Thursday, November 20, 2008

The L&TM5K Annual Strategic Planning Retreat


Yes, it's time already for L&TM5K management to get away from the distractions of the office in order to devote some thought to the blog's overall "vision," and otherwise navel-gaze. Last year we tackled the mission statement; this year we'll be taking a closer look at the operational details. Everybody got some coffee? Donut? Copy of the agenda? Let's begin.

The Agenda

1) Overall Look and Branding

a) The "Favicon."
Was introduced about three weeks ago. Nobody mentioned it. We assume everyone is stunned into silence by its awesomeness.

b) The Masthead. Recently modified to include Interobang. Again, response was rather... muted.

Discussion: I kind of like the "Progress of Venus" masthead. It's whimsical and absurd, as I'd like to think the blog's content is, and it reminds me of drschnell's very nice complement that "this is some parade, yessiree Bob."

But not everybody loves it. What do you think? Should we stick with it, or do we need a fresh masthead?

c) The Advertising Campaign. This has actually been a lot of fun, and has generated a little extra traffic. But, it's difficult to find logical places to advertise -- where do potential L&TM5K readers hang out, anyway? Also, I'm not selling anything. Probably should not spend too much money on this.

d) The Keywords. I continue to have a hell of a time coming up with a coherent description of the content. The current description is probably still "My Life. Like you care." This is accurate enough, but not really likely to draw the crowds in.

2) Content

a) Quantity. At some point, I decided this was a daily show, and although no one in the world could possibly notice or care when I miss a day, it drives me batty. That's me -- a man with a great sense to devotion and commitment... to his hobby.

Sometimes I worry, though, that the sheer volume of blather on this blog requires more stamina that I have the right to expect anyone to read, even if you count The Great Movies as days off. Concommitant with this is the risk of burning out -- which, surprisingly, hasn't happened yet, but it's still something to watch out for.

So, there are three new innovations in the works:
1 - Fewer megaposts. Take the Advertising Extravaganza, for instance. That could have been four separate posts! Probably should have been!
2 - A few new features that are more image-oriented, less wordy.
3 - Occasional reruns! Hey, most of the current readers weren't around in 2007. And there's GOLD in some of those old posts! GOLD! Says me.
b) Quality. Hey, I do my best. Between Margaret, Rex, and Mrs.5000, I even often remember to use a spellchecker these days. Not a lot of room to maneuver here, though.

c) Quizzes. I continue to operate under the assumption that people who like the Quizzes like them more than people who hate the Quizzes hate them.


OK, at this point, let's open it up to new business, Q&A, and/or a second run at the donut box....

27 comments:

katenben said...

Hate donuts. Love your blog.

fingerstothebone said...

I don't see a favicon; I just see the standard blogspot one...what are you ever talking about?

Masthead -- well, the text is really a bit jaggy. And I'm not so sure that the interobang integrates so well into the parade.

Keywords -- now, I REALLY like your keywords. They're better than mine. Which may not be saying very much.

Yankee in England said...

It is friday so I am probably going to have to post like 12 comments one at a time because my brain which is normally scattered to say the least is in pieces on the ground from my house to work at this point.

1. I like the Interbang, though I have some doubts of how it looks with the ducks. Now the right side of you header is heavier than the left due to the delicate and unbolded nature of the ducks and naked women. I have no clue how to fix this, probably wouldn't even if it was not Friday. Maybe if you make the artwork a watermark behind your title and the Interbangs on either side. But don't listen to me there is a reason I am not a graphic designer.

2. I don't see a favicon but as I did not know what they were 5 min ago maybe I am missing it.

3. Keywords- way more creative than I could ever be, see number one about why I am not a graphic designer.

4. Content- On a whole I think this is good. I do notice when you don't write a post sorry did not know that I was suppose to post a screaming comment about it. Note to self leave a comment in all bolds when MK5000 does not post. Side note- you kina droped the ball on the Wendesday weight loss thing which is cool if that is what you want to do but I need cosistancy, I need to trust that if you say you are going to be doing something you will. You never not post the M,T quiz. Consistancy.

4a. You use to post more humours vignettes about the MK5000 day to day life. I enjoyed these bring them back.

Okay that is all I could really think about right now but I am sure as soon as I hit post tons of ideas will pop into my head.

Yankee in England said...

Oh and I still really hate the fact that you are advertising. 21 years old I am rich are you? I think it lowers your standards to have such ads. This is not the homeshopping network at 2am in the morning.

MJ said...

just wanted to say that i noticed the favicon, but was not exactly stunned. My windows are grey and that beige colour doesn't match too well. I assume it looks much better with white windows.
the donuts are very good (thanks! i was starving)
as for the masthead, no idea.
about advertising: i'll tell my friends again, but they have never even pretended to read my blog, so that's probably not going to help expand your readership around here.
now that you mention it, i have wondered how you manage not to be burnt out already; writing every day on a blog must be quite time consuming. But as long as you feel you have the energy, why not continue like this? you can always change you plan later on, i guess.
again, thanks for the second breakfast!

Jenners said...

Long-time friend, first time follower. (I know ... I dipped a toe for a few days a couple of years ago but my son was small then and I was still in my crazy period. Now that I'm blogging myself, I totally feel guilty for not following you more often. I didn't get it. OK. enough with the guilt.)

Is the favicon the thing that says m5k when I have your blog open in the tabs? I think it adds an air of legitimacy to your enterprise.

Overall look: Me, I like a little color in my blogs but readability is far more important. I think playing around with graphics can be a slippery slope that could take away from content so only go there if you have some clear ideas.

Masthead: It is OK but it doesn't do anything for me and I don't feel it captures the spirit of your blog. If I was just passing by and saw the masthead only and didn't know what you were about, I would probably pass right by. I have no idea WHAT images would capture it but to me it seemed like something historical and old.

Key words: Difficult to do. Just try your best.

Quantity: Don't put pressure on yourself or you will burn out and we certainly don't want that to happen. Since I am new to blogging and following different blogs, I actually feel a certain sense of relief when someone doesn't post for a day or two because it lets me catch up on other blogs. To be honest, I do skip your classic movie posts. I think you are committed to your Monday and Thursday quizzes however.

I agree that you could break up your longer essays into smaller ones and have Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and so forth. Again, it will help prevent burnout, allow readers to get in and out quickly and still entertain us like you do so well. I'm pretty verbose too and I'm aware that perhaps my posts are too long as well.

I am all for reruns as I probably missed some of your earlier gems and if it was good the first time, I'm sure people wouldn't mind revisiting it.

Quality -- not too bad. It is so easy to miss stuff when you have limited time. Not like you (or me) have a professional editing staff at our disposal but there are much much worse out there. And at least you use a serif font which is easier on the eyes.

Well, those are my thoughts for what they are worth.

Rebel said...

1. Ok... I noticed the interobang (did you think I wouldn't?!) and have no excuse for why I didn't comment on it. But as much as I love the interobang, I don't think it goes with the masthead. And as much as I love the masthead ("the key to a good rolling orgy is to be pulled *really* slowly) I'm not sure it encapsulates the je ne sais quas that is your blog. So maybe you do need a new masthead.

Rebel said...

2. Noticed the favicon (didn't know what it was called) and am completely neutral towards it.

3. Noticed the advertising and don't really like it. So far it hasn't tried to sell me viagra or beautiful asian brides, so it doesn't really bother me. But still... it's a bit of unnecessary clutter.

(btw - shaky internet connection these days so am posting in chunks)

Rebel said...

4. Content: quizes - I used to like the quizes... when I actually had a shot at getting the answers right. Now they just make me feel stupid. I prefer the Monday quiz to the Thursday quiz because of it's visual nature. I am, however, continually amazed at your ability to generate hard-ass quizes week after week.

Rebel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
d said...

1. i wish the donut box weren't just virtual.

2. the quizzes rock it hard even though they pretty much make me feel like a moron. i learn something every time though and, like rebel, i'm constantly amazed by your ability to generate new content.

3. shorter posts, man. or at least intersperse some shorter posts with longer ones. i often skim the long ones.

4. i could care less whether you advertise or not.

5. i noticed the favicon and was wondering how to do the same thing on my blog, but forgot to say anything. why did you not use the interobang in your favicon?

6. from a person who makes his living in a visual field, your masthead is horrendous, but it fits you and your blog perfectly.

that's all i got.

Rebel said...

5. Content: general - My absolute favorite posts of yours are the vingettes and topical rants & raves. I would also *LOVE* (did I say that loud enough) to see Mrs.5K do a couple guest-blogger entries. To see the other side of the coin as it were. I also like the geek culture posts, and posts where you link to other things I might enjoy. I spent many a brain-numbing hour playing Boomshine thanks to your blog.

Not a fan of the movie posts... or the great books. If you reviewed something that I'm more likely to have read or seen, I'd be far more interested. Or even if you reviewed movies that you really liked. If it doesn't genuinely excite you, it's not going to excite your readers much. (IMHO)

BUT... I'm a firm believer that your blog should be whatever you want it to be, and if you enjoy cataloguing the books you've read and the movies you've seen... by all means continue!

Rebel said...

6. Quality - Overall, stellar. Your blog rocks.

7. Quantity - write as much or as little as you want. If it's a long post on something I'm interested in, I'll read it. If I'm not interested, I'll skim if it's short or long. Up to you, up to you.

Yankee in England said...

Please refer to Rebels post entitled 1. it said clearly what I was not able to about the masterhead. You rock Rebel. I think I am going to go home and make a T-shirt that say Rebel for Head Dork in 2009

Elizabeth said...

I wouldn't keep coming to the blog if it weren't interesting and entertaining, friend or no.

I like the books and movie reviews, because if I've read/seen them, it's fun to see where we agree or not, and if not, I know what to seek out or avoid.

Quizzes I take when I'm first in line and/or have some idea of the topic and/or am in a particularly masochistic mood. Because of my tendency to get intellectually hoity-toity, it's actually a good thing to be severely humbled twice a week for my pretensions to genius.

I read all your posts, and assume you're writing about what interests you at the moment, or what you think people might want to know about, pretty much as I do in mine. If you were a professional blogger, content might be an issue, as might advertising. Both balls (!) are in your court on that, though, because it's your blog. I would ask the question: Why are you interested in more traffic? Do you want to turn this into a professional income-generating enterprise?

Agree with comments about the now-unbalanced nature of the masthead, and recommend you to Kate.

Favicon is my new word for the day - I noticed it right off the bat (I think) and like it. I'd like to get one for my blog, but am not sure if the chicken will be recognizable at that pixellation.

Just keep doing that hoodoo that you do so well.

Rex Parker said...

"Hate donuts"??? What kind of freaks are you letting into this club anyway?

I think you're doing a fine job. As someone who struggles with the issue of advertising all the time (always deciding against, but wondering ...), I sympathize. Advertise away. Why shouldn't you get at least a pittance for what you do?

Quizzes I am lukewarm on. They can be cool ... and maybe you think they are the blog's defining / marquee feature ... I don't know. I could take or leave them. I do like when I win.

rp

Ben said...

I, too, wondered why you didn't make the Interobang your Favicon. On the other hand, I don't really care for the Interobang, so maybe your Favicon's OK.

I think the Masthead is an interesting image, but I agree with some of the other commenters that it doesn't quite capture the essence of your blog.

As long as the ads are as small as they currently are, they don't bother me. I'm pretty good at ignoring them.

I think the content of your posts, including the quizzes, is great. I have no recommendations for change in that area. I DO often wonder how you find the time and energy to keep it up at the pace you do, however.

Great blog! Great fun!

gl. said...

d's right: the interrobang should be your favicon, which would allow you to remove it from its awkward spot on the masthead and still retain that secret-symbol-in-joke quality.

alas, i cannot see the favicon, anyway. i only see the blogger icon. sad to have missed the transition.

and i want donuts.

Dug said...

I love the favicon! I only didn't comment on it because I didn't know what to call it until now.

Here's what I would change if I were running the blog - The Title! Now if you did more vignette pieces (and those are my favorites BTW) it would be fitting. However this blog is heavy on the quizzes and book/movie reviews. All well and good but not really your "life and times".

Plus you could make it really catchy. Like some kind of riff off of dorkfest - Dorkville! Dorkwads Unite! I dunno just brain farting. Seems like a catchy title would go farther than advertising in roping in the readers. But then what do I know - nobody reads my blog except you.

mhwitt said...

While I am not a daily reader of L&TM5K, I am an ardent fan. You have never made a wrong move in my book, and I'll just keep on reading!

I dig the favicon, by the way. I didn't notice it right away because I have read this blog almost exclusively in Google Reader for the last few months, but I did notice it! Not sure how I missed the interobang in the masthead. I like both changes though.

So where are my donuts?

Chance said...

1. I noticed the favicon with approval, but didn't think it was worth mentioning. But since you brought it up, good job, seriously.

2. The interrobang, in my view, DOES NOT work well with your beautiful medieval masthead. It's a fine symbol, if you want one, but I humbly suggest moving it elsewhere.

3. Advertising is over-rated. Two words: free donuts. Or "disposable handguns" (guess the reference and win free donuts!).

in medias res said...

Dude, hot favicon. As my friend TMac would say, I think my tongue is sweating now.

I think user-generated tags would take the blog to a Whole New Level. For example, I could tag all the ones I read after 9 pm as "Was drunc wen I red this." Other might use "read it at the public library" or "time for another beer," or the always popular "no one REALLY knows the answer to all these questions. Closet Googlers!" ;-) The amount of valuable metadata this could generate is incalculable.

Michael5000 said...

I have the nicest blog readers in the whole darn blogosphere. Sometimes I wonder if Mrs.5000 pays y'all to humor me.

@Kate: Well said! Points for you!

RE: Masthead Comments: Noted. Will take action on this point.

RE: Vignettes: I'm glad people like them, but they kind of depend on amusing things happening to or around me.

@Yank: It's true, I haven't been consistent with publishing the Wednesday Weigh-In. I have, however, been weighing in. 210, currently.

@Rebel: Maybe "The key to a good rolling orgy is to be pulled *really* slowly" should be my new subtitle.

RE: Advertising: It's just an experiment. I will likely pull the plug on it eventually.

@d: "Your masthead is horrendous, but it fits you and your blog perfectly." Zing! Very good! Very funny! Note to Self: Have d whacked.

RE: Great Movies, The Reading List: Those sorts of projects is what the blog is FOR, really -- to keep me disciplined on my "self-improvement" projects -- so they'll have to stay.

@Rex: A few years ago, I overheard someone say "I have never been glad that I ate a donut." That insight pretty much ruined donuts for me. Dammit.

@Dug: You are probably right about the title. But, there's something to be said for tradition. And who am I kidding? It's not like I really want to go mass-market with this thing.

@Chance: Disposable handguns.... disposable handguns... Hmm....

@in media: I definitely need to get me some of them user-generated tags! You make an excellent pitch.

mydogischelsea said...

Sorry I'm late to the meeting, got stuck in traffic on my way to pick up a coffee. Ok, here are my thoughts:

1. a) I noticed the favicon but only because you asked me about it. Ultimately, this will not be a huge selling point for your blog, but it will help readers with multiple tabs open keep track of your tab and remember to return to finish where they left off before they decided to check the news, scan craigslist for good furniture deals, and watch the shiba inu puppy cam.

b) The masthead image is a little grainy and could stand to be rendered at a higher resolution. Other than that, I noticed the Interobang (maybe because you blogged about it being included? can't remember) and thought it was a nice addition.

c) I say, now that you're free from student loans, the advertising world is your oyster. Perhaps you could buy ad space over at Rex Parker's?

d) Sorry to say it, but I don't think there is a way to describe your blog that will bring the masses flooding in. I also think that google indexes the dynamic content and that's where your readers are going to come from. i.e. searching "favicon blog advertising extravaganza" as opposed to "blog that obsessively posts quizzes, reviews of classic, great movies and the occasional flag design contest." I think the key here is not to focus on search-engine friendly words in your description, but in your daily posts. (but ultimately, most google searchers stay for less than a second. so who cares? quality of referrals over quantity.)

2) a) I'd advise against posting re-treads. Do it sparingly. Readers do not like it, even if they haven't read it before, because they feel like they don't have to read them. Use only your shiniest gold for this.

b) Quality is, as always, awesome.

c) You know how I feel about the quizzes (they make me feel dumb), but they are obviously a huge hit, so you would be crazy to end this.

Can you get more vanilla-glazed donuts with sprinkles next time? Thanks.

karmaSartre said...

The problem I see here is that the Retreat needs to be off-site. Holding it in this, the sphere wherein you conduct daily business, stifles the creativity of the team. Why not hold it at Huffington Post? Or espn.com? My mind, for one, would certainly be fresher.

What are those six round things with the three donuts? Why only the nine breakfast goodies, surely there are more of us than that?

Who is our guest speaker?

Also, we need some mindless teamwork-building exercises. And some cute phrases, e.g.

"There's no 'I' in Mchael5000"
"Win one for the exclamation points!"

In terms of specific recommendations, I think running more nice photos of mydogischelsea would certainly be an improvement.

Rebel said...

Ok - karma is responsible for me nearly spitting vodka-pineapple juice all over my keyboard, and instead choking on it in a most indecent manner whilst guffawing ath the "There's no in Mchael5000" comment.

karmaSartre said...

@rebel

I tend to blame many things that happen to me on karma too....