Tobold's Blog
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Newbie Blogger Initiative: Why blog?

Compared to today's social media, blogging is somewhat old school. There is still a whiff of outdated ideas attached to it, dreams of getting rich and famous by having a website.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.

Dear Tobold, thank you for your years of providing solid and reliable information.

Perhaps I should have written this years ago, but thank you anyway. You are a huge inspiration to a lot of bloggers and readers, even if you have stopped playing MMO's.
That's all for most of us. Thanks for the interesting article
I'm enjoying this series Tobold.

I like to blog myself, and it's especially interesting to hear your perspective since you have so many more readers than I do. This statement rings especially true to me:

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.

At the end of the day, your motivation needs to be to write, not to be read. It's always nice to have your work recognized, but that should be a nice bonus, and not the goal.
True words Tobold and great blogger advice. that's how it is and I agree 100% (my own blog's numbers would also correlate with what you're saying here).

as for pagerank, I don't believe it even matters much nowadays. anyway, I lost mine when I switched from blogger to WP because google has issues with that sort of thing apparently.
All of my blogs, podcasts, etc.; have all been for one thing: my own amusement.

I was absolutely astonished when my first podcast had people listening to it, and they are still to this day, 2 years after shutting it down, emailing me asking me to come back. Weird.
Please continue to offer full text RSS. I switched from Reader to Feedly and still consume your content this way. For what it's worth.

Great advice on blogging, by the way. I've tried to keep an interesting blog but it's hard to write with consistency. For that alone (the consistent drip of posts) I am very grateful to you.
Blogs are still useful for marketing. A lot of companies do blogs these days because random searches from people will find those and then possibly buy products from their website.

I definitely agree with your suggestions. I write my blogs mostly for myself. I want to get better at writing and like discussing games. Also, posting my strategies and thoughts on games might be interesting occasionally to someone. Otherwise, I would just write in a private, offline diary.
Hi Tobold,

And thanks for writing.

I agree with you on your ideas on motivation. I update a few blogs, and I have for a few years, and I mostly do it for myself. It is easier to stay motivated if you are writing because it has value to yourself, regardless of the actions or lack of, of others.
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