Q and A – MetsBlog’s Matt Cerrone

Mack: – Morning everybody. We’re talking to Matt Cerrone, of http://www.metsblog.com fame. Hey Matt. My wife is on Long Island right now. How’s the weather shaping up?

Matt: – It’s getting to a point where I’m starting to wonder if it will ever not be snowing. I can’t wait to get to Florida for pitchers and catchers, at which point it will almost inevitably become warm and sunny for my wife in Connecticut.

Mack: – Let’s go back for a few minutes… I responded on one of your early posts at MetsBlog, basically calling you a horse’s ass and predicting you would never last long in the Mets blogging world. Remember that one?

Matt: – I do not. No offense, but probably got lost in my mind along with the thousands of other people who told me the same thing at the time, from people who worked for the team to beat writers to other fans to people in my own family.

Mack: – Matt, it took me years to master the talent of putting comments into a special place and not reacting to them. It always amazed me that all the people who hated guys like Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh could quote you every word they said, meaning, they listen every day. A lot of the newer bloggers out there follow one of both of us… any advise to them re: comments?

Matt: – I believe the one of the keys to connecting with readers is to be you, be authentic, don’t bullshit people. I write a lot about this on my personal blog,  www.MatthewCerrone.com , on which I answer questions about producing content and connecting with the audience. In the end, the blog is just a vehicle for a the relationship between the writer and the reader. I’m not friends with people who are full of shit, and the same connection applies to blogging and building an audience. It’s easy to write a sensational post and get linked to for one day’s worth of traffic. To build a large audience takes years, it takes time, you do it brick by brick, reader by reader, friend by friend, and that only happens through honesty and being genuine. Expertise is overrated. Honesty is what counts. In other words, be true to who you are, focus on the people who support you and don’t sweat the criticism.

Mack: – Matt, if you could take us back to the beginning. Tell us how all this worked out for you?

Matt: – I started the blog in Nov. 2003. To call it a blog is being glamorous, actually, because a) they weren’t called ‘blogs’ yet, they were still known as ‘weblogs,’ and b) it was just text on a Yahoo! GeoCities page. Seriously, no columns, no images, no color, just black text on a gray webpage and that’s that. It was a project for school that people kept reading, so I kept writing it, which was fun because I was living in Arlington, VA, away from the New York market, WFAN and my Mets fan friends and it was a great way to stay involved with the community. In 2004, John Keegan from PressHarbor.com approached me cold offering to take me under his wing, basically, and use me as a guinea pig for the blog hosting company he had started. He was a Mets fan, which I guess is the main reason I trusted him. He made the site a blog. He taught me most everything I know about the technical side of blogging, from RSS to widgets to basic coding. He’s become a trusted adviser and a close friend. From there, the site kept growing in traffic. I was working from home doing media relations work for a PR firm in CT, but, to be honest, I spent more time writing MetsBlog. I began using Blogads.com for ad revenue, then signed on with Pajamas Media, who, though now a conservative blog network, at the time was an ad network. They paid a flat rate to rent my ad space, so it was a small, but steady income. In 2006, I toyed with giving it all up to work as a communications director on a Gubernatorial campaign in CT. By then, things were looking strong and everyone I trust told me I should give MetsBlog one more year – commit to it – and see what i could make of it at 100 percent full steam. In 2007, I approached SNY about partnering. It took 10 months, but we hammered out a deal, and I’ve been connected to them ever since. In 2004, I did roughly 1,000 page views per month. Today, it’s 3.5 million.

Mack: – That’s a great story. So now you’re like the Mark Zuckerberg of the Mets world, only in your case, there’s no one in second place. Have you thought about the next evolutionary process for your site and the millions of hits?

Matt: – I have. And that’s about all I’m gonna say on that… but you’ll find out what I mean soon enough.

Mack: – Matt, I purposely stayed away from asking you any Mets questions, because you get enough of that. However… one observation with a follow-up question. You and I seem to share the thoughts that… it’s not the amount of money you spend, it’s the people you spend it on. The Mets are a big market team and, based on the revenue their operation produces, can easily have a six-figure salary picture. Do you agree with me that the right of passage of big-market teams is to sign a big name or two every year?

Matt: – I think the right of passage of big-market teams is to make their product fun to watch and to win, and to do everything possible to make that happen. How that happens makes zero difference to me. I mean, sure, I love a good Hot Stove rumor, and free-agent signings or blockbuster trades are fun in the cold of winter, but so is watching my team play in October, especially if they’re the last team standing. Spend, don’t spend, Spend more, spend less, sign a big free agent, use stats, don’t use stats, whatever… but win, make me smile and give me something fun for my Dad and I to do together, and I’ll be happy.

Mack: – Can’t come up with a better ending for a great interview than that. Thanks Matt, and LGM.

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