Newbie Blogger Initiative: Why blog?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 October 2013, 3:32 am
Compared to today's social media, blogging is somewhat old school. There is still a whiff of outdated dot.com ideas attached to it, dreams of getting rich and famous by having a website. Today a new blogger has to ask himself why he really wants to write a blog. Who do you want to write for, and what do you hope to get out of it?

If you hope for getting money from blogging, I can only advise against the idea. My blog is over 10 years old and comparatively successful. 6 million visitors came to my blog over the years (the Sitemeter counter at the bottom of the page is stuck, apparently Sitemeter went under). But if I add up all the donations and freebies with some monetary value that I received over the years, I earned less than $100 per year from my blog. Sure, I never tried to optimize that. But even if I had, I wouldn't have made much more than twice that. I love receiving donations as a sign of appreciation. But I don't think you could ever make any substantial income from a gaming blog. Not unless you bundle useless advice into a pdf file and sell it as "gold guide" or something similarly fishy.

Maximizing the number of your readers is a different story. Whatever your underlying motivation is, in many cases you would prefer your blog to be read by as many people as possible, even if you don't want to monetize those "eyeballs". Just be careful with what exactly you do to increase the number of your readers. There are methods of search engine optimization that don't actually increase the number of real readers, even if they make some statistical counter or pagerank go up. Over the years I have found that the number of readers strongly correlates with the amount of content you offer. Write an interesting blog post every single day, and you'll get lots of regular readers. At this point I used to give advice about putting your blog posts in full on an RSS feed, as opposed to putting just a header and forcing people to visit your blog to read your posts. But observing my own feed reader count it appears that the demise of the Google Reader pretty much killed RSS as a technology. These days I share via Google+, and that one doesn't even give me the option of putting my full texts. Modern social media have problems with people writing more than one paragraph.

Ultimately you might want to reconsider the notion that you write your blogs for others. If you consider you writing to be a service for other people, you will in the long run get rather disappointed by how little recognition you can earn even with lots of hard work on your blog. One of the reasons we have such a thing as the Newbie Blogger Initiative is that without it encouragement for new bloggers is hard to come by. At the height of the popularity of this blog I had over 3,000 visitors a day, but not more than one "thank you" e-mail per month.

So over the years I found that a much better concept is the idea that you write your blog for yourself. There is a lot of value in writing a blog which is independent from the number of people who read it or who respond to it. For example writing regularly improves your writing skills, especially if you blog in English and that isn't your native language, like it is the case with me. Another positive effect is that your blog can serve as a sort of diary: I find it interesting sometimes to read what I thought about a game years ago; and these days I use my blog as a chronicle of my D&D campaign, bitterly regretting that I don't have a similar chronicle of the campaigns I played before. Finally even if there are only a few people listening, expressing your opinion always has a positive effect on your peace of mind. If you are lucky, you can even sometimes get an interesting discussion going about things you are passionate about.

So in summary, I still consider blogging to be a good thing. Just think about what your purpose is, and how to get there. The Newbie Blogger Initiative can provide lots of excellent advice for different purposes, there is no "one right way" to do it.
Tobold's Blog



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