2023: “The Story Of Us” | Closed ’Til 1/2/24

Stoney Keeley looks back at the year that was for SoBros Network - thank you all for your continued support of the brand in 2023. It's time for our annual holiday break. We'll see y'all on 1/2/24!

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I never know how to start these posts. I began doing them several years ago as a way to express to you all the things that I was grateful for at the end of the year, and the things we accomplished that I was particularly proud of. I wanted to keep it up on the home page as our most recent post so that anyone who came to SoBros Network, but doesn’t keep up with us on social media regularly (believe it or not, there’s a large number of people who do that), would know that we haven’t disappeared from the face of the Earth. We’re just on vacation for a couple of weeks. In this case, if you’re reading this post, it means we’ve already shut it down for the year. You can catch some of our ‘best of 2023’ content on social media. Otherwise, we’ll see y’all on 1/2/24.

That’s something I am absolutely adamant about – taking time off at the end of the year to rest, reset, and refocus. I like to get away from all of this stuff for a little bit. As much as I love doing it, I put a lot of pressure on myself to deliver and I tend to burn myself out if I don’t stop to catch my breath every once in awhile. It usually takes me about six months to get to that point – so you’ll see me take a break in the summer and another break at the holidays. This year, I’m running on fumes just to get to this holiday break.

*sigh* How much do I really want to share here? Y’know…those of you who will actually take the time to read this…you’ve always been such a big part of what we do here that you deserve to know where I’m at right now. I’m a bit emotionally conflicted about 2023.

I know that I have a tendency to focus on negative emotions when I’m anxious, and hot damn, this has been a year absolutely smothered in anxiety. Several factors external to SoBros Network that I can’t write about on this site contributed to a spike in anxiety that gave me decision paralysis. My schedule wasn’t as defined, and if you know me, you know I love a good routine. When I didn’t have that, it made it difficult for me to plan SoBros stuff. It meant sometimes I might schedule a podcast recording at a certain time only for something to come up, causing me to reschedule or cancel altogether. I hate that. It makes me mad. It makes me more anxious.

When I’m feeling down, scared, or otherwise off, I don’t perform well. I catch myself staring out the window, lying in bed and staring at the ceiling just to get my heart rate down…you get the idea. I once felt like an alpha…in the true sense, not like the incel reddit user alpha…like I was the baddest motherfucker on the planet and there was nothing I couldn’t do. The more I wallowed in my anxiety, the more I allowed doubt to creep in…the more doubt crept in, the more pessimistic I started to view the long term trajectory of this brand.

I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, and it’s still not making enough money to support my lifestyle. We can keep the lights on, and we usually end up with a little more money in the piggy bank than we need and that allows us to do some cool stuff. But, it just wasn’t enough for me anymore. Honestly, I thought this would be further along than it is right now. Sometimes, I can’t shake that. It consumes me, and I wonder if all of the work I’ve put into this company has been for nothing.

So, one thing I want to do over the course of this break is try my best to clear my mind…to get all of the issues bugging me out of my head and onto paper. Make them real. Make them tangible. Make them things I can address and cross off of a list, one by one. I want to rest. I want to do nothing at all for a couple of weeks. I want to think things through and come out on the other side with a different perspective. I’m not naive enough to think that will happen, but it’s still a nice goal to strive for.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Part of me taking my foot off the gas isn’t because I feel bad all the time. Quite the contrary…I’m producing less content in 2023 because I’ve grown to really appreciate and be satisfied with the things SoBros Network has afforded me. I don’t have to write 10 articles a day to get a hundred pageviews anymore. I do feel like SoBros Network has finally earned a measure of respect it didn’t always have. It’s the equivalent of getting fat because you’ve found the one you love and no longer feel the pressure to go to the gym every day.

So, on any given day, I’m either stressed beyond my patience or I’m just like “fuck it – we’re fine. That can wait ’til tomorrow!” It doesn’t sound healthy, and maybe that’s why I’m having trouble sleeping at night. But, again…it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m just dealing with the challenges of growing an audience beyond the few hundred of you who support us on a regular basis, and I’m dealing with the challenges of stirring up revenue with limited resources. I’m striving to get better at managing my negative emotions and finding the zones that motivate me strongly again. From a business perspective, I’m champing at the bit to get organized and tackle a new plan in the new year. And, I know if I let my negative emotions define me, they’re going to continue to bog me down.

All of that is to say that it isn’t really fair to the true creative spirit that SoBros Network expresses, and it’s not fair to the myriad of accomplishments this team has achieved in 10 years. That’s where the ‘conflicted’ part of my views on 2023 come into play because it really was another terrific year if I can just set my worries about how we’re going to make money and grow this audience aside. Also, hell – this is a great time to remind you guys to go watch the home movies I threw together to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. It’s a good way to wind down for the year and revisit some of the coolest things we’ve done in a decade of SoBros Network.

We did a lot this year, and our team did a lot that I’m proud of. Brandon took it upon himself to learn how to podcast on his own without me. That’s work off of my plate and still delivering a quality show to you guys at the end of each month! Similarly, Owen came to me with an idea for a comedy show that turned into LMAOwen (on our Patreon). We’re still figuring it out as we go from a technical standpoint, but I’ll be damned if those days of recording didn’t end up being some of my favorite days of the year. McCash came up from Memphis I don’t even know how many times to record podcasts and put new stuff out on the internet. It’s not something that might show on the front end, but it’s a testament to how this team continues to strive to be better than it was the year before despite what the return on investment looks like.

Zach and I got to go to the Senior Bowl, and it helped me really dig into NFL Draft coverage for the first time. I wrote a 35K-word big board and ranked 300 prospects by the time it was all said and done. Between The Unofficial Titans Podcast, A Football Show, and The Hot Read Podcast, I think I was live streaming for over seven hours on draft weekend. I never knew I had that in me. Ryan and I made literal art…a piece based on a Mike Vrabel meme that I took to the Watertown yard sale to try and sell. Brandon and I got to go interview members of the Broken Lizard crew. I grew up watching their movies and still consider Club Dread an inspiration for my stupid sense of humor. Rooster wrote a short story that would make you blush. Sean and Brandon cut one of my favorite podcasts we’ve ever recorded and I thought they were going to fist fight over The Flash. We brought back ‘SoBros Go to the Movies’ in July with a trip to see Barbie and play some games at Dave & Buster’s. We had a killer 10-year anniversary party at Prost & Riot that all of our closest friends and supporters showed up for. That was a special night. Brittany, Pat, and I drank a lot of pumpkin beer. We held our annual livestream for ‘Drinking With…’ on Halloween. This year, it was held at Danger Zone Video. We launched a new damn website this year, too! I could go on and on with this stuff…these things that we’ve done to create lasting memories in my mind.

And, all of that doesn’t even include the 650 posts and counting that we’ve written or the 320 podcasts/videos and counting we’ve recorded. Factor in the Patreon content, and it’s another year with 1,100+ content items created. We’ve had over a million social media and search engine impressions each month since February, and we’ve turned those impressions into 550K total hits and counting. We crossed the $5,000 mark for money we’ve raised to donate to charitable organizations. We reviewed a lot of restaurants…a lot of movies…we wrote some sick travel guides…started a beer journal…I mean, while the content numbers might not have been what they were a year ago, I still feel like we nailed it again. Really, the point of all this is to say that for where we are right now, this is the stuff that really matters – the creative spirit and the camaraderie of the people who chase it and cultivate it. I love this team for that, and I love the idea that it might help some of you get through your days.

For all the talk about business, investment, and revenue, I think I can lose sight of just how much it means to be in the company of one another creating cool shit to put out into the world. That’s what I want to carry in my heart through whatever 2024 has in store for us. I hope you’ll enjoy it. Now, I’m going to go take a real vacation. Enjoy this gallery I threw together of some of my favorite SoBros photos from 2023, and I’ll see y’all on 1/2/24.

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network, and a Dogs Playing Poker on velvet connoisseur. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD, #BeBetter, and ‘Minds right, asses tight.’ “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, Yankee Candle, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley.

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