Running any website over a long period is at first a love affair that morphs into a long term relationship. There’s renewing your vows (replatforming from Typepad), having affairs (you’ve been spending too much time with Twitter), getting drunk and embarrassing you all in public (Feedburner sending the last 20 posts to everyone on the email list for no reason), just not making the effort (when did you last update that theme?), boring on about things that happened 20 years ago (let that planning decision go FHS) and of course the love children (that spin off site you never took very far but you still get hosting bills for).
There comes a time when you need to renew your vows with your site and perk up the relationship. Here’s how i did this with my own site.
For me in the last couple of years with two young children 18 months apart I found it very hard to find time for anything – sleeping for instance. I could spend little time on the ground talking to people and observing. Indeed my motivation slipped and i found it hard even to spend ten minutes getting a flyer up on the site someone sent me. There’s a great team around the site that’s great at compensating for each other’s busy spells, but i felt i wasn’t pulling my weight.
I was snapped out of this by watching someone else who is doing it really well – i was inspired by Sarah Hartley’s dogged pursuit of filming of council meetings. And the cohort of bloggers who threw themselves into the furore created by Eric Pickles. I remembered what i was missing and this was how i got back into the groove:
going back to the things that got you started or loved – big planning issues always got me going, sad case that I am (or active engaged citizen if you prefer). I enjoyed helping unpack the intricacy of large planning applications and explaining them to people so that local people can help shape their neighbourhood. The web allows you to do this really well and it’s something we are proud of on the Kings Cross site in an area that is being rebuilt.
setting aside some specific time for the site – my local work has always been a spare time activity and now i had no spare time with kids and stuff. So i spent a half day specifically on getting back into it – instead of going for a theraputic walk or a rugby match or working.
This led to me writing up a big new planning proposal on a major site in Kings Cross with a vexed history we had covered over the years. I went out and shot some video of traffic on the road in front of the site illustrating some of the issues. got in touch with the developers who gave me images etc. While out with a camera i gathered enough material for several other pieces.
Now i feel i am getting back into the groove and am much happier with the site. We might even go on a romantic weekend to Middlesborough and talk about the experience with other local sites.
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