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Help Shape The Future of Football Perspective

We’ve built up one of the most intelligent and loyal communities on the internet here at Football Perspective. But writing a post every day can be a bit of a challenge. That would have turned into an even larger time commitment had I not been lucky to receive some great guest articles. And while I have been fortunate enough to receive some free-lance submissions in every sense of the word, a better scenario would be one where those writers get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Right now, the site doesn’t make any real money. That’s somewhat by (lack of) design, and somewhat the product of poor management. I didn’t create Football Perspective to make money; I created it to have an outlet for my thoughts. The fact that I have posted an article here for 1,341 consecutive days is a point of pride, but no one owes me anything. It’s my choice to write, or not to write, and the fact that I have repeatedly chosen to write must mean it makes sense (or that I am an irrational actor).

But as the site has grown, and as the time commitment to FP has increased, and as guest writers are getting more interested in creating great content, I’m realizing that I have done a poor job of keeping up with the growth of the site. There is just one ad at the top of the page, and that doesn’t bring in any notable revenue. If I, as a site owner, was generating revenue, I’d be able to compensate guest writers. So that falls on me, and to the extent it limits my guest submissions, well, then it falls a little bit on all of us.

I have spent some time trying to think of what’s the right vision for this site, but my readers are much better at this stuff than I am. Nobody knows this site better than you, and nobody is more interested in hearing your thoughts than me. The great thing about this community is that I believe the future of this site is just as important to you guys as it is to me. Does that mean going to a real ad-based model (which I would probably need some help in implementing)? Does it mean teaming up with a larger site — bringing FP to a different platform? What other solutions are out there? I don’t really know, which is why I open this up to you.

I end a lot of posts asking you to please leave your thoughts in the comments. But today, I really mean it.

  • Topher Doll

    Obviously starting with the fact FP is awesome. I do come here mostly for the articles, both by you and your great guests, so I don’t mind changing platforms or joining another site, as long as I get your content. You obviously get work for major sites that you do fairly regularly so you’d likely know who you enjoy working with.

    I’m not opposed to ads or anything like that, especially if their is an ad-free option like PFR has where I can donate to you directly while also hiding ads.

    In the end I’m surprised you aren’t working for 538, ESPN or another major media outlet full time already, so you deserve to be in a situation that you feel rewarded, both emotionally and financially, and so I think you should take the course that best fits that goal. As long as you keep writing and researching, your platform is mostly unimportant to me.

    • sunrise089

      Topher,

      I think, and I may be wrong about this, that Chase has a day job that makes it unattractive for him to move into an online writing gig at the sort of salary many of those positions offer.

      Chase,

      I will come to the site and read every article even if it becomes quite ad heavy. That said, there’s obviously a hierarchy of ad annoyance, from passive banner ads, to mandatory videos/full-page adds you have to click past, to Buzzfeed style constant click-through requirements. Special mention to passive-seeming ads that run scripts that redirect the page and/or try to download apps. Fangraphs.com is an otherwise pleasant site that every few weeks will go crazy with redirects on mobile since they outsource their ads and don’t have the ability to pre-screen them.

      Given that, adding some additional banner ads would in my opinion impose almost no additional cost to visit the page. Another option is a Patreon or other virtual tip-jar. And, as a one-time/limited-use thing you would always run a Kickstarter. I’d donate immediately for a PFR blog podcast reunion.

      If joining another site makes a lot of financial sense then you should go for it, I’d follow you there. But I hope you don’t go that route, since it will be hard to keep the same quality of posts and commentary. Even Lisk at BigLead and Neil at 538 are surrounded by a lot of lowest common denominator stuff in the interest of pageviews.

      • eag97a

        Agreed on all points. Awesome content here and I wouldn’t mind some more ads to make the site self-funding and to reward you for this labor of love. More power to FP!

        • AgronomyBrad

          I agree with these guys. The only addition I would make is that the content on your site is something you don’t find virtually anywhere else, and a lot of times it’s stuff that I personally find interesting (and I’m sure the community as a whole do, too) , but a lot of “click-based” sites might not.

          • Agreed, Brad. And therein lies the rub: if something is interesting but people don’t want to pay money for it, what do we do with that?

            There’s a larger issue out there on all of this, of course. A post about what Kendall Jenner is wearing might make more money than well, anything we produce here. I don’t know what that says about us, but that’s just the situation we’re in. The capitalist side of me thinks if there isn’t a (financial) market for this stuff, then writers shouldn’t expect to be paid.

            OTOH, there is the journalistic aspect to this. In that sense, it isn’t about the eyeballs you reach, but making a true impact on a few eyeballs, or some really important eyeballs.

        • Thanks, eag. Appreciate the loyal following.

      • Thanks, sunrise. You are correct that I have a full-time day job, which does conflict with things. That’s why much of my desire is to make this as hassle-free for me as possible.

        I definitely *don’t* want it to become ad-heavy. I have no background in computers, so I’m probably not tech-y enough to make it ad-heavy even if I wanted to.

        I am not familiar with Patreon, but that’s interesting. There’s a part of me that feels bad asking folks to donate or contribute, but it’s definitely something to consider. And it may be better than the alternative of turning away good submissions.

        I like the idea of joining another site mostly for the convenience factor: it would be ideal to have to worry about nothing but writing. But I hear you on the comments, and that is an important point to consider.

        • I know quite a few people, video game streamers mostly, who use Patreon to great effect. Here’s one of my favorites, who makes over $600/month just from those donations:

          https://www.patreon.com/bogotter?ty=h

          He’s got about 10,000 subscribers to his Twitch channel and pulls about 300-500 viewers when he’s live. It could probably be adapted for a blogging site, and if you at least get a few thousand hits per post, that ought to be enough for something.

          And in my experience, nobody’s ever had issues with people asking to donate to a Patreon. They’re much happier with that than having to deal with ads.

    • Thanks, Topher. Appreciate the longtime follow!

      To be clear, I do feel rewarded here, even if it is not financially. But I do sometimes get interesting guest submissions that ask to be paid for their work. And the work sounds great, and should legitimately be rewarded. But it is not a business model if I am paying them out of pocket, and it makes me realize there needs to be some way to bring money into the site.

      I am not a big ads fan, so the donate option is an interesting one. On the other hand, I don’t know if that’s a sustainable business model, either. I don’t want readers to think that I am harassing them for money. Perhaps the ad-free option that you mention is something worth consideration.

      The other issue is setting this stuff up takes some work, and that’s been the main reason I haven’t done any of that yet. I’m trying to minimize hassle in my life, so hopefully whatever I decide can be easily implemented 🙂 As for 538, I do plan on contributing to them more in the future, although that won’t necessarily fix the current problem of the day re: guest posters.

      Thanks again for the thoughts. Always love reading your comments.

      • Paid? Let them get their own site. A person’s value is what they can get (Adam Smith!), and if they can get more let them go elsewhere. Be clear about it with a submissions tab. Let this site be like Ponderosa, where you are a server until you get enough experience to work at a paying restaurant (or, as in football, be a Belichick intern until you prove your worth). You might offer, though, to promote writers to editors at paying sites you might have contacts with.

        I’d be fine with ads. Way of the world.

        • To each their own, Tom. I feel personally indebted to the guest writers I have, and I think the larger community does as well. But we are a community diverse in our opinions, so thanks for dropping the note.

          I will say that this site has been a catalyst for some paying gigs, so on that front, it has worked out nicely. I hope that continues.

          • Too often, when something we start for love grows we find ourselves carrying more burden then we might want. Having to post daily can be a challenge, or become a chore. And while guest writers certainly add much, you can wind up taking on their load, too.

            This post indicates a load carried and a crossroads. I do not mean to disparage your writers at all (they’ve been great, and I prefer a diversity of voices), but their needs are not your load to carry. Your responsibility is to be honest and that’s it. I am sure you have been. As you consider your choices, though, you need to consider your vision. Too often we have people pushing us to grow, when we want other things.

            If ads or going under the umbrella of another site allows you to grow this into something you want, go for it. But you sound tired in this post. Do what is going to energize YOU and the writers will take care of themselves.

  • Aethelred

    What they all said. The first thing I do in w morning is check my inbox; the second is check FP. (Usually! I won’t lie- I’ther have been othe sites). I wish I)

  • Clint

    Whatever you have to do to keep it afloat. To be honest, if you feel like you HAVE to put something here everyday, the motivation will fall off. Maybe it already did. Taking some of the pressure off of yourself would be good. Regular contributors aside from yourself, getting some more ads, etc. Maybe some type of partnership with another site, if it’ll generate traffic. But I think you’d want the right kind of traffic. I came across the page through footballoutsiders and PFR. Those sites would provide what I think is the right traffic for FP.

    • Thanks, Clint. I should be clear that nothing today is about keeping the site afloat or not: whatever revenue that ultimately comes in won’t make a significant impact there, either. For now, I love the site, but I can’t promise that one day it won’t be more stress than it’s worth.

      There is a part of me that feels like I *have* to put something here every day, but that’s more of a me issue than anything else. I probably would do better to take some time off now and then, but that is a topic for another day, I think. As I wrote earlier, the main motivation for me to partner with another site is to reduce headache/stress for me, but I agree that the right kind of traffic is crucial to this site.

      • Clint

        You’re welcome.
        May I ask what your goal is? Would you want this to be something you could live off of? I think those those answers would be a start in determining what you should do
        Also, GOOD comment sections are generally non-existent on the internet, so I wouldn’t want to see this one get too spoiled.

        • That’s a great question.

          The goal is not to turn this into something I could live off of: it’s going to always remain a hobby. It’s more about not being stupid as far as leaving money on the table. This site should be able to support guest posters, and since it can’t, that falls on me. Hence this post.

          And yes, keeping the comment sections good here is something really important to me, too.

  • Just got a message from a good friend who suggested writing a book. What do you guys think about that? I’ve always shunned away from that idea because it sounds like a lot of work (I guess doing small amounts of work every day is more digestible), but I’ll throw that out here as well.

    • J.B.

      Great idea! Break down which stats matter, walk through ANY/A as a better “overall” stat, walk through some particular odd statistical outlier games, seasons or careers. There are plenty of things that’d be cool to read about. Maybe add in some more rich graphics and/or charts to make it stand out above the online content?

    • Tom

      Like all of us regular readers, I’d buy a book you’d written as soon as it came out. Not sure what your friend’s thoughts were, but I’d like to see a compendium of all your best/most interesting posts in one place…GOAT QB’s, the Billick Index, all that other cool stuff.

      • Thanks, Tom. I hope you do speak for regular readers, but if not, having someone as intelligent as you be such a big supporter is more than enough. I’m going to take some time over the next week or so to think this over (don’t worry, there will still be a post a day!) but this may make it on to the real to-do list.

        • Adam

          I’d buy your book, too. No question.

          • Well, thank you very much!

    • Adam

      Would this hypothetical book be geared toward one specific subject, or cover a variety of different ideas? Personally I think the latter would be more interesting.

      • My hunch is the former is easier to market and also easier to compile, while the latter is more Football Perspectivey. Have to balance both thoughts, of course, but your input is always valued.

        • Adam

          Do you have any particular subjects in mind? I agree that a narrow focus book would seem easier to market than a compilation, especially if you’re aiming for the general masses.

        • I don’t think the latter would be difficult to market at all, as long as there’s a strong underlying theme. Being Football Perspective, the “underlying theme” would obviously be “smart, often contrarian, typically-data-driven historical football analysis”. That’s a very solid, marketable theme which still covers a lot of ground.

    • sunrise089

      I’d of course buy a book.

      About a half dozen websites I follow have released one or more books. In just about every case the books have just been collections of posts and some new content that would have otherwise been published on the site. There’s some appeal in having offline access to content, but in 2016 that’s not a huge issue for most people. I think the books are more an exercise in getting regular readers to support the site, but stopping short of asking for donations (it’s possible/likely that psychologically people are more likely to pay more than they would donate since they’d feel they were getting something in return). Fangraphs does this with the Hardball Times Annual, having a bunch of authors make an ‘extra’ article which goes in the book versus online.

      All that said, I’d support that model. But under that model and as a one-man shop you may want to weigh the cost of a self-published book versus one of the other lower-overhead options discussed below.

      Now all bets are off if the book is content that would never have made it onto the site for some reason. But in my experience few blogs author books where that would be true.

    • Corey

      I don’t like the idea of a book I’d probably buy it, but I don’t think it plays to your strengths. A lot of the value of your work is the data collection/analysis, with the fully sortable tables that link back to the PFR source data. That sort of thing would translate very poorly to a book.

  • Alejandro

    I only discovered FP fairly recently (i.e. a year ago) and have become enamored with your brand of straight-to-the-point statistical analysis of the N.F.L., and would be disappointed to see it go away. I am not opposed to the idea of more banner ads or even sidebar ads in an attempt to make money off of your non-NYT/WP material. As others have suggested, adding a Paypal option on the home page to donate to the FP cause, perhaps in exchange for an ad-free experience, could also be an option, especially to compensate guest posters.

    Also, as you currently cross-post your NYT/WP articles on this site, would it be possible to lease out your services to other publications, such as 538, as someone already mentioned, or USA Today or something else? I’m not sure how the online writing business works so I don’t know if that even exists as an option, but it might be worth sending a portfolio to other online institutions.

    I love your work and hope to see the site continue growing. From Guatemala, vaya con Dios (godspeed).

    • Thanks, Alejandro. Really cool to see followers from all over, so thanks for taking the time to comment. Like the others, you’ve given me something to think about, and I appreciate it.

  • Independent George

    I don’t have anything specific, but my general views are:

    1. Quality over quantity. I know it’s a point of pride to post every day, and it gives me something to procrastinate with at work, but if you find yourself in a hurry, I’d prefer you to take time to compose your thoughts than feel the need to continue.
    2. Two things I love which seems to be in short supply: historical analysis of the NFL, and cap analysis. I’m probably in the minority on the second one, but I think a lot of people enjoy historical reviews.
    3. I prefer Patreon to advertising. I’d be in for a couple bucks per month.

  • Adam

    I like the ad model PFR uses for their play index – answer a couple marketing questions, then surf ad-free for the remainder of your visit. That feels less invasive to me than flashing banners or (shudder) pop-up videos.

    I would strongly prefer FBP to stay independent. Doing so would allow you to keep full control over content, and it would maintain the purity of the comment section, which is the best of any sports site I’ve visited. Go read the comments for Neil’s 538 articles; it’s horrifying and depressing. My fear is that FBP could suffer a similar fate if it merges with another site.

    I write for FBP for the same reason Chase does – it’s rewarding and I love it.

    • Tom

      Man, I agree 100% with Adam (and with what others are saying). I completely understand the time constraints for Chase, but I would prefer that this site stay independent, that’s for sure. The articles that Chase and the other guest posters have written are well thought out, well written, and always of interest…I hate the idea of anyone else having a say as to what Chase writes or decides to write.

      • At a high level, I can assure you that that won’t happen. OTOH, I do often get some direction (particularly from the WP) on what they’d like to see, and I don’t think there’s been much issue with that. Yes, there have been times that the stuff I’ve written at the NYT or WP is not something I would have written here, but just because something is produced for a large audience doesn’t make it bad or less pure (well, maybe a little).

        That said, no, the content here is not going to change.

        • Tom

          That’s good to hear…the stuff you’ve done for WP and NY Times is great, and because you’re writing for their paper, it’s of a different flavor than what’s on FP (although the writing itself is still recognizably yours), and that makes sense. I love the somewhat “open” feel of this site…nothing else like it I don’t think.

    • Thanks, Adam. I agree it’s rewarding, and I love reading your stuff, too.

    • Andrew Healy

      Want to second Adam’s thought about the comments here. The comments couldn’t be any better. One of my favorite reads of last year was going through the comments on the QB wisdom of crowds poll.

  • Matt

    Hey Chase,
    Just wanted to say that I am definitely willing to put with some ads if it means getting to read your great #content still. I also support a partnership type of idea (and obviously this depends on how you and the other side feels) — teaming up with FO or something could be great. And while you said in the comments you personally feel like you have to post every day, there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking a day off here and there.

    As for the book, I think that’s a good idea. An e-book would be much simpler. Something to consider.

    • Thanks, Matt. Appreciate the feedback. I’m glad I’ve got some pretty reasonable followers here 🙂

  • As someone who works in data management as a clinical research professional, I have a great deal of respect for those who are taking data analysis and pushing it forward into new areas like sports or politics and produce great content while doing so. Bravo! This is one of the few websites I check out daily and would be willing to pay for it if that’s the direction you choose.

    • Thanks, John. It’s always nice to hear from you. My goal is not to annoy the loyal and awesome fan base, so I just wanted to open this up to you guys.

  • Andrew Healy

    I like the idea of you writing a book. I’d certainly buy it. I love FP so much as it currently is. Wouldn’t want it to change too much ideally, but I’m also not sure how you manage to sustain everything.

    FWIW, I’m happy to help in any way I can. So grateful for everything you’ve done.

  • Richie

    I had never heard of Patreon before. That looks like an interesting idea.

    I guess I’m not quite clear – is your goal to try to monetize the site better so that you can pay guest writers – or do you want to monetize so you can make this a better business concept for you. (Something I don’t begrudge you.)

    My understanding (though I could be wrong) is that even if you put more ads on the site, the revenue is pretty minimal unless you are getting huge hits (like Kylie Jenner).

  • sacramento gold miners

    My take is there could be room for the occasional historical article which is less data driven, but interesting fodder for fans of this site. Younger fans likely never heard about the 1978 Chiefs Wing-T offense, or the outstanding 1974 season put together by Mack Herron. And Timmy Brown of the 1960s Eagles was one of the most underrated players of that decade.

  • Chris Barry

    Hi, Chase. I have a bit of experience with this stuff, and I might be able to give you a few ideas, or at least an honest look at the options. I’d be happy to talk with you if you like.

  • Johhny Ohrl

    There are a million books out there. Even prize money writers dont hit the jackpot (like Walsh gaining no more than 20.000 from a good seller). So I´d stay away from books, but make this site the 2nd coming of Brian Burkes, make some bucks with ads… and all is good.
    Oh, and keep away from worshipping (like the HGH drug cheat PM ;-)… stay on facts, be neutral, and all will work out well.
    Anyway, great site as I said before. Even though I am done with NFL Football, I still come to this site for stats matters. That alone speaks for the awesome quality of this site.

  • And all this time I’ve been paying you to let me post here. I knew I should’ve read The Art of the Deal.

  • James

    I’ve been thinking about this issue for a few days, and here are my thoughts.

    Unfortunately, I know essentially nothing about the advertising technology side, so I can’t help you there.

    I think the biggest challenge, no matter the option you decide to go with, is matching the revenue against the expenses. You’ll have an idea for some of this information but I certainly don’t: the number of paid articles you expect a year, a reasonable payment per article, the level of traffic FP gets, and how much revenue you can expect per person (which depends a lot on the revenue option you select). What happens if you start paying and only bring in a third of what you pay, I don’t want to leave you in the lurch? What if you bring in 5 times as much, will you have an escrow account or something? How do you scale if you start off well but then double the number of articles once word gets out that you pay for content?

    I’m not a writer and I don’t know your traffic so it’s hard for me to estimate these things, but the answers should help inform your decision.

    Personally, I’d prefer for FP to stay independent and free (or freemium). I’d lean towards a freemium option like PFR where ads get a little bit of revenue from everyone, but there’s also an option to pay an annual fee to go ad-free. I’d happily pitch in $20 or so a year if that means more quality content from a site I like.

    Partnering with another site depends a lot on which site you go with. I really enjoy Lisk’s work but ultimately stopped following him on twitter, my personal RSS feed, because (I assume) he is forced to write and promote a lot of clickbait/page view articles, such as the Super Bowl halftime show and commercial articles (I only scanned his author list so maybe they are great, but I doubt it). If it was a site more like 538, FBG, or Grantland I could get behind that, but that may be a difficult to arrange (and who knows how long such sites will last…).

    Alternately, with your connections would it not be possible to simply refer those writers to those other sites and see if they will publish/pay? Maybe they don’t accept freelance work, but it seems like an option worth considering. If so, you could then link to them the same way you do with your Washington Post articles to help keep the streak alive.