My seven-year itch
Wouter Boon explains why and how he is changing Amsterdam Ad Blog.
It has hit me. After seven years of productively feeding Amsterdam Ad Blog with content, an estimated 4,500 hours of work, and over 300.000 written words, I am ready for some change.
Seven years ago I started this blog as a sideline. But the sideline has gotten a little out of hand and is taking up too much of my time. I am guessing today about 15 to 20 hours a week. Not much, you might think, for entertaining some 20,000 unique visitors a month.
Maybe true, but combining it with my job as freelance brand strategist and trying to write a second book on creativity is a little hard. It’s like having three small companies and wanting them all to thrive, while very subtly, but systematically neglecting them. To keep my three plates spinning properly I need much more time than simply 3 times 20 hours a week.
The fun part of Amsterdam Ad Blog is having my own platform on which I can give my opinion on brands and advertising on a daily basis – it’s why I became both a strategist and a blogger. And I also don’t mind being editor-in-chief. One of my columnists once told me very kindly; “you’re a born editor“. You can imagine that it tickled my ego.
What I do mind however is dealing with what I see as the fringes of the blog. Being the COO, CFO, CTO, and what not. Most of it doesn’t spark joy. Even with Evelyn Grunau’s invaluable help – who has assisted me one day a week since 2012 – there are just too many things I’d rather not deal with.
It’s my own fault of course. I named the blog “Amsterdam Ad Blog”, started writing in English, and chose to feature the best work and people from Amsterdam. All for one reason; I wanted the title to be able to grow bigger than myself and even bigger than the Dutch ad industry. It worked. And thanks to the international formula 50% of the traffic is from abroad.
But I need some change. And, as said, more focus. Which is ironic because as a strategist I often tell the brands I work for they need to focus. I guess the Dutch saying ‘the plumber’s tap leaks’ has been true in my case.
So what to do?
I first thought about writing a final blogpost and then simply quit the blog. But when I suggested this to people around me they told me: “You can’t!” Here are some of the kind descriptions the ad industry has had for this blog over the past years: ‘the Bible for expats’, ‘an institute’, ‘the only Dutch ad magazine with an opinion’, ‘critical, but nuanced’ and ‘well-kept’.
Again, tickling. That’s why over the past months I’ve researched the possibilities of partnering with an established publisher to keep the blog alive and even bring it to a higher level. This would allow me to only focus on the content for a while and not worry about all the operational stuff – which would save me quite some time, or at least earn me some money.
However, the three publishers I talked with – Vice Media, Adfo Groep, and LBB Online – didn’t see the opportunity – sufficiently. Which is fair enough. It proves that it’s not easy to make money with qualitative niche content and that from a commercial viewpoint it’s a wise decision to focus my energy on other activities.
So, after much sparring and pondering I’ve decided to quit writing regular posts for this blog. No more catchy – if I may – ad reviews and no more superficial news-items. And – finally – no more pressure from the endless inbox with press releases.
The good news is that I’ve decided to keep the platform alive. I am planning to continue to do columns, event reviews and interviews once in a while.
More importantly though; I will keep the blog open for the ad community to contribute. I already have quite a few contributors who write columns and inspirational pieces on a regular basis. Then there is JongeHonden, RA*W, Dutch Digital Design and – since very recently – the ADCN, who contribute to this blog.
And I am open for other contributors who want to share their opinion, inspiration or write-up of an ad event. There’s one catch though; it needs to be qualitative content. Which means with an original, intelligent and/or eloquent view on advertising.
Photo credit: Natwerk