Site report: Happy new year, and a new offer

The 2020 season, what with its hack-sawed schedule and fanless ballparks, wasn’t the kind of launch I anticipated for Sox Machine as a full-time job.

The 2021 season was more like it, although with the uncertain start, the omicron variant and the lockout, it’d be nice to have one year where big plans can be made with a sense of certainty, rather than a fear of everything being dashed by circumstances beyond our control.

Still, with the full season, a real postseason and a real tailgate in the middle of it all, I’m more certain it’s sustainable, and it’s entirely because of the Sox Machine community.

Thanks to everybody who supports Sox Machine on Patreon. I’m especially encouraged by the fact that we’re gaining supporters during the lockout, which is especially generous given that work stoppages have a way of draining all enthusiasm about a sport. For those who don’t support Sox Machine, thanks for not complaining about the ads, or select posts being paywalled.

The balance in revenue is about 65/35 between Patreon support and ads, which strikes me as healthy, and not just because I want to be correct on the matter. I could put the bulk of the site behind a paywall and reward those who sign up, but besides being rough on readers who can’t afford one more subscription, it makes it difficult to circulate ideas and grow the community. The Athletic is considering softening its paywall despite the collection of name-brand talent that makes a subscription an easy decision, and obviously Sox Machine isn’t nearly as ubiquitous.

At the same time, we all know that relying on ads to bolster revenue usually ends up turning the screws on readers, turning visitors into strangers. Hence, “Advertisements for some, miniature Sox Machine pennants for others” will be the idea going forward. But if you run into a suboptimal experience one way or another, please let me know.

* * * * * * * * *

On the podcast, Josh and I discussed our New Year’s resolutions, and I had one for Sox Machine. I mentioned that I’d like to operate Sox Machine at less of a remove, because while I’m naturally an introvert and keep things close to the vest, I might have ways to help people who are looking for a way in.

I’ve been reluctant to position myself as somebody who can provide sage advice because I might not have had any to give. A lot of the Sox Machine experience is hard-forged in showing up every day for 15 years of mostly negligible teams, and blogs fell out of fashion for a good long while, at least in the way they used to be run. I also haven’t posted callouts for help, because I didn’t have a real firm idea of how to arrange it in a way that provided fair compensation or experience, and I didn’t want to perpetuate an exploitative model.

But having seen online media swing back to the flexible-form, direct-connection route via newsletters, I feel confident that I had the right read, or at least a right one. Blogs don’t have to compete with news outlets. Most people would rather read an article than watch a video version of it. If you have a site with a good comments section, don’t make those good commenters navigate a tornado of ads to stay engaged. Maybe that approach just couldn’t be flogged to great profitability en masse, at least without violating labor laws that resulted in a decent class-action settlement check, but there was never anything wrong with the format at its intended scale (see former SB Nation writers like Tom Ziller, Spencer Hall and Holly Anderson for their independent revelations and testimonials).

At any rate, if you’re a college student or recent graduate looking for experience, feel free to reach out to me (jim at soxmachine.com), or Josh (at soxmachine.com) if you’re interested in audio. It’s always worth talking to see if there’s a fit, and even if there isn’t, we might be able to point in you in the right direction. If you’re already in the content mines and feel like you’ve hit a dead end, there’s a chance I’ve been in that position and can help you get unstuck. If you see anything else we do and wonder “How do I do that?” feel free to ask. Or if you think, “I can do better,” I’d honestly like to see you try.

Happy New Year!

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roke1960

Thanks, Jim, for all you (and Josh and Ted and others) do on here to make us Sox fans appreciate the great amount of insight provided here. I wish I had something like this 40-50 years ago! You guys do an OUTSTANDING job! Here’s hoping that 2022 will provide the World Series we’ve been anticipating since the start of the rebuild. Happy New Year to all!

Foulkelore

Happy New Year to all of Sox Machine! The quality of content on this site can’t be beat. It’s great to hear that there’s confidence in its sustainability. Here’s to a great 2022 for all Sox Machine participants and maybe, just maybe, a championship to celebrate!

ParisSox

Love this site. Love the content. Thanks Jim and Josh for being so invested in it and keeping it going and interesting. We are lucky / spoiled to have you.

Content idea : reader surveys on key topics. Like the OPP but more targeted on key questions. I’ll start:

If the White Sox win a World Series, does anything else matter? I.e. Riensdorf’s limited budgets, not playing at the very top of the FA market, Hahn’s RF debacles, etc. etc.

As Cirensica

Another reader content idea: Post more analysis of the AL Central other teams. I know Jim already does this from time to time, but I am interested in reading more. I am a The Athletic subscriber, and I frequently read writers from other AL Central teams over there as I am interested for obvious reasons in those teams.

Having said that. HNY to all of you. Thanks for another year worth of high quality White Sox content. Best wishes for 2022.

burning-phoneix

I only really subbed to the Athletic for James Fegan but I cancelled my subscription because I really don’t need to look much farther than Sox Machine for my Huwhite Sox news.

burning-phoneix

Also, I’m signed in through patreon and don’t see the banner ads but sometimes I get these weird popup ads. Is that normal?

Wayne

I get teh pop ups when I need to re-sign in with patreon.