MGoBlog was riding high last year, clocking big gains in readership as the University of Michigan went through the turmoil of a coaching change, a surprise run in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and a largely unexpected 10-win season in football.
Growth was spiking nicely for the leading U-M athletics fan site until things flattened this year. Brian Cook knows what happened and who caused this dip. He epically double points at U-M Head Football Coach Brady Hoke.
"We had a pretty bad summer (readershipwise). I blame Brady Hoke," says Cook
, founder of MGoBlog
, with his tongue planted in his cheek. "He had the entire (football) recruiting class signed up by March."
As a diehard U-M football fan, Cook knows that landing most of a top-tier recruiting class before spring officially arrives is good for the team's long-term prospects and therefore good for MGoBlog and his own sanity on football Saturdays. But recruiting news is what keeps sites like his going in the college sports offseason between the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the first game of football season. Success can be painful sometimes.
That dip hasn't been fatal for the growing media empire based in Ann Arbor that is MGoBlog. The 7-year-old website had expanded to a three-person team when we check in with Cook in 2011. Since then it has grown its team to five people, bringing on a photographer and sales manager. It has also had to replace two of its writers after more established competitors with deeper pockets (Rivals and ESPN) cherry picked its two writers.
"It was kind of upsetting and validating at the same time," Cook says.
MGoBlog has also expanded into the football season preview magazine market with its initial offering of "Hail To The Victors" this fall. The glossy magazine done in MGoBlog's distinctive voice became a reality thanks to a $26,000 Kickstarter campaign that largely came from the site's legions of fanboys. Cook sees working out the kinks in the magazine and solidifying its readership as one of MGoBlog's top goals in the next year.
"The most important thing for us to do is to solidify the magazine," Cook says. "I really want year two of the magazine to be solid and turn into a product that can be sold year after year."
Source: Brian Cook, founder of MGoBlog
Writer: Jon Zemke
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