— SW Reverb (@swreverb) July 18, 2013
The Seattle Weekly’s music blog’s Twitter account raised an important (albeit self-serving, for me at least) question yesterday: “Who runs the best music blog:
@GuerillaCandy? @chrisburlingame? @3imaginarygirls? #BestofSeattle” While that tweet put me in the exceptional company among my friends* and peers in the music blogging racket, it would be even more amazing for ARS to do well.
I would encourage anyone who is already voting in annual the Best of Seattle awards to consider writing in Another Rainy Saturday for “Best Arts or Music Website” here. I mean, if you’re already planning on voting for Mezecaleria Oaxaca for “Best Mexican Restaurant” or Canlis as “Best Place for Dinner that Costs More Than Your Rent,” why not vote for us, too, no?
I know I haven’t always been nice to Seattle Weekly in recent memory, but I will gladly admit the music section has improved dramatically under new Editor in Chief (and ARS friend) Mark Baumgarten. It’s certainly a smaller newspaper, but I don’t think it’s a fundamentally broken one any longer.
When I started Another Rainy Saturday a little over three years ago, it began as a labour of love – and remains one to this day. I wanted to start a (mostly) music blog that was very much focused on the Puget Sound region but was also relevant to readers outside of the Seattle area. My main inspiration was the original Idolator, when it began as Gawker Media’s music blog. At the time, I was writing for and helping edit another music blog, I began to see that the changes in my taste in music and goals as a critic were differing from the vision the founders of that site had for many, many years. The best thing for me to do at that time was launch my own website, and came up with ARS and launched it in June of 2010, right after the closing night of Seattle International Film Festival that year.
The website has succeeded beyond anything I could have ever hoped for and it is the one thing I’ve accomplished in my life that I am most proud of. As it has grown, it has also become something of a second full time job for me, at least in terms of time I spend working on it. I never viewed this blog as a money-making venture, only as a place where I (and a few trusted contributors) can go to talk about the music we enjoy (or just have an opinion on). If people took information from it, even better. Needless to say, any and all expectations have been exceeded.
As I said, I never expected this website to be a money-making business because my day job paid me enough money to keep the site on the air and live somewhat comfortably in a city I love to live in. ARS costs a few hundred dollars a year with hosting fees, a few important plug-ins and security monitoring for the site. I want to try an experiment to see if some of the expenses I’ve incurred can be offset without affecting the readers’ experience.
There is a great post on Wonkette, one of the political blogs I read daily, about how difficult it is to make blogging pay off as a full-time operation. Having to do that included driving traffic to wingnut site Newsmax and asking for donations. I don’t want to do that (and I don’t really need to), but I want to see if there is a way to offset some of the expenses with keeping ARS online everyday.
My guess is that the hundreds of dollars spent annually on the site will be offset somewhat by dozens of dollars brought in through advertising revenue. That would be fantastic. Ideally, I like to offset some of the costs and then begin being able to pay contributors, even if it’s only a few dollars a post. Here is what we’re going to try doing:
1. Affiliate Programs. We signed up for accounts on CD Baby and Powell’s Books as affiliates. They give us a percentage of sales that are generated from traffic from ARS sent to those sites. We should have been linking to where our readers can purchase the music or books we cover when we write about them anyway and this should make it a consistent platform. We’re not going to change what we cover because it might bring in more dollars from these affiliate programs. You’re going to have to trust us on that, and call us out when we fail to live up to that goal.
2. Banner advertising and sponsored posts. My friend Cal Ledbetter, who I have known for more than a decade – we were both writers at Three Imaginary Girls way back when and then worked together when he was the publicist for SIFF – contacted me about a week ago to inquire about purchasing a banner ad on ARS for his therapy practice. After leaving SIFF, he went back to school and very recently opened his own private therapy practice after graduating. We worked out an agreement to try this out for a few months to see if it would be beneficial for both of us. He’ll have an ad that runs on the sidebar on ARS for the next three months. He will also author a post explaining his practices and philosophies in more detail. This will be identified as “sponsored content” in the subject line.
3. I have been talking to a startup that offers event tickets at a deep discount. We will be one of their partners, in a way similar to the affiliate programs mentioned above. I’ll have more information on that forthcoming when we are closer to that becoming active. It’ll probably be later this month or earlier next.
I want to try to keep ARS on the air as long as possible and this will, one hopes, help the long-term viability of this site. If it isn’t worth its time, I will stop. What we won’t do? Basically, this.
If you have any questions (or would like to discuss advertising), please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll go back to writing about music tomorrow.
As you may have noticed, we had undergone something of a makeover this past weekend. Unless this is your first visit to Another Rainy Saturday, then welcome! There is a new look and feel to the site that I’m very excited about.
As you can see from the layout, the site once again looks more like a blog, with the most recent posts being on the front page. I wanted to focus on having a more minimal approach to the site and not have it be overwhelmed with so many posts on the front page (especially when the important and featured posts can be slow to be changed out). Some selected posts will occasionally be featured on the sidebar, but I wanted to cut down on posts that may linger on the front page for a month or so, sometimes long after the event they were tied to had passed.
Some other changes that may be more subtle:
- The calendar is more frequently updated and comprehensive and usable. I want to grow the events calendar on this site and make it a bigger part of the site. I hope you’ll find it useful for keeping track of, or learning about different events. It won’t be comprehensive just yet, but it’ll have more events beyond rock shows, including book readings and theater productions.
- Related, I changed the subtitle of the site to “An arts and/or culture blog, based in Seattle” a few months ago and want to incorporate more coverage of other arts, beyond just music, especially when they intersect. I had just seen “These Streets” at ACT, and it’s a play based on the rock scene in Seattle during the grunge years, and last weekend I went to an event at the Hugo House that had five different authors reading their work interspersed with a musician playing new, original songs for the event. I want there to be more coverage of events like that, not to mention more reviews of theater, film and books, plus interviews with filmmakers, authors, comedians and actors. There will still be plenty of music coverage, of course, but there’ll be more of other arts going forward, and I hope you’ll stick around through it.
When I started Another Rainy Saturday back in June of 2010, I wanted it to be a unique site in Seattle that differed from other music blogs in this region by not covering all of the same events or writing only about the same bands, and I hope we’ve succeeded in creating a something different in Seattle arts world. Even though most are quite excellent and operated by my very smart friends and peers, lord knows we have enough music-only blogs around here.
A new year and a new opportunity to use the “Shameless Self-Promotion” category. I’ll take it!
The very nice people at St. John’s Bar and Restaurant are starting a new DJ night on Thursday nights, starting tonight, called “Step Into My Office.” They were kind enough to invite me to inflict my taste in music on their late night crowd later this month. I hope that some readers will use the opportunity to visit one of the coolest new(-ish) bars on Capitol Hill (and home to some of the best macaroni and cheese in Seattle), and come out enough for the night to be successful. It’s free to get in and they start at
10pm5:30pm, with, I believe the exception of ARS friend Nancy Guppy, who begins her set during happy hour at 5pm on 1/24.
The schedule for the month is:
- January 10: Laurie Kearney from Ghost Gallery
- January 17: Luke Beetham from PONY TIME
- January 24: Nancy Guppy of “Art Zone With Nancy Guppy” (Happy Hour set at 5pm)
- January 31: Chris Burlingame from Another Rainy Saturday