Seth C: We've talked a bit through email about how time can become a commodity that's hard to come by when you spend as much time blogging as you and I do. I mentioned that I pretty much gave my wife my time for Christmas. I bought her Downtown Abbey and my present to her was to be unplugged and sit there and watch something with her.
I've actually enjoyed watching it and I've enjoyed putting my computer and my phone down and just hanging out with her. What about you? How have you balanced #bloglyfe and #familylyfe?
SARR (Travis): You know, it’s still something I struggle with. My wife is great, and very understanding, but sometimes it just gets to be too much for her. I have a tendency to get lost inside my own head and that’s where her frustration understandably comes in. Usually if I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing or trying to put together a story in my mind and get distracted. And by distracted I mean I can’t hear anything going on around me.
And now that I’m covering the Spurs, I’m usually away for a couple of evenings a week and then working on the story until 2 or 2:30 in the morning when I get home. That tends to make the next day no so great so you get into this cycle of not being the most "in the moment" husband and dad. Writing has just become such a passion for me and it’s very difficult to turn it off. It was four years ago this month that I wrote The House that Leach Built and since then things have really snowballed (in a non professional, writing as a hobby, blogging in my sweats kinda way).
It’s a work in progress because I don’t want to miss out on things at home so I’ll usually try to write after everyone goes to bed. Last Sunday was great because we spent most of the day unplugged, outside, weathering the cedar and just hanging out as a family. It’s definitely something I need to continue to work on and be a better manager of my #familylyfe.
So we’ve joked about me being the squirrel that parties all summer and starves in the winter while you’re the worker ant, going about your business and always planning things out. I’ve always struggled with looking at things long term, which probably contributes to the struggles I described above. I want to post all the stories and close all the deals and have all the fun today, just in case I get hit by a bus on my way home.
Have you always been a planner, and someone that has the patience to take a long term approach, or is that a skill you perfected since you created DTN/VTM? Any tips for those of us that run out of nuts in the winter?
Seth C: There is a part of me that obsesses about everything. So I think this is just who I am. I obsess about whether I'm making the right decisions about moderating. I obsess if I have made people angry at me for those decisions. I obsess about making sure that everything is running as smoothly as they can be.
Maybe you can change the word "obsess" to "worry", but I more than anything I want everything to be as professional as possible and offend the fewest people as possible and try to put out a quality product.
I very much worry about giving everyone as much time on the front page and the first slot as much as possible. At one time, it didn't really matter because it was just me, but I REALLY want for other writers to shine and do well and get some comments going.
I realize that going the way that I go, worrying about story placement, to content to the members at large, to whether or not I'm doing an okay job, I just can't last that much longer with such a large community. It's just not possible. Plus, at some point, I will have made everyone mad at me for something that I've done, so I'll be friendless by the time it's all said and done.
But to your original question, the expansion of the writers for VTM was in anticipation of me adoption two years from when I thought that I might be adopting. So yeah, I sorta plan things out because I want things to be able to operate when I'm not around. VTM has gotten to be so big that it's not just a one man operation. I also think that eventually, every blogger gets burned out and can't go forever and I'm sure that day is coming sooner rather than later. I'm not ready to hang it up yet, but I'll be 40 in March (Mike Leach and I share the same birthday) and with two young kiddos out there, time will be even more of a premium. The new kiddo is going to be three by the time we pick him up and he'll know French and I don't know any French, so communicating will be strained at best just because of the language differences.
So, I feel like I owe it to everyone that reads VTM to be able to put out a quality first-rate product even if I'm not around. That's the goal.
Awww, hell. You asked me for tips. So here goes.
I operate better with a schedule, so I try to make life easier for me by creating formats for posts that are relatively easy to duplicate. I want to get the reader the information in a visually pleasing way and I also want to get out new content. I also write when I have any moments of free time, which is why I typically write at 4:00 am. I have no distractions or televisions or anything else on to distract me. Just me and the Chromebook. I'm also a pretty heavy user of Evernote, where I use it to clip ideas and take long-term notes and thoughts.
I also heavily use Google Docs for pretty much all of my writing. It ensures that I have something at my fingertips whether or not I'm at work or at home or somewhere else. I've got the format ready to go. As far as the scheduling aspect of it, I want to make sure and communicate that everyone gets a share of the stage and just communicate that to everyone. Sometimes I think the folks at SBN really want a handful of articles each day, while I think that 3 is a pretty good number. I want for people to develop conversations during the day and work things out rather than just crank out stories for page views.
One other thing that I think helps me is that I don't edit what everyone writes. I like to spend my time writing. I want VTM to be as professional as possible, but I also realize that we're all human and our writing isn't going to be perfect. We're all working on our craft and I think the writers on VTM are pretty reflective about what they write and it never ceases to amaze me how much better everyone is writing than when they first started.
National Signing Day is right around the corner and you don't seem to get much involved in the recruiting aspect of college athletics?
SARR (Travis): By the time VTM is the biggest site on the internet you might be friendless, but you will be the pug champion. You can have business cards made that say "Seth C.- Champion of the pugs."
I really don’t have a cut and dried answer on the recruiting thing. It’s just something that I haven’t ever really gotten into. Sure it’s very important when building a program but I’d rather just step back and hope the coaches can convince kids that want to be at Texas Tech to come to Texas Tech. I read all the arguments and understand where most are coming from when discussing number of stars versus finding a player to fit the system, but again, it’s just not anything that I ever wanted to get knee deep into. So, that and not having an Instagram account will guarantee that I’ll never be as cool as Wescott Eberts.
So our recently retired area manager at work was on the Alamo Bowl committee for years and had an interesting take on the playoff system coming up next year. He wonders how schools are expected to fill those stadiums for consecutive weeks. Think about it: Would you hold off buying a ticket to a semi-final game in hopes of reaching the championship game? Would you go to the semi-final game and not be able to afford the championship game? Or would you just mortgage the house and say Roll Tide. It was an interesting observation and one that I hadn’t thought of before. The majority of fans can’t afford to make it to one bowl game, much less two. What are you thoughts on this, and the new system overall as we head into a new area of college football playoffs?
Seth C: My dirty secret as a college football writer is that I don't have a clue about playoffs or BCS standings or if Team A wins, then Team B vaults Team C because of the strength of schedule. So the whole concept of this newfangled "playoff" is about as foreign to me as anything else other than the top four teams are supposed to play in a playoff and Jerry Jones is going to make a lot of money.
I think, because I'm totally conservative, that I'd take my money and run with the semi-final game. I'd think that there would be a handful of fans that would be wanting to dump their tickets because their team didn't make it to the championship game and just beg them for tickets if it came down to it. Truthfully, I'd be totally stoked to go to either game. I haven't been to an actual game in person in a few years because of the whole adoption stuff and I don't want to spend any extra coin when I don't have to.
If I was smart, I'd bank on just getting the championship tickets and be like Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy in Trading Places when they're doing their business in the New York Stock Exchange as they're banking on the futures of pork bellies. I'd play the field and sell to the highest bidder.
On Tuesday, news broke that the players are considering forming a union. Let's pretend that the players can legally form a union (I have no idea that they can or cannot) do you think this is a good idea? I'm leaving this completely open-ended intentionally.
SARR (Travis): Man there are so many spokes on that wheel I don’t even know where to start. I just don’t see how it could work in the long run. I understand players wanting to have a sense of unity that would allow them to have a voice in the decision making process, but I don’t see how it could fit into the system the way things are structured now. Are we going to have collective bargaining agreements? If they form a union, who will be on the other end of the negotiating table. Is it the AD? Is it the NCAA? Is it a combination?
To me this just seems to be another step down the slippery slope of entitlements and "gotta get mine." I understand the arguments about how much money the schools are making on these kids and how hard they work to be successful, but who wouldn’t trade places with them in an instant?
Maybe I’m naïve, but thinking back on my time in school, it didn’t really seem as if guys like Zebbie Letheridge, Rob Peters, Bam Morris, Sammy Morris and Zach were really struggling. It seemed as if they were having a great time going to school and playing football. I never once had Robert Johnson or Donald Harris ask to borrow money from me for lunch.
Look, I know it’s a lot more complicated than that, but it just seems as if this is all getting out of control. Make sure they have housing and food and school is paid for and let them be BMOC. I still don’t see why that’s such a difficult life.
Seth C Ed. Note: SARR and I intend on taking a much deeper look into the proposed player's union and that we hope to dive into after National Signing Day.
Seth C: I'm totally beating you down with more questions, but that's okay. You interviewed Kliff Kingsbury and in your interview, you brought to light how Kliff's brother, Klint, likes to hunt things from helicopters and blow things up. That very day, USA Today then just "happened" to interview Klint and the writer for that story didn't even credit you for maybe thinking of the idea of contacting him and things like that. Then, it just so happened that I ran across thisarticle about how USA Today is essentially trying to just get hits for the sake of getting hits with this pretty awesome line that describes the USA Today's tactics:
Many of the posts are repackaged content that has appeared elsewhere."
How does it feel to be ripped off by USA Today?
SARR (Travis): You know when you sent me a text pointing it out I really couldn’t believe it. I showed it to my wife and she was actually a little upset about it too. It’s sort of a hard knocks lesson I guess and you really learn how the business is lacking integrity. Somehow we’re not worthy of credit or mention because we’re just bloggers. I’d read about instances of this in the past but it was pretty surreal to see it first hand.
It’s the nature of the game I guess, particularly in today’s media where the lines are so blurred around what constitutes journalism. Am I a journalist because I landed an interview with Kliff? Are you a journalist because you interviewed Caitlin and Kirby?
In the classical sense, no, of course we’re not. But we are creating original content and if lazy "professionals" want to come in and lift our content I guess I’ll have to find a way to be ok with that.
I remember a line you had in your story about the day you interviewed Kirby where you said it seemed like several of the people you met were surprised to see you there, and were surprised that you were going to interview Kirby. At some point that surprise will wear off and reality will set in.
And next week we’ll have some additional opportunities for a large publication to generate hits off of our content. Bet on it.