For over five years, I've managed Clips Nation more or less by myself. It's been a labor of love, but I've also been selfish. While the vast majority of SBNation sites have steadily added contributors over time, as a means of creating more content and thereby growing the site, I've resisted that impulse. The ownership I feel for this thing called Clips Nation makes it difficult for me to cede any control over it.
There are some valid reasons for that. Voice and tone are important elements of this (or any) blog, and that's obviously much easier to maintain with a single voice. It's also a lot easier to decide what content to include when you're the only one creating content.
Of course the downside of that is the limits on content creation itself. As one person, I can only write so much. And as the leadership at SBNation has told me over and over, content is the single biggest factor in increased traffic. The more you post, the more the community reads, and the more the community grows.
As you know, Dennis Lin contributed to Clips Nation for a time towards the end of last season. That was my first foray into having a regular front page contributor (beyond the excellent work that has been done by the likes of Citizens Zhiv and Mikey P and John R covering for me during vacations) and it worked out great for all concerned. Dennis did a great job, he took some of the daily burden off of me, and the community got more high quality content than I could have generated on my own. Unfortunately for us, Dennis has moved on in his career and won't be a able to remain a regular contributor to Clips Nation at this point (although I'm hopeful I can convince him to write the occasional guest post).
Nonetheless, the experience with Dennis has convinced me that it is time to expand the concept of Clips Nation. I've probably exhausted the format of the single author sports blog - or maybe Clips Nation has simply matured beyond that point.
Later today you'll be reading the first front page post of Citizen swamigusto, who has agreed to become a regular contributor to the site. As part of his transition to this new role, he will begin posting under the John Raffo (no, it's not that John R, it's a different one). So you won't be seeing citizen swamigusto around anymore, but you will be seeing even more of Mr. Raffo. (Some of the more eagle-eyed among you may have already noticed that some FanPosts that last week had swamigusto on the byline have already changed this morning.) I'm very excited that John has agreed to become a regular contributor here - he's long been one of my favorite commenters on the site, and he has a clever and insightful take on basketball and the Clippers. You've probably noticed that he's been killing it in the FanPosts and FanShots during the lockout, helping to keep the community vibrant during this very difficult time.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to ask the citizenry to let me know if you would like to take on a role on the site beyond member of the community. If you are interested, please let me know either via a comment on this post or email to ClipsNation@gmail.com.
I will of course reserve the right to be selective in my decisions concerning this matter. As I mentioned above, voice and tone remain of crucial importance, and I will strive to maintain a consistent feel to the site as we continue to grow. If you express interest and I choose not to use you, please do not take it personally (or try not to at any rate - I guess I can't tell you how to feel).
If you are worried that you may not be a good enough writer, there are several roles I plan to add that require less writing. Certainly I pride myself on the level of writing on this site - I like to think that we set a pretty high standard for quality at Clips Natoin, and I intend to keep it that way. So in adding front page authors, that will certainly be the first question - can you write? Clearly, correctly, entertainingly.
But as I mentioned, there are other roles as well.
For instance, most SBNation sites have a press clippings post (aka a link dump) on a daily basis. I tried to establish such a daily post back in June of 2009 but soon found that it was too much additional work to take on myself (even though the SBNation platform includes a tool that makes it relatively simply). But if you're the type of person who already checks an RSS feed every morning to see what Clippers news is out there (and I know there are some of you since you can find the most obscure FanShots), then you could be a huge asset to the community by helping to create daily clippings posts. Ideally we can get enough volunteers that this task wouldn't fall exclusively on any one person - my intent would be to have a schedule where each person would be responsible for one or two clippings posts a week. The goal of the daily clippings post is to make Clips Nation the one and only stop on the web for every Clippers fan.
As the community grows, we may add other roles as well. In particular, many sites use Moderators in their comments sections. I've tended to allow the comments to be (a) self-policing and (b) pretty wide open. But as we grow that may need to change.
You may be wondering, what's in it for you? Well, not much really. But you're already a citizen here, and presumably that's because you think Clips Nation is a good place to spend some of your time. If you feel like you could make this an even better place, this is your opportunity. If you are an aspiring writer or journalist, I do have a certain amount of exposure to offer. The single best way to improve your writing is to write, and this would give you that chance as well. So do it for pride, do it for community, do it for growth, do it for exposure... just don't do it for money. Trust me on that.
This lockout will end some day. I honestly believe it will be some day soon, and that we're going to have a full slate of NBA games. With Blake Griffin hopefully leading the Clippers to national relevance, I have a feeling that this could be a banner year for Clips Nation. If you are interested in helping me create a larger Clips Nation, let me know.
And don't forget to say goodbye to swamigusto, while you're saying hello to John Raffo.