Help Wanted: Looking for up-and-coming writer

Tag: site news


12Feb 2017
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Help Wanted: Looking for up-and-coming writer





I started this blog in 2008, and for the vast majority of that time, I have been the sole contributor. I had help from a friendly chap named Andrew for a while, and he did a great job, but life caught up to him. I must admit that while I’m extremely passionate about the game of football – and Michigan in particular – it’s a struggle at times to write content for 14+ posts per week.

So I’m once again opening things up to passionate fans or young up-and-comers who want to add to their writing portfolios. Touch the Banner gets over 300,000 page views per month and has been mentioned on USAToday.com and Washingtonpost.com, not to mention contracted by Lindy’s national college football preview magazine. I don’t run a media giant, but it holds its own in the Michigan blogosphere.

Here’s a sample of the types of pieces I would like a new writer to work on:

  • Recruiting interviews
  • Where are they now? interviews
  • Summaries of the careers of former Wolverines (NFL, college transfers)
  • Other relevant ideas you might have

So if you’re a young guy wanting to start a writing or journalism career, or if you’re just a passionate fan looking for a hobby, consider sending me an e-mail at [email protected] I’m looking for 1-2 posts per week (to start) from someone with the professional sense to use grammar and spelling properly. A good sense of humor is a plus, but being humorless is okay, too.

3Feb 2017
Blog, homepage 22 comments

Site news: Fundraising for new hosting service

(image via Panda Whale)

Over the last month, I’ve had too many site outages due to not having enough server. That has culminated with three consecutive days of some level of outage, starting with Tuesday, National Signing Day, and then yesterday. We’ll see if that streak continues today, but hopefully not.

Anyway, I added Cloudflare a few weeks ago, which has helped with site speed. But the server can still get overloaded. Therefore, I am moving the site to a new hosting service: Flywheel. I talked to some people, got advice from some readers, etc., and I think Flywheel suits my needs best. The trouble is that it costs a significant chunk more than my current hosting service. The package I’m purchasing costs $75/month, so I’m going to try to raise one year’s worth of hosting.

That means I’m looking to raise $900. When I constructed the new site in 2015, I used Paypal with some success. So if you would like to donate to the site, please use the Paypal button on the right sidebar or you can click below:


Other ways you can contribute to the site:

  1. Visit and interact! The more active the site becomes with comments, discussion, message board posts, etc., the more popular the site becomes. With popularity comes page views, and with page views comes additional ad revenue.
  2. Turn off AdBlock. I know AdBlock can be tempting to speed up your internet browsing experience, but it also inhibits sites like this one. I have AdBlock installed, but I turn it off for sites that I spend a lot of time on, such as MGoBlog, Rivals, 247 Sports, etc.
  3. Purchase items from Amazon via the links on the site. It doesn’t cost you anything additional, but the site makes anywhere from 4% to 8% on your purchases. If you buy $100 worth of exercise clothing, that’s $4 to $8 coming out on my end. It may not sound like much, but it really adds up if a lot of people contribute. I can’t make money by purchasing things through my own links, so I buy almost everything through MGoBlog’s Amazon links.

Thank you for reading and for your support. I’m hoping these things help improve the user experience.

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9Jan 2017
Blog, homepage 11 comments

Site News: New hosting service needed

As you may have figured out, the website was down yet again for the majority of the day yesterday. It was also down for most of New Year’s Day. I have been assured by my hosting service at times that they could handle the amount of traffic at TTB, but that is apparently not the case on their shared servers.

Therefore, I am now in need of a new hosting service. I put this out on Twitter yesterday, and here are some of the suggestions I received:

  • A2hosting
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Host Gator

I am hesitant to pay for a dedicated server, which was suggested by my current provider, because they start at about $80 per month. That would take a big chunk out of my revenue. Since I don’t have a store, do consulting, make public appearances, etc., ad revenue from Google and Amazon is my entire source of income for the site. I do get over 300,000 page views per month, but the next few weeks will see an increase in traffic due to National Signing Day, so I at least need something that will auto-scale for traffic fluctuations.

Anyway, if you have experience and/or suggestions concerning this type of issue, please hit me up in the comments. Thanks!

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15Aug 2016
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State of the Site: August 2016

STATE OF THE SITE

As of last Thursday, the new version of Touch the Banner is one year old. On August 11, 2015, I posted a link on www.touchthebanner.blogspot.com to announce that the site was on the move. The new site was supposed to be completed a couple months earlier, but technological glitches, summer vacations, and the like postponed the launch. It would have taken longer – or maybe it wouldn’t have happened at all – if readers and contributors hadn’t donated nearly $4,000 to the cause. I am a man of many mediocre talents, but web design isn’t one of them, so those contributions remain much appreciated.

Below are some of the milestones, features, and tweaks achieved over the past twelve months.

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10Mar 2016
Blog, homepage 30 comments

Meta: Upvotes and downvotes

As I mentioned previously (LINK), I am making small tweaks to the site here and there. Next up is a discussion with my tech guy about installing upvotes and downvotes. So I ask for your help with the direction of this aspect of the website.

Reddit upvotes

Above is the standard Reddit upvote/downvote button. The orange-highlighted arrow reflects the user’s individual vote, and the numeric total in the middle represents the net vote total. In this example, the user upvoted the comment/post and it currently has two more upvotes than downvotes. This is a spare but clean approach.

MGoBlog upvotes
The image above is a screenshot from MGoBlog. As you can see, the upvote arrow and downvote arrow are both visible, as are the totals for each. If this post were upvoted 10 times and downvoted 9 times, those totals would be visible rather than a simple -1 like the Reddit example above. Add in the join date and the “MGoPoints” – which reflect the user’s entire membership career – and it’s a much more complex and comprehensive representation of the user’s posting history.

 Rather than an upvote/downvote button, a thumbs up or thumbs down button could be used. If you’re a Facebook user and ever wanted an “Unlike” button to go along with the “Like” button, maybe we could make this happen.

247 Sports upvotes

247 Sports upvotes 2

The images above represent the voting process on 247 Sports. It’s a simple upvote or downvote selection, and the vote total is revealed only after the user votes. That presumably prevents “groupthink” and people jumping on the bandwagon if they see something getting a ton of upvotes or downvotes.

What are your thoughts? Do you like any of these ideas better than others? Do you like having your posting history (sign-up date, number of posts, etc.) connected to your name and avatar?

21Feb 2016
Blog, homepage 4 comments

Site News: Tweaks and Upcoming Tweaks


As I get more familiar with WordPress and since it’s the off-season, I’m continuing to make some tweaks to the site. Hopefully they’re improvements.

Supporting the blog. As always, your support is appreciated. At the same time, I want to return (or redirect) some of that generosity. One way is by turning over 50% of the Amazon revenue to the Chad Tough Foundation. The site makes 4% to 8% of whatever you purchase via the Amazon links provided. This new setup means the blog will get 2% to 4%, while Chad Tough gets the other 2% to 4%. I want to give to other charities in the future, but Chad Tough is a good place to start. If you want to give to Chad Tough directly, here’s a link to their donation page (LINK).

Reshuffling the header. If you use the header (or footer) for guidance, I did a bit of reshuffling. Michigan’s all-time recruiting rankings and the explanation of TTB Ratings are now listed as drop-down menus under “Rankings.” I have also renamed the “Forum” as “Message Board.” It may be more syllables, but I just don’t like the word “forum.”

How to get an avatar. If you’re wondering how to get your own avatar, check out this post on how to do so using Gravatar (LINK).

Suggestions for an upvote/downvote plugin? I would like to add a plugin to the site that provides users a chance to upvote/downvote posts and comments. There are multiple WordPress plugins for that purpose. Personally, I prefer Reddit-style upvotes/downvotes; if you’re not familar, you would simply click on an up arrow or a down arrow. However, there are thumbs up/thumbs down options and the like. If you have any experience installing or using upvote/downvote plugins, please share any suggestions in the comments.

What are your thoughts?

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