I have talked a lot about things that need to change so that Lincolnite can live and thrive. The vast majority of it is stuff that I need to do. There are a few things I need some help with, however. Fortunately I've already had some volunteers. This post is a brainstorm about some of the ways you can help Lincolnite be a success.
The first and most obvious thing I could use help with is content creation. To that end, I'm going to expand the number of bloggers who post here. I have talked about this before -- several times, in fact -- but I haven't done a good job of following through. That will change. The bloggers I bring in will be of two types: regular bloggers who can post on any topic any old time they like; and guest bloggers who post periodically and are more closely moderated. There will be an application process of some sort, but it won't be anything too onerous.
What kind of bloggers am I looking for? In short, I'm looking for people who fit in here. People who care about Lincoln and who can contribute meaningfully to the sorts of conversations we like to have around here. People who can fill niches I'm not strong in (local sports, to name one example). People who can write well and engage the reader. People who aren't going to fade out after three posts (unless they are a guest blogger, of course).
Or heck, maybe I'm not looking for a writer at all! Mr. T, for example, has become our resident photographer. I plan to expand his work -- if he's willing! -- in the next iteration of the website. Maybe somebody out there wants to help resurrect Lincast, the podcast I briefly toyed with. Or perhaps there's a videographer who wants to post some short films from around town. I'm open to all kinds of ideas.
There's another type of content assistance that would be extremely helpful. I have many, many ideas for posts that require time-consuming activities like driving around town or setting up interviews. Having a "producer" available to help set up that stuff would be unbelievably handy. Being able to say to somebody "I want to write about X, can you find out Y and Z for me?" would open up all kinds of possibilities.
Over the past several days as I've been thinking through all of this, it occurred to me that I'm asking some unspecified number of folks to help take ownership of Lincolnite. That line of thinking led me to ask myself: what would actual shared ownership of Lincolnite look like? Presently there isn't much to "own". I've never made a dime off of this thing so it's not like there are profits to be shared. But what would it look like if there were some kind of Board of Directors? To be honest, some of you already fill that kind of navigational role by virtue of the feedback you provide. Perhaps I could formalize it. Or let's take that even further. What if the entire Lincolnite project were open sourced somehow? What if Lincolnite's website design, backend systems, content, and everything else belonged to nobody at all? I've chewed on that idea for a while now and, though I haven't figured out how it would work, I'm willing to consider it if somebody can come up with a working model.
The final thing I need help with is a biggie. As I have already mentioned, I want a new site design. I'm no designer; I can do website architecture and engineering, but making pixels pretty is out of my league. I have a good friend who is a designer by trade, but he's not able to help out right now. I wonder if any of you can help. I don't want some sort of cookie cutter WordPress template design. I want something creative and classy, conservative and lasting. The catch, of course, is that my budget is ... not large. Like I said, I don't make a dime off Lincolnite. Whatever I pay comes out of my pocket. Still, if I can find somebody who can provide professional-quality work I'll do everything I can to compensate him or her fairly.
I hope that helps you understand the sort of help that some of you can provide to keep Lincolnite going strong. Most of this has been coming for a long time (e.g. adding bloggers), now I'm forcing the issue. It'll be a good thing for all of us.
Tomorrow I'll talk about what comes next. In the mean time, let me know what you think in the comments!