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.

Nine is just fine (the monoblogue anniversary post)

December 1, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

Well, here we are. Another year, another dollar.

Since the blogging phenomenon is perhaps 15 to 20 years old, depending on how you interpret its history, I would have to guess mine is a middle-aged site. Lots of sites have come and gone in the span of time since I began this enterprise but still I press on. And middle age is a time when the naivete of youth is replaced by both a maturity and a growing awareness of one’s legacy.

Normally when I do this annual introspective I consider a sort of “state of the site” address I have a number of accomplishments from the previous year, but this year was a little different. Unlike 2013, where I made it to regional and national events like the Turning the Tides conference, the David Craig announcement tour where I snagged a great interview, or – the granddaddy of them all – CPAC 2013, the last year was somewhat devoid of real exciting milestones. Those I had were more in the non-political realm, such as my too-brief tenure for American Certified, which allowed me to focus on a topic I enjoyed researching and writing about, or broadening my scope with occasional music and book reviews.

Instead, the main focus was a Maryland electoral campaign which had plenty of blogging fodder and was won by a candidate who was short on specifics but long on money to lend his campaign, at least to start. No, I was not a Larry Hogan supporter early on (although over the preceding two years I’d written about Change Maryland quite a bit) but he won the Republican primary and found a message which won the day in Maryland, reflecting a Republican tide nationally.

Yet just as the national GOP is already beginning to disappoint supporters who want a stiffer fight on amnesty, Obamacare, and the budget, the potential is there for Larry Hogan to fail the conservative movement in Maryland. It will be something that bears watching, and hopefully other outlets which were extremely critical of Martin O’Malley and his liberal, free-spending ways will be equally as quick to keep the incoming governor in line should he falter from a conservative stance. I know Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will take some time to dismantle, but we need to continually move the ball forward against a stiff defense. (One advantage we may have, though, is that Democrats in Maryland aren’t used to playing that way.)

To be bluntly honest, though, the last couple months have been difficult. Toward the end of the campaign I was so burned out on everything that the thought of packing this enterprise in once the election was over crossed my mind a couple times. After all, my direct political involvement was coming to a somewhat disappointing end because I was defeated for one last term on our Central Committee and I thought it would be a little more difficult given my comparative lack of resources to provide the coverage my readers were used to. I still don’t think I’m back at 100 percent satisfied with my work and output as the election recedes farther into the rear view mirror but it is coming along and perhaps being upfront with those who support me will add a few percentage points to that total.

I sometimes feel this site is having a midlife crisis of sorts as it approaches a crossroads. It was great to have my political advertisers – who, by the way, went 3-1 in their elections – but so far none have stepped forward to replace them. While there was a point earlier this year where Salisbury fell to second or third place among the cities which visited this site most, it’s regained its lead as about 1/8 of my audience, and 3/5 of the total comes from Maryland. (Washington, D.C. is my second-biggest city, though, at a little over 10% of audience.) There have been some new, more passive revenue sources over the year, with another potential one waiting in the wings, but as far as direct sales I have long struggled to reach a goal of 6-10 constant advertisers.

Nine is an awkward age for anything. It seems that it takes having a decade under your belt to bring a little gravitas, but you’re no longer the new kid on the block either. I’ve tried a few new features over the last several months but not all of them have taken root and grew, which is a shame.

Still, I am hoping to go into the one-decade mark next year on the upswing in both revenue and readership; the real test, though, will be what kind of time I can devote to the enterprise. I think that shifting gears a little bit and focusing more on overall policy – with emphasis on key issues like energy, manufacturing, Radical Green, and the quest for limited government – will make for a better site than trying to keep up with the doings of umpteen local and state candidates involved in races I’m interested in because deadlines aren’t quite as pressing. We won the election, so now it’s time to win the argument and start setting sound policy.

In the end, if I were to assess the last year of monoblogue I would have to say I struggled to meet expectations, for a number of reasons. As I noted above, though, the passion is beginning to come back and that’s a good thing. I’m beginning to feel more excited about writing something on a daily basis rather than looking at it as a chore just to keep fresh content up.

I know I have a lot of fans out there, so if I have let you down a little in the past few weeks you will hopefully understand why. But I must say that the one consistent site metering system I’ve used over the years is pointing to 2014 being a record-breaking year – perhaps the new high will be reached as this very post is promoted because the numbers between 2014 and 2012 (my previous record) were extremely close. Through the end of November my readership for the year was up 4.8% over all of 2013. Add in December and it may be a 10% hike.

I’m hoping to have a little more clarity in other aspects of my life soon, too, so if that pans out I think things will work out for this site as well. Still, your support, thoughts, and prayers would be appreciated as I begin year ten.

P4k

November 5, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · Comments Off 

Those who know me and have some idea of what makes me tick realize pretty quickly I am a numbers guy, and there is just something about round numbers that I like. So every time I turn the odometer of 1,000 posts it’s a big deal to me, and hitting the 4,000 mark is no different than hitting 1,000, 2,000, 2,500, or 3,000. (For the record, the last 1,000 posts took 853 days to compile.)

But today is an interesting day in the life of monoblogue. As you probably know, mine is primarily a state-based blog so I write constantly about Maryland politics. Aside from the first year of this site’s existence, though, I have been on the side which was out of power and had little to no say in the governing of this state. Last night, with the election of Larry Hogan, that all changed. While I’m not going to get into my election observations quite yet – I’m saving that for tomorrow morning’s post – but it should suffice to say that it will be interesting going trying to hold Larry’s feet to the fire.

Unlike the last few observances of Pxk, I don’t really have any earth-shattering news on the writing front. Obviously there may be a subtle change in direction now that I won’t be as active in the state GOP, but hopefully the nuts-and-bolts of a party in power will be relatively smooth and uninteresting writing anyway. (The Democrats, on the other hand – now that could be intriguing as a number of them will be pointing fingers about the demise of Anthony Brown statewide and the shellacking they took locally and many may be lining up for 2018.)

Honestly, I don’t know what part I played (if any) in recent successes, but one thing I do know is that I’m glad campaign season is over. Frankly, the last 2 or 3 weeks was a definite grind writing about the political because I was bored with it. When you figure I started covering this election in earnest about the middle of last year (arguably earlier since David Craig was in the running unofficially since 2011) it’s no surprise that I needed something different to write on.

There are some areas I’m thinking may be included here more, though. Thanks to the exposure of doing American Certified for a few months, I have more interest in the nuts and bolts niche of manufacturing, which is a worthy subject to explore. I’ve also had more of an interest in energy issues recently, in part because the two go hand-in-hand to a great extent.

Yet there’s one thing which has carried me through and that’s the support of my readers. I suppose I would be writing something even if I had five readers a week, but getting the occasional accolades and “attaboys” about pieces I write doesn’t get old. I’m still humbled by the recognition. When I see the Paypal notice about a hit to my tip jar or get the payment from an advertiser (or, as has happened before, a check from a supporter of the site) I’m still proud to have made that impact with someone. Look at it this way – my advertisers were 3-1 in their races.

I suppose if I have remaining goals for this site, they would be to maximize the readership which can be attained from a part-time blogger (who also has writing clients and works outside the home) and make it even more of a profitable enterprise. I’m hoping those political advertisers who helped me during campaign season transition into non-political ones who keep this thing going for the 3 1/2 years we’re not doing the heavy vote gathering.

In less than a month I’ll be starting my 10th year of doing this site, which is longer than many of those who I link to. Maybe I wasn’t in at the ground floor, but I wasn’t too far from the foundation.

Most blogs don’t make it to 400 posts, let alone 4,000. But as long as I enjoy doing it and am able to do so – I just renewed my server for another year – I hope you keep looking in this space for readable and thoughtful political content.

Preserving my space (and penalizing greed)

August 24, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Business and industry · Comments Off 

You all know I sell advertising on my site. Wait, you didn’t? Go here.

Anyway, a couple months back I was reading the reaction to a post I did when someone mentioned they saw a full-page ad for Durex condoms. On my page!

Now I run what I consider to be a family-friendly, PG-rated site with a minimum of profanity, damn it. (Surprising when I could easily cuss like a sailor about how this state and nation are currently being governed.) So a condom ad is about the last thing I would knowingly approve, particularly a full-page one – first of all, it covers up the advertising for which I am actually paid!

So I looked into this and a lot of people were thinking it was malware of some sort, trying to clean out their computers and finding they were fairly clean. I did that as well, and mine was fine.

But the ads would still come up – essentially it’s a large pop-up ad which supposedly goes away after 30 seconds. I never ran across a condom ad but they were for other relatively familiar products, and I found them annoying. I often search my site to verify my back links are the ones I’m wishing to use – an example is when I write the AC Week in review as I did yesterday for this morning – so I would see these ads every so often. It wasn’t every time, but maybe every 20th or 30th.

This morning it happened again, but in the search for the cause I found a number of places which blame a long-time feature of this site. This is a reply deep in the linked thread:

UPDATE: It looks like the vector for this exploit is ‘Sitemeter’ — after ‘sitemeter’ went bankrupt, their domain-name was bought bought up by the same “Black Hats” who own ‘adverstitial’ and ‘vindico’, and the “Black Hats” are now using the ‘sitemeter’ URL to inject the JavaScript ad exploit via any webpage whose owners were careless enough to neglect to remove their ‘sitemeter’ code on the theory that it was “mostly harmless”… >:(

So if any of you still have ‘sitemeter’ code on any of your webpages, it would be a good idea to delete it, ASAP.

Another blogger named Jennette Fulda found the same thing in a much wittier fashion - apparently her site had the same issue.

So after about eight years or so, it’s goodbye to SiteMeter for me, too.

It’s not like I don’t have other ways to count visitors, as I have Google Analytics and another service as well. But I did have the principle that my SiteMeter was (almost) always open, while most other bloggers I’ve run across were oh-so-secretive about their readership. (Yet one often claimed to have “record days.”)

I noticed as well that SiteMeter’s privacy policy changed right around the time people began to notice these ads – it could have been a coincidence, but since I don’t want their large ads they don’t need to put cookies on my site.

Regardless, I’m sure someone saw the thousands and thousands of sites which used SiteMeter to measure their traffic as an advertising gold mine given the data they collect, particularly as many didn’t have any advertising to begin with. Well, as word of this gets out SiteMeter is going to lose what little business they have because no one is giving us a cut of this and I don’t have to have their services when there are others out there which don’t intrude on my site in such a manner.

Listen, I don’t make a lot of money from this site. Yes, I have several political advertisers who pay me but come November that gravy train goes away. I’m hoping they are replaced by non-political businesses and have some prospects in that regard, but there’s always room for more. And every so often I get my tip jar rattled, which is nice.

I also get frequent e-mails about advertising, guest posts, or “traffic exchange” on my site from various entities on a regular basis. Just this month alone I’ve been hit up by Nova Media Networks, Vanbex.com, RTB System, Kitara Media, and Global Ad Space. Never heard of any of them, and I’m betting it’s the old pennies per CPM trick. (The Vanbex is a bitcoin exchange, so I think I know how I got on that list.) I would rather have more control on the content, so I keep my Amazon spaces, Newsmax (which pays me a small fee per month for the space), and the advertisers you see herein. (Some pay more than others, but the Patriot Post gets a free space because I write for them.)

I also get a modest fee for writing the music reviews, which is nice because I like listening to many different types of music – or at least can tolerate it to write an honest review. (If you’re surprised about the monetary aspect, I noted it up front.) I know a lot of other sites sell merchandise, promote themselves incessantly on what passes for their radio network in an effort to fish for advertising, and so forth – we’re all trying to monetize our websites somehow.

It wouldn’t have bothered me so much if they had come to me and offered me a piece of the action, but what SiteMeter forgot is that we don’t have to use their service. So to heck with ‘em.

Today is the day

June 25, 2014 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · 5 Comments 

Well, I didn’t win my election. But there’s another place I can be a winner with your help.

There are a number of bloggers competing for prizes in a contest sponsored by Troopathon 7, which goes online tonight. (Later this afternoon I will set up a live feed as I have done before.) Sorry, no live feed. I got home much later than I thought.

I found out last night that this humble blog is in fifth place overall, neck-and-neck with Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs, and I’m not all that far out of the lead. So if you want to help out me and a good cause, donate through the box on the right-hand side of the page (it accrues to my score.) With some help I can win this thing.

The uninvited

For the last two CPACs, Bretbart News has hosted a gathering called “The Uninvited”, a meeting where those who speak to subjects taboo to the main conference meet. In 2013, they met in a side conference area well away from many of the main events and this year they left the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center entirely, choosing the nearby Westin Hotel instead.

I bring this up not because I want to extend CPAC coverage, but it was the immediate thought I had after reading a piece by Jeff Quinton last night about a Larry Hogan-sponsored Maryland blogger gathering. Indeed, when asked by Quinton a few days ago I said I hadn’t heard about such a meeting so presumably I wasn’t invited – not that 4:30 on a Wednesday afternoon in Annapolis generally works for me anyway.

But I thought a little compare and contrast was in order, perhaps to help make Quinton’s overall point.

About 2 1/2 years ago, well before he officially announced but at a time when the wheels for a 2014 run were already in motion, David Craig gathered a number of prominent bloggers at the time (including a couple of the Red Maryland guys) for an informal Friday evening meeting in Annapolis.

But it didn’t stop there. Craig also made sure I was aware of the announcement tour stop in Salisbury and his staff arranged for me to have some time for an interview before they left. Insofar as I know, David has been fair to most of the bloggers – no complaints.

And while I haven’t had similar face time with either Ron George or Charles Lollar, Ron has taken care to call me or provide comment for my site on several occasions. I’ve also heard from members of Lollar’s staff regarding things going on in the new media world. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to Larry Hogan, but then I don’t initiate the conversation either. There was a point where I was trying to get him for the most recent Ten Questions series of interviews I did last year, but we couldn’t get a time coordinated and I eventually abandoned the effort.

Now I’m presuming the Hogan event would be patterned on the initial Craig soiree, and since there were about 10 or 11 total people there perhaps only six to eight bloggers were invited – figure four from Red Maryland, Jackie Wellfonder, and perhaps the folks from the Sun and Post and pretty soon you have a crowded table. But if a candidate really wanted to do it right, he or she would have 3 or 4 similar events around the state.

Then again, what do I know? In the scheme of things I’m just a blogger whose main complaint about the Hogan campaign isn’t lack of access but lack of detail, as in his plans for governance should he be fortunate enough to win. Maybe I’m just one voter but I have a lot of pet issues, so that’s why I want to know.

So I hope my cohorts have a good time this afternoon. I won’t be there, particularly since I’ll probably still be hard at work doing my outside job in the real world. But I’m sure I’ll hear about it from someone.

And now for something completely different…

March 14, 2014 · Posted in Local Music, Personal stuff · 2 Comments 

Every so often something comes along which puts me at the intersection of doing something I enjoy because I find it interesting, being able to write about it, and making a little bit of money. Tomorrow will be the first of what I hope are many of these features.

If you’ve been reading here since about 2006 or so, you’ll have noticed I’ve done an occasional feature I call “Weekend of local rock.” I also had a Friday tradition called “Friday Night Videos” that I did for a couple years as well, and toward the end of the that series I abandoned the original premise of news videos and went to an all-music format. It seemed more appropriate for enjoyment over the weekend.

Thus. tomorrow I’m debuting a new regular feature. I haven’t thought of a catchier title than “monoblogue music”, so I’ll go with it. But in my occasional forays into attempting to find new writing clients, I came across an entrepreneur who was looking for people with a critical ear and existing media outlet to help promote his stable of musical artists by reviewing their work. So I contacted this gentleman and we have come to an agreement, the first installment of which will be up tomorrow afternoon. I like it because I get to listen to some different music than the formulaic crap which seems to plague the airwaves, from up-and-coming artists who may be enticed to come to this region. I’m sure he likes the fact I have a sub-200k world Alexa rank, but I think this can work to broaden my audience for the political end of my site as well. So it could be a win-win.

In speaking with this gentleman, it was made clear that my reviews didn’t have to be positive, which is fine. But I asked him to steer those artists my way who are either based on the East Coast or tour through the area. (The latter covers tomorrow’s first feature, as they are Australian-based but plan a U.S. tour later this year – on their previous tour they mainly played along the West Coast but I suspect this will be their breakout year and they will come this way.)

So while this may seem to be an unusual step – particularly for a political blog in an election year – bear in mind that I’ve always branched out into other realms because to write about politics on a daily basis would eventually burn me out. I look forward to what I hope will be a productive relationship on both ends, and one you the reader will enjoy.

A palace coup?

After a hiatus from blogging, political hatchet man turned fiction writer Joe Steffen – best known as the “Prince of Darkness” – turned his attention to my old friends at Red Maryland. At the risk of getting carpal tunnel problems, I have a few observations about this argument between the two sides.

Joe Steffen

First of all, let’s discuss the characters. You may recall the fall 2010 convention, where I took these photos. The bottom photo may be hard to read at this scale, but it was posted on the wall at our fall 2010 state convention – GOP activists may recall that gathering as the wake for those who believed Bob Ehrlich would be the savior or our party because he had just been trounced by Martin O’Malley on an even worse scale than his 2006, despite overt help from the state and national Republican parties. So we had a lot of interest for Chair that year and Joe decided to make his statement as part of the “Renegade Revolution.” In short, we were a group which was fed up with the whole incumbent protection attitude, which led to the Rule 11 resolution Heather Olsen and I spent 2011 trying to get approved, to no avail.

Renegade Revolution sheet

As for Red Maryland, most longtime readers are aware I am what they refer to as an “erstwhile” contributor. I crossposted there perhaps a couple dozen times between about 2007 and 2011 – more, I’m sure, than some of those they still list as contributors. For a couple years afterward I was still listed as a contributor, but the list was culled probably about the time I threw in my support for Collins Bailey for state party Chair over Red Maryland co-founder Greg Kline. Despite that, I’ve also been a guest on a number of their extant radio shows, with the exception (oddly enough, since we are both officers in the same political club) of Jackie Wellfonder’s show and perhaps the one Mark Newgent hosts now. I’ve probably been on their airwaves a half-dozen times, enough to be heard but certainly not a frequent guest.

Also, to keep the players straight, it should be known that Jackie Wellfonder (and Andrew Langer, while he was there) are exclusively radio hosts and don’t blog with Red Maryland. Sorry if all this bores you, but I want to make sure people know just who is involved here. Generally when I start discussing Red Maryland, at least one of the players gets up in my face about something I wrote, and I think one of their favorite descriptions of me is that I’m “passive-aggressive.” Water, meet duck’s back. If I didn’t think I had something to add, I would ignore this tete-a-tete.

Anyway, I read what Steffen had to say about this purloined letter the good folks at Red Maryland sent out to Maryland GOP candidates in order to drum up business, one Joe calls a “protection racket.” Honestly, I didn’t have a problem with that letter – sure, I’m questioning the wisdom of $5 a spot on their radio shows when one on a terrestial station which reaches a broader and more diverse audience can be had (at least here locally) for just a few dollars more, but it is what it is. I haven’t caught a Red Maryland radio show recently to see how this approach is doing. (Jackie’s is the only one I listen to on a semi-regular basis – the others just aren’t my cup of tea.)

Moreover, I’m quite aware they are now a part of the Baltimore Sun, which seems like a case of strange bedfellows but they got the gig – bully for them. But herein lies the rub.

In the letter, the editors of Red Maryland write:

Using our platforms at BaltimoreSun.com, RedMaryland.com, and the Red Maryland Network we can help introduce you to the public and make sure that your message gets heard.

So are they going from “the premier blog of conservative and Republican ideas in the Free State” to promoting just those candidates and ideas which supply a paycheck? That’s how I read the letter – and trust me, all of us bloggers could use a little extra money – but something tells me takers are in short supply. What do we get if no one ponies up?

As I write this, the posts on their front page deal with Charles Lollar’s reaction to David Craig’s income tax package, the probable minimum wage increase, a piece panning an idea to adopt a Utah-style “hybrid” primary system (proposed by the aforementioned Collins Bailey), several promotions for radio shows, Sun editorials, and their monthly poll, and one piece by contributor D.C. Russell on the state of Prince George’s County politics. With the exception of Russell’s article, there was really nothing I could construe as introducing candidates or making sure a message gets heard; on the other hand, they have already endorsed a handful of candidates, including gubernatorial hopeful Larry Hogan. Conversely, Charles Lollar has been regularly criticized on Red Maryland – sometimes deservedly so.

Steffen goes on to be critical of Jackie Wellfonder and Mark Newgent for their roles outside Red Maryland, claiming they do take money for what he termed “political favors.” That fact both Wellfonder and Newgent have political clients for their various enterprises isn’t in dispute, though – it’s whether they have adequately explained their roles.

Now perhaps it’s because I know Jackie quite well, but I’ve been aware for awhile that she has a consulting company and has been on the payroll of at least two campaigns this election cycle – Senator Steve Hershey, as Steffen mentioned, and also Christopher Adams, a candidate for Delegate. However, she has featured a number of candidates on her website and radio program and I think she treats them rather fairly. Yes, she is a Larry Hogan backer but candidates seem to know this up front and agree to speak with her anyway.

By the same token, I’ll take Mark at his word that he’s gone through the Hogan situation, as it came up one time in a chance conversation we had that he was doing work for Change Maryland. And that’s fine, too. As Red Maryland has explained, it takes the unanimous vote of the four editors to make the endorsement, and obviously sharp eyes will be going over Larry’s campaign report to see if any campaign funds went their way. (Newgent has also admitted to being on the Hogan team for opposition research.) So whatever Newgent is getting, he’s only a fraction of the team.

Now this brings me to the crux of the matter: why would this e-mail be received by saying, “(a) bunch of us got this, and had a nice little laugh” – isn’t Red Maryland supposed to be a “premier” blog?

I suppose if I wanted to I could argue a claim to the premier blog insofar as “ideas” go, since I have come up with some discussion items, suggestions, and resolutions in the past. Now if you want to talk about a premier marketing blog, yes, they’ve more than earned that title – otherwise, why would we even be discussing Red Maryland in the first place? For all I know, this unnamed group may laugh at my website too but no one knows about it.

So when did Red Maryland cross the point of derision? Was it the fawning over Larry Hogan, or maybe Greg Kline’s bid to become Maryland GOP Chair where he finished a distant third? Maybe self-promotion has gotten into the way of their original purpose, but all I know is that they (and their detractors) have become the sideshow sucking up all the oxygen in the room. Are we really that bored with the candidates we’re putting up – the ones who are working hard to get elected?

Respect takes a long time to earn, but can be gone in an instant. The Red Maryland crew continues to claim that #IntegrityMatters, but it’s apparent that a number of people question whether they have any left.

Over the target

There’s an old saying that you draw the most flak when you’re over the target. Well, over the last six weeks or so I must have been circling around the heart of the Maryland political conversation because I’ve seen my name in a lot of other quarters and have had to defend myself a lot. It happened again yesterday.

I actually was in the midst of writing a long, drawn-out post to rehash these assumptions when I came to a conclusion that I have better things to do, thus I broomed it. Just leave the past in the past and concentrate on being a better, more effective writer and better man. So I apologized to the latest writer for any misunderstanding.

I think at times we all forget we in the Maryland conservative movement, particularly those who choose to be the writers, are all part of the same team, and what we are going through would equate to the same clubhouse dissention that you’ll find on a ballclub which is a perennial cellar-dweller. As it turns out, though, we’re catching the other team on a losing streak of sorts, that being expressed in tax hikes, a flawed Obamacare rollout, and the people growing weary of the general attitude of entitlement the other side exhibits. Many members of our team point these out, although not everyone seems to be aware of this.

Yet we have our problems as well, particularly in management – in fact, we have no manager. Instead, we have four men who are doing an extended interview for the job and different factions of the team support different candidates – the left side of the infield strongly backs one guy so much so they endorsed him, starting pitchers and bullpen are divided, and the left fielder who likes to play deep has his choice. Veterans are in their camp and the brash rookies probably don’t agree. In and of itself, that’s not so bad because, as I said, we’re still picking a manager. The game hasn’t started quite yet.

Me? I’m just trying to stay in the starting lineup and trying to decide who I think will be the best leader. Once in awhile I toss a wild pitch but I believe I throw mostly strikes, and those umpires who stop by here generally agree. Maybe the other bloggers feel differently about their roles, but I look at my job as one of keeping the team in the game. I may be the hoary veteran of the bunch, but I still want the ball every day so I can help the team. I’m all about turning things around and getting us that long-awaited championship, rewarding not just our long-suffering fans but everyone else, too.

That’s enough of the ballclub analogy for today. I can almost guarantee some will take this in a way I wasn’t intending, so my advice can be heeded or fall on deaf ears – that’s not up to me anymore. I said my piece, so it’s time to carry on.

Eight is not enough (the monoblogue anniversary post)

December 1, 2013 · Posted in Bloggers and blogging, Personal stuff · 1 Comment 

Today marks the 3,615th post in the (now) eight year lifespan of this website.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m heavily into milestones because to me they best represent certain points in life. For example, I usually mention the fact I’m on a post number with a multiple of 500 as it should be sometime in 2014 when I make it to 4,000. By the same token, almost every December 1st since this site’s first anniversary in 2006 I’ve written a piece about where this enterprise has been and where it is going. Today won’t be an exception.

One would have figured this to be a down year for monoblogue because it wasn’t an election year in 2013, but the signs point to my readership actually increasing slightly. For most of 2013 the readership line on my Google Analytics stayed 10% to 30% ahead of 2012′s numbers, aside from a barely slower summer this year. Unfortunately my Analytics was down for about a month last fall; however, I determined from looking at my StatCounter reports that naturally my October 2012 numbers were 58% higher than 2013′s but those figures from November of last year vs. November of this year will likely be nearly identical once I get the summary later this week. So I would expect October 2014 to be a banner month, and the state probably did me a favor readership-wise by pushing the primary to June, which is generally one of my slower months. It won’t be next year.

I chalk that increase up to being a better promoter of my work, although I think being named one of the country’s best state-based political blogs by the Washington Post didn’t hurt, either.

When I wrote this summary last year, I had two writing goals in mind for 2013. One was to finally make it to CPAC, and even though it was just for one day I indeed CPAC badgeattended the venerable event held outside Washington, D.C. It allowed me to meet a number of my cohorts from around the country, which was a plus. Certainly it would have been more helpful in that regard if I could have made it to the Blogger’s Bash, but when you are an hourly employee and work comes on someone else’s time schedule sacrifices sometimes have to be made.

One way I was hoping to escape that economic necessity was by working on my second book; alas, I made very little progress on that front. Maybe I haven’t sold myself on the idea I’ve chosen, which I think is unique but requires more dedication than I’ve given it. Perhaps I’ll find a little more time in 2014 but honestly I’m not holding my breath with my current situation.

Yet I think there is a way I can provide a useful service. Not everyone agrees with my methods, and others pout about how they believe I judge moral equivalence, but those who exist behind the scenes and don’t seek to grab the headlines or attention are perhaps the most loyal members of my fan base. If my numbers went up (or at least held serve) between an election year and a non-election year, that seems to indicate I have a fair idea of what I’m doing and have some talent. Never mind I’ve also outlasted dozens and dozens of Maryland political sites – go back to this list and ask yourself where the others went.

So the question becomes one of how I improve the situation to make myself more useful to the pro-liberty movement? I know readers have helped a little here and there by rattling the tip jar or buying my book – for some reason, November has been by far my best sales month of the year – and I certainly appreciate the support.  But while monoblogue serves me as a great base to practice my craft, this enterprise isn’t nearly enough financially – and that’s all right. Unless people are going to start throwing a couple grand a month at me to advertise here, I really don’t think that by itself monoblogue is going to be my financial savior. It’s a hobby which takes on the average an hour or two of my day and it makes a small profit, so I’m okay with that.

But in reading a lot of the GOP candidate websites, I have to say that their writing style and conveyance of message leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve talked to insiders who complain about the same thing, and actually alerted one of the gubernatorial candidates about a glaring error in his platform, which has since been fixed. Yet when reading the websites on the other side, I don’t often see these problems – the message may be counter-productive to the state as a whole, but it’s presented in a readable way. So maybe I can be of service? I mean, I won’t work for free, but I don’t think I’ll be all that expensive and proofreading is really your friend. Just let me know.

As for the site itself, I think it’s in a pretty good place. It may need some freshening up in spots and those improvements will come as needed. On the front I just discussed I have a couple advertising leads from candidates, but I’d love some good ads for products and services which will appeal to a potentially large Maryland-centric audience. (I can think of a couple businesses which could use exposure throughout the state, but are locally centered around Salisbury. They would be great clients if they want to take the leap.)

One feature I think will become a jewel is the one I started recently called GO Friday. (The GO stands for “guest opinion.”) It’s off to somewhat of a slow start but there’s true potential for growth there. GO Friday was intended to give voice to up-and-coming bloggers trying to build their own audiences out of my reader base, but it’s open to anyone with a good opinion. It also gives me a breather to work on other avenues, such as the aforementioned potential writing tasks.

And don’t think I’m abandoning some of my other features like Shorebird of the Week or Weekend of local rock. I think there’s still plenty of mileage left in both, although the latter hasn’t been as prominent lately.

When I started this enterprise, I said from the beginning it wouldn’t be totally political because then I’d get burned out. There are days I’ve struggled to keep pace with my personal goal of daily updates (and I missed one this year because of an internet outage) but with that rare exception it’s been one goal I’ve accomplished. Fortunately I’m not prone to writer’s block and have something I want to say so the combination works well.

Anyway, this is where monoblogue is at as it begins its ninth year. Hope you enjoy the ride as long as I do.

 

Going for the throat

Every so often I have to just sit and shake my head.

As I usually do when I look at Facebook, I take a look at what various groups post on their pages. Last night I spied the Wicomico Society of Patriots page and found that Andrew Langer had posted a link to a Red Maryland article claiming Matthew Adams of Somerset County was behind a fairly new blog that seemingly, in the eyes of those on Red Maryland, exists only to bash them and those who work with that group, particularly my friend Jackie Wellfonder. The Red Maryland post, written by Mark Newgent, is based on photos from this post at the MD Watch site.

So I was appalled to see over 170 comments on that Facebook post, most consisting of a running argument between Langer and various local WMSOP members including Julie Brewington, who’s had her own share of run-ins with Red Maryland leading to her naming by the blog as Maryland’s least valuable conservative player.

Yet in reading all of the blow-by-blow regarding this situation, there’s one question Mark Newgent, who’s usually a pretty good investigative reporter, missed: who is the “we” referred to in the MD Watch post? Obviously Matt Adams was there at the Hogan event and I’ll allow the allegation that he was in the Executive Committee meeting to take the unflattering photo of Jackie from behind to stand for the sake of argument, given the case put together by Mark.

But is it Matt Adams who is writing as a collective “we” of the Lollar campaign or did someone else use the photos attributed to Matt in writing the Hogan/Wellfonder hit piece, which is authored by “James”? “James” is one of the two attributed writers on the MD Watch site; the other is “Veracruz.” Other posts have no attribution. Find out who “James” and “Veracruz” are and we’ll get a long way toward solving some problems.

Lord knows I haven’t often agreed with Matt Adams on many things – for example, he was a Diana Waterman backer – but I don’t see the evidence he did anything but take the pictures and own the domain name to the administrative part of the Lollar website. I’ve figured out that the guys at Red Maryland don’t care much for Matthew Adams and Julie Brewington (and seem to have a pretty dim view of the Lollar campaign in general) but I don’t see the leap to the accusations they made in their post. We may find out the owner(s) of MD Watch have nothing to do with any campaign and just like stirring crap. If so, sad to say they did a good job.

Then again, as poorly written as that MD Watch website is I would probably hide behind anonymous pseudonyms, too. Rehashing press releases is one thing, and I often use excerpts myself. But at least I try to advance conversation with them. And, for heaven’s sake, use spellcheck and proofread!

However, I do agree with a point Andrew Langer made in the long Facebook discussion – where is Julie Brewington in condemning the Wellfonder photo, particularly given Julie’s past history with being the subject of leering, candid photos, or shots she was the subject of but thought better about later on? I get the “freedom of speech” part, but don’t act the victim then when it’s pointed at you.

When I write, I try to use facts and learned opinion in my argument. My learned opinion of the Wellfonder photo is that it was garbage and doesn’t belong in a serious discussion. If anything, I would suggest that there’s a little jealousy of Jackie in play here, since she’s rather rapidly become part of the insider GOP crowd in the state. To make fun of her size, well, I thought we got past that once we left junior high. (And yes, I’m on the portly side too. Jackie likes her Starbucks, I like my chocolate.)

Still, it’s unfortunate that there’s no shortage of bad blood these days from a few who apparently fall within the tent of Charles Lollar supporters directed at Jackie, who’s doing her best to make a living at disseminating the campaign knowledge she’s learned over the last few years. She’s starting small, running a Delegate race, and so far seems to be successful with her instincts. We’ll see how it all works out come June, both in the Delegate race she’s running and her bid for our county’s Central Committee, which wasn’t news to me. Guess I won’t be on the bottom of the ballot this time.

Red Maryland is what it is; we’ve had our differences and I’m sure they may crop up again. Personally, I have to say these two wrongs don’t make a right.

You know, I’m not from Maryland, so I didn’t really know a lot about the whole blue crab thing growing up. (But I know what a buckeye is, both the object and the food product.) One tidbit I’ve learned since moving here, though, is that a group of crabs, when caught in a crab pot, will work together in one key respect: to pull down the leader who tries to escape. Obviously that’s good for those who are looking for dinner, but Maryland Republicans seem to have this crab mentality down pat.

We can argue now, but I want to make sure that on June 25 it’s full speed ahead getting rid of the Democratic dominance in this state. I know some will protest about my choice of words and say they should have the right to defend themselves, but I think most would agree that petty crap like this has to come to a halt. Just remember who perpetuates it henceforth.

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