Columbia County man takes love of UGA football to the internet
With No. 3 Georgia looking at a very real opportunity to play for a BCS National Championship, Bulldog mania is off the charts, and one Columbia County man is doing his best to make the most of it.
In three years, Greg Poole’s Leather Helmet Blog has become one of the most popular Bulldog football blogs, generating more than 1,000 page views a day.
“This year’s yearly page views are going to be over 3 million,” Poole says. “We had our first 400,000 page view month in September, and this year we’ve never been below 200,000 page views a month, which has been a big threshold.”
Poole, who will turn 65 next month, had a couple of bad experiences with people commenting on other blogs, so he decided to do it better himself.
“People were just being snarky and acting as if they owned the commenting space and not allowing for good comment flow,” he says. “That was really why I started the blog — to provide a place for people to talk about their interest in Georgia football without all the crap.”
He says he has a team of 10 moderators who work to make sure people respect each other and maintain the proper boundaries.
“We encourage argument and discussion, but not personal attacks,” he says. “Present your point and go on.”
Poole works eight to 10 hours a day on the blog, mostly conducting research. He subscribes to over 200 different sources, mostly other blogs and websites, since the University of Georgia won’t communicate with him directly.
“I would love to be in Athens and have university media credentials to take advantage of all the things that gives you, but UGA refuses to credential blogs that are not associated with a national media outlet,” he says. “I’ve been round and round with UGA folks about it, but they’re not budging.”
It’s not just the university that’s giving him a hard time, however. Traditional print media tries to keep him at the margins, though every time he quotes one of their stories or links to one of their YouTube videos, they get credit for the page view.
Those page views are important because it’s a way of quantifying popularity in order to monetize the operation.
Though Poole is definitely a fan, he didn’t start his blog just to vent about the football team. He started his blog to make money, though it took a little while for his venture to get off the ground.
“The first two weeks, I think I’m the only one who ever saw it,” he says. “Then I figured out how to get it out in front of the public, but it was one of those pretty crappy looking blogs. By December, though, I had discovered how to make it present a little better and it was picking up some readership. By March 1 it was over the 1,000 page view a day threshold that it really requires to make any money at all.”
One thousand page views a day might technically make some money, but it takes a lot more than that to make any kind of serious money.
Any lower than 5,000 or 6,000 page views and it’s not considered lucrative at all.
“I could make more money this month going out and working a regular job,” he says, “but because it’s growing the way it is, it’s attracting some attention from bigger media groups, which is leading to other things.”
Poole says the timing is right for him to make it a go of it.
“If I were 40, I wouldn’t be doing this,” he says. “If I were 40, I would probably have a blog, but it would just be a fan blog. I wouldn’t be putting this kind of time and effort into it, but at my age, even if I don’t do anything else, it’s a pretty good supplemental income.”
Viewership took a 17 percent hit after UGA’s 35-7 loss to South Carolina on October 10, but has since climbed dramatically with the Bulldog’s surge. He expects that interest to stay high through recruiting season, then taper off during the off season, though he’ll continue to post throughout the slow period.
“The cardinal rule is, at least one post a day,” he says. “If you get people reading your blog and they come back and it’s the same thing that was there before, they’re probably not coming back. And if that happens twice, you’ve lost them.”
Though he’s not sure just where the industry is heading, Poole says he can envision a day when blogs get the notoriety he says they deserve now.
“I think you’re going to see the serious blogs all become members of networks or become affiliated with print media that has finally learned its lesson,” he says. You Might Also Like: