Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Future Of The Blog


Imagine being an ice dancer who is 17th in the world. Last year, they were 18th, the year before 20th. Being 17th in the world is honestly something to be very proud of, as is improving over time, but it's still 17th. That ice dancer puts the best programs they can out there every season, works very hard and does their very best but they are still 17th. We've SEEN so many of these ice dancers and as a blogger, I've been really starting to relate.


There are a lot of websites with interesting pointers on how to promote your blog and make it a smashing success and I've read a lot of them in recent months. I've done many things they suggested - they had great suggestions for the most part! Promoting your writing on social media and maximizing how you USE social media, networking (as much as I hate the word and concept) and also going to popular skating forums like Golden Skate and Figure Skating Universe and getting the word out there are all important. That said, the way the business world might hop on a blog train isn't the same way the figure skating community always gravitates to something. The truth of the matter? I love to write, research and learn. It's part of who I am. I sincerely LOVE skating and have since long before I even skated myself. Ask my amazing Mom - she was my biggest cheerleader when I skated and faithfully reads this blog and always calls me to talk about every interview and article. It puts a smile on my face without fail! What I find challenging is the 'marketing' aspect. I think the kinds of things I tend to focus on - history, artistic and professional skating, people's stories, obscure tidbits, visits to the void - are more of a niche than what most skating sites serve up. Marketing a niche isn't easy. If you have a hat store that only sells blue hats next to a store that sells really popular red ones, you've got a challenge on your hands. It's not about selling as many hats as the red hat store, it's about staying open so people who like blue hats have a place to go and shop. In the real world where everything comes down to money, the sad reality is that a lot of those blue hat stores close.

You won't find results or play-by-plays of ISU competitions here. Jackie Wong and many others on Twitter do a fabulous job of covering competitive skating. I also rarely watch live feeds. Why badly compete with something that already receives in-depth, excellent coverage? Allison Manley's The ManleyWoman Skatecast is really the place to go for amazing, amazing interviews. Allison Scott's Life On The Edge Of Skating always makes me smile. Peter Murray at Blazing Blades, Carl Moseley, Vlad, Tony Wheeler, P.J. Kwong, Sylvia on Twitter, Randy Gardner's The Rink, Hot Blades Hot Passion, Sportfolio... And dozens more. To name every person I admire who's covering skating out there would be a blog in itself.  

While I appreciate the topics I write about kind of veer off from the cozy and comfortable and the blog's name and my writing style might not be for everybody in the club, I'd be lying if I said I don't get discouraged. While I've been getting wonderfully supportive feedback from friends, family and new friends in the skating community, I feel like I'm writing up in this bubble sometimes. It kind of is a bubble. I'm in Halifax and work a full time job that pays my rent, bills and for my sweet, sweet Pinot Grigio. I don't get the time off nor make the money to jetset around to every event I'd like... Nor any really. I won't be in Ottawa, Boston or Sochi, not that I'd be dying to go really. I'd love to go to Ottawa and cheer on Meagan and Eric or to Boston to see Jeremy steal the show or to Sochi to see Brian Boitano and Billie Jean King strut their stuff! Who wouldn't? The places I'd love to go more than anywhere are these wonderful ice theatres plopping up all over the States, to Sun Valley, to California... To these wonderful places where skating just blooms like lilacs. It's not all about those missed trips, though... There's more to it than that.

A lot of figure skating fans just quite frankly don't give a flying kerfrickenfluten (loves me some Rose Nylund) about anything but the top ranked skaters in the world. If you mention artistic skating, the response you get is how artistic Yuna Kim is, or Mao Asada or Yuzuru Hanyu. Anything or anyone else is non-existent. Showing them a video of an ice dance team other than Davis and White or Virtue and Moir is a mistake. It's just not important. You show them a video of Adam Blake's Kwanonymous and get a confused shrug. "That's weird! I don't get it!" They don't care about ice theatre or things like YAS because they're not those 15 current skaters in their mind all doing the same programs to different music. I'm not bashing these kinds of fans - you know what, love who you love and love anyone who's getting out there and skating their heart out. It's just a different audience. 

As a reader, you are my audience and I love how diverse and wonderful you all are. The emails, tweets and Facebook comments I get show me loud and clear that there are so many of you who 'get it'. Whether you agree or disagree with the way competitive skating is judged, skated and marketed or not right now, you care about the sport. You realize that we need to think outside that bubble, talk, listen to different perspectives and even look to the rich history and past of skating to see that great skating is timeless. To make a moment on the ice, all you need is two skates, a song and a camera. We live in the YouTube age of Jenna Marbles and that adorable little Joey Graceffa. It's nice to see more skaters are grasping that. A great example? The Shibutani's. Look what their doing! Look at Mark Hanretty's aerial silks act, at YAS! As much as IJS is killing artistry and individuality, there IS an artistic revolution going on and the only way you're not seeing that is if you choose to be ignorant to it. 

One of the smartest things someone can do is reach out and ask for help when they really need it. In order for this blog to succeed into the new year, I honestly need yours. I don't want a dime of your money. I have a job and a busy life outside of maintaining the blog. I write because it makes me smile. What I do need is for you to help spread the word. Tell a friend! Tweet about the blog. Talk about it on Facebook. Post about it on skating forums. I've got all kinds of great interviews lined up (including the blog's second Olympic Gold Medallist) and articles already written as well as other new ideas, but unless there are more Facebook "likes" and retweets and shares (which equal readers in this day and age), the audience isn't going to grow and I'm just going to get bitchier and start complaining about Evan Lysacek all the time. And I've been doing so good! I have no interest in bashing skaters or being sensationalistic to gain viewers. Not my bag. Sorry bout it! Seriously though, that's what I'd love from you all for Christmas... To help me help skating in some very small way. I feel like "Merry Xmas (War Is Over)" should be playing. 

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html

7 comments:

  1. I just recently discovered your blog via the old fashioned method of google and I figure this post is as good as any to leave a comment on! I did tell the one other person I know who might be interested in it about it, and I've been enjoying it.

    But yeah blogging is really a labor of love and it seems like it's harder and harder to really make a mark with a blog these days. But your work is definitely appreciated.

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  2. I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog, Amy! To say that blogging is a labor of love is absolutely right... if you're passionate about something, writing is a wonderful way to express it. It's a bit of an uphill battle but as Gladys on Ellen said "keep on keeping on!" -- and "I love Jesus but I drink a little!" haha

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  3. Keep on blogging and drinking!! Happy New Year!

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  4. Hi Ryan, like Amy I just recently discovered your blog and I totally understand what you mean but please don't give up, this is an awesome blog you have!

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  5. So grateful for your blog! It's got everything for a skater or skating fan. Can't wait to read it in 2014. Happy New Year, Ryan!

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  6. Hope to see your work on here for a long time, Ryan. There's not a lot out there that is so well researched and so diverse. I first stumbled on your blog looking for info about Kira Ivanova, and this was one of the few places on the Internet that had anything about an Olympic bronze medalist. I've since spent many enjoyable hours here catching up on my skating idols past and present. What you do is truly first rate and your passion shines through in the detail you put into your postings and interviews. Kudos!

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  7. Thank you all so much for your wonderfully kind words of encouragement and support! It definitely IS a labor of love and I am committed to going as far as I can with it and then some! Lots of love all of your way! :))

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