by John Cheese
Hi! I'm John, editor in chief of The Modern Rogue. I wanted to take a quick break from the regular articles to answer a few questions we've been regularly asked over the past two months, as well as updating you all on where we're sitting as a site, where we're going and how we're going to get there. Keep in mind that this isn't just filler -- you being aware of this information directly affects our site's existence.
Where Are We Sitting As A Site?
As of today (March 13, 2018), we are officially out of Beta. If you've read anything from us between January and right now, consider yourself a first generation Modern Rogue. In fact, we should start a rogue's guild. We'll need some sort of badge or something. Artistic people, maybe you could drop some creations in the comments? Just spitballing.
Over the past month and a half, we've tweaked the appearance and functionality of the site to suit as many readers as possible, and that's not going to stop anytime soon. This is an ongoing process, and we're making sure that any changes to The Modern Rogue make practical sense to both us as creators and you as readers.
Since late January, we've added a writers' section, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and an RSS feed. We've added tags and categories to each article, to help you better find the subjects you enjoy the most. We also implemented a comments section, a "like" button and social sharing tools to the bottom of each article.
In that time, we've also established a core group of extremely talented writers who have a passion for the site. I'm currently working with at least five more right now. In the not-so-distant future, I'll be working with some of you. Speaking of which ...
Can I Write For The Modern Rogue?
Yes, but not quite yet. There are a couple of things that need to happen before we can start taking submissions from people outside of our core group of writers.
1) We need to set up a work space, likely in the form of a message board or forum. That's where you'll be able to pitch your ideas and work hand in hand with editors who can help shape it into a full-fledged article. This is the easiest step -- one that we'll have in place fairly quickly.
Note: The forums will be used solely for creating articles. If you're looking for a place to hang out with other Modern Rogue fans, we actually have a Discord for that.
2) We need to bring in editors to help with that project. It takes a massive amount of time and effort, and we'll need to pay them for their services ... as well as paying you for your article. I already have a crew of those ready to go, so it's not about finding the staff. It's about funding.
As soon as we have the system in place and we're able to start taking submissions, we'll announce it here on the site, as well as all of our social platforms. It's coming.
Will There Be A Modern Rogue App?
Yes. But again, it's a matter of time and funding. It's on the agenda, but we first have to establish the site's traffic and finances. The good news is that we're growing week over week, so that may happen sooner than you think.
There Are No Hit Counters On The Articles -- Are Many People Reading Them?
In my experience (I was the managing editor of columns for Cracked.com before coming here), hit counters exist for two reasons: 1) To let the writers know how they're doing in comparison to other writers on the site. 2) As a measurement for how much you'll be paid in 3rd party ad revenue. Since I can personally tell the writer their numbers, and we don't use an ad network, there's no need for hit counters. For our purposes, they are obsolete.
The numbers we pay attention to are the "unique viewers," and so far, we've doubled our expectations. If you look at a graph of daily traffic, it looks kind of crazy and all over the place:
What we're actually looking at aren't the peaks ... we're looking at the valleys. Traffic will always spike, due to individual articles going viral, but where the traffic settles (the long, flat lines) is where we establish our reader base. This is what our growth looks like when we change the graph to weekly traffic:
You can start to see where we're kicking into new gears, week over week. And this is what it looks like on the monthly graph:
You can see a clear, upward trend that is starting to level off. Right now, our goal is to kick the The Modern Rogue into 3rd gear and give it yet another burst of growth.
So the short answer is: Yes, people are reading the articles. About twice as many as we expected. But as long as those graphs keep going up, that's the more important part. I'll show you how you can help with that shortly.
What Else Do You Have Planned? Or Is The Site All You're Working On?
The website is just the first step in a more grandiose set of plans. It's going to take a lot of hard work to get there, but if things pan out the way we hope, you can expect:
An app: Currently in the plans, as I pointed out earlier.
Multiple articles per day: Our ultimate goal is to have three articles every day of the week.
Books: This is a no-brainer. We already have a large collection of material. It would only make sense to convert some of those into book format and add a ton of book-only content.
Podcasts: Imagine a weekly podcast with Brian Brushwood, Jason Murphy and myself being ... well, us. Right in your earholes.
Convention: I'm not just talking about a convention for fans of The Modern Rogue. We're picturing something bigger -- a convention devoted to the entire idea of rogues. Cosplay of your favorite rogues from games, movies and books. Competitions for lock picking and escaping from handcuffs. Magic shows. Live panels. Yes, it sounds lofty, but that's exactly why we want to do it.
How Do We Get To That Point?
Yeah, I'm aware that nobody asked me this question, but I'm answering it anyway, because it's important.
Simply put, we have to grow -- both financially and as an entity. Just to maintain what we have right now, we have to pay for the site itself, my salary as EIC, and every article that we publish. In order to expand beyond that, we need to bring in another editor or two. We need a copy editor, an app designer, a competitive wage for our writers ... we need to be able to pay you for your ideas. Here's the no-BS truth. This is our current Patreon numbers as of March 12, 2018:
Our goal is to get that up to $10,000. You might think that sounds like a lot, and if it was just one person working on the site, you'd be correct. But we're not talking about just one person. We're talking about overhead like writers, editors, site hosting, technical upkeep and vast amounts of time investment to maintain quality articles. $10k per month would cover most of what we need to get the site to the level I outlined earlier.
The other option for supporting The Modern Rogue is by buying cool stuff from our store. And when I say "our" store, I mean our store. We directly profit off of the things you buy there, and that money goes right back into the site. Plus, you get badass toys.
These two methods of income are what it takes to avoid using third party ads. In an age where every reader hates ad networks (but every site depends on them to survive), we're throwing that playbook out the window. We believe that if we provide a great site with great content and a great store, we don't need to bend a knee to advertisers. This is your site; not theirs.
Seriously, I Have No Money -- Can I Still Help The Modern Rogue Grow?
Hell. Yes. In fact, there are two no-cost things you can do pretty much any (every?) day of the week:
1) When you read an article, think of one person who might like it, too, and show them. It really is that simple.
2) Do you have something to say about an article? There are thousands of people who read our stuff every day, and since you are all members of an elite, first-generation "rogue's guild" of sorts, you're kind of a family. A deranged, semi-criminal family, but a family nonetheless. So use the comments section to talk about it. Make friends.
Can I Have Your Dog?