First Pitch: How to be a Professional Blogger

Last night, Dejan Kovacevic wrote an article about the process of becoming a sports writer. Overall it was a good look at the process of making it in more traditional media. After reading Dejan’s article, I read a link that Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball shared. I related more to this article, since Brown is an independent sports writer, and came up through a different manner than Dejan.

Today there was a lot of discussion on Twitter about Dejan’s article. People from more traditional news outlets were simply retweeting the article as a great description of how it is. People who took non-conventional routes, such as Craig Calcaterra Drew Silva, and Eno Sarris, had different views. I found myself once again relating more to them, because while they found the article interesting, they disagreed with the idea that you have to approach things in the certain manner that Dejan outlined.

I don’t think Dejan was saying that this was the only way you can become a sports writer. I think he was telling his story, and telling what was probably a very common approach for so many years. I do think that things have changed now, and I’m evidence of that. So is Calcaterra, Silva, Sarris, Tim Dierkes, most people at Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs, and so on. The internet has provided a short cut. You don’t have to work as long to get to a position you want to be in, and you can get right to the field you want to be in without climbing any ladders. But make no mistake, there’s still a TON of work involved.

I’m not going to go through the full details of how I got here. That’s another story. The short version is that I started this site out of enjoyment. I wanted to create something like Sox Prospects for the Pirates, while also using a few features from one of my favorite blogs, Rays Index (specifically the 40-man payroll and the future payroll charts). I spent a lot of time on Pirates message boards, and noticed a lot of the same questions coming up surrounding option years, salaries, and prospects. They weren’t being answered in traditional media at the time. Rather than answering the same questions over and over on a message board, and getting attacked by trolls who only wanted to talk about how evil Bob Nutting was, I decided to put everything on one site. Eventually I used the methods below to take that from a hobby to something that had the hope of a job, and eventually to a job.

Dejan wrote the following about blogs, which I took exception to:

Most will want to take shortcuts or fantasize about how they can go right from blogging to making money for it. Unless you’re independently financed — meaning having someone pay your bills — that won’t happen. If you want to blog into adulthood about what you know or think about sports, better make sure you’ve got a separate way to actually make money.

I can tell you that this is 100% false, and this comes from someone who actually did this. You can make money blogging. You’re not going to get rich, but you do have other advantages. Set your own schedule. No deadlines. Write whenever you want. Cover the subject you want. Possibly live where you want. No bosses. Work from home. No pants.

You also don’t have to be independently financed. I wasn’t. I was the opposite — unemployed for three years while starting this site up. I worked some part-time jobs. My grandma let me live in her house while she was living with my parents. But those were necessities of the times, and a result of the horrible economy.

Throughout the entire process I was looking for other work, and developing the site with hope that this would be the answer. The “independently financed” part was actually an ignorant comment that’s offensive if you’ve actually built up a site from nothing. There were times where I was literally days from being broke, and Maury Brown shared similar experiences. I’ll go into more detail, to give you an idea of how it was. I would go through my house and find things to sell just to pay my bills. I wouldn’t eat out, and would eat extremely cheap meals. I had no vacations, and no forms of paid entertainment. I didn’t have cable, sold my car, and sold anything else I didn’t absolutely need to survive. I maxed out credit cards in the process of building the site, because banks don’t loan money to unemployed aspiring independent bloggers.

It might be a shortcut in terms of time. I didn’t spend decades as a sports writer to get here. This is my fifth year with this site, and my seventh as a sports writer. But it wasn’t easy at all. If you’re thinking of going this route, know that it’s possible, but it’s also going to take a lot of sacrifice. At a newspaper you have to pay your dues by covering high school sports. As an independent writer you have to pay your dues through personal sacrifices, with no guarantee and poor odds that this will ever work out. If this didn’t work out, I would have just been someone with no job record for several years, maxed out credit cards, and no form of income. I’m not sure if this is a better route than spending a decade before you get to cover professional sports.

As I said, I related more to Maury Brown and all of the other independent and “new media” writers, because I am one of them. So I thought about it today, and I wanted to share the process of how the other side works. As more newspapers go digital and focus more on their web sites, the lines between newspapers and blogs will become blurred. As that happens, it will make it possible for more people to take the independent route. If that sounds like something for you, then here are my tips for how to become a professional blogger, even if you have no money and no background in journalism.

1. Write a ton. That’s the universal message I saw today, whether it was Dejan, or Craig Calcaterra. At one point, early in this site’s history, I realized that I needed to write at least one thing per day in order for people to keep checking back. After my first off-season, I realized that I needed to continue writing content over the off-season the following year. And most importantly, I needed to find content that was interesting and that couldn’t be found elsewhere, even if that was just my opinion on a subject. Just re-posting news that was seen everywhere else wasn’t going to cut it. Posting a few times a week wasn’t going to work. Hitting the pause button during the off-season and returning when Spring Training was back also wasn’t an option.

I can’t stress enough how important the “write every day” aspect is. I mean every day. I can’t remember the last time we didn’t have at least one post up on the site in a given day. Most days now there are at least 2-3 posts in the off-season, and 6-7 during the season. Some of them might not be as good as others, but there is at least a reason for people to keep checking back. Don’t assume that people will keep checking back, hoping you’ll provide an update after a 1-2 day break, or even after the off-season is over. Some people will check back, but you’re more likely to lose readers by taking a break. Also, a lot of other sites don’t post every day, and don’t post during the off-season. This provides a huge advantage. This site produces more daily Pirates content in the off-season than the Pittsburgh papers do. That definitely helps keep the site growing, since there are always people starved for sports information.

2. Competition Doesn’t Exist. One of the biggest splits I see between “new media” and “old media” (for lack of better terms) is the acknowledgement of other outlets. Traditional media, such as newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations, won’t acknowledge other outlets in their market. If one outlet breaks a story, the other outlet will “confirm” the original report without actually naming the report, or report the news as their own. The strange thing is that “old media” will cite a National source, but never anything on a local level. I understand that. People can only listen to one radio station at a time. They can only watch one TV station at a time. Most people will only buy one newspaper. These are zero sum industries. If you’re watching/listening/reading one, you’re taking away from another. That’s why I understand that “old media” doesn’t traditionally acknowledge their competitors.

The internet isn’t a zero sum industry. There’s not a lot of competition involved. People can read one site, then read another. You probably have read other Pirates content today. But you’re still reading this site. Acknowledging that others exist isn’t going to take away from your audience. It only helps. If you want to make it as an independent writer, you’re going to need to do some content aggregating. Tim Dierkes and MLBTR is the prime example here. Dierkes built one of the biggest go-to sites simply by being a content aggregator, and linking to anything relevant on his subject with a bit of personal analysis for each news item. This not only helps his site grow, but it helps the people he links to. Your followers aren’t just looking for content from you. They’re looking for content, period. If you can direct them to interesting content elsewhere, they’re more likely to come back than if you just provide your own opinions and act like no one exists. The traditional outlets can get away with ignoring others, because everyone will be linking to them even if they’re not linking to everyone else. But if you’re not linking to other sites, especially the other independent sites, then you’re not making a connection, which means they’re less likely to link to you.

I don’t know how traditional media feels about this subject. I know that some feel content aggregating is the equivalent of stealing work. As someone who breaks stories, I know that there have been several times where I’ve broken news, only to have someone report it a few minutes later without the acknowledgement. I know that in those cases, I’d rather have the acknowledgement, and don’t mind them re-reporting the news. I’d rather acknowledge that someone else had the story first, rather than act like no one else exists. Especially since the knowledge that other outlets exist and have good information is not going to take away from my traffic.

3. You have to love and know the subject. The biggest thing I disagreed with from Dejan was his idea that loving the sport, or having knowledge of the sport was irrelevant. It’s not. You absolutely have to love the sport you’re covering, because this is a grind. You might get into sports writing as a fan wanting to cover your favorite league/team for a living. If you get to a point where you do it professionally, you will no longer be a fan. It will be a job to you. You’ll still kind of let out a small chuckle when PNC Park is trolling Johnny Cueto and Russell Martin follows up with a homer. But part of you will also feel happy that the Pirates were eliminated from the playoffs because you’ve been traveling so damn much, and that all came at the end of a long season of writing every day, and you’re burnt out, and now you have to start on off-season articles, and soon enough there will be free agency, and you already have to make plans for the winter meetings, and before you know it Spring Training will start, and then it’s just a grind of days that start at 6 AM, end at 1 AM, and when that’s all over the season starts up, and…

You get the point. There are going to be times where you absolutely hate the job. There are going to be times where you don’t care about baseball at all, and you just want a break. If you don’t have a love for the subject, it’s going to be hard to continue. I love baseball. I love following the Pirates, but not so much as a fan because this job changed the way I look at sports. If I didn’t have those two things, I would have quit a long time ago. Even with those two things there are moments where the grind is way too much and I think about how long I can continue to do this. So I step back, take a break, and my love for the game wins out.

As for the “knowing the subject”, you don’t always have to know the subject from the start. Dejan mentions that he provided good content by asking people who know the answers. This isn’t a bad approach. One of the best minor league writers we’ve had on the site was John Eshleman. John came to me as someone who didn’t know the Pirates system, wasn’t a Pirates fan, and didn’t have a background in baseball. He provided some of the best prospect reports we’ve had, because he asked a ton of questions, often picking the brain of minor league pitching coach Justin Meccage. That said, the process of asking questions will lead to knowledge of a subject. And if you’ve got some knowledge, you don’t need to ask questions about those subjects later. I’ve got a lot of knowledge of the game, but I still ask a lot of questions and keep an open mind with what I don’t know. Knowledge has value, and asking questions only leads to more knowledge of the subject. If you come in with knowledge, you’re ahead of the game. But eventually you need to have knowledge of the subject.

4. Do it all. A lot of Dejan’s article revolves around being a “journalist”. One thing about my job is that I don’t have a strict definition, and don’t refer to myself as anything specific. My job isn’t just about writing and reporting. All things considered, that part is a small aspect. I’m a writer, editor, and reporter, but I’m also a webmaster, photographer, the accounts receivable department, the marketing department, the ad sales department, and so on. Traditional media outlets have separate people for all of those jobs. The only way I can do this for a living is doing most of it myself. You need more than just writing skills and the love of a sport to do this independently. You also need all of the above, because you’re not going to be able to afford to operate like the traditional outlets. If this was baseball, I’d be the Pittsburgh Pirates using defensive shifts, and the papers would be the Boston Red Sox, spending a ton of money and getting to fly from Pittsburgh to St. Louis and back, rather than driving the whole way, all while never having to worry about what to do if the site goes down. That doesn’t make sense, but you get what I mean.

5. Find a niche, or some way to separate yourself. One of the big advantages I had was that I was reporting on prospects when no one else cared to report about the farm system. There was also some luck involved, as I started right before the Pirates took off. If you’re starting a Pirates prospects blog today, I don’t think you’re going to get the same break I got. But you need to find a way to separate yourself. That can be a niche, but my feeling is that good analysis works best. If you can combine good reporting and good analysis, that’s gold. Traditional media tends to separate those. Reporters are only to report, and there are others who do the analysis. An independent writer has to do both, and often has to mix them together. Traditional media is doing more of this, at least on the local level. Travis Sawchik was an outstanding addition to the Trib this year. He’s there reporting at the games, but he also provides good analysis with his reports.

The thing about reporting is that there’s no long-term value there. Prior to the internet, good reporting could lead you to a scoop that gave you a full day of an exclusive story. Now you’ve got about two seconds before people are retweeting, and a few minutes before the story is up on blogs, message boards, and various sites. On the other hand, good analysis has long-term value. That’s unique, and that’s something you’re attached to. When people share the information, they’re usually sharing your outlet and talking about you. It’s easy to trace good analysis back to the source. It’s much harder to tell who reported a story first. In a way, good analysis can be a niche. It’s pretty much the market inefficiency in all aspects of journalism right now, not just sports.

6. Use all Social Media. This isn’t just a “new media” thing, and it’s a requirement. You need to find as many ways as possible to reach readers. Twitter is the best avenue, but Facebook and Instagram are also good routes. Reddit and Digg are good outlets online. Because of #4, you’re not going to have time to use some of the smaller services and provide unique content on them. I mostly stick with the three social media services mentioned above, with Twitter being the primary one. One trap you can’t fall into is the idea that Twitter, Facebook, or anything else is different than your writing. Your brand is the same, no matter where you are posting. If you post an opinion on Twitter, it’s the same as posting an opinion in an article. This has been a controversial subject between Dejan and Pirates bloggers in the past. Dejan views it differently, as he views Twitter as something different than an article. If you’re independent, and you’re writing on a blog, which is considered social media, then there is no difference. Your brand isn’t just the articles you write on the web site you run. It’s everything you write everywhere.

7. Know Your Audience. I have several services that keep track of traffic to the site. One of them sees all of the referring articles. If there’s a forum out there that has linked to an article I wrote, and is talking about it, I’ve read it. I check the traffic to the site obsessively. You need to do this to know where your traffic is coming from, what kind of stories people respond to, and what gets shared more often. For example, I know that people love prospect rankings. So if there are prospect rankings out there, I will make sure to share those with a post. You also need to know your traffic tendencies. Our busy days are Monday-Thursday, with Tuesday being the best day for new content (no secret why I released the 2014 Prospect Guide for pre-sales today). So if I know people love prospect rankings, and we’re releasing our own rankings, I’m going to release those on the best day possible, ideally on Tuesday. That gives the article the best chance for shares, and gives the site the best chance for exposure.

You also need to know what your audience is discussing. I’m constantly checking forums, comments, and responding to tweets to see what topics people are discussing. Then I’ll take those topics and give my own thoughts. I already know there is a market there, and that there is interest in the subject. Thus, it’s more likely that article gets shared and talked about, which leads to more traffic. The key here is that you shouldn’t write what you think people want to hear. That’s not genuine, and it’s a mistake a lot of people can make. Instead, write about the topic people are interested in, but give your honest opinion and analysis.

8. Prepare For Criticism. When I first started this site I got nothing but positive reviews. After about a year or two, I started getting critics. I don’t mean “I disagree with your opinion”. I mean “Tim Williams is an idiot”, and things that are very graphic that I probably should be offended by, but instead find funny. You haven’t really made it until there are people who dislike you, your work, or both. The thing is, these are the people who will interact the most. What you do with that criticism is up to you. You can go “the customer is always right” and be friendly. You can have fun with them and be a bit of an asshole right back. I’ve definitely done that with a certain forum that hates me. I don’t feel proud of it. You can block or ignore them and move on. But you need to prepare yourself, because when you’re going through those times where the job is a complete grind, and you’re sick of writing every day, and you’re not getting paid a lot of money for the amount of work you do, having some guy treat you like garbage because of a difference in sports opinions is going to tip the scale towards “why do I even do this?” And once again, if you don’t love the subject, you’re going to have a hard time coming back from that.

9. Do your own reporting and always be 100% correct. The biggest change for this site was when I started doing my own reporting. In the first six months of this site’s history I made $50. Six months. Writing everyday. $50. I spent that money on a digital recorder, which I still have. I used that recorder to interview minor league players and provide content that other people didn’t have. As the site grew, I started traveling more and going to more games. I did more interviews, made more contacts, developed some sources, and eventually got to the point where I was getting information before anyone else. One thing about blogs is that there’s a huge lack of trust. When I first started reporting draft signings, I got a lot of “Tim Williams is reporting this, but let’s wait until we hear it elsewhere.” Eventually, my reporting was enough, but only because I established myself as reliable.

There is no room for error. Dejan mentioned the editorial process. He has publicly lectured me on this process, and how I don’t understand it. Yet we run the editorial process here. No breaking news goes up unless it is 100% confirmed, and the sources are known to me. There are articles that never get posted to the site, either because they’re not telling the story correctly, or because the analysis can be picked apart easily, or the quality isn’t good. We have software that searches for typos, spelling errors, and other mistakes, and it runs before anything is posted. I don’t really answer to an editor as the owner of the site, but I will often discuss a topic with others on the site before posting it, or have others read over it and make any changes or suggestions. I suggest the same approach. If you want to separate yourself, the best way to do so is reporting. But that process comes with the responsibility to be accurate, and there is no forgiveness for a mistake as an independent writer.

**

The job isn’t all bad. I go to bed when I’m tired, and wake up when I’m not. I live in Florida near some nice beaches which I never go to because I’m constantly working on the site. But I have found a way to get ahead on my articles at times, allowing me to go to the beach or go golfing during a weekday afternoon in the off-season. I can work from anywhere, which allows me to visit friends out of town while still being able to upload articles. Your friends will get used to you visiting them, but saying “hold on, I’ve got to post something, what’s your WiFi password?”

Sometimes I feel guilty about liking the job, especially right now when I’m asking people to pay for a book I’m writing that makes this possible. I get paid to write about sports and have a pretty awesome job. On the flip side, it took a ton of work to get here, and it takes a ton of work to stay here.

If I’m giving advice to anyone who wants to be a journalist, I’m going to tell them the same thing Drew Silva of NBC Sports and Rotoworld said tonight:

I couldn’t have said it better. It’s going to be a hard road no matter which path you take, with a ton of writing and work involved. I feel the best route is creating your own job in the field where you want to work, rather than working hard for someone else’s brand doing crap assignments like covering high school football, and hoping that an opportunity in your desired field eventually comes up. Just don’t expect it to be easy.

Links and Notes

**Pre-Order the 2014 Prospect Guide

**2013 GCL Pirates Season Recap and Top 10 Prospects

**Pirates Shut Out in the Gold Glove Awards

**The Super Two Cutoff Has Been Set

**The Angels Would Trade Mark Trumbo For Pitching

Winter Leagues

**Winter Leagues: Polanco’s Hit Streak Reaches Nine

**AFL: Two Hits For Hanson As Losing Streak Continues

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

    Congrats, bro. Your story is inspiring. You clearly worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get where you are at. In many ways, the American dream.

    • NorCal Buc

      Yes, agree

  • Kevin_Young

    “It’s easy to trace good analysis back to the source. It’s much harder to tell who reported a story first.”

    Very good point. A lot of people forget that

  • https://profiles.google.com/107500598404660809214 Kerry Writtenhouse

    As a lifelong Pirate fan who isn’t from the Pittsburgh area, this is the site that has become my first read for anything Pirate and baseball related. For that I thank you. I look forward to your continued growth and coverage of my team.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    Tim…I agree with waht gw,kevin and Kerry wrote.

    I am soooooooo glad you started this site.

    As for what Dejan wrote, I know he is not fond of bloggers and has denigrated them often on his blog. It was just another reason to stay away from there (plus I found out a few months ago that he has now banned me…lonnnnnnnng story….lol).

    Dejan is an excellent writer, and I usually agree with his Steeler stuff, but he has been wayyyy off when it came to me Buccos.

    Thank you ,thank you, thank you for your hard work and excellent writing. Do they have wifi on the beach?

    P2 Fan Foo

    • NorCal Buc

      dejan, who?

  • CalipariFan506

    Lee, if you’d like to turn this into a bashing Dejan bash I’ll be right there with you.

    I linked a number of articles he wrote talking about how NH was the wrong guy, the plan would never work, the Pirates were going about things all wrong. I sent them to him in late September. All I asked for was he write an apology to the Pirates and the fans for questioning what was happening or at the very least an admission that he has no clue what he was talking about. I got back the most scathing email. He was defensive, questioned whether or not I knew how to read and all kinds of other childish insults.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

      John…I really didn’t want to turn it into a DK bashing post, but he was the same way with me. And, to be honest, he has a ‘thing’ about links. I’ve run afoul of him in that area a time or two.

      He IS an excellent writer, tho. And, I like his Steeler stuff. Don’t know beans about Hockey, so I can’t comment there.

      Altho I miss some folks on his blog, (the only reason I would post there, in the end’ )his banning me keeps me from ever being tempted to post there irt an article about the Bucs he would write….lol.

      Yes, he WAS way off the mark on his Pirate stuff, almost too many to count. He’s lost all credibility, in my eyes, when it comes to me Buccos.

      • http://www.facebook.com/richard.yazhynka Richard Ya’Zhynka

        Dejan’s credibility suffered with me when he did his Hoka Hey reports. He blew it up into something far beyond what it was and his writing gave the impression that he had a personal axe to grind against the Pirates.

    • stickyweb

      In general, I like Dejan’s writing. But a couple of things about his article that seem pretty glaring to me.

      1) The adage “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” lives on not just because people hate cats, but because there usually is more than one way to do something. Yes, this is the way Dejan did it, but to not acknowledge that others have done it a different way, especially in a world and business that is changing so rapidly, is ludicrous. He describes perfectly the way to do it in 1985. A few things have changed since then.

      2) Harping on “It’s all about journalism, don’t waste time learning about your subject” as much as he does shows an incredible lack of self-awareness. As the “hockey guy” moving to baseball, doesn’t he for a minute consider that if he knew more about baseball, he may not have been as spectactularly wrong about the Pirates front office last off season? Most people that know baseball could see that the organzation was headed in the right direction, not just with more MLB wins each season,but with an improving farm system as well. He was calling for NH’s head before the season and by sticking to the plan he’s been using to build the Bucs for years, he should be GM of the year.

      He does seem too sensitive to criticism, but that’s easy for me to say, I don’t face (or even know) the amount of stuff sent to him. But whenever somebody replies to one of my comments that I’m a clueless idiot, I know that I’ve either won the argument or at least that replier is incapable of rebutting my comment. But again, I see this a few times a week, not dozens of times (or more) a day.

      • belfry

        Agree entirely, stickyweb. I’ve been a longtime reader of DK’s articles and have generally enjoyed his work but he’s got so many axes in his toolshed that it’s become rather amusing.

        One other thing, if I may: That old adage about “skinning a cat” has nothing to do with felines in any way, shape or form. It’s all about fish- Catfish. In that adage “cat” is simply short for “catfish” in southern jargon. It’s a common misunderstanding.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

          belfry…thanks for that bit of info…as a (rescue) cat lover, I am now relieved. I always hated that statement and wondered why they didn’t ‘skin a dog’.

          Cat Man Foo

  • CalipariFan506

    And Dejan hates the Pirates because he begged for years to see the books. When Nutting opened them up, the whole world saw the debt the Pirates were under and Dejan had egg on his face. Ever since then he has been totally useless.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

      He’s been wrong on just about everything he wrote regarding the Pirates. He’ll never admit it, tho. Never trusted people who won’t admit they’re wrong.

      They scare me.

      Okay…I’m done.

  • https://profiles.google.com/110709561392331201235 Vicente Barletta

    Hey Tim: You should feel proud of your work. Great site and content. I don´t always agree, but I think that is best part, because it gets you to think when you read perspectives different than yours.
    I know you have a lot of work, but if I may, I will leave you with two recommendations for the site:
    1- Try to bring back the Podcasts
    2- Have a weekly chat

    Good luck

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      I’ll probably try to bring back the podcasts when I finish the Prospect Guide. I’d love to do a chat, but I don’t know of any software. I used to have CoveritLive, but they went paid, and it would be way too much for the amount of people we used to have in chats.

  • IC Bob

    Very impressive Tim. Takes a lot of of love to do what you did for virtually nothing. Glad you chose the Bucs since its hard for someone in Atlanta to keep up with whats going on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.yazhynka Richard Ya’Zhynka

    I need to start a site that is devoted to the sabermetric analysis of the Pirates. I spend time everyday researching sabermetrics.

    I post saber analysis of the Pirates on other sites. I do player projections. I have developed a pitching stat of my own that is based on the saber research of others. And I love to write (even published a book).

    If I’m spending this much time on something I greatly enjoy, then I ought to create my own site for discussing the subject and try to make a buck at it.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      “If I’m spending this much time on something I greatly enjoy, then I ought to create my own site for discussing the subject and try to make a buck at it.”

      I had this same thought a few years ago.

      • http://www.facebook.com/richard.yazhynka Richard Ya’Zhynka

        Thanks, Tim. You just gave me the kick in the pants that I’ve needed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

      Richard…I’ve read some of your stuff on other blogs.

      I hope you make a go of it. At the very least, have you thought about being a FanGraphs contributor?

      LeeFoo

      • http://www.facebook.com/richard.yazhynka Richard Ya’Zhynka

        Thanks for the encouragement, leefoo. I had a website with a blog regarding an entirely other subject, so, I have the structure in place to create a saber site and have begun developing it.

        I think the off-season could be an active time for this kind of site, given the increased number of player transactions – and rumors of transactions – that happen from November through the middle of February.

  • http://users.rcn.com/wtmiller/pirateprofiles.htm WTM

    What I want to know is, What’s the best kind of basement to blog from? Does it need to be finished?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      I feel like you should already know the answer to this: whatever basement is closest to Jose’s Cuban Restaurant.

      • http://users.rcn.com/wtmiller/pirateprofiles.htm WTM

        Columbia is almost as good.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

      Lol

  • http://www.ashevilleroadbowling.com hunter

    Excellent job Tim and nice response to what I thought was a relatively close minded article. It’s too bad there will be kids out there that read that piece and don’t understand the various options they have in life. Not just in writing but in any business.

    DK had an excellent piece on how to crush the entrepreneurial spirit. I prefer your counter.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

      Hunter…haven’t bloggers become his competition?

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        Only if you believe in competition online. I don’t. His articles are free. My articles are free. I think pretty much everyone in this thread reads both. People don’t treat online articles in the same way they treat other products, with brand loyalty. They look for good content. As long as you’re posting good content, it doesn’t matter what other people are doing, or whether your readers are aware of other options. They’re still going to check back with you for your content.

      • http://www.ashevilleroadbowling.com hunter

        I agree with Tim in terms of content. The one area I think he has lost out to blogs is actually with the area the we directly impact which is the commenting feature he has pushed so hard even back to his PG days. I have always figured that was a very small percentage of page views but in the blog we setup it’s strictly comments and mostly links out to sites like this yet gets hundreds of page views a day. Mostly folks who started commenting with us over at PG and didn’t follow him because we have our own outlet now.

        Of course we also link right back to Trib stuff too so it actually helps him (and this site) in other ways yet he probably does not look at it as something he could embrace and probably help himself a little.

  • leadoff

    “If you get to a point where you do it professionally, you will no longer be a fan. It will be a job to you.”
    _______________________________
    IMO, I think some professionals take this too far. First of all if they cover a specific team, they are fans also, they live and die with the team, but never will admit it. Seems to me that the use of the term “Professional, not fan” gives a writer the liberty to cheap shot a team when things are not going well for that team. DK lost a lot of fans when he went the cheap shot way, using his Journalism professional label as a way to blast the Pirates. Smizik does it, Cook does it, Collier does it. All use their opinions and when things don’t go well for the Pirates, all will trash them. Isn’t a professional journalist supposed to use only facts in their writing, not opinions?
    Embellishing a story is not what I look for in a journalist.
    If a writer wants to stay popular with the local fan base and have nothing to say good about the home team, stick to the facts as much as possible.
    I don’t buy the Post or the Trib because of their sports writers, they think it does not matter if they cheap shot the home team, but it does and those journalists do have something to do with selling newspapers. If people quit buying newspapers they will be professionally collecting unemployment checks.
    To your credit Tim, you have never used cheap shots when you write about the Pirates, you disagree or agree with what, when and where they do things at times, but you do not do it in a cheap shot manner.

  • CalipariFan506

    My last point on Dejan is what has already been alluded to. His Pirates coverage lacks credibility because it seems he has a personal vendetta with the organization that gets in the way of his reporting the team. But as a blogger now he has the right to express that opinion.

  • Jason

    Really interesting article, Tim. Without opening your books, can you tell us how much your publications contribute to your ability to do this full time? That’s a revenue-generating product that many bloggers don’t have and I would guess that it helps separate Pirates Prospects from other outlets, from a cash flow perspective. (Looking forward to buying my third prospect handbook, by the way.)

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      The books pretty much cover the employee expenses. I don’t think other independent outlets are paying employees. So it might be a wash.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

      what all this means is click on the Paypal link above, so Tim can chow down on Cuban sandwiches more than once a month.

      :)

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        Once a month? Those Cuban sandwiches cost like $5 and they give you enough pork to stretch that out over two meals. Also, the food is amazing. So pretty much, it’s professional blogger food.

  • piraddict

    You, James Santelli and your other writers provide better content, both in quality of analysis and volume of writing, than any of the “traditional” Journalists covering the Pirates. Keep up the great work! By the way, what happened to Santelli?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Thanks! James is back at USC and has a lot of different things to cover there, plus school of course.

  • http://atung.net/ Steve Zielinski

    One does need to write everyday. Write something even when it means repeating oneself. But one must also write well about whatever it is that one wants to discuss. Integrity, authenticity and productivity ought to be your goals. Sun’N Fun/4seamer/Joliet Jake was a productive blogger and allegedly had money to finance his fantasies; he failed, however, because he lacked the other virtues.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

      “Integrity, authenticity and productivity ought to be your goals”

      and, imho, so far, he has met those goals.

  • Jane de Bucville

    Thanks for the great work Tim. I read the site every day in season but not as much off season (hence the late comment). My son reads it every day no matter what though as soon as he comes home from middle school. I think one of the areas that you have a knack for is understanding what the average (informed) fan is wondering about and then writing an article to answer that question. Articles that focus more on “here’s what they might do and why” in addition to “here’s what they did” have really helped me to understand the way baseball works. I’m a relatively new fan and a female, so I generally assumed that anyone posting on a message board knew more than I did. Last summer when there was some suggestion that Cole might get sent back to AAA I saw commenters (on other boards) going nuts with the “Pirates are cheap” talk. I said to myself, hey, don’t they even understand that there is a 25-man roster? That there’s no way that would happen anyway until both AJ and Wandy are back? Don’t they understand about pitching depth? etc. All of a sudden I realized, hey, I know more than these people shooting off their mouths, thanks to Pirates Prospects! Thanks Tim for giving this lady the knowledge and confidence to have an intelligent baseball discussion.

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