The Canadian Weblog Awards Says Goodbye: So Long, and Thanks for All the Love

The 2014 Canadian Weblog Awards, whose winners were announced on December 15th, marked five whole years since their inception. FIVE YEARS. That amazes me every time I think of it.

When I hatched this plan in late December 2009 to highlight quality over popularity in the Canadian blogging scene and to set some standards for what makes great weblogs tick, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never run any kind of juried awards on- or off-line before, but I felt that there were deeper and more interesting blogs that needed to be celebrated, because even a blog with five readers can prove to be far more engaging than one that has 10,000.

I also decided that to do this, I had to go bigger than I had gone before. It had to be clean and organized and solid right from the beginning, so I forewent sleep to draw up our ten criteria for judging nominees, decide on a schedule, organize rules, and build a website to house the whole endeavour in time for 2010. Once I had built the Canadian Weblog Awards, though, I was nervous. I had put it all out there, but what if they didn't come?

But, to my relief, they did come. Since announcing the first year of the awards in January 2010, we've received over 3500 nominations, and these nominations have resulted in 508 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. I have wrangled approximately 200 jurors over 5 different juries through 10 judging rounds, and I have been deeply honoured at the hard work and many hours that our volunteer jurors put in to make these awards possible.

If these five years have taught me anything, it's that Canadian bloggers have an incredible amount of both heart and talent. We've watched that talent grow and change over the years, and this diverse community has shown its ability to achieve some great things from excellent creative content to social outreach to launching entire careers. These awards, thanks to our enthusiastic nominators and dedicated jurors, showed me, the rest of Canada, and the world at large a depth and breadth of Canadian blogging that we would not have otherwise seen, and I am so grateful to everyone who took part.

Here is where I have to make a difficult announcement, though:
We have chosen to close up shop at the Canadian Weblog Awards. 2014 was our final awards season, and we will not be opening up nominations in 2015. The Canadian Weblog Awards website will stay live during the rest of 2015, but after that the site will go dark.

While I have loved these awards dearly, having hatched and then groomed them all these years, they are an incredible amount of work. I seriously considered closing the awards down last year, but I couldn't walk away without hitting this five-year mark. How could I? But despite my desire to keep them going, and despite the fact that we have managed to streamline processes over the years, these awards still require a lot of hands-on care and attention and time, and all of that work is unpaid.

I have considered monetizing the awards through advertising and sponsorships, and I have received a handful of offers, but the work of courting, gaining, and maintaining advertising and sponsorships requires quite a bit of its own attention, and ad sales is exactly 0% of what make these awards enjoyable to run.

I have also considered charging a fee for each nomination, but in order to make the continued running of these awards feasible, the nomination fee would have to be higher than is probably desirable to make up for the number of nominations a fee would deter.

In the end, I have a mortgage to think about, and I have to dedicate myself to work that pays me all those dollar bills. I also happen to love the paid work that I do, but that doesn't make it any easier to let go of this sweet internet love child. The Canadian Weblog Awards have continually renewed my faith in blogging and social media, and it's going to be tough to lose this outreach into the larger internet waters.

Thank you to everyone who nominated blogs, volunteered to be jurors, visited the site, left comments, sent us emails, and partook in any way, shape, or form in the Canadian blogging arena over these last five years. It's been hard and fun and enlightening and hair-pullingly frustrating and inspiring, and I wouldn't change any of it.

Keep doing what you do, Canada. On behalf of the Canadian Weblog Awards, so long, and thanks for all the love.