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Big changes coming for The Daily Cartoonist

Last week, The Daily Cartoonist turned eight years old. This last year was difficult. You may have noticed a drop in the number of stories and the frequency I posted. Fortunately, many of the things that were pressing during 2013 have been resolved and I’ve been increasing my attention on The Daily Cartoonist. I’m committing myself not to just another year publishing the blog, but to markedly improve the content and delivery of the news you come here for. Below are a few of the goals for this next year:

  1. Redesign – The site is due for a visual overhaul. How and where people read the blog has changed considerably since 2006 when I designed the site. Aside from visual aesthetics of the site that are starting to look dated, the number of people reading the blog from a mobile or tablet device are steadily increasing. The site needs to be reworked to give readers a better experience regardless of the screen size.
  2. Refocus of content – related to the redesign, I’m going to simplify the content structure. I currently file news under 48 different categories. I’m going reduce it to at least four: Creators, Publishers, Issues, and Technology. I might add a couple more, but you get the idea. I won’t be cutting the current “beats” I report on. The Daily Cartoonist will still be the go to place for newspaper based cartooning, syndicates, but the circle of creators and publishers will get a bit larger.
  3. Reorganize my sources – I think, at least in the early days of the blog, one of the things that helped establish TDC as a go-to source was my ability to leverage Google Alerts and RSS feeds to keep abreast of the goings on in the industry. I frequently was able to published news ahead of more established sites such as Editor and Publisher and Poynter who relied on tips and contacts. A lot of the blogs/sites I follow have grown stale or migrated and I haven’t had the time to do a thorough review to determine which sites/blogs/people I still need to pay attention to in light of TDC’s re-focus of content (see goal #2). Additionally, news is traveling at the speed of Facebook and Twitter and I need to find a better way to separate signal vs noise. For every genuine news tip I see on Twitter/Facebook, I have to wade through hundreds (thousands?) of memes, conversations, and “check out this video”s.
  4. Mobile apps – Related to the redesign, I’m looking into building a native mobile app for iOS and Android devices. I’ve been bullish on mobile as the next big platform, so it’s time I eat my own dog food as they say. More details on this as I more clearly identify the scope of this project.
  5. Rebuild my audience – In the last year, my readership numbers have dropped quite a bit – a casualty of not posting frequently or consistently. The only way to get more readers is to consistently provide news of interest in a timely fashion. That’s always been a challenge as I do have a family and a day-job. In the early days, I was easily dedicating 15-20 hours per week to the blog. While I I can’t promise that level of effort right now, I am dedicating more time each day to the blog. You probably have already seen an uptick in the number of posts each day. You can expect that to continue.

Last year, I didn’t do my annual fund-raiser as I didn’t feel appropriate to ask for donations if I wasn’t positive I’d be able to keep the blog going. But this year I’m not only committed, but I’m increasing my investment to The Daily Cartoonist. I provide a valuable service for those who are interested in comics and the industry. Next week I will be launching a campaign to fund The Daily Cartoonist for 2014. The campaign will be ambitious as are the goals I’m setting out to accomplish.

I hope you’ll support the blog with a generous contribution when the campaign launches. If you’d like to help in the campaign (provide incentives (books, originals, sketches, etc.), please contact me. It would be a much appreciated assistance.

Community Comments

#1 Andertoons
October/21/2013
@ 7:04 am

Hey Alan, just a thought on the redesign… It’s been waaaay too long since I redesigned my own blog, but aren’t there themes that would adapt themselves to being read on a mobile device? Might save you some money over a dedicated app. Just a thought. Also, I might now know what I’m talking about.

#2 Andertoons
October/21/2013
@ 7:05 am

Ha! I meant I might NOT know what I’m talking about. Send coffee….

#3 Alan Gardner
October/21/2013
@ 7:46 am

I know there are thousands of themes out there and I’m not opposed to using one as a starting point, but for me the goal is the same – the site needs an overhaul. Good suggestion, thanks.

#4 Kal Kallaugher
October/21/2013
@ 7:54 am

You do a great job, Alan. You can count on my support and I urge others to join me.

#5 Terry LaBan
October/21/2013
@ 8:19 am

I’m in!

#6 Justin Riley
October/21/2013
@ 9:00 am

99 Designs is dirt cheap for design work and websites. A logo contest might also be kind of fun. It would be interesting to see what your readership would come up with. It’s quite the talent pool.

#7 G Louis Johnson
October/21/2013
@ 10:19 am

Matt Drudge has never changed his site. You get the mobile experience from an App.

Are you using a CMS like WordPress or Drupal or are you going to migrate your site to a CMS?

I know in Drupal there are themes that are mobile ready. I’m sure the same is true for WordPress.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Good luck.

#8 Darrin Bell
October/21/2013
@ 2:41 pm

If you use WordPress there are tons of modern themes online, and their jetpack service includes a way to create an app from your site, that you can post on Android Market and iTunes.

#9 Alan Gardner
October/21/2013
@ 3:02 pm

Thanks for all the support everyone.

As a couple of you have mentioned themes/blogs, etc. I’ll just say quickly, I am currently running WordPress and honestly as a former “award winning” web designer, the design part of the equation is probably the easiest. The larger issue I’m tackling is security, speed and agility (looks good in all browsers and devices). I’ve been wanting to migrate off WordPress for a few years as I’ve had to deal with too many hacks and unless I spend a tightly sum for dedicated hosting, I’m not always happy with the site’s speed.

I’m open to all suggestions, but know I’m in a get lean/zen mood right now, so a large can-do-it-all-including-make-the-coffee solution will probably not be looked at closely. That said – I was all over ditching WordPress until Darrin mentioned jetpack. We’ll see.

#10 Darrin Bell
October/21/2013
@ 6:25 pm

I was wrong, it’s actually WiziApp, a free plugin you can install from within WordPress… not Jetpack. It shows you a live preview of the app in a separate window as you create it.

A lot of the themes you can find at themeforest.net are minimalist and optimized for mobile. If you’d rather code it yourself, these themes are at least good for ideas.

#11 Frank M Hansen
October/21/2013
@ 8:43 pm

Thanks Alan. For all you do with Daily Cartoonist. I count on it as do so many others. Ready to support you in 2014.

#12 David Jones
October/22/2013
@ 11:58 am

Alan, you are awesome. I have learned so much over the years from this site. This blog has really helped my cartooning ability. Now if I could only make a career out of what I’ve learned… lol….

#13 Rich Diesslin
October/22/2013
@ 3:54 pm

Best of luck with the redesign. This site is always a great source of information regardless of any look and feel issues. ;)

#14 Andy Anderson
October/22/2013
@ 8:34 pm

Alan, you can count me in for support. I’m not sure how many others are using apps like flipboard, instapaper or pulse, but I’ve been able to read your blog on any of those and it’s been a good experience. For me, your blog is all about the content – no matter how it looks (and it looks good to me). As Mark said earlier an app may not be necessary?

#15 Mark Stokes
October/28/2013
@ 3:59 pm

Alan,

Thanks for all your dedication and for providing us with your indispensable site. Good luck with all your changes and future improvements. You definitely have my full support for your next fund-raiser!

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