On July 20th Outkick the Coverage went live for the first day. It was a hectic decision, made all the more hectic by the fact that was the first day of SEC Media Days. Since that day just over five months ago over 2.5 million unique vistors have come to OKTC. And many of y’all have returned again and again. That’s incredibly gratifying. And a number that hardly any independent sites in the country can match. Certainly none can match that in the first five months of their existences.
The credit for all that traffic goes to you guys because the data shows that y’all are passing around our links like crazy — 60% of our traffic is shared via social media. That’s why Twitter and Facebook are our two biggest traffic sources by far. That means you’re reading our content and sharing it with your friends — the greatest endorsement of all. Just 10% of our site traffic is from Google. That probably should be higher, but lots of sites that churn out a ton of content are relying almost exclusively on Google searches to drive their site traffic.
We aren’t relying on artificial search traffic to boost our numbers and we aren’t churning out a ton of worthless content either. We usually put up 2-3 articles a day. The articles we do put up you guys are reading the hell out of and passing along to friends.
Add all this up and OKTC should continue to grow by a ton in 2012.
Now that the mad rush of the 2011 college football season is subsiding, I can take a breath and look at things from a more global perspective. Thanks to our writers who provided great content and my apologies to them for not being as responsive as I should have. Oftentimes it was hard to get editing of other articles done because I simply didn’t have enough time in the day to write my own pieces and edit someone else’s.
And while I was editing I was always thinking that my time would have been better spent writing. (It also helps that my 3HL radio show got a promotion to 3-6 every day in Nashville starting on Halloween so I can actually spend time thinking in the morning now.)
But I can’t tell you guys how thankful I am for your support — and to the writers for their hard work. Back in January of 2011, I turned off my phone for an hour and when I turned it back on FanHouse didn’t exist anymore. I was terrified because I loved working at FanHouse.
What the hell was I going to do?
At first I wanted to leap right back to a major site, but the more I thought about it the less that made sense. If I went back to a major site they could pull the rug out from under me at any point. Plus, I’d already been employed at CBS, Deadspin, and FanHouse over the past seven years, where else was I going to go that was better than those places?
That’s when I had the ridiculous idea that I could go out on my own and make a living on my own site.
It was terrifying to suddenly be a writer, a salesman, and a CEO.
But it has turned into the most fun year of my professional life.
Every morning I truly can’t wait to wake up and check the night’s news on Twitter. From there it’s buckle in at the desk in my home office and roll — with multiple wrestling breaks with my 3 year old and 1 year old tossed in for good measure.
OKTC will be down in New Orleans for the BCS title game and we’ll also be up in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl and there’s a good chance we’ll be back in New Orleans for the Final Four and then even the Summer Olympics in London?
So there’s still a lot of big fun events coming down the pike before college football kicks off again. But with college football coming to a close I’ll have a chance to step back and take stock of things.
But it’s been one hell of a year. Consider the variety of places OKTC has been featured just five months in:
Weekly TV spots on NBC discussing college football, ABC’s end of year bowl special on New Year’s Eve, the front page of USA Today Sports, ESPN’s Around the Horn, the Dan Patrick Show, Tim Brando’s radio show, CSS, Fox SportsSouth, dozens of major radio stations across the country on a weekly basis, all of this, and things are just getting started in the multimedia universe, gents.
But for now here’s an overview of the some the data behind the 2.5 million of you who visited in the first five months of OKTC’s existence. (Someone always asks so this data is from Google Analytics).
Here are OKTC’s 25 largest markets:
5. New York City
11. Baton Rouge
12. Washington, D.C.
14. New Orleans
15. St. Louis
16. Kansas City
17. Little Rock
19. San Francisco
22. Columbia, S.C.
25. Los Angeles
Some analysis of these markets: Texas is just massive. Four of our top ten cities? Wow. The SEC is going to own that state. Every single one of these cities makes complete sense to me — New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles have a ton of transplanted college football fans who probably can’t get the coverage they want in their own markets — and the rest of these are big college sports markets.
I honestly have no idea how Minneapolis is a top 25 market for us and no city in the state of Florida is.
But I welcome all of you from the great north.
Here were our top ten most read stories for 2011 (and, yes, I know the year isn’t done yet so I’ll revise if necessary):
I’m going to roll out my ten favorite pieces OKTC has done in 2011 this week, but these were the ten most read.
The only thing that links these pieces, from legal analysis to awkward fan photos?
They were all original to OKTC.
That is, none of these pieces was rooted in anything that someone else did. The social media era — web 3.0 if you want to call it that — isn’t about finding what other people have done — it’s about creating original content yourself. That’s the only way to truly drive traffic to independent websites. Large sites can still hop on the work of others and remain lazy for the moment thanks to the fire hose of traffic, but if you want to build anything substantial from nothing, you’ve got to do it with original content.
So my one piece of advice to anyone who is interested in writing for a blog or starting a site or doing any of these things, boils down to three words: original is everything.
This was summed up best when a top official in the SEC office pulled me aside at the LSU-Alabama game.
“I read everything online,” he said, “and your site has been right on realignment more than any site in the country. It’s also been the smartest.”
I think it’s fair to say that Outkickthecoverage.com outkicked its own coverage in year one.
Thanks to y’all, our advertisers, our writers, our commenters, and our content sharers, it’s only going to get better from here.