Change can be both good and bad, but it’s important to remember that changing things doesn’t always stop the need for it, it just hopefully minimizes it over time.
Heading into our third year as a site, we’ve done a lot of good things. We’ve brought aboard some very good writers, grown our traffic quite a bit, developed a shop site for selling gear, and even started plugging forward into some successful podcasting. Year three, however, is going to see a number of significant changes, so I thought I would try to prepare you for them as best I could
The Site Appearance Itself
This is probably one of the biggest areas of change. It is often the case that something seems like a great option until some other option appears, and we are finally making the financial investment in someone who knows what they are doing on the back-end of the site.
You’ve perhaps noticed this if you’ve been on the site in the last day or two; it looks a lot different than it did last week. This will serve two purposes.
First, it will allow for a cleaner, more visually engaging experience for the user, something that looks at least a bit more like the proper site we’ve always wanted.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, it will start the ball rolling on a full network of school-specific sites for all of the Group of Five programs we cover.
Whoops, I guess I buried the lede a smidge there. Sorry.
Right now, as part of the redesign, we are building the framework necessary to have a unique site within the Forgotten5 network for each school, but the initial launch will be a limited number of programs.
I wanted to start with a set of schools where either I already know there’s a strong audience or I already knew of a reliable writer I could tab to be the site manager.
The initial collection of schools getting their own site will be Georgia Southern, UCF, Western Kentucky, UAB, New Mexico State, Army, North Texas, Troy, San Diego State, Louisiana and South Alabama.
Each will look and feel similar to the main site, but will have their own distinct visual branding so that you can visit the main site OR just skip straight to your favorite school and know that you are at your own home within our new and growing family.
It will take some time to get all of this fully rolled out, so have patience with that – we’ve got talented people, but only so many of them, and we’ll do things stepwise as needed to ensure quality.
If you don’t see your school in this list, that doesn’t mean I’m not open to them having their own site. I do want to keep the initial launch small, but I’m open to other schools where someone is willing to be that guy (and don’t worry, “site manager” is a far less complex and involved job than you think it is. You can DM us on twitter or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss it further).
The Site’s Content
This is a lesser tweak, and one that I’ve always been pushing, but it will continue. We will focus less and less on traditional, AP-style game previews and recaps.
That doesn’t mean that we won’t do those posts at all. We will still preview and recap plenty of games.
However, the way we see things, you can go literally thousands of places on the internet for a nuts-and-bolts preview that tells you “where/when/how to watch, and here’s some stats.”
You can go just as many places and read a nuts-and-bolts recap that’s not terribly more engaging or in-depth than us sitting at home the next day and re-writing the box score and play-by-play in paragraph form. Even the conference and school sports information departments will have that.
Our focus will be on writing because we have interesting things to say, or at least because that’s how we feel. I think it’s easier for writers to stay engaged, and easier for the readership to keep returning, when both of those things are occurring through a discussion launched by a thought or an opinion.
You can still discuss the nuts and bolts of the situation, but if you aren’t coming to read our content because we have an interesting opinion or voice, then why really pay us a visit?
The Site Shop
This change is substantial, but it’s a necessary streamlining. We were probably too optimistic about having a shop site to begin with, and it quickly got far too swole for its britches.
Now that it will be changing management, we’re going to remove the full, dedicated shop site in its entirety and focus on having a “Buy Now” button on the sites within the articles, and sales via Facebook.
This seems like a far more efficient and direct means of allowing those who want to buy things to do so, because it will involve less work. It will also prevent us from a needlessly clogged catalog of what had become 725 items in our shop (not all of that is visible continuously, but that’s a lot of items).
The shop Twitter (@F5_GearShop) will continue on with some obvious tweaks, but it will still be promoting and engaging, finding new ways to get fans interested.
While we do want the site to grow, and revenue generation is always a good thing, Forgotten5’s mission has never been to spend time hawking merchandise. We’re simply offering what we really want, the opportunity to show a fanbase that “hey, we came up with what we think is a neat piece of SWAG, and you can go right here and buy one if you agree.”
The Site’s Patreon Page
This is one that has been a procrastination item, and in need of a reworking, so I’m using the anniversary as the opportunity to focus energy on this.
Running a site like this – and eventually, a network of sites – isn’t going to cause us to refinance our houses, but it isn’t cheap.
For that reason, Patreon serves two purposes. It gives us an immediate conduit for our readers to help defray the cost of producing the content they like to read and the place they like to come to read it.
But perhaps more importantly, it gives those readers an opportunity to directly show their appreciation as a content consumer for the content that is being created for their consumption.
That being said, you want to give folks a reason to contribute. Some out there will contribute because they know you personally, or because they have read your work and appreciate it.
But far more are unlikely to contribute without an incentive to do so. We’re still figuring out what those incentives are, but we are fully interested in your feedback as to what sorts of things might cause you to see Forgotten5 as something of increased value that is deserving of some small investment on your part.
Year three will be a good one. We’re changing some things around, all for the better, and you are welcome to participate in those changes as we try to keep growing and building what we have here.