me, though, the control of content is almost as important as the revenue. If you listen to talk radio regularly you’re probably aware that they host a much different variety of advertisers than, say, the NFL game of the week. I hear more ads for get-rich-quick, be-your-own-boss hucksters who have to invest in gold there than I do anything else. To me, that affects the credibility of the shows they sponsor – although, to be fair, this may be the local station selling the spots, too.

So I’m going to be interested to see how Erickson does with this idea. I suspect he will do well the first six to eight weeks, but the test will come by spring. If he’s able to do well and even raise the price it may be something to explore for the rest of the blogging world.

10 from 10: Welcome to monoblogue!

December 1, 2015 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

The final installment of “10 from 10″ is, as you might guess, my very first post ten years ago today, December 1, 2005. I have more to say after the (very brief) post.

**********

I was actually trying to think of some serious weighty subject to do the “first” blog post on, but then a package arrived in the mail today. I’ve only waited 38 years for this shirt!

And there is a parallel in the shirt’s arrival to the purpose of monoblogue. On my old site I somewhat confined myself to the political realm. But now it’s more about my passions on a lot of subjects. (If you go to the “About” tab you’ll see something about my thoughts while creating monoblogue.) If you want to see my archives from the old website, I did place links to almost every one of my 100+ posts in the “ttrwc” section of the site. You’ll see that a lot of them are politically related. Politics is something I follow closely and will frequently comment on.

The post that may tell you a little bit about the 38 year wait for my shirt is the one called Joy in Mudhenville, part 2.

But tonight I’m just getting my feet wet here and making sure it all looks good. Tomorrow I’m going to catch up on my reading and start getting out the red meat. Actually, I’m watching the MAC championship and it’s tough to work back and forth while keeping focus. How’s that for honesty?

**********

So here I go into decade number two. Doing the “10 from 10″ series reminded me of a lot of experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met over the years, many of which and whom wouldn’t have been possible without this website.

Yet it’s strange to see all I’ve learned as well as how far the technology has come. I didn’t know how to attach the photo in the original post to the WordPress site, for example, because it was all new to me. Now I do 25-picture posts without flinching. Meanwhile, this latest post is among the first to be compiled on a new laptop, which is the third I’ve gone through in doing this site. That was a liberating experience in and of itself since I used a desktop computer for the first 2 1/2 years – on the other hand, the vast majority of my posts of late were banged out on an iPad. It worked in a pinch for about 4 to 5 months, but wasn’t really a viable long-term solution.

Another thing I’ve come to learn over the years is to not make a lot of forecasts about how things will progress with this site. As one example, a year ago I had no real interest in picking up a second writer but then the opportunity presented itself and I decided Cathy Keim would be a worthy addition. That may be the best move I ever made insofar as this site goes because not only does she bring a little different audience but also a unique but comparable viewpoint. In time I think she will help me grow the site back to where it was in previous years.

Admittedly, the last year has been tough on me. For a short time I had thoughts about making the 10-year anniversary the swan song for the site. I had lost the passion for writing it, and when that goes the writing gets stale and boring. And yes, there’s been a sharp decline in readership – more than I would normally chalk up to being in an off-year election. Hopefully now that the passion is coming back, the actual equipment is improved (it’s not easy writing this blog on an iPad; however, it is good practice for particular situations), and the election cycle is coming back around to an important election year, I can rekindle both the fire of desire and the ambition of people to check this place out more often.

In short, I still think I can utilize these writing talents that God gave me for the common good of enhancing peoples’ awareness of the benefits and advantages that freedom and liberty, firmly based on a moral, Judeo-Christian foundation, can bring. It’s not a fight I’ll win in ten years or perhaps even whatever time I have left in this world, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try and do so anyway.

So I have no idea what the next decade will bring. But as long as it’s interesting to me I will do my best to keep this enterprise going for years to come.

The profitable enterprise

October 14, 2015 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Business and industry · Comments Off 

I received an amusing e-mail missive this evening from the Washington Times, and it suited me well because I didn’t really want to discuss politics after last night’s debate I didn’t watch. Seems it only took them 33 years and over a billion dollars to finally have a profitable month. And if you go to their website – which is the reason they are even close to being in the black, since the print edition is a money pit – you’ll find the reason: it’s almost as bad as the Examiner site for annoying ads. (Having once written for examiner.com I can vouch that money doesn’t spread much among those who provide content.)

Reading that and realizing I’m only weeks away from the decade mark of doing this site made me ponder my profitability. While it’s not making me rich, my site does make me a modest profit mainly thanks to compensated posts and the handful of political ads I accept. (I don’t want to guess my hourly rate on doing this, though, because I’m sure it’s expressed in millage, not even pennies.)

Yet it took from about the time I graduated high school to now for the Washington Times to make money. This despite the fact they had a niche in the market that was otherwise mostly unfilled as a right-leaning print outfit. It sort of makes me wonder about whether I have the patience of Job in developing this site further given the fact I work full-time outside the home.

While that was the case for the first three years I did this site, too, the big difference is now being in a family rather than single. It takes time to be the soon-to-be husband and stepdad, and that lack of available time was one reason I brought Cathy on board.

But let’s talk profit. I still think this site is the right venue for certain non-political advertisers who want to reach a regional audience. It’s been some time since I checked my Google Analytics, but historically I have had an audience all across Maryland, with some play in D.C. as well. Maybe you have a niche of your own that seeks customers who are more intelligent and discerning. I think this could be the ticket.

In strict terms of how much I pay for the server vs. revenue, this has been a net winner for most of the last ten years. But I want to help you succeed, too.

Back in the game

August 28, 2015 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

After some technical difficulties with my server and then the internals of my site, I am back up – and not a moment too soon. I’m going to try and get a record review in for tomorrow and Cathy Keim has some wisdom to share this weekend as well.

So don’t fret for me, I’m fine and hopefully monoblogue will stay that way too.

The final hurdle

This is sort of a programming note for those who are interested.

Over the last week on social media I was detailing some of my findings as I went through the votes for the monoblogue Accountability Project. There was a Delegate who was racking up an impressive record of consecutive correct votes; alas, his streak stopped at 15. Anyway, I have completed the tallies and over the next few days will write up the “awards” segment.

However, one thing I cover in my summary is the disposition of bills and that depends on Governor Hogan. On Tuesday he will sign the last batch of bills he plans on making into law and hopefully will present veto statements for others which won’t. You may recall he was supposed to sign a group of them on April 28 but the Baltimore riots forced a postponement. It means come Tuesday Larry might have carpal tunnel from signing so many bills because he’s doubling up the batch. This means I should be ready for release on May 18, since I like to put things like that up to begin a week.

Speaking of veto statements, this also allows me to bring up the idea that MDPetitions.com (the brainchild of Delegate Neil Parrott) is urging people in a last-ditch effort to veto three bills. As it turned out, they were all votes in the monoblogue Accountability Project and for all three the correct vote was against passage – so I join that call to veto the following bills:

  • SB 416/ HB 838 – Insurance Mandate for same-sex wedded couples to get In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments
  • SB 743/ HB 862 – Modified Birth Certificates for Sex Changes, No Surgical Change Necessary
  • SB 340/ HB 980 – Convicted Felons Voting without Completing Their Sentences

I go into the reasons as part of the mAP, although on the IVF and birth certificate issues Cathy Keim and I have already explained our opposition.

As regards my writing partner Cathy, she is on a little hiatus for family time. So if you miss her pieces – and I’ve noticed she’s made quite a few fans over the short time she’s been associated with this site – don’t fret because she should be back in the saddle over the next couple weeks.

Once I get through that I have a couple more pet projects. And you thought I’d take it easy on the off year.

Sharing the load, and taking a step back

February 6, 2015 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Delmarva items · 2 Comments 

After nine-plus years of doing monoblogue, the time has come to expand my horizons.

In the interest of both broadening the readership base and getting an occasional day off, I have decided to take on (with apologies to my Maryland GOP friend Heather Olsen) a “partner in crime.” In other words, monoblogue won’t necessarily be “mono” anymore.

Longtime readers, however, should know I’ve tried to break in this direction before with the “GO Friday” feature where I solicited guest opinions. But it really never caught fire in the way I wanted it to. It’s not to say I won’t keep doing that when the opportunity is presented, but I think this approach will work better for my needs.

However, the impetus behind bringing my new associate on board was somewhat accidental. I’ve actually featured some of this lady’s writing on occasions when I’ve quoted the Wicomico Society of Patriots, as she’s been instrumental in that cause for several years. But she came to me at the last Wicomico County Republican Club meeting with questions and thoughts about blogging. yet worried that she wouldn’t have to time to do a blog justice because of her busy schedule.

As I was compiling the notes for my post about that meeting, the thought struck me about bringing her onboard here. Even though she was a bit skeptical at first because of the “mono” part, I explained to her that numerous bloggers and writers with their names on the site have at least one other writer writing under their banner – for example, Michelle Malkin and Herman Cain have secondary contributors. This way, I said, you don’t have to worry about keeping up your own site and you can write when the mood strikes you.

I don’t know exactly what I said to bring her on board, but whatever it was proved to be successful. So tomorrow you will read the first post from my new contributor, Cathy Keim. First of all, Cathy pledges not to write about music or sports - which is a plus in my eyes – but I think you will really like what she has to say. She had an intriguing experience recently and you get to learn a little about it.

It’s also worth pointing out that Cathy has been trying to expand her contributions to the community, but despite the efforts of the Central Committee she was rebuffed for both a County Council seat as well as a spot on the Wicomico County Board of Education. I’m not guaranteeing blogging will further her political career – insofar as I know I’m the only local blogger who has won an election, even if it was just squeaking by in the final spot in 2010 – but this can be a place where Cathy can help to advance her conservative causes.

As for me, I will still be here and attempt to keep a daily schedule. But it will be nice to have the break and I look forward to bringing you Cathy’s perspective beginning at noon tomorrow.

A little friendly advice

January 7, 2015 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off 

The folks at Red Maryland must be so successful that they have put out the bat-signal that they want more helpers. Billing it as the Citizen News Project, they are looking for contributors representing all of Maryland’s counties to provide reports on “hot topics of government and policy” in their respective counties. Flush off their success at picking the right gubernatorial horse and joining the Liberty Alliance (which is nice, aside from the annoying popup tabs I now regularly get to ignore when visiting their family of sites) they want to spread the wealth as it were. At least that’s the impression I get.

But seriously, despite my differences with them over the years (hence my status as an erstwhile RM contributor) this could be a good idea. Having said that, though, I think they may be going about it the wrong way.

I’ve been blogging for almost a decade now, in perhaps a dozen different outlets I can think of off the top of my head – two blogs of my own and several others on a scale from local to national as a contributor. Bloggers tend to go through an initial stage where they write on a regular and frequent basis – it’s a stage that runs from a few weeks to maybe a few months. Almost invariably, though, there comes a point where a blogger feels like they are beating their head against a wall or the effort is no longer worth the reward. Often they burn out on the task of writing and leave the blog go for days, weeks, or simply never get back to it. Millions of blogs are considered dead sites as they stopped updating – my original site would be one.

But while having a website of one’s own is daunting to a degree, joining an established site with a reader base already in place is an attractive option for some. It’s a model which has been tried to some extent by everyone from the Huffington Post to Examiner.com to RedState, with various incentives put in place. Red Maryland is apparently trying that same model.

I also believe that content is king and a good site has plenty of it. Red Maryland does relatively well in this respect as it averages a post or two per day; just a little bit more output than I do – although a significant percentage of the posts are simple promotions for their upcoming radio shows and events. Obviously they want to create more content, which is an admirable idea with the benefit (they hope) of increasing their site’s readership and cross-promotional opportunities.

Looking at this from the perspective of a guy who has more than just this site to maintain, in the case of my overall body of work the most important content is done for this site unless there is sufficient incentive to make someone else’s venue worthwhile – in other words, if I’m being paid a reasonable amount for my effort then it becomes a more pressing priority. In my case, that’s why content may be lacking at certain times because I have clients who pay me for my work – this space, not always so much.

On the other hand, if I’m a contributor who is working simply for credit or for a pittance I may ask myself why I’m placing my work where it may not be promoted well or in a place where I may not be allowed to use it for myself on my own site. In some cases I have managed to blend the two, but in general if I’m doing content I want to be able to use it for myself since I have a site to fill, too. Work smarter, not harder and all that.

So where am I going with this?

It may not be true of every county, but I suspect there are a number of people who already do the work Red Maryland seeks to have on sites of their own. I think that’s where they need to look first – do a little research and find out what counties already have alternative, regularly-updated news sites and see if there’s a match between the vision and coverage of those sites and what Red Maryland has in mind. If it’s a match they can then work out a content-sharing agreement perhaps similar to the former arrangement between RM and the Baltimore Sun.

Otherwise – and I admit I could be reading their appeal wrong – they are just looking for people to write for them occasionally and hoping these contributors don’t mind giving away content for free in the vain hope they’ll be discovered as part of the Red Maryland network.

Maryland has a lot of good writers, and RM‘s Mark Newgent should know because he was the editor of the now-defunct Watchdog Wire – Maryland. If that’s the model Red Maryland is looking to replicate, there’s a reason why Watchdog Wire is no more and it has nothing to do with the editor – just the lack of incentive.

So if you’re thinking about being a Red Maryland contributor, my advice to you is to go into it with eyes open and ask a lot of questions.

Looking backward and forward

December 26, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

Let’s face it: the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the forgotten time in the news cycle. So little of import happens that the news becomes retrospectives of the prior year and predictions of what may happen in the next. I’ve found the reason this works so well is that many of the newsmakers go on their own extended holiday, so no one is really in a position to create hard news.

So over the next few days between now and the New Year I’ve lined up reprisals of some of the features I enjoyed putting together at the end of last year, with one new addition. Tomorrow I will debut my top 5 list for monoblogue music, and Sunday I’ll put up the year in review for my site.

Turning to 2015, Monday through Wednesday will be a look forward at what I think will be some of the things to watch for in 2015, as well as thoughts on how some of what I foresaw in 2014 actually came out.

Believe it or not, though, these are some of the more time-consuming posts I do over the course of a year – I spent parts of several days putting together my year in review piece, for example. You now have a glimpse of the subject matter, so what will draw you in is what I have to say about it.

Stay tuned.

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