It’s 2017! Just on the off chance you hadn’t already managed to deduce that fact…
It’s somewhat traditional for me to welcome in any new year with a rather dry and boring outline of my blogging plans for the year ahead, as well as ushering in a new look for the website. If you suffer from insomnia, by all means read on!
I see 2017 as a year during which in-the-back-of-the.net continues to build on the progress made over the course of the last couple of years. Below are a few of the evolutionary rather than revolutionary objectives I’ve got in mind.
As I’ve bragged recently, I’m really proud of the range of writers we now have – especially the fact that we have a 50/50 gender split. But that doesn’t mean I think we are squeaky clean when it comes to gender equality. The next challenge is to aim for 50/50 male/female balance in the content – both generated and focused. As a step towards this, we have an exciting experiment planned for later in the year that, if it comes to fruition, will be extremely cool in my opinion. More details will follow when they are firmed up.
But wait, there’s more! Think I’m too PC? You ain’t seen nothing yet…
I am also well aware that there are more than two genders. At some point in the not too distant future I’m keen to have a decent crack at exploring and giving voice to some of the issues faced by transgender footballers and fans. Then perhaps we will tackle ethnic diversity…
In previous years I have had goals for growth in readership. I’m making a conscious decision not to do that this year. In 2016, I wanted every individual month to attract more visits and page views than the same month in previous years. In other words I wanted January to be the biggest January ever, February to be the biggest February and so on. This goal was achieved, and I’m very satisfied with that, but it wasn’t easy and sometimes I found what I was doing was too driven by the need to get stats rather than being driven by quality and enjoyment.
Consistently hovering around the top 20 of the Open Parachute rankings and attracting almost 100,000 unique visits last year, I’m broadly happy with where we are at. So in 2017 I want to slow down a little bit, show a little bit more attention to detail and focus more on quality rather than quantity.
It has been pleasing to see the increase in the number of comments our posts are attracting. In the past I have made it an express goal to get more comments, but what last year confirmed for me was that it pays to forget about setting goals for things you can’t control! It will either happen or it won’t.
Speaking of things you can’t control, it was amazing to be recognised with the Community/Internet Writer of the Year award by the NZ Football Media Association last year. It was even more amazing, in a sense, to be a finalist in three categories! It would be great to be a finalist again this year, but that all depends on the quality of my/our offerings from last year. My goal for this year is to take enough good photographs to break into the photography category… This may be impossible considering I’m up against pros with gear the value of which could buy you a brand new car (something I will never compete with), but it’s still something to aim for.
Lastly, one of the other things I am proud of this blog for is the design provided by the premium WordPress theme – ‘Kent’. I briefly toyed with the idea of changing it for 2017, given it’s been a while since we enjoyed a complete redesign, but I soon realised that the current theme meets all our needs and there isn’t a better option around for the time being.
The result of that is all that’s left to do here is switch out the old 2015 header images with a selection of photographs that I have taken of grassroots football in 2016. The gallery of this year’s images is both above (slideshow) and below (thumbnail), I hope you like them! They should all work well on desktop and mobile. Tablet is a bit more tricky – the site really needs to be viewed in landscape, rather than portrait, for the theme to work properly on tablet – so I hope people will do that. I don’t have a tablet so out of sight, out of mind!
If you are feeling nostalgic for previous header images and themes, they are all catalogued here.
And that’s it!
If you’ve managed to read this far without slipping into a coma, thank you for your persistence and support.
Buon Anno, happy New Year, and I look forward to serving the football loving community over the course of 2017 and beyond.
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.