Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Us: How Do You Measure, Measure a Year?

By Artistry and Finesse

It's been quite a Journey. On June 14, 2010, two men who were in the habit of starting the work day by sending each other unusually passionate and detailed emails about Pittsburgh Penguins games first decided to publish their thoughts for the world to see. It was a momentous occasion, marked by our parents calling us, ostensibly to "check in," but really to confirm that we were still employed. 365 days and 555 blog posts later, gettoourgame.com* has more than earned its reputation as the most trusted news magazine on the Internet. Is that a bold statement? Of course it is. But look at the facts:

GTOG Facebook followers as of 6/14/2010: 0
GTOG Facebook followers as of 6/14/2011: 94**

Just one year ago, this was only a dream.
Those numbers don't lie. GTOG is gaining followers at a rate of .25 people per day. There's a good chance that, as you read this post, someone's right leg is liking GTOG on Facebook. But the numbers - as powerful as they are - tell only a fraction of the story. How did this website, which grew from deceptively humble beginnings, become the first stop in the morning for scores of people looking for shrewd and original coverage of everything from hockey to reality television?

For a look back at Year 1, read on after the jump...
It was May 2010. In a horrifying upset, the Penguins had just been bounced from the playoffs by Montreal, and we were licking our wounds. Some people in moments of despair turn to comfort food or seek solace in a bottle of whiskey; we tend to read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette sports section on-line as we eat comfort food and drink whiskey. And so it happened that on May 25, 2010 (fitting date), Artistry sent an email to Finesse with the subject "A record that may never be broken," and containing the following message: "11 rhetorical sentences in [Ron] Cook's column today."***

We had too much time on our hands that week, and there was something inside of us that needed to find expression.  So Artistry did what any reasonable and ambitious professional with an advanced degree would do -- he turned every Ron Cook column into a poem. "Could we do this all day?" Artistry wrote in response to a flurry of poems from Finesse and our cohorts Poise and Eloquence. "I'm thinking yes."

Last known picture of Artistry.
On June 8, Finesse took things to another level, writing, "I just had 25 free minutes so I wrote my own Cook article. This is the most fun I've had since I've been a lawyer. 25 minutes, 883 words." Then we all started doing it. There was this explosion of creative energy centered, ironically, around Ron Cook. On June 14, Finesse figured out how to publish the timeless masterpiece entitled, "Writing a Ron Cook Column 101," followed by the first examples of "Ron Cook Poetry," and before he retired to bed on that fateful night, he sent an email that said so little, yet so much: "Two posts are up. Not really sure of next step."

It turned out that the next step involved a lot more of the same, until we realized it's tough to sustain a blog writing 400 word poems based on terrible 800 word columns.  So we did what any reasonable people who have a direct financial incentive to blog less and work more would do.  We started writing fake emails to ourselves and responding to them on the site.  We came up with a cool site design.  We joined Facebook.  We joined Twitter.  We had a "meeting" over beers.  We spent hours studying the pool of 2010 NHL unrestricted free agents.****  We were pot committed.

In the weeks and months that followed, we came to see the site as a metaphor.  A metaphor for life, love, fear, the universe, and the Bachelorette.  GTOG sometimes goes in directions you don't expect, that you couldn't expect, and that you may not want.  Yet wherever you go, there's GTOG.  You get out of GTOG what you put into GTOG.   GTOG takes commitment.  GTOG hurts sometimes.  GTOG can take your breath away.  GTOG may obstruct the rest of your life.  GTOG is vast and unknowable, yet accessible.  GTOG tears down walls, guards and protects hearts, and gives blessings.  But GTOG is not a Destination.  GTOG is a Journey.

"That was beautiful."
That chill that just went down your spine is what happens when someone expresses in words certain emotions that you thought you could only feel.  You're welcome.  Let's take a look back at some of the highlights of Year 1:

- We were all over NHL free agency and the NHL trade deadline, and we'll be your go-to site for the NHL again in 2011-12.

- In July 2010, we let down our walls and started recapping the Bachelorette on ABC.  Listen, we were vulnerable.  What else were we supposed to do?  It's not like we could sit through a whole Pirates game.  Funny thing is, we have no regrets.  By letting down our walls, we learned valuable lessons from Bachelor Pad, got hooked on the Bachelor, and gave you pure, naked emotion in our Raw Emotion podcasts.

- We gave you an epic NHL preview in not one, not two, not three, but four parts.  After the season, we graded the defensemen.  And the forwards.

- We covered every Penguins game.  Every single one.  And of course, every episode of HBO 24/7

A privilege, not a right.
- We gave you perspective.  On Marc Andre-Fleury.  On Dan Bylsma.  On the entire Penguins team.  And we didn't shy away from controversy.

- We gave you podcasts on a variety of topics, ranging from the unlistenable to the sublime.

- We made fun of Ted Leonsis, Lebron, Alex Ovechkin, Lebron, Rick Malambri, bad Penguins, Rashard Mendenhall, and LeBron.

Got us more hits from Jakarta than you could imagine.
- We gave you inside Hollywood scoop.  Then we gave you some more.  Then we had sushi with Hilary Duff.

- We covered every Steeler game.  Every single one.

- We became Beliebers, and belieb us when we tell you, we got down on Fridays.

Some nobel laureates haven't accomplished that much.

Doesn't get down on Fridays.
Joking aside*****, we're proud of this site.  Not because we have a spiffy new background, or because we think we're such an authority on sports and pop culture******, or because we made $13.50 in advertising revenue this year.*******  No, we're proud of GTOG because every once in a while, someone will let us know we made them laugh, or email us from Thailand to say, hey, thanks for keeping me up to speed on Pens games, or leave a comment on Facebook that "Yes!" she can't wait to listen to the Bachelorette Raw Emotion podcast.  Those things matter.

We don't know what the next year will bring.  There will be a new baby, and maybe a new job or two.  Finesse may date Shawntel from the Bachelorette, but most things are hard to predict with certainty.  There is really only one thing we can say for sure.  One thing we know.  One thing that's ours.  One thing that's yours.  Please, say it with us.  GTOG.

* We'd like to make this much easier on everyone and change the domain name to GTOG.com; however, some cyber-squatter has thus far foiled our plans.

** Only like 8 of these people are members of our families.

*** If you think we're paying $2.95 to dig this Ron Cook column out of the PPG archives, you're nuts.

**** We would have done this anyway.

***** We're not joking.

****** We totally are.

******* That may be an exaggeration.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific. Congratulations on a fantastic inaugural year!