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Bearcats Blog Interview

29 Oct Articles | 1 comment
Bearcats Blog Interview

Written by Scott | 29 October 2010

When I started this blog, one of the blogs that influenced me was Nunes Magician. I’ve never really cared a great deal about Syracuse sports, besides the McNabb teams, but a couple of years ago, that kind of changed. That’s when I started reading Nunes. Sean Keeley is such a good writer, that I started checking his site out daily, even though I have no ties to Syracuse. Although, I did want to go to Syracuse. I wanted to be a broadcaster and that’s where all the broadcasters went. I even got in. Good story.. It takes a lot make a guy who doesn’t really care about the terrible Syracuse football team look forward to posts about the Quest for Toronto. Good writers have a way of getting people to invest you in what they are writing. Sean is a one of those.  I took advantage of the Syracuse/Cincinnati match up this week to bombard him with a whole bunch of questions. Yes, the title of this post IS very dramatic.

What made you want to start the blog?

Around 2006, I was looking for something to keep me writing every day. I tried a few different blogs about interests of mine but nothing stuck. I was a big fan of Simmons and Deadspin and they were both pretty influential in making me want to blog about sports (you have to remember, at the time they were revolutionary). I didn’t want to write a blog about all sports, there were already too many of those. I decided that Syracuse sports was something I could stick with because I loved the topic and there was always something new to keep me interested. At the time there weren’t many SU blogs (only Orange44 and a few small ones) so it was a great time to get in and get a voice.

How did you end up getting together with sb nation with the blog, and then become the night editor?

I ran TNIAAM on my own for a little over a year on Blogspot. I had built up a following but I was looking to start monetizing the site. Blog Networks were just kinda getting off the ground and the one I liked the most was SBNation. They didn’t have a Syracuse blog so I reached out. They immediately got back to me and let me know they’d love me to join. The trade-off was minimal and now I was getting a monthly check for ads sold on the site. Not much but it was something. Plus they let me do whatever I wanted and provided me with tons of backend tools to make the site better.

Last year they started up and asked me if I wanted to be one of the editors. Given that I live on the West Coast (LA at the time, now Seattle), it made sense for me to be the night editor a couple night a week. It’s a lot of fun, I’m able to write about things outside of the Cuseosphere that I spend all day in. To be able to work with writes like Chris Mottram, Spencer Hall and Mike Tunison is pretty cool, too.
What kinds of advice do you have for people who want to get into the blogging game?

Number one, find your niche. You do yourself no favors blogging all day about broad topics you’re not really invested in. Why would I stop by your blog to see thoughts on a national story when there’s 50,000 other good sites out there already? And even if you want to dedicate a blog to one team or sport, what’s your “thing” within that. You want to start a generic Yankees blog? Good luck finding an audience around the hundreds of Yankee blogs and sites already out there. But if you start a Yankee blog that’s all about hardcore statistical analysis or a Yankees-only version of The Onion…well now you have my attention. Both of those sound like voices I’ve never read before and can’t find anywhere else.

Number two, be yourself. I see this all the time. A new blog starts up and tries to be everything to everyone and it fails within a few months. You read it and it just feels inauthentic. I can see you’re just writing what you think I want to read. Don’t do that. Write the blog as if you are the audience. Because if you can honestly say that you would read your blog if it was written by someone else, then there’s a greater chance that other people will vibe with it too.
On that same card, what about ways smaller blogs can grow?

First and foremost, write. Seriously, just write. Write a lot. Write as much as possible. If you can write every day, great. If you can write multiple times a day, even better. I know it’s cliche to say “content is king” but at the end of the day, its the only thing that matters for bloggers. You would be amazed to see how much my traffic drops off if I don’t post anything for a day. Blogging is a “what have you done for me lately?” world.

Link up. Trade links. Do Q&As. Do Podcasts. Join message boards and get to know other fans. Join other blogs and comment on their sites (with your URL in the signature). Blog are a giant community and the more you’re a part of that community, the more like you become part of fans’ daily routine.

Recognize the power of SEO. I’m as guilty of this as anyone but try to make your post titles and keywords count. If you run a TCU blog and some news breaks about TCU, you better have a post up ASAP with TCU in the title (first or second word, ideally). Sure, a lot of that traffic will come and go, never to return. But some of that traffic will stick around. And that’s how you weed out the folks who actually interested in what you’re saying.

Take advantage of the big boys as much as possible. Sites like The Big Lead, SI’s Hot Clicks and others welcome links about interesting news stories. Don’t bombard them every day with everything you write, but when you have something you think fits, send it. Always good for a traffic boost.

Twitter and Facebook. Maximize these tools. Your site better have a Twitterfeed and a Facebook page and you better be updating. I can honestly tell you that I get half my traffic from social media. Sometimes more.
You wrote a book. I’ve asked you about it on twitter, but can you tell the readers (my mom) how it came about?
How did you go about publishing it? Any more books in your future?

The book came from two things. First, I had built up this big audience with my website but the truth is, unless you’re attracting millions of readers every day (I’m not), you’re never going to make a lot of money on your blog. The way I started to see it was that the blog was this audience and now I needed to give this audience something worth buying. A book seemed like the logical next step.

The other side to it was my own interest in learning more about the history of Syracuse. When did the university start? Why did we become the Orangemen? Why is our mascot a piece of fruit that doesn’t actually grow anywhere near our school? Who were Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, Vic Hansen and all those other names I’ve read about and seen on retired jerseys but don’t know anything about. How To Grow An Orange was born from that.

I had shopped around a different book to publishers but wasn’t able to get any bites. In the interest of time (and because I was very antsy), I decided to self-publish. I found an e-book company called that formatted my book and made it available for every kind of ebook reader out there. Then I published the book for real with a company called WordClay, which gave me access to, and tons of other sites.

I’m not getting rich off the book but it’s selling. And people seem to enjoy it, which is the best part. I’d hate to put out something, charge money for it and then be told folks are disappointed. Recently the SU Bookstore placed an order and they want me to come to a signing, so if anything the book is helping push my profile even further in the community, so that’s a win.

As for future books, absolutely. I’ve got the bug now. I think I’d want to move outside the Syracuse bubble if I do write another one, but nothing’s in the works just yet.
I suppose I should ask a couple Syracuse questions. How impressed have you been with Doug Marrone since he’s taken over?

It’s a bold statement to say that Doug Marrone is reaching demigod status in Syracuse, given that it’s Jim Boeheim’s kingdom, but if he keeps this up he might just get there. In 19 games, Doug Marrone has more wins than Greg Robinson had in 46. One more win and he matches Robinson’s four-year total. He’s done so while refitting the entire program in his image. Gone are the flimsy workouts, off-the-field distractions and decimated recruiting bases. Marrone immediately re-instilled traditions, injected class into the program, weeded out the guys who just shouldn’t be here and has reinvigorated a fanbase that was by all accounts on life support.

To answer your question, I am very impressed.
Syracuse has been routed in the two losses. Was it things snowballing? Or something deeper?

I was at the Washington game. The truth is, you had a young team, unaccustomed to traveling 3,000 miles to play a more talented squad in front of a rabid crowd. Syracuse just hadn’t turned the switch yet to compete in that game.

As for the Pitt game, if you look at the stats, they’re actually really even. What undid the Orange was costly turnovers, terrible penalties and dumb mistakes. And once those things start happening, it’s hard to undo the damage. Especially when the other team is passing the ball as well as Pitt was that day.

If the Orange don’t beat themselves, they can hang with every team left on their schedule. Cincy presents a challenge because the passing game can get hot. If they do, SU is in trouble.

This is not a Syracuse question, but do you think TCU coming to the BE is closer to truth than rumor now, or ploy to get Nova?

I used to think it was just a way to make Villanova sweat. After thinking about it, I realize they’re connected.

If you stop thinking in terms of “east” and think in terms of TV, bringin in Philadelphia (No. 4 TV market) and Dallas (No. 5 TV market) to a group that already includes NYC (No. 1) gives the Big East something no other conference has. Access to three of the top five TV markets in the nation. Throw in DePaul in Chicago, Georgetown in DC and USF in Tampa and you’ve got one heck of a coverage map for the eventual Big East Network.

I think if the Big East is honest about really trying to save the conference, they have to make a move like inviting TCU. I’d say that’s more important then getting Nova to play D-1 football since you already have Nova for basketball anyway. But both would be good.

(editor’s note: Sean wrote about this yesterday. I asked him the Q Wednesday night, so I take credit for that post)
Syracuse plays practically every game at noon. As someone who lives on the west coast, does this drive you crazy?

I’ve gotten used to it. In a way I kinda prefer it now. I can roll out of bed, turn on the game and then when its over I still have most of my day to do whatever I want. I know it sounds crazy and it did to me when I first moved out here but once you get used it, it works.
Speaking of Syracuse noon games, they play one on Saturday. How do you think things will shake out?

As much as I think SU has a good chance of winning, the possibility of losing by 30 also exists. I know the SU defense can limit what Cincinnati is capable of on offense, especially if Collaros is out of the game, but there’s only so much they can do if they spend the entire game on the field without support from the offense. We haven’t score in the 20′s since Big East play started and I’m pretty sure scoring 21 is considered a bad day for the Cincy offense. We need more production out of our offense, plain and simple. I figure if Cincy can give up 38 to USF, we can surely put some points up as well…but we’ll see.

I’m hopeful for an Orange win but wouldn’t be too surprised to see things go the other way.


Again, thanks so so much to Sean Keeley for taking the time to answer my questions. I really could have asked many more, but luckily for everyone, that didn’t happen. I recommend that you check out the great Nunes Magician. You can buy his book, How to Grow an Orange here, and you can follow him on the twitter here. I’m going to buy the book, but only if I can get an autographed copy. The ball is in your court now. Thanks to Sean, and look for the Syracuse preview this afternoon.
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