Honesty is the Best Policy…
I’ve always enjoyed blogging*
* except for a few months where I didn’t…and I stopped…but that’s another story…
My blog started off as essentially one dedicated to the Games Workshop game Warhammer 40K because at the time it was all I was interested in which was primarily due to the fact that I didn’t really know anything else existed.
|Be vigilant my warriors…keep those other game systems away from him…he must not know…|
As I was (and still am I suppose) what is generally referred to as a competitive gamer it was natural that list building articles, tactica and the dreaded ‘Mathshammer’ would make there way into my blog via the medium of articles and for a while that was essentially what I was known for. The downside to that as a blog focus was that there were already much better established blogs and websites doing the same thing and to be honest a fair few of them were better at it than I was….
This left me in a position where I had to accept that I was never going to be considered the world authority on 40K and if my intention was to become the most famous hobbyist on the internet I needed to change my focus…if that was what I actually wanted that is…Of course that particular motivating factor is (imo at least) the reason for the death of most blogs after a relatively short period of time.
|“So which blog are you here for then?”|
There are a lot of blogs and websites on the internet covering every subject…and yes…I do mean EVERY subject and establishing your presence in any field of activity takes some doing. Ironically, being ‘the best’ doesn’t necessarily make you the biggest or most popular. There are many people who are famous in their particular fields who have got that way by being louder, more annoying or sluttier than their competition (though I doubt the last one would work for the average hobbyist) rather than in any way shape or form being the most knowledgeable or talented person in their field.
|“This’ll distract them from the fact that I have no discernible acting or singing talent…”|
We live in a culture that wants things to happen instantly and many bloggers start their own projects with the expectation of instantaneous success and unless you already have an established presence in your respective field (and even if you do) this isn’t particularly common. Quite a few potentially brilliant blogs disappear or die at this point due to unrealistic expectations on the part of their writers and it’s a shame that patience seems to be a forgotten virtue in the digital age.
Another related issue is when a blogger chooses to change their focus from what he or she enjoys doing to what they perceive to be popular in the rather empty exercise of gaining blog views (though admittedly some fall into this trap from the very start). Now if you happen to be a ‘news’ or ‘rumour’ site then your going to have to cover a wide variety of things and it’s inevitable that some of them will be things that you think are shit or if your focus is reviewing games, systems, models, etc. you’ll also be in the same position but at least then you can say that they’re shit without compromising your integrity. However, even review sites and blogs can fall into the trap of not saying what they actually think but rather saying what they think people wish to hear for a variety of reasons ranging from not wanting to offend their readership, having a particular relationship with some-one involved in the product being reviewed to the depressingly common one namely the aforementioned quest for views for views sake. I’ve known people who have been nothing but critical of a product in the ‘real world’ only to talk about it like they want to have it’s love child on their own blogs and once I even read a post from some-one talking about an article as if it had been written by another of the websites authors (when I actually knew they only had one author, lol) in an effort to make them seem like some organisation of hobbyists rather than just one person with an unhealthy obsession with their view count.
|“Soon the whole WORLD will know what I think of the Tyranid codex….”|
A long time ago I jokingly did a blog article with the rather amusing title of fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck, fuck which was a somewhat ironic though simultaneously devastatingly accurate attempt to poke fun at the concept of the desire to become internet famous which amusingly increased my own internet profile significantly by virtue of annoying several bloggers with blog rolls that now had a list of swear words as their top post…it didn’t help that the first picture had exactly the same words in though the powers that be swapped that for something else in the interests of diplomacy, lol. However the increase in views was a nice by-product of the article not the real intention of it. It could have been easy to cynically repeat that concept over and over in subtly different forms in order to gain the same effect but I don’t think I would have particularly enjoyed doing so…so I didn’t…
Of course there is no magic formula for success…
|“You’re sure this’ll work?”|
Though I’ve seen potentially brilliant blog and website concepts fail for many other similar reasons. Groups of people who under normal circumstances would happily bury bodies for one another are planning each others murder after next to no time of co-operative blogging* due to personality clashes, differences of vision or just because one of them turns out to be a power mad asshole and no-one was previously aware of the fact. Also the amount of time that’s needed to make a blog really successful can be a strain if you have annoying distractions such as a job or a family or needy friends. But in my personal experience varying versions of ‘I didn’t instantly become Mr Internet’ is as common a reason for quitting as lack of time and lack of ideas.
*Such a concept is not exclusive to blogging however. I’ve known life-long friends who’ve started to search for easily hidden burial sites within half an hour of sharing a house or flat…
Now I’m not saying that you should in any way, shape or form be ashamed of being popular or successful but rather that these things should occur naturally rather than through the sacrifice of your own personal integrity. It took me a good year of blogging random crap that I was interested in before any-one else had any real interest in what I was doing and it was another year after that before I had a following that could be considered significant in numerical terms. I say significant in ‘numerical’ terms because all input I had was significant because it meant something to me. Every comment and bit of feedback was important even if it was just ‘enjoyed the article’, every new follower made writing the next post a little easier and even the rather annoying couple of instances of having articles stolen without credit at least gave me the feeling of satisfaction as after all if it was worth stealing then it must have been okay to start off with.
Even though I suppose I could be accused of posting things just to gain views (Wednesday’s link ‘galleries’ being a prime example though I may blame my followers for that when my better half queries it**) these are (believe it or not) all things that evolved over time and are items that I enjoy doing. Even my most popular hobby features (Malifaux un-boxings and tutorials, introduction features, galleries, etc.) are done because I like doing them and the guest article section was really just an effort to allow people to share their ideas without having to go through all the effort I did in order to establish a readership as (after all) if your not enjoying blogging then why the fuck are you doing it?
** “Sorry dear but I really need to wade through all these pictures of girls in skin-tight psylocke cosplay outfits…my readers demand it…there’s nothing I can do about it I’m afraid…”
At the risk of labouring the point I’ll conclude with this. Blog because your excited about what you do and enjoy the fact that others enjoy it too…don’t do it because your a whore for view count as that is (in my opinion at least) the wrong reason for doing so and will inevitably lead to another blog that doesn’t get updated ever again or even worse create another hollow excuse for a hobby site that’s lacking in any real integrity whatsoever…and there’s enough of those about as it is…
Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.
My Facebook page also has regular posts on a variety of things ranging from the obligatory amusing cat pictures to the occasionally profound conversation starter and for more of my barely coherent rantings feel free to check out my blog here or my twitter feed here where you can join my gigantic army of seventeen…count them…SEVENTEEN, Twitter followers…surely my world domination plans are nearing fruition, lol.