This feels right
This feels right.
That’s the first thought I had when I bought back the domain ‘RedNationHoops.com’
After years of covering the Houston Rockets for various publications, I’ve found my way back to the very spot that launched my media career.
If you don’t care about any of this, please skip ahead to ‘What you’ll get from this newsletter’.
But for those who do, let’s explain how we got here.
It’s in the ‘About’ section, but Red Nation Hoops was a Houston Rockets blog I founded in 2014 and ran for about 5 years. I was a diehard Rockets fan and surrounded myself with other diehards with legitimate writing talent. We had a blast and formed friendships that will last a lifetime.
It’s actually what birthed the Red Nation Hoops podcast, but we’ll talk more about that later.
The run was short-lived, as I stepped down as managing editor of the site in 2019 to pursue a full-time media career. The blog disbanded shortly after.
But now I had my dream job. I got to be around an NBA team nearly 24/7 and learned the ins and outs of the business for four seasons. I got to work alongside people (media and non-media) who were excellent at their jobs. On top of that, I was getting paid to write about basketball for big-name publications like USA Today and ClutchPoints.
It was the definition of cloud nine.
Then two things happened. First, I felt like I was no longer putting my best foot forward. Sure, I was constantly writing, but that was the whole problem. I was cranking out a large volume of articles at the expense of substance. Sure, it’s exactly what my outlets were looking for, but it’s not what I was looking for. It felt like I was doing readers a disservice.
To put it bluntly, there isn’t a strong incentive for websites that rely on advertisements to produce high quality content. To sell ads, you need traffic. To get traffic, you need eye-catching headlines and high volume.
That’s the unfortunate state of internet ad revenue and journalism in 2022. Could I cook up a “5 reasons why X” column or aggregate a news story every once in a while? Of course. I’m willing to be a team player and that content has to be produced by somebody.
But because that’s all I was asked to do, I didn’t have the breathing room for long-form writing. Long-form is my bread and butter as a writer. It’s just incredibly hard to deeply analyze a basketball subject when the article is under 500 words. I kept my head down, but deep down, I wasn’t being satisfied creatively anymore.
I harbor no resentment towards these outlets. It was just a bad fit. I’m actually incredibly grateful. They gave me the opportunity to live out a dream. More importantly, places like that are consistently giving people much younger than me the opportunity to get credentialed, write about basketball, and get paid.
How could I be mad at that?
The second thing that happened was in early 2022, other obligations caught up to me and I no longer had the time be on the beat. It just wasn’t feasible for me to go to games, shootarounds, practices, and press conferences anymore. The hours are also odd and conflict heavily with my schedule.
So I took a step back and re-evaluated how I wanted to approach basketball coverage moving forward. I knew whatever I was going to do next would involve subscriptions. I’ve long been a believer in subscription journalism and even wrote a paper on it several years back. I think it’s what’s best for writers and consumers long-term.
Then I had to narrow down the scope of my coverage.
I’ve built my core audience through Rockets coverage, but I was tempted to take this opportunity to expand into national coverage. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of covering the entire NBA and this would be a good opportunity to jump in feet first.
However, if I was going to cover the entire NBA, I would want to do it properly. I currently watch 1-2 basketball games every night, but national coverage would require more. I would have to read more local coverage for other teams than I’m doing right now. And truthfully, the idea of building an audience from scratch in addition to all that sounds exhausting.
So after months of deliberating and advice-seeking, I started forming a plan in early March. I would continue writing and podcasting about the Houston Rockets, but without the support of a network. It’s going to be fully-independent coverage and under the umbrella of ‘Red Nation Hoops’.
Because that feels right.
What you’ll get from this newsletter:
-4 articles a month
-1 premium episode of RNH
-1 mailbag post
I will make two posts available every month to the free subscribers, but the bulk will remain behind a paywall for $6/month or $60/year (two free months).
For now, the RNH podcast will remain free to all, but I don’t want to make any long-term commitments. My preference is to keep the show free so I will explore every avenue of monetization possible over the next few months. It’s going to be hard without a network, but I owe it to the audience. You guys seriously rock.
This is a pretty scary endeavor. I’m expecting absolutely nobody to subscribe, so I’ll be pleasantly surprised with anything I get on Day 1.
Thanks for the continued support. For those who subscribed, I’ll see you here next week.