Actually, I've had a blast speaking with a number of you, and I've really enjoyed your input and ideas. With that -- and as we get closer to launch, here's some more specific information...
- You might begin writing your first article now. Based on a few conversations I've had with others, I think it a great idea to start with something having to do with your background in hockey. I'm not talking about a resume, but instead a story about something you recall from your earliest involvement in the sport. One dad initiated this line of thinking with a story about his son's unique involvement with a team last season, another guy is thinking about the cultural changes he experienced moving from Canadian youth hockey to the very different West Coast scene, and I can envision a hockey mom telling how her youngster initially got involved in the game. In a way, then, I think the best approach -- at least for the first article -- would be as a "human interest" story, and something other readers in your state might identify with.
- If I haven't made it clear already, this new venture is going to focus on "amateur youth hockey", or what's happening in your state at the grassroots level. More specifically, we'll stick with beginners (the clinic kids) and go up through age 16 (Midgets). We'll stay clear of pro hockey, except when a pro team impacts on the local kids (many pro teams do get involved in their communities with some very newsworthy activities or events). And, for the time being, we'll not cover the oldest teens -- as in high school hockey, Juniors or U18 and U20 teams.
- We've had some discussions about girls hockey, and really wrestled with the amount of coverage we should give them. (A great many young girls play on boys' team up through about Pee Wees, while the girls-only teams probably don't come close to matching the numbers of boys and mixed teams out there.) It's my hope that someday they will warrant their own section within our site. However, for the time being, I'm thinking that the numbers dictate they receive somewhere between 1/4 and 1/5 the coverage as the general youth hockey teams. (Please argue with me if you feel I'm wrong on this.)
- As you get comfortable with your position, try to set up a network of hockey contacts around your state. (If you need advice, just ask.) For sure, it will be easy to gather article fodder from the local rink/s. However, you need to spread the coverage in order to attract more readers. So, I suggest rotating your articles to focus on a different area each month (maybe try dividing a state into three sections, rotating monthly coverage from north to central to south, or from west to central to east).
- At the end of that article, I'd like you to ask your readers, "Now, what's your story?" That, I hope, will bring you a batch of ideas for possible new feature stories.
- This first time around, it might be difficult to gather a lot of information for the second part of your monthly submission, but I'll suggest that a lot of folks around your state will ultimately send you requests to have special announcements made for them. For a title, you'll use your state's nickname, as in "Around the Ocean State" (for Rhode Island). Here you'll want to include announcements for things like tryouts in a given location, details on a local coaching clinic, etc, and fundraisers might be okay, too. (This should basically be for not-for-profit activities.)
- Once the new season gets underway, I envision a third segment in your monthly submissions, this having to do with short blurbs on teams around your state. Let's keep these mainly team oriented -- as in, "The Bay State Rockets Pee Wee AA's began their season with a 4-game win streak, while jumping to the top of the Western MA League standings." Mention of the coach is good. An occasional mention of some individual players is okay, but let's avoid overdoing it, and making idols out of 10-year old.
- Keep an eye out for potential sponsors. For-profit (hockey clinics and schools, for example) can't be mentioned under our "Around the _____ State", but they can help pay you for your time and sponsor your page. I'll give you more on the logistics of this, but I envision a 50/50 split between you and us. It's hoped that your articles and announcements bring enough "eyeballs" to your page that advertisers will want their messages placed alongside. Again, though, while you're thinking, I also have a lot more to do on this from my side.
- At the end of each monthly post will be your (company) email address, so that readers and potential advertisers may reach you. It'll say something like,"Sally may be reached at _______." Get psyched about this simple feature, because I sense readers will help you write many of your future installments, and perhaps some might even pay you well for your efforts.
- Although we all sometimes write something that makes us dread comments, you should look forward to and encourage them after each of your monthly posts. Feedback is always helpful, while those tiny boxes down below also often contain gems that greatly enhance the original piece. Moreover, the more times important key words are used on your page, the more apt your page will rise in the search engine rankings.
- Please plan to submit your articles by the 15th of each month. I picture a small nightmare from our side -- ugh, as we attempt to edit and format over 50 submissions in the remaining 15-ish days.
*Rather than putting out a new page every so often -- with changes to the above, I think I'll update this one as needed. So, be sure to come back on a regular basis to look for those changes.