When I started as editor of the Voice with the July/August issue in 2009, we were a print-only magazine running 10 issues per year to our members plus the Texas judges. We are still that. But we are also a lot more now.
Thanks to the insanely hard work of Craig Hattersley, Melissa Schank, and Stacy Clifford, we now have an impressive online magazine as well. Our monthly unique users roughly equal our printed circulation. Thus, for all intents and purposes, our readership has doubled since 2009. Last year, we had over 30,000 unique visitors who visited the Voice Online approximately 55,000 times, looking at around 140,000 pages. We now have readers around the world.
After February 2011, when the Voice Online was born, really working the Voice became a much bigger job than it had been as just a print magazine. Before, we just had to find articles (no small feat, at times) and get them edited, laid out, and published. As an online magazine, we have many more things that ought to be done.
I am writing this because I need help with our magazine.
In October 2010, after a minor heart attack (my words, not my wife’s), I left my law firm of 9 years and joined a medium-sized civil firm in Arlington. I now do about 50/50 criminal and civil litigation. And I’m crazy busy. I’ve also been really distracted, absorbed in trying to build a new practice after almost 20 years. So, honestly, for the last year, I have not been pushing the Voice as much as it needs to be pushed. While the job of the Voice editor has more than doubled in size, I have been increasingly unavailable.
Here is what needs to be done and what I envision for the future.
First of all, I think that we should always have editors drawn from our membership. We should not give in to the temptation to try to find professional editorial staff for the Voice. It has been my distinct honor to be the editor of the Voice. The line of editors in TCDLA is filled with people I have been proud to follow.
Second, I believe we need an editor to just run the Voice Online and the blog. That editor could guide the online content and try to find bloggers (hopefully with more luck than I have had in doing so). Active blogging would cause the Voice Online to take off. The constantly changing content would raise our rankings in the search engines and the blogging would increase our readership.
Our online editor could also be in charge of updating our Facebook page, which could be done at least once a week with just the features from the Voice Online. We could also start a Twitter account, or, more likely, send out tweets on TCDLA’s account with links to the Voice Online.
Finally, our online editor would be in charge of preparing the email blasts for Melissa to send to the membership. Every time Melissa sends one of these, we experience a spike in visits to the site. They are great. Blasts can also be conducted on the listserve, and I used to do this.
The editor of the print magazine could do what the editor has always had to do—hustle articles and edit. Getting articles is easier when the Voice Online is going strong, as the online presence generates authors. But the quantity of good articles always ebbs and flows. The print editor could help the online editor on an as-needed basis and should be willing to do blog work.
The blog could stand to have several active authors. In the beginning, I was able to convince a few authors to blog. Tony Vitz contributed, as did Mark Griffith and Emily DeToto. But we need regulars. There is a lot of chatter on the listserve that would be great blogging material, but to date nobody had taken up the challenge to do it.
So, for the editors, one of the challenges would be to find articles, the other would be to find regular bloggers.
I can think of one thing that might help. We in TCDLA have a “rule” that everyone on the board is supposed to write two articles for the Voice. Of course, nobody does. But what if the rule were to write two or three 500-word blog posts?
There is no set term limit for the Voice editor. That said, I expected to do it for three years. I am coming up on four. At this point, I have done just about all that I set out to do. It is time for some new blood.
One thought that has occurred to me is to have staggered terms for two editors. That way, there would always be overlap and nobody would ever start out cold. Thankfully, as long as we have Craig and Melissa, we don’t need to worry so much about a ramp-up period training a new editor. But there is still an adjustment period and staggered terms would take care of that.
So what say you all? I will stay on for another year if someone wants to step up and be a co-editor. Or not. If two folks step up and want to just take it over, that’s fine also. But we need someone.