Ten years is like forever on the Internet, a place where fashion and function drive disruption a thousand times a day all around the world. Ten years. That's how long BlueNC has in the business of creating community, with our own special blend of information, opinion, outrage and commentary.
Ten years is also an opportune time to stop and reflect on where we've been and where to go from here. In the spirit of transparency and collaboration, I want to open that conversation to anyone who wants to join.
BlueNC is a limited liability corporation with one primary asset, BlueNC.com, a website that holds a unique and strong position online. Our focus is 100% North Carolina, and we are one of the top state blogs in the country, with 5,000 to 6,000 visitors each week. Around elections, those numbers can swell to 15,000 or 20,000 visitors, as people look for guidance about candidates and issues.
Our cost structure is relatively low. Between hosting and technical support, we spend around $5,000 a year, with occasional bumps for design and functionality improvements.
BlueNC has no revenue. Though we have looked at advertising, contributions and subscriptions from time to time, the logistics involved are significant and have been judged "not worth the trouble" so far. That could certainly change.
In terms of operating model, BlueNC has evolved through a number of ownership and management structures. Today the site is mostly administered by Steve Harrison and me, with a number of others filling in when they can. We've been very happy to see folks like Posmo, Teddy, Vicky, Lynne & Rick, and Thomas stepping in to provide content and support. Thanks to them, and to you all, for your steady participation.
Why do anything different?
BlueNC could continue being exactly what it has been and survive for a good long while. That's certainly one option for the future, and in many ways it's the easiest. For me personally, that wouldn't be very satisfying. I think we have a unique opportunity to step up and contribute in new and more constructive ways, especially given the state of the two parties in North Carolina, and the growing number of unaffiliated voters. All of which raises the question at the top of this post: What's next for BlueNC?
In this early stage of thinking and planning, we're open to any possibility. Commercialization, partnering, expansion, selling out, giving up, blue sky, blank slate, whatever works. To jump start some thinking, here are ideas we've entertained off and on over the years:
- Become a rogue subsidiary and/or forum for the NC Democratic party itself.
- Partner formally with other sites to create a network that can coordinate messaging and campaigns.
- Add in a cultural component for enlightened writing and art that goes beyond politics.
- Redesign and upgrade the site to make it more appealing.
- Develop a revenue model that allows hiring writers and contributors.
- Create a space for candidates to spotlight their credentials and campaigns.
- Go "Onion" and become a pure satire site.
- Give the site to another entity who will put it to good use.
- Sell the URL to Blue Cross and Blue Shield. We've been a pain in their butt for a long time and I'm sure they'd love to put us away.
What's driving this discussion?
Aside from our ten year anniversary, I am looking to step away from daily management responsibilities. I've tried several times over the years to give BlueNC away so others could carry it forward, but none of those attempts have produced a sustainable result. After having written nearly 4000 posts and tens of thousands of comments, I find myself flagging, at a time when exactly the opposite is needed. I'll be 64 years old in September.
If you have ideas or interest in helping find a path forward for BlueNC, please contact me or, better yet, join the discussion below.