Six and a half years ago I set up my blog and I am proud to report that a few weeks ago I went past the million hits mark – this was going to be a big milestone but sadly the machinations of the Russian bots in the last part of last year seriously made me question the validity of tracking real numbers through the platform. However saying that those extra thousands of hits seem to have dropped off and I am back to the regular 10-12k per month. But privately I am quite chuffed that the million mark has been reached.
This got me thinking about the longevity of blogs and the effort that goes into creating content. I reckon I average at least one post a week which is typically a battle report or an update on my latest project. Every so often I chuck something else into the mix (like this post) just to create debate and hopefully an interesting read.
I do count myself fortunate as I have a great venue, a wide group of gaming chums and a collection built up over the last 20 years that allows pretty much any type of game in a large number of genres. We make a real attempt to play at least once a week because what is the point in having all these toys and never using them?
My blog is in a way a dedication to all those that come and play in the shed as it is them that keeps me motivated and hungry to push into new areas or challenges. A simple conversation during one game can lead to host of new ideas and that itchy feeling that needs to be scratched.
I do think that in a way us bloggers are helping to promote the industry, to keep it vibrant and dare I say it inspirational. Based on the comments received here and those posted to my links on the TMP and LAF there does seem to be an appetite to read and review the latest news from the Shed and for that I am extremely grateful. Keeping this blog going has been tough, there are times when I wish I’d never started and others where the motivation to set up the photos, type the copy (badly) etc just hasn’t been present, but looking back it has been rewarding and has most certainly created a sense of purpose.
Sometimes I read something on one of the forums asking about X or Y, this will spark a memory of how I tackled the issue and subsequently I’ll go back and review what I wrote in the past. The blog is most certainly a diary of my gaming hobby over the last six years and it is with some regret now that I never kept a diary of my life. However I am trying to put that right and in moments of solitude I am putting pen to paper to try and recapture my past memories. This was made more poignant by the loss of my father almost two years ago. I know much about his life whilst I have been alive but know little or nothing about his earlier life and his childhood. Perhaps more importantly I never knew his feelings, what drove him on or why he did what he did. This blog continuously illustrates to me that history is important and serves as an important link intro the future. Writing my story will be that link for my children and future generations, whether they choose to read it will be another matter but it will be there somewhere in writing.
So for the moment Shed Wars is not going to disappear and yet I can’t help noticing that many of the blogs I used to read avidly are no longer posted to as frequently or have just passed on by.
Has the world of wargaming blogging moved on?
I think a number of people start off with good intentions, they want to get a buzz from seeing their posts out there in the big wide world and hopefully a steady stream of positive messages, and when it doesn’t happen they give up. To be frank I think the success of a blog (can I be so bold as to suggest that mine is?) is down to three components – these being chiefly
- Content is King – if the content is rubbish, inappropriate, poorly written and/or has no pictures then the blog does not deserve to be successful. I am amazed that people write up battle reports with no pictures, or folks post their latest excellent scratchbuilds with no tutorials on how they have been built.
- The posts have to be frequent – there has to be a reason why people will keep coming back. I try to run a mix of ongoing projects interspersed with other activity. Each update has a link to the previous and the next one in the journey. My readers can begin at a project and work their way through the whole journey. In the business world this is called the consumer experience and is aimed at building loyalty.
- The blog has to advertise itself – there are only a few routes to doing this in our hobby world but all should be exploited. Use the forums to notify folks of an update, provide a brief intro and if possible pictures. If they are interested they will visit. Secondly follow other people’s blogs it’s likely that they will do the same for yours. Finally and perhaps most importantly consider the titles you give to your post. For example ‘28mm Sudan A new project begins’ - is likely to feature much higher on google search than just ‘My Sudan Project’.
But are we seeing the death of Wargaming blogs – personally I think the answer is no. That is unless the various operators decide to stop supporting them or we see more scenarios like the photobucket debacle. However I do see a time where there are fewer blogs relating to the hobby – new ones will come and go but hopefully there will be a few stalwarts to maintain interest.
Much depends on what the industry wants – I am still constantly surprised by the dearth of advertising for specific games manufacturers on certain blogs. It strikes me that some of the big wargaming blogs are getting tens of thousands of hits per month but are not festooned with banners etc from some of the leading manufacturers. Indeed the total number of hits on my blog surpass each month the circulation of any of the wargames magazines and yet have any manufacturers ever approached me to see if they could advertise?
I’d be happy to support games related advertising for goods in return – I’ll keep you posted if anybody takes me up on that 😉 I’d even be happy to do reviews as well. Perhaps if there was a financial or goods incentive more bloggers would sustain their content and posting frequency. I genuinely think the industry is missing a trick here to further their reach or to broadcast their wares to an audience that perhaps doesn’t follow the printed press. Blogs could offer a low cost route for the smaller manufacturers to advertise their wares.
Whilst talking about advertising as an experiment 18 months ago I signed up for google ads – as of today I have made almost £250 from advertising. This income is not going to change my life but its interesting to note the more content I add the greater the number of hits and indirectly the advertising revenue stream will grow. I still get viewers looking at stuff created five years ago and adding comments.
Anyway enough of my ramblings - have a great weekend and come on England !