Inside The Mind Of The Football Blogger, Part One

By on Apr 21, 2011 in Latest | 15 comments

The media is a rapid changing landscape. We all know the reason why the paid hacks of the mainstream media keep going, but what about the bloggers? What is our motivation?  In the first of a two-parter that originated on Twitter and ended up here, Gav Stone of Les Rosbifs explains his motivation for keeping going.

After the 17th website this morning, searching for Englishmen who play in the Canberra State League in Australia (there are none), something dawned on me. What the hell am I doing? Why am I spending hours on end searching for information about men who probably don’t exist (they didn’t) for an article that will only be read by a few people? (As a guide, a similar article on Englishmen in the New South Wales State League has been read 106 times).

I thought about this some more instead of fulfilling work (adding website content to the new site) or family (a trip to Peppa Pig Land) duties. I don’t need to do this. I don’t need to locate a former Sheffield United winger who was on trial for a week at a Lega Pro club in Italy and, if anybody else really did give a damn, the information would already be out there on the internet. So, why do I care about Nicky Travis (the winger in question?) Why am I giving up on valuable family time to work on a website where the average amount of visits per day is normally no more than three figures? Why am I increasing the pressure on myself to produce par-standard articles on players who nobody else is seemingly interested in, when I could be decreasing the day-job workload?

I have spent the day figuring out why Les Rosbifs exists and why it continues, yet I still feel as though I am yet to find the answer. All football bloggers will have something that will set them off; something that triggers the desire to put words to screen and into a blog. With me it was meeting a 20 year old English kid playing for Villarreal C, whilst I took a school party on a football tour to Spain. From meeting him, things snowballed. A list of 51 Englishmen abroad snowballed to 300+ within six months and before I knew it, I was hooked. I was emailing clubs in far flung corners of the globe; interviewing players and coaches, and translating match reports from Hebrew into English. After a long day at work, I would be home at 7 and would work on the site until 11, 12 at night. I was, in a way, addicted.

Then came the buzz of WordPress ‘Site Stats.’ 26 views became 86. Somebody recommended the site on StumbleUpon and views went through the roof. 269 in a day for crying out loud! I was never going to maintain this, I thought. But what a thrill! And then came a recommendation from The Guardian – and 2000+ visits per day for over a week. I was getting consumed in stats, visits, page views and all that. The novelty soon wore off though when the visits went back down (right down). And anyway, at this point I was too busy finding all of the Englishmen playing in Asia…

As time has gone on in the two years the site has been in existence, I have questioned why I still do it. My work and family life are increasingly hectic; we have a son who is very needy (try taking a chocolate wrapper from a 2 year old because you know he will have a severe allergic reaction if it goes near his mouth…); I have been promoted twice since starting the blog and will start a new, significant role at a new school in September, which involves moving 250 miles north.

I don’t need to do Les Rosbifs. So why do I continue?

In those two years, I have met some wonderful people – both in person and via the internet. I have taken part in podcasts, spoken to Brian Glanville (Brian Glanville!) about Jesse Carver and Jimmy Greaves, spent an evening chatting to the likes of David Owen and Ben Lyttleton about Chris Waddle, and written an article with Sid Lowe. I can say that Daryl Willard and Paul Clapson – both Rosbifs – are friends, while Steve Darby and Stephen Constantine email me with any news about their careers. Les Rosbifs has featured in The Guardian a number of times; I have had interest from publishers and a national newspaper about the content on my site. And 6000 people read an article about an Englishman rumoured to be going to Celtic, within three hours of me putting it up on the site.

All of this gives me an enormous sense of pride. Yet, I still have a feeling (guilt?) that it is not enough, and it is not good enough. Personal issues have had to take precedence and for approximately two months Les Rosbifs laid dormant, save for the mess left by a hideous hacker and a woeful webhost. I didn’t touch a book, an article or anything relating to English footballers abroad. At times, I was avoiding football altogether, consumed as I was by managing my son’s healthcare and our move northwards. I didn’t miss it. Yet as time wore on, a number of niggles plagued me. How was Stephen Constantine getting on Cyprus? Had Mark Hughes found a new club in Australia? How many Englishmen were now signed up for clubs in Thailand?

Despite everything written, I am more interested in finding out about an Englishman playing overseas than I am in getting 1000 visits for an article about him. But the numbers do matter to me. I have to have a cut-off point. Life is such that, if a certain number of people are not reading Les Rosbifs on a daily basis, I will give it up. Just like that. There are more important things in my life that should take priority and I feel increasingly that they should. Hence I have this cut-off point. What it is, I am not sure. 200-300 per day, perhaps? If views go as low as this, I will realise that my time is up and get on with real life.

For now though, I am enjoying the ride. Just about.

Follow Gav on Twitter here.

Follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter here.

After the 17th website this morning, searching for Englishmen who play in the Canberra State League in Australia (there are none), something dawned on me. What the hell am I doing? Why am I spending hours on end searching for information about men who probably don’t exist (they didn’t) for an article that will only be read by a few people? (As a guide, a similar article on Englishmen in the New South Wales State League has been read 106 times).

I thought about this some more instead of fulfilling work (adding website content to the new site) or family (a trip to Peppa Pig Land) duties. I don’t need to do this. I don’t need to locate a former Sheffield United winger who was on trial for a week at a Lega Pro club in Italy and, if anybody else really did give a damn, the information would already be out there on the internet.

So why do I care about Nicky Travis (the winger in question?) Why am I giving up on valuable family time to work on a website where the average amount of visits per day is normally no more than three figures? Why am I increasing the pressure on myself to produce par-standard articles on players who nobody else is seemingly interested in, when I could be decreasing the day-job workload?

I have spent the day figuring out why Les Rosbifs exists and why it continues, yet I still feel as though I am yet to find the answer. All football bloggers will have something that will set them off; something that triggers the desire to put words to screen and into a blog. With me it was meeting a 20 year old English kid playing for Villarreal C, whilst I took a school party on a football tour to Spain. From meeting him, things snowballed. A list of 51 Englishmen abroad snowballed to 300+ within six months and before I knew it, I was hooked. I was emailing clubs in far flung corners of the globe; interviewing players and coaches, and translating match reports from Hebrew into English. After a long day at work, I would be home at 7 and would work on the site until 11, 12 at night. I was, in a way, addicted.

Then came the buzz of WordPress ‘Site Stats.’ 26 views became 86. Somebody recommended the site on StumbleUpon and views went through the roof. 269 in a day for crying out loud! I was never going to maintain this, I thought. But what a thrill! And then came a recommendation from The Guardian – and 2000+ visits per day for over a week. I was getting consumed in stats, visits, page views and all that. The novelty soon wore off though when the visits went back down (right down). And anyway, at this point I was too busy finding all of the Englishmen playing in Asia…

As time has gone on in the two years the site has been in existence, I have questioned why I still do it. My work and family life are increasingly hectic; we have a son who is very needy (try taking a chocolate wrapper from a 2 year old because you know he will have a severe allergic reaction if it goes near his mouth…); I have been promoted twice since starting the blog and will start a new, significant role at a new school in September, which involves moving 250 miles north.

I don’t need to do Les Rosbifs. So why do I continue?

In those two years, I have met some wonderful people – both in person and via the internet. I have taken part in podcasts, spoken to Brian Glanville (Brian Glanville!) about Jesse Carver and Jimmy Greaves, spent an evening chatting to the likes of David Owen and Ben Lyttleton about Chris Waddle, and written an article with Sid Lowe. I can say that Daryl Willard and Paul Clapson – both Rosbifs – are friends, while Steve Darby and Stephen Constantine email me with any news about their careers. Les Rosbifs has featured in The Guardian a number of times; I have had interest from publishers and a national newspaper about the content on my site. And 6000 people read an article about an Englishman rumoured to be going to Celtic, within three hours of me putting it up on the site.

All of this gives me an enormous sense of pride. Yet, I still have a feeling (guilt?) that it is not enough, and it is not good enough.

Personal issues have had to take precedence and for approximately two months Les Rosbifs laid dormant, save for the mess left by a hideous hacker and a woeful webhost. I didn’t touch a book, an article or anything relating to English footballers abroad. At times, I was avoiding football altogether, consumed as I was by managing my son’s healthcare and our move northwards. I didn’t miss it. Yet as time wore on, a number of niggles plagued me. How was Stephen Constantine getting on Cyprus? Had Mark Hughes found a new club in Australia? How many Englishmen were now signed up for clubs in Thailand?

Despite everything written, I am more interested in finding out about an Englishman playing overseas than I am in getting 1000 visits for an article about him. But the numbers do matter to me. I have to have a cut-off point. Life is such that, if a certain number of people are not reading Les Rosbifs on a daily basis, I will give it up. Just like that. There are more important things in my life that should take priority and I feel increasingly that they should. Hence I have this cut-off point. What it is, I am not sure. 200-300 per day, perhaps? If views go as low as this, I will realise that my time is up and get on with real life.

For now though, I am enjoying the ride. Just about.

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    15 Comments

  1. Excellent read Gav. I think we all go through these moments. Before I had to change servers I have easily getting 800 – 1000 hits a day, I’m not sure if that was page views, site views or whatever but it made me happy.

    Then I changed server…and the bots were gone. I got 100 hits one day. I released a piece of work and 37 people read it. Where were the 800 previous people. It made me doubt what I was doing.

    After my holiday (Wedding) in March I found it quite hard to get into things again. Then I went to Bradford and Yorkshire Football Weekends was born. I was enjoying football and writing about it, bugger if any one reads it, I was enjoying it.

    Then there’s the Ligue 1 stuff I do. I wrote a match review on Tuesday night after Lille beat Nice and I hated every second of it. Who cares…just tell me who scored and how.

    I had wrote a piece on Raphael Varane the young Lens defender and to have respected Ligue1.com journalist Matt Spiro say he really enjoyed reading it gave me a feeling that it was worth doing it. A journalist who could easily phone the Lens PR and set up a meeting and do a great job enjoyed something I wrote from my bedroom.

    Gav you enjoy finding these footballers and where they pop up. I enjoy Ligue 1 and the unknown players that no english press pander over. The passion brings the writing.

    Don’t write cause you feel you have to, write cause you want to. If it’s one piece a week that 20 people read so be it, as long as you enjoy it.

    Ramble over.

    Andrew

    April 21, 2011

  2. Well, I think you do a fine job…. In a media landscape dominated by national journalists with an agenda, hell bent on settling scores ahead of reporting facts through to regional sports journalists who dare not open their mouths in case they upset the chairman, the need for objective footy blogging has never been stronger. Keep it up.

    Ste Dunne

    April 21, 2011

  3. Superb piece. Really does give “outsiders” an insight into the pain we occasionally go through! Our site is slightly different as we mainly focus on fans writing in but that’s not to say we don’t go through the occasional dry patch. I guess what keeps many of us going is through the love of the game and the positive feedback received. Another thought – if you’re struggling to find the time, remember this overused statement – It’s about quality, not quantity!

    Look forward to part 2.

    Natter Football

    April 21, 2011

  4. I used to run an unofficial Hartlepool United site that was doing quite well for a while – and I can understand Gav’s feelings as a result. There comes a point when you turn around and see how much time and effort you are putting in, often for little or no reward other than the number of people who visit, and wonder how it got like this and why you are doing it. Sometimes you simply have to say that other stuff is more important (I did) – but even then there’s something that calls you back…. Many of us spent far more time fact checking and researching than the average tabloid hack (maybe because we don’t have the same deadlines etc. but also because to us it really matters that we’ve got something right) and yet “the media” often tends to be quite sniffy as we’re somehow not “proper”. Vive Les Rosbifs, and when you’re reading any football blog, spare a thought for the people doing it!

    Albert Ross

    April 21, 2011

  5. Fantastic insight, and I’m certainly gonna share this.

    Much like you, I’ve become a stat-junkie, but I’ve tried to ween myself off… Not successfully.

    For us, I’m “satisfied” with 300 hits per day. Obviously we’d love more, and we always seem to get around 20k per month. I dunno, maybe I’m greedy or set my sights too high.

    One thing I will say though, to the aspiring blogger – never give up.

    I found myself enjoying blogging more than my day job… Having showed it to a few people, i’ve just got a job blogging for a living. It’s not sports, but it’s good for someone who only managed a C at GCSE English.

    Fantastic stuff Gavin, really hope Lea Rosbifs continues for a long long time!

    Simon

    April 22, 2011

  6. Great article. I dream of getting a four figure hit day. The cold end averages 200 – 300 hits a day (i did get a bit addicted and was thrilled when 500 people logged on in one day last year) but I’m not overly bothered now and only check when I can get time. What I do find fascinating (sound like an anorak now) is that someone in Brazil, for example, logs on and reads about Colney Heath v Dunstable Town and then watches the highlights.

    Think the key is enjoyment…. there are some brilliant blogs about that deserve more exposure and to be featured in the Guardian top blogs is a fantastic achievement for Los Robifs.

    thecoldend

    April 23, 2011

  7. Great piece Gav, and one that will resonate with anyone else who indulges in online writing. As well as the media being in a state of flux, the personal life of the blogger is prone to change too – forcing Les Rosbifs to be put on ice in the past, as you mention. I think this is an important point; I have changed jobs, moved cities, and been unwell during the time I’ve been blogging, and every time this has affected my output it has played on my mind – even though my blog has only broken the three-figure mark for a given day on one glorious occasion. While hits are always encouraging, of course, the hours of work that go into each article can be worthwhile purely in themselves. I began my blog as a sort of self-improvement exercise – to keep myself writing and following football at the same time – and that remains the most important aspect of it to me.

    William

    April 24, 2011

  8. Very good article for aspiring bloggers. I am interested to know if blogging does pay e.g. Through ads etc.

    I guess a follow on question is how much the mainstream freelancers that we follow in Twitter make. Will then better inform a career decision

    Ebrahim

    April 24, 2011

  9. Great post. I don’t think bloggers are really all that different from paid writers or freelancers.

    If anything we have to be more analytic, and we make more creative use of our limited sources; but in the end, we write because we love writing and we love our subjects.

    What more can you ask for from a writer?

    Gaurav

    April 25, 2011

  10. Excellent stuff and good luck with the move north. As a hobby, I’d say that football blogging compares favourably with any other and has a more constructive element to it than playing Football Manager (enjoyable as I am sure that is).

    Lanterne Rouge

    April 25, 2011

  11. A very reassuring post indeed given our subject material. Thank you!

    Wild East Football

    April 26, 2011

  12. Excellent article, I know exactly what you mean. In my time I have blogged about Yokohama F-Marinos (when I lived in Japan), the 3 east Asian teams in the 2010 world cup (having lived in two of them) and am now blogging about Seoul United FC (Korean 3rd division amateur football). Who reads my nonsense? Who knows but it brings me a lot of joy to write it and know that a handful of people are enjoying reading it.

    John Allen

    April 26, 2011

  13. Since everyone’s giving their story….another in the c.500 a day camp (with occasional thousands when something ‘big’ happens).

    I started the site in 2006/07 and it’s been quite successful. This, I suspect, is because Fulham had/have a number of American players, and US fans like to read blogs about their teams. So we kind of got going with some enthusiastic cross-the-pond readership, and to this day many of our readers are from the states.

    Otherwise, why do this? I do an annual (print) every season which is loosely based on the blog’s content, and that just about pays for the season ticket. I like having somewhere to get my ideas down that isn’t a message board, to write whatever I feel like (whether it’s a detailed breakdown of something I’ve noticed or some screen grabs from the last game, or just a youtube video I like).

    For a club like Fulham there aren’t many blogs, but there aren’t many readers, either. At a bigger club you’d get a bigger audience but more competition.

    It’s given me lots of opportunities and lots of enjoyment, and while there are down times, the ups more than make up for that.

    Rich

    April 26, 2011

  14. Fantastic read. Really inspiring! Reading this makes me feel my work is shite and got a long road to travel. Looking forward to part 2.

    Zico

    April 26, 2011

  15. Used to love reading the “Les Rosbifs” site. Sad that it’s no longer around.

    sniper89

    February 16, 2013

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