We Need Your Help: Snap Reader Survey

SNAP READER SURVEY

Hello Snappers! You all look beautiful today.

If you can’t tell from the title of this post, we’re obviously buttering you up because we need to ask you a favor.

When you have a minute, can you please respond to our survey linked below? It’s only four questions, so you can finish it in a jiffy.

We’re using this survey to get a better idea of what people want to see more of on The Snap. As you may or may not know, we’re all about giving the people what they want.

Click here to complete the survey and help us make The Snap even better!

– Val and Michelle

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100 Posts: A Milestone for The Snap

100 Posts

This is the 100th post on The Snap.

Holy crap.

Where has the last year gone? Who knew that the little passion project we started in the summer of 2014 would develop into what you see today?

We’re feeling reflective now that we’ve hit the 100-post milestone right around our first blogiversary, so today you’re getting something a little bit different before we kick off the 2015 NFL season. Here are the top 10 things we’ve learned in our first year of football blogging:

1. Don’t wait for the “right time” to do something.

There’s a quote from Lemony Snickett that goes, “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives.” I (Michelle) thought about starting this blog for quite some time before I actually created the site. Why I waited, I’m not entirely sure, but I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer than I did. We try to use a Nike-esque “Just Do It” mentality with regards to The Snap nowadays after realizing that no one is ever going to tell you the day to chase your dreams.

2. “You would be surprised what people will do when you ask.” – Oprah

The majority of the interviews featured on The Snap have been a direct result of an email or tweet to a stranger. Reaching out to people we don’t know is intimidating. However, the more often we do it, the more we realize how crucial it is to getting good content. Beyond that, we’ve been pleasantly surprised how willing people are to help. For the most part, people will take the time to respond to your email, answer your questions on a call, or promote your post. Also, it gives you the chance to say things like, “I chatted it up with Reggie Wayne’s mom.” This leads me into the next point…

3. Interviews are difficult.

I (Michelle) took one journalism class in college and boy do I wish that I had taken a few more, if only for the opportunity to develop my interview skills more. Sometimes I feel like a fraud because no one has given me press credentials (yet), but I’ve had to get over that lack of confidence really fast if I wanted to avoid sounding like a moron. (Yes, there are still times that I’m sure I sound like a moron, no matter how much prep I do, but that’s what practice is for, right?)

4. Social media is difficult.

Maybe difficult isn’t the right word to describe social media, but there’s definitely more that goes into accruing a social media following than I originally thought. Getting and keeping followers across the different social media platforms involves a lot of time-consuming behind-the-scenes work. Kudos to the people that do it well.

5. Pictures are important.

Val and I debated whether we wanted our images on this blog before we started it. If you follow us, you can probably tell that we just decided to go for it and plaster our faces all over this blog. Why? Our favorite blogs have pictures – lots of them. Images (of the bloggers, of different events, of infographics and so on) create a personal connection, are attention-grabbers, and quite frankly, are crucial in the Instagram world we live in today.

6. Game plans are great, but sometimes it’s more important to react to what’s going on in front of you.

At any given time, we have a plan in place for our next 3-4 posts, in addition to an ever-evolving list of topics to cover when football news gets slow. Sometimes, things happen in the football world and we have to immediately react, which of course, shoots our short-term blog schedule to hell. We’ve learned to get over this quickly because there’s a lot to be said for covering current events. Not only does it drive traffic to the blog, but it makes us and our readers more knowledgeable about NFL headlines.

7. Your audience finds you.

Our intended audience was people like us – girls in their 20s who are looking to learn more about football from someone who is not a pretentious butthead. This description fits some of our readers, but definitely not all of them. We’ve got dudes, retirees, Patriots fans, non-Patriots fans, and according to our WordPress statistics, some international followers as well. We love all of you. Hugs and kisses for everyone (except Jets fans).

8. 80% Quality, 20% Quantity

We completely made these percentages up, but you get the point, right? Sometimes, as chronicled in this post, there’s just no motivation or time to write quality content. In times like these, we don’t post, which probably doesn’t fall under blogging best practices. We don’t want to be embarrassed by anything we publish, so we really try to focus on quality in hopes that it will trigger return readers. However, there is 20% of the time that we say, oh snap, we’re overdue to publish something so that people know we’re still alive. We all have such short attention spans these days, so the balance between quality and quantity is an important one.

9. The line between having an opinion and reporting facts is a tricky one.

We’ve stayed up way past our bedtime debating tone, phrasing, and the inclusion of our opinion in some of our most popular “current event” posts. Being an independent blog not linked to a news corporation and one that uses humor to explain concepts, we have the benefit of being able to include opinions in our posts. For example, anytime we reference the Jets, we’ll tell you how we really feel, which usually involves a joke at their expense. However, sometimes there’s more of a gray area. We haven’t really formed an opinion yet and don’t want to publish anything until we have as many facts as we can. Other times, our opinions can be harsh (I’m not saying we have them about a certain commissioner and I’m not saying we don’t), and we’ve decided that some things are better left said in angry phone calls between the two of us instead of being posted for the unforgiving world that is the internet.

10. We can’t do this alone.

This is quite possibly the most important item on the list. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO BUILD A BETTER SNAP. A blog with no readers is a diary. We do our best to promote the blog, but it makes us feel really good when our followers refer new readers. Please continue to share The Snap – post a link on your Facebook, subscribe your friends to our email list, show it to your grandma, tell us what you want to see next.

We can’t thank you enough for all of your support in the last year and we look forward to making the next year of blogging even better. Each time you read, like, or share one of our posts, it validates the time that we spend doing this. Thank you.

XOXO, Michelle and Val

Biscuits: A Snap Life Update

Biscuits

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the new Kacey Musgraves’ song “Biscuits”. Written by the same team that penned Musgraves’ country music game-changer “Follow Your Arrow”, it’s the lead single off of her new album and it’s so damn catchy. It’s got lyrics you wish you had written and a sing-along chorus that has you clapping whether you want to or not. It has me all sorts of jealous that I’m not the gorgeous hair goddess known as Kacey Musgraves.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I need to make a point and that point is that lately I’ve been obsessing over things other than football. Shocking, I know.

Now I probably don’t owe the internet an excuse as to why there’s been a sudden decrease in Snap posts over the last two months, but sudden inspiration and Catholic guilt has me typing away, so that’s what you’re going to get.

Considering the fervor with which we write about football here on The Snap, it may be a surprise that we have lives outside of our NFL obsession. These lives include full-time jobs, occasional social events, Monday and Tuesday night dates with The Voice, and in the last few months, a Boston-based battle against record-setting amounts of snow. (Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD] is a real thing, people! I can testify that 108 inches of snow can bring you to a very dark place. By the end of February, I was seriously pondering a move to Miami, even if it would mean being in Patriot rival territory. Yes, they were dark times indeed.)

I care about the writing I do for The Snap. Sure, it’s a blog Val and I started for fun, but that doesn’t mean that we have low quality standards. We never want to post something just for the sake of having a post. That would be lame.

I’ve always been very particular about my writing process and as much as I wish differently, the writing habits that got me through high school and college have carried over to the blog. These habits include waiting for inspiration to strike and more often than not, doing my best work right when I should be going to bed. Not only are these things inefficient and not conducive to a great sleep schedule, but they are just so freakin’ annoying.

Simply put, it’s been a struggle the last few weeks. On top of my diva-esque writing habits and some personal issues taking up the majority of my brain power, there have been many nights in the past few weeks that I’ve come home after staring at Excel spreadsheets for 10+ hours a day and the thought of opening up my personal computer made me want to vomit.

From September to January, the excitement of the NFL season often got me over the vomit-threshold and spurred the 2-3 posts you saw each week during the regular season. Now, that we’re in the offseason, the truth is that the slower NFL news cycle hasn’t done much to inspire me. Sure, the first week of free agency was pretty exciting, but other than that, I haven’t been jazzed enough about the NFL to log into the old WordPress account. It’s kinda sad.

biscuits lyrics

I felt guilty about it for a while, but then I got over it when I realized that there’s an offseason for a reason. Players and coaches need a break, and considering that no one is paying me to write about football all year long, I think I needed a break too. Mind you, I had bold plans of writing with the same 2-3 post frequency in the offseason, taking advantage of the slow news cycle to do more of the “this is how football works” posts, but you know what they say about best laid plans. The bottom line is that I haven’t been inspired and I don’t want that lack of inspiration to result in craptastic posts that make you wonder if the joy of football writing has abandoned me. (It hasn’t – it was just buried under mountains of snow.)

Now some of you may point out that there is a second writer on this blog and I would say, yes, you are correct and she is quite attractive! Val has an even better excuse as to why she hasn’t written. She has a new job! Yay, Val! She’s been making very exciting and overdue life changes lately. I couldn’t very well boss her around and order to her to regurgitate her football knowledge via Snap posts when she had other important life things to address. (Did you know that along with death and divorce, career changes are the most stressful changes you can go through in life? True story!) Job change = free pass to not maintain regular blog posts in offseason.

So I guess this is the point that I’m supposed to apologize for sucking and then tell you what’s coming up next on The Snap. I’m not going to do either. OK, actually I will apologize for the unintentional lack of posts – I know some of you rely on them as a distraction to get through the work day. My bad. (There’s that Catholic guilt again!)

That said, I don’t know what our plans are for the Snap. Is it going away? Hell no. We just needed a breather, people. Let’s not overreact.

The Snap will continue on, as there’s a list of topics in our heads that are just waiting to manifest themselves in the form of a post. When that happens, we promise the posts will be coming from a place of enthusiasm for this blog and the sport of football. After all, there’s still so much to learn!

We’d love it if you’d stick with us as we continue on this football journey.

 

– Michelle, or the girl who has a serious case of Kacey Musgraves nose-piercing envy

This Week on The Snap: Life Happens

flowers

Val and I have been debating whether we should post anything this week. As much as we love this blog, sometimes “life happens” and you need to take a step back.

You see, the sun has been shining a little less brightly in our corner of the world, as our grandmother recently passed away.

We were incredibly close with her and we consider ourselves lucky to have had her with us as long as we did. Despite the many illnesses she faced, Grandma made life interesting for those around her for 95 years. (Her longevity is probably due to the fact that she was the most stubborn woman I’ve ever met in my life, but those are stories for a different time.)

I can’t really share any Grandma football stories with you because she didn’t give a hoot about football. (She only loyally followed the UCONN women’s basketball team.) Even though she didn’t really care if the Patriots won or lost, she knew that we cared.

When we were in high school and dial-up internet was a fact of life, Grandma would clip Patriots articles from her New England newspaper and mail them to us. Even after we went to college and internet speeds got faster, enabling us to access the articles online with details about the wins that weren’t televised near us, she continued to send the articles. I thought it was funny at the time, but looking back, I appreciate every single one of those articles because I know she was thinking about us whenever she clipped them.

She would ask how the Pats were doing on phone calls and even if she probably didn’t care about the answer, we’d fill her in on their most recent win or loss. She saw me throw a tantrum on her living room floor when the Pats failed to make the 2008 season playoffs and she’d welcome us with open arms whenever we needed a make a pit-stop on our drive up to training camp from Delaware.

She may not have loved football, but she loved us.

That doesn’t even begin to cover what a gem our Grandma was, but it puts smiles on our faces.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer as to whether we should be posting or not. Hopefully you won’t judge us if we do and hopefully you’ll understand if we don’t. This blog is somewhat of an escape from the real world for us, so if we feel up to it and find the time this week, we’ll continue to post, knowing that Grandma would probably be ok with it. I know our following isn’t that big (yet), but we do appreciate the people who have supported us so far and think it’s only fair to keep you in the loop.

Ravens Week on The Snap!

Ravens Week on the Snap

I know what you’re thinking. What a bunch of traitors! Two Patriots fans devoting a whole week to another AFC team?!

What’s going on here?

How can you spend so much time writing about a team that’s developed a decent rivalry with the Pats over the last few years?

Did they pay you for the good press?

Woah, slow down there, Skippy. Let’s pump the breaks.

To answer the first question – We’ve got some great Ravens-related articles for you this week. Why? Themes are fun! This will be like a themed party, but there will be no cheesy decorations, elaborate costumes, or embarrassing pictures on Facebook after the event. (Actually that last one has the potential to happen.) We had a Ravens-related opportunity come into our life after featuring Purple here and so we’re going to take it and run with it.

To answer the second question – The Ravens are not the Jets. When we started this blog, we determined that we could say nice things about every team in the league except the Jets.

To answer the third question – No, they didn’t pay us, although the organization has given us the aforementioned opportunity, which will make for an excellent post. What can we say – we recognize good material when we see it and we’re not afraid to give credit where it’s due. (Except for the Jets. We can’t bring ourselves to give them credit for anything. Most of the time they make it easy for us.)

To kick things off, we’ll give you the Ravens’ 2014 profile (yeah, we’re still writing those) to get you familiar with the team. After that, well…you’ll just have to come back and see! Even if you aren’t a Ravens fan, we’re asking you stick it out with us. (We’ll still have our regular Our Thoughts weekly game recap and Favorite Link Friday.) We promise – it will be worth it!

– Val and Michelle

Why the NFL Needs Olivia Pope

Olivia Pope Scandal Quote Secrets

I’ve had more than one person ask me when I was going to write about the NFL’s current PR nightmare on The Snap. I was initially hesitant because this is one heck of a sticky situation.

In a way, discussing this debacle goes against the idea of this blog. We try to give you something that you can’t really get many other places when it comes to football. You can log onto any news site right now and see the latest NFL headline. You can read commentary out to wazoo on all the things that have gone wrong. You don’t need us for that.

The Snap is a place for you to come to learn about football in a way that’s not intimidating and hopefully somewhat entertaining. Whether you like it or not, the NFL plays a huge part in our culture and we think that so many good things can come out of educating “less enthusiastic” fans about the game.

We like to keep things positive on here and there are very few positive things to say in regards to this situation.

I think Peter King really summed up our feelings best in this Monday Morning Quarterback post. “Should we like football?” is the question that Peter poses to the reader. We all know that it’s a dangerous sport. It’s a money-making machine where the bottom-line continues to dictate some very important decisions. It’s a league where their code of conduct policy and punishment system has been rightly questioned.

I know all this, and yet, when it comes time for games on Sunday, I’m going to watch.

I’m going to watch because I know that there are a lot of decent guys in the league. I don’t know any of the players personally, but I have to believe that the majority of them are good people who are achieving their dreams. Like Peter expressed, there are just too many good stories for me to walk away right now.

That doesn’t mean we’re ok with everything that has taken place.

What Ray Rice did was wrong. What Greg Hardy allegedly did was wrong. What Adrian Peterson allegedly did was wrong. What Jonathan Dwyer allegedly did was wrong. The list doesn’t end there. There are too many players who have been involved in domestic violence and assault cases, and clearly the league hasn’t handled it appropriately over the years. It’s sad that it took a video leak for the extent of the violence to “become real” and instigate a public outcry. My heart breaks for the victims whose names are in the news, as well as all the names we don’t know.

If you read this lengthy investigative ESPN report, you’ll see that there were allegedly a lot of missteps in the Ray Rice case, including the initial punishment handed down by the commissioner. I don’t really know any other commissioner other than Roger Goodell because I started liking football when Paul Tagliabue’s time as commissioner was coming to an end. I don’t follow any other sports closely enough to be able to compare Roger to Adam Silver (NBA), Bud Selig (MLB), and Gary Bettman (NHL), with the exception of the time I paid attention to the Adam Silver press conference earlier this year where he discussed the Donald Sterling ban.

Was I so wrong to hope that Goodell would use his press conference on September 19th to make a definitive statement like Silver did?

If you didn’t watch Goodell’s press conference, you didn’t miss too much. He spent 45 minutes evading questions and failed to give us any new details. It was a gigantic missed opportunity to say something that would make us feel better about how the league is handling the situation.

The whole situation, for someone who genuinely enjoys watching the sport, is frustrating beyond belief.

That’s all well and good Michelle, you say, but what does Olivia Pope have to do with all this?

Well, besides making for a very catchy title, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself that the league needs an Olivia Pope of their own.

Olivia Pope Scandal Quote Gut

I don’t routinely watch Scandal, but I’ve seen enough episodes to know that someone like Olivia is needed. In case you aren’t familiar with the ABC show, its protagonist Olivia Pope, played by the lovely Kerry Washington, is a “fixer” for the DC elite. She’s got a team of “gladiators” that help her make other peoples’ problems go away. She drinks a lot of wine and has an enviable wardrobe. She’s a boss.

I’m sure the NFL has a team of “Olivias.” The league is too powerful not to have a crisis management team of PR professionals ready to react at any given time, which is why I’m surprised as to why it’s gotten as bad as it has.

If Olivia worked at the NFL, I know she would have obtained the Ray Rice video within minutes and subsequently come up with a better plan than to plead ignorance. Olivia’s intuition is one of her best qualities and I have to believe that her gut would have told her things were not ok. With all the conflicting information, I don’t know who to believe, but Olivia would have known. She would have recognized that the video would eventually become public and that ultimately a 2-game suspension wasn’t enough. She wouldn’t have been able to predict the rash of players with legal problems, but she would have dealt with each high-stress situation and looked good while doing it. She would have done the right thing, more or less, and the NFL would have emerged in a much better spot than they are now.

Yes, I know Olivia is a fictional character, but if one person in the league had channeled her, would I have needed to write this post? Probably not.

Olivia Pope Scandal Quote Handled

So there you have it. We won’t ignore the NFL PR nightmare on The Snap, but we’re not going to focus on it for the reasons we have described. We will continue to post the good stories on here until there aren’t any left to tell.

(Have you seen our Charity Spotlights for Larry Fitzgerald and our boy Derrick Coleman? We’re so excited about some of the charities we have lined up for this column and you should be too!)

This debacle tells us that change is needed, and I think the league has received that message loud and clear. If there is any positive to come out of this situation, it’s the spotlight on domestic abuse, which is deserving of the conversation.

Maybe Olivia Pope will get us through this situation after all…

– Michelle