* Update: Unfotunately WL365 is no more… *
In early April I started a blog 365 project: Whose Line 365, a blog dedicated to sharing a Whose Line Is It Anyway? clip from YouTube every day for a year. As it’s just hit its 50th post, I wanted to go into the reason why I started it and also what I’ve learnt so far from the experience.
Well… the first part – the reason – is as simple as this: I love the show. The blog’s About page reveals how I came up with the idea to do it as a blog 365 project:
I once joked with my wife that “watching a Whose Line clip a day is good for the soul.” As a keen blogger elsewhere, the light-bulb moment happened, and the rest should be obvious!
I’ve had a lot of fun doing it so far. Watching a clip a day – or a few in one go – has been awesome. I was watching clips regularly anyway, so it’s not really that much more effort to grab the YouTube embed code and throw it up as a blog post.
That said, I can’t believe I’m only 1/7th of the way through it all. It already feels like I’ve been doing it forever! Even this early on I feel like I’ve learnt a lot and so I wanted to share my experiences so far as well as advice for those thinking of doing a blog 365 project of their own!
Make sure it’s viable
If you’re doing a blog 365 project that’s similar in nature to mine then make sure that there’s actually enough material to last 365 days. Fortunately for me, there’s a ridiculous amount of WLIIA scenes on YouTube. I mean crikey – I could probably do 365 clips of just Party Quirks scenes alone!
For most blog 365 projects it’s fine – if it’s something like a photo a day, you can never run out of ideas and possibilities (unless it’s focused on a niche – e.g. ‘photos of x’ – which might be limited). But if you’re working off a finite list, make sure before starting that it’s able to last. You don’t want to be halfway through the project only to realise that you won’t be able to finish it.
Build up a queue of posts (if it helps)
Going into this, I knew I couldn’t literally upload a post a day. Thankfully, WordPress allows you to schedule posts in advance. Even though a friend of mine told me that my process ruins the authenticity of blogging every day. which is the point of such a project, I just knew I couldn’t do it unless I queued posts in advance.
I try to have a week’s worth of posts scheduled, then add 7 more each weekend or one evening when I’m not busy. For those in a similar situation, who worry that they may not be able to put some time aside each day, then scheduling may be the way to go for you, too.
Make use of proper tagging and categorisation
Although not necessary, making use of tags and categories can be extremely valuable for archiving purposes. Whose Line 365 has three main categories: Scenes, Stars and Version. So whether someone wants to mine through the blog’s Hoedown or Scenes From A Hat scenes, watch all scenes starring Colin or Ryan (or a particular celeb, e.g. Stephen Colbert, Robin Williams or Whoopi Goldberg) or want to watch just the US or UK versions, then they have that opportunity.
As an added bonus, it’s great for SEO. The blog is already starting to rank for keywords where people are searching for specific scenes (e.g. as I type this, it’s on page 1 of Google for “party quirks”), which means that even more people are likely to discover the blog. As the year goes on, this is only going to improve, as more scenes are added and more people hopefully discover – and share/link to – the blog.
I love Twitter. And I love doing outreach via Twitter. So it was a no-brainer to contact other dedicated Whose Line communities as well as some of the stars themselves (those who are on Twitter anyway), telling them about the project.
I did it from my personal Twitter profile (@steviephil) to make it a little more personal. I also tried varying each tweet slightly so it wasn’t completely a lazy-looking copy/paste job. Lastly, I made sure to spread them out, so I wasn’t doing them all in one blast (and risk getting reported for spam). Here’s an example tweet:
— Steve Morgan (@steviephil) April 15, 2013
However with people like @DrewFromTV having 650k+ followers, I knew it’d be unlikely that some would even see it, let alone RT it, but it’s worth a shot – it’s not like it costs anything! I also tried to be smart and contacted people when a scene of theirs was the latest one to be shared. The first ‘phase’ got a couple of responses:
— Josie Lawrence (@josielawrence1) April 24, 2013
— Richard Simmons (@TheWeightSaint) May 9, 2013
Phase 2 will target those who didn’t respond, saying something like: “In case you missed it… I started a blog 365 project dedicated to WLIIA! @WhoseLine365: [link].” Because let’s face it – they might’ve just missed the first tweet that I sent them.
Consider a content calendar
This may not apply to all blog 365 projects but it works brilliantly for Whose Line 365. I can time appropriate scenes for seasonal occasions and holidays such as 4th July, Halloween and Christmas.
Additionally, I’ve made a note of many of the main stars’ birthdays, with the intent of sharing a special scene of theirs that day. So far we’ve had Ryan (22nd April) and Drew (23rd May) and I have Wayne and Josie queued as well (whose birthdays are in early June).
Watch out for duplicates
The big risk with something like this – when you’re working off archive footage – is to avoid duplicates. I have a spreadsheet containing the code of every YouTube video (the random string of numbers and characters after the “v=” in the URL, e.g. “ztlCqKkOIsc” for this video), so that I can check that I haven’t already shared it. I know that by the 10th or 11th month, there’s no way that I’m going to remember what I shared in the 1st or 2nd month.
Heck, I admit that it’s not foolproof… I’ve already nearly shared the same Party Quirks scene twice because the video was uploaded twice by two different people, but it helps nonetheless.
Make sure you can do it (i.e. maintain it) on an on-going basis
Another necessity: do you have the time (and drive) to do this for a year? Post something once a day, or schedule a few in one go once a week? It takes a lot of time – more than you might think.
Fortunately for me, every time I think: “ahh, I need to schedule some more posts for Whose Line 365,” I remember how much I enjoy it – watching the scenes and choosing which ones to post.
And finally… Make sure that you enjoy it!
As I’ve said above (more than once!), I love doing it. So make sure it’s something you know you’ll enjoy for a whole year.
A year is a long time – you don’t want to reach the end and feel like you had to finish it for the sake of finishing it. You want to be gutted that it’s over!
I mean come on, how can you watch this and not laugh?! 😉
[Calendar image credit: photosteve101]