Its always fixable. It just needs a long term plan, some thinking outside of the box and a bit of knowledge about how one thing can help improve another.
Like somebody said well back in this thread about information, we need more public info or articles for a start. We've got some bl**** good anglers here and in a world where Facebook does all the convenient stuff, the information here needs to be more structured and searchable by the non-members out there. A bit like the old total-fishing-club but much better. If there's one thing anglers crave even more than fishing chit-chat, it's information. Running a shop, I can tell you, while there are a lot out there who like to pretend they know it all, but there are a billion more who just want genuine information and have no interest in trying to look like the big man. They're just in the shadows (at least to begin). The majority know they're not great anglers and just want to read more stuff about it, no matter how basic. One place where a forum will still always beat any facebook group or brand webpage is that we have far, far, far more potential contributors. So it needn't be a chore for any one, two or three gents to be putting in inconvenient hours to try and populate a website. It's also possible on a website/forum to construct a navigation system that far outdoes anything facebook group can offer. So all of that information is far easier to find if categorised correctly. Angling magazines today are all about advertising, so we needn't to feel like we're competing directly with them either. For a start our info can be more genuine.
What is the point of these articles?
It's not just about the information within them. It's about search engine traffic and actually getting people to find the site in the first place. We don't have to pay for advertising (there's not really anywhere worth advertising a site like this apart from on facebook itself - or maybe Google). To be found on the web these days, a site needs quality content. And links from other websites to it. While this is an exclusive club with limited reasons for any member of the public to put up a link to it, it'll never show up anywhere decent in any match fishing search results as there's so much competition in the field. Having informative posts means that somebody, somewhere, at some point is going to appreciate and like/share a post that has been written. Links will go to the MFS Facebook page to notify the public that a post has been added for a start. The Facebook page isn't currently being used efficiently to help in promoting the website. But it could easily be. So all of this info is really about links. But at the same time it could be a really good thing.
What do I propose?
Maybe twenty contributors (or literally anybody that wants to add something) who between them can put up ONE quality article a week to be advertised and promoted. Maybe publish every Monday? No more than that. There's a forum here to organise who does what and when. If you have an idea or want to work on something, share it. There's no point hashing a load if simple, repetitive, boring paragraphs together just for the sake of churning out articles but admittedly, we may need a little stockpile of stuff to put together at the start just to create a mini library.
Articles could be about anything that is interesting. Not necessarily just repeated info on how to elasticate a pole (although stuff like this could be included as part as more of a general library of posts in their own category), but more likely genuine reports on how an angler fished a pleasure session, practise day, match or festival. With as much thought provoking stuff in there as possible. Maybe it's just me, but it's what an angler did, how he fed, how and why he changed something etc... that I find really interesting. I love bait and rig talk. I'm not that special, so I know others are the same. And you don't get enough of that from magazines these days, and although there's s*** loads of it on Facebook, it's not always easy to find the good ones among the crud (I've ended up hiding most anglers I know), and as has been said, a lot of people don't want to go on there anyway. I love the stuff written by complete beginners too. How they tried a certain thing (ideally after reading one of our own articles) and it worked. There's no set topic and no rules. Let's just create something interesting with no agenda (apart from growing the membership and creating a community once more). The membership fee can stay. There just needs to be more outside of the membership to engage potential new members and convince them that they should be involved. Advertise the personalities, events and openness in a public way and people will want to join. They just don't know much about it from the outside at present. There would need to be a detailed and well formatted report on every MFS event, for example. Photos, full results sheets etc. What do match anglers like? They like publicly appearing on match results sheets! Tempt them in - they could be on those results sheets too! IF THEY WERE A MEMBER. They could even be contributing to this club "magazine" of articles as well.
An article with well written text (as well as can be anyway considering we're not journalists) and some decent pictures will go a long way, no matter what it's about. Effectively these are the equivalent of good quality blog posts in my head, and there are some great, regular bloggers here.
You can imagine that if a regular blogger was to effectively submit their blog post to the MFS articles list, their own blog could for that week say along the lines of:
"This week I've appeared as a guest contributor on the brilliant MFS club website. Check it out here - link".
At the bottom of the article it would only be natural to then include a link back to their own blog. So there's some publicity in it for the blogging contributors too. But it helps us build our online reputation as well. Not just with anglers, but with Google!
If it's been planned that a certain person is going to write an article about something specific, naturally that person is going to be more inclined to make it look and sound good. There will be numerous people around to help. We perhaps just need a grammatically adequate individual to act as editor and spellcheck articles before they're published. (we might need to figure out some technical document that hands ownership of the article and it's publication rights fully to the club once the author has sent it to the editor - just in case somebody throws a wobbly in future and demands that all of their work is taken down. You never know...).
Sorry, I'm waffling. The point is, the information part of the site isn't the main bit, but it is absolutely essential to get more anglers visiting the website in the first place. The aim once they're here is then to persuade them to join the club and it's members - to enjoy the benefits of the members only events and to be a part of the growing/amazing match fishing community at MFS.
With more members, a lot of the other stuff is very easy. More matches, easily filled in various parts of the country. More conversation on the forum which will be a given with more members. So it's getting back to where it once was...… We just need to get the people here in the first place. I bet none of my friends even know about this place (there's nothing here really worth telling them about at the mo). The art will be in managing the first few months while the membership begins to grow - while there are perhaps still parts of the country where there aren't many active members. We don't want to scare new members off before they've had chance to let it grow. It's just about making people feel included and valued so they don't drift off. But that can be done with more careful public displays.
When does this start?
I suggest after the Stafford Moor festival. A full report with pics, results etc going up within the week or so following that. With people like Amer etc involved, it's already looking from the outside like a very good thing. I understand that all of this will require some website work. I've built a website or two in my time and could modify the hell out of this forum template if Zinky wanted any help.
I should add, the point of pulling info from a massive number of contributors is obviously that it relaxes the pressure on any select members. Nobody enjoys doing time consuming stuff for free, so we can never expect anybody to go above and beyond without some frustration. By sharing tasks we can create something really good.
I know that magazine advertising is very expensive and many brands don't/won't do it. With no lack of sponsored anglers out there, there is no shortage of people wanting to contribute articles (anywhere) and show off their sponsors products in action - although the MFS articles wouldn't typically be about product placement, there is no harm in once a month having a guest contributor from one of the brands. The big benefit for us being exposure. That brand will be straight out all over facebook putting links up to our latest article involving their sponsored angler! Free links and traffic for us. The obvious result being that once they're here reading, we give them the benefits of joining, and they join! +1 membership, thank you very much.
We just need communication and collaboration. The members acting as a large committee of sorts. Those that want to contribute can chat through an extra forum category on the members-only side. There needn't be too much stress. If you have something you want posted, just come forward. One or two editors can then just slot things in or hold on to interesting "feature" pieces to mix things up and keep it fresh.
Yes, I do live in a dream world, but I like it. We need to turn MFS in to a recognised and respected "brand" to compete in a modern world.
We have started the site update
First phase is to merge a few forums and a general tidy up
Next phase will be to apply the update to the software etc and security
Bare with us it may take a while to get the forum addons fully working.
We are looking for a new chat box software