And love, it isn’t love until it’s past.”
The Top 100 Blog is coming to a close…but is being reincarnated under the moniker Casual, But Smart.
Ever since I began watching the top 100 movies per the American Film Institute in 2005 (when I was receiving DVDs per mail via Netflix to watch classics), I always wanted a blog focused on reviewing the top 100 acclaimed entries in multiple formats. I tried one time in 2008 but it fizzled out, being a reckless, partying college student. 2018 was the time to make it happen: disciplined, focused, and wanting to write.
I’ve posted over 200 things, so I’ve been successful on that front. However, I underestimated how much the internet has changed.
I wanted to create this space free of social media due to its negativity and being a time-sink (I deleted all my social media sometimes in 2018). This has completely hamstrung my scope and ability to get the word out. I almost have as many daily viewers here as on my new site with just two posts — all from just a little social media play.
The internet I grew up with is completely dead. It isn’t a wild west of content but is instead corralled by algorithms via search engine optimization and social media footprint.
People’s consumption habits have followed this trend. I naively thought people would be able to follow the script: the blog is called top 100, the posts have top 100 in the headline, the headline image touts the ethos of the blog, the pages and layout is used to reinforce that idea that I’m reviewing entries on top 100 lists. This has foiled me on multiple fronts: 1) I still talk to people who don’t get what the point of the blog is; 2) I review such disparate categories I don’t have a niche. 3) it’s affected my search engine optimization and thus engagement.
For the first point, I only have myself to blame. I don’t even engage with content to this degree — why would I think my small blog would get some special attention? I pop in and out of people’s websites, blogs, youtube spaces, twitter accounts, reddit discussions while rarely following things to ground. In this attention economy, it has to be summed up quickly and succinctly. Requiring people to go past the headline and need to understand the tagline of “Reviewing the Top 100 Selections in Every Medium” is too much to expect.
Most entry points to this site were the blog posts themselves with titles that started with “The Top 100 [insert category here] review.” This was confusing to most people as they thought it was MY top 100 list instead of going through other people’s by reviewing their rankings. I thought people would read a blog post, follow the link back to the original top 100 list, and then select another review from the list. That way I would get user engagement — on visit would turn into multiple views. Maybe it would lead to debate about where this game was supposedly ranked.
This rarely happened.
Most people popped into that one post and then abandoned it without venturing to other content. Clearly this is a failed model of how to nestle and connect content. It’s a geocities or anglefire concept instead of web 3.0 or whatever iteration we are in right now.
The second point is a failure of scope. I have tons of interests: games, books, movies, music. I wanted to have a project that encapsulated all of that. However, marketing 101 is about finding a niche audience, and the more specific the better. I was doing just the opposite. The one sizeable audience I built was within the WordPress system itself. However, people who followed me because of my movie reviews would slowly drop off because I would post a run of video game content.
I think this is still a salvageable aspect of the blog (I’m still going to be multigenre on www.casualbutsmart.com) however I’m going to be more adept on how I construct the website and what pages I point certain audiences to on these social media platforms. I upgraded to premium on WordPress to get a template with some solid features to make it more in line with today’s internet.
Third, with the theme of the website being top 100, I was using a bunch of keywords and titles that weren’t friendly to social media or search engines. My headlines were freakin’ tomes of text to get everything in there that I needed to fit the idea instead of the algorithms. This lead to the URL being too long, which lead to keyword dilution, and on and on and on. People were most often finding my stuff by searching “Top 100” + some other keyword, however this website isn’t a top 100 list — a complete mismatch.
I’ve always tried to live my life by the theme of “Casual, But Smart.” Laid back, but still intelligent. I first heard the phrase as a throw away comment on the British Sitcom Are You Being Served?
I decided to rebrand myself under this entire concept followed by the tagline pop culture from an old soul. This space would allow me to have a brand, review whatever I wanted, display other interest (like recording guitar pieces), and be focused on me as a person rather than some overarching theme.
I’ve created footprints on most social media sites (twitter, reddit, youtube, and more to come). I’ve been able to leverage most of the good (connecting with people of similar interests) while avoiding the bad (spending 4 hours scrolling through content I don’t care about).
I’m going to repurpose this treasure trove of content here to match the updated look and feel of the new site. It will give me a chance to make what I already have better (more user friendly, more poignant, and more findable).
I want to thank everyone who interacted with me here. I always looked forward to Cincinnati Baby’s comments on my albums and movies. Nintendobound was usually the first to like and comment on anything from NES to N64 (and has an amazing blog himself). Jeremy James was the most intelligent find as he always has the best blog posts about a wide range of topics. I had some really good conversations with Cup of Steve, so I hope we keep it up at my new location. Twentieth Century Gamer is one of my favorite retro reviewers — always the right mix of personal, snark, and information.
I feel like I gave my high school idea a run for its money. I can live with this. What I have planned next will be even better.