Buon anno and welcome to 2015.
As we enter the New Year, it’s time for my annual performance review. If you’ve never read one of these before, a word of warning: The purpose of the exercise here is not to produce a gripping yarn. Instead, it’s for me to publically measure myself against last year’s goals and state what I want to achieve in the coming twelve months. This should hopefully bind me to some KPIs and make them much more likely to be achieved than if I’d kept them to myself. With any luck, if you make it to the end, this post will be by far the dullest thing you read on this blog all year. That’s my first goal for 2015.
If you are a real sucker for punishment, or you really want to keep me honest, last year’s New Year’s Resolutions are here.
Now, without any further ado, we shall begin with the electrifying topic that is visitor Stats.
The number one goal for 2014 was to be able to achieve 5,000 unique visits, as measured by Statcounter, in a good month. The average monthly tally for the year ended up being 4,260 which is satisfyingly well up from the 2,781 achieved in 2013. However, the magic 5,000 barrier was only broken twice which is slightly disappointing. Even though the goal was technically achieved it would have been nice to have broken 5,000 a couple more times.
This time last year the in-the-back-of-the.net’s highest ever monthly ranking in the Open Parachute New Zealand blog rankings was 45th. In 2014, 45th was instead the average ranking (not including December which was unavailable at time of posting), a nice improvement from an average of 62nd in 2013. If that kind of improvement can be maintained in 2015, regularly ranking somewhere with a 2 at the start of it would be absolutely magnificent but would require unique visitor numbers to double to around 8,000 per month. An average ranking somewhere in the thirties (consistently over 5,000 unique visits per month) would probably be a more realistic target.
It has always been a long-term goal to see this blog become the highest ranked New Zealand sports blog, and now that it appears to have shaken off its previous nemesis, West City Darts (I don’t like to talk about it), next in the crosshairs are Super Rugby Tips and Sportsfreak. In-the-back-of-the.net did beat both over a couple of months during NRFL season last year, but it would be great to be able to do this more consistently in future.
Despite the growing readership, I have to fess up and admit that the quality of my writing and analysis was a bit patchy in 2014. This was partly due to time pressures caused by my large voluntary commitment to trying to get Labour elected to government in the General Election (an endeavour that provided new meaning to the phrase ‘exercise in futility’). The good news is unless something VERY unforeseen happens in 2015, this shouldn’t be an issue again for a couple of years. I will venture to take a bit more time over posts from now on, rather than rushing them out, and try not to publish anything this year that I’m not 100% happy with. With any luck this extra effort will be rewarded by an increased following.
But enough negatives! One of the things I was very happy with in 2014 was the continued progress I am making with football photography. This was aided in no small part by the purchase of a monopod in August. The improvement this enabled was quite stark in my view and has really grown my confidence with the lens to the extent that I have resolved to start entering some sports photography competitions in 2015. My possibly naïve personal goal for the year on this front is to get some sort of positive result in one of them.
Another goal last year was to work up from publishing an average of one post per week to “several”. With an average of 3.5 posts per week in 2014, at least in part thanks to Niall and a fair few ‘guesties’, that was well and truly achieved. It is still an eventual aim to be posting something every day, but not necessarily right now. Things are definitely heading along that track though. This would ideally be achieved by adding more new regular features, even though the ones that have been added in recent times have tended to fall by the wayside a little for various reasons.
‘I Love This Club’ started off with a hiss and a roar but then contributions dried up. Quality writing for this series is still being sought so if you can contribute a piece, please get in touch.
The fictional football serial promised this time last year is still in the pipeline but moving slower than anticipated. It won’t be published until I’m happy with it and there’s a way to go yet. Maybe this year, maybe not.
The definite features ripe to make comebacks this year are the weekly Photoshop posts that proved somewhat popular for the start 2014, and the videoed post-match interviews that previously appeared at the end of NRFL posts in 2013. In terms of the Photoshop posts, the key is probably to not try to do them every week. With the post-match interviews, I just need to rediscover the confidence(!)
Only one long-form interview was done in 2014. That number should triple in 2015.
I also have an idea for a great pre-season NRFL feature that I won’t mention in any detail just yet in case it can’t be done as it relies on info from outside organisations which may or may not be obtainable.
As I have said a few times before, it was always the original intent for this to eventually become a group blog with multiple contributors offering their various perspectives on different football matters. That possibility remains open and I’m thrilled to have Niall Anderson on board as the first step in that direction. In the meantime, most guest posts that get thrown my way will continue to be run. Again, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to contribute.
That just leaves one more thing – the annual refresh of the look of the place.
Every year up until now I have been pretty much the Tinkerman of blog themes and layouts. Not this time. In Kent a WordPress theme has at last been found that I am 100% delighted with, and with all due respect to Claudio, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
What has been done to keep things fresh however is a swap out of the 18 header images that appear on the left at random. Last year’s 2013 shots have been replaced with some of the best in-the-back-of-the.net photography from 2014. This will be an annual New Year ritual from now on. Hopefully you will enjoy the new images, all of which are also on display below in their original form captioned with the games they were taken at just in case you were wondering. If you’d like to reminisce about last year’s images, they are all here along with the three previous headers used since the blog’s inception.
You might also have noticed a new logo to replace the site title and also a very subtle change in colour scheme.
As the old cliché goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Hopefully the logo reflects what this blog is about more than the old strapline did. There are also plans afoot for this being available in t-shirt form to compliment the current merchandise offerings.
And that’s about it! if you’re somehow miraculously still here after those preceding 1,280 insomnia curing words, thanks for your support to date and I look forward to bringing you more romance and entertainment form New Zealand lower league football and beyond to read about in 2015.
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.