Newbie Blogger Initiative 2016 - Fine Tuning Your Blog
There has been a great deal of good, common sense advice shared over the last three weeks of this year’s Newbie Blogger Initiative. What I would like to do in this post is loosely group a few points together under the catch all term of "fine tuning". These are things that you may wish to consider after you've been blogging a while and feel that you are building up a head of steam.
Okay, let's get this particular Elephant in the room, dealt with. I have no problem with the concept of someone trying to make a few bucks out of their website or blog. If you have bought a domain name and have paid a year’s hosting fees, I can see sense in trying to get some money towards those ongoing costs. Advertising can help with this.
However there is no guarantee that your entire readership will feel that way. Most people accept a degree of advertising as long as it is not overwhelming. Some people hate it and really do get upset by it. You need to consider the impact that carrying advertisement will have on your site. Bloggers build up a readership partly due to their reputation. Some folk see advertising as selling out, or associate it with low rent sites.
So if you do decide to advertise, then think long and hard about its effect on your reputation. Also consider how much it impacts upon your articles, so make informed choices about placement and the types of ads. Contextual advertising will randomly generate content based on keywords in your post. You may not be able to control this. I once wrote a piece about stereotyping girl gamers and the objectification of women in games, only to find that the corresponding ad was for "Mature Dating Online". Hilarity did not ensue in this instance.
Finally with regard to adverting, please re-adjust your expectations when it comes to how much money you will make. 99% of these get rich quick articles you'll find online are bullshit. Most ads run on a CPM model and you need a crap ton of traffic to get a return. Also remember that ad blocker software is increasingly common place these days. You can still generate revenue but advertising is not the cash cow that it was a decade ago.
Donations and sponsorship:
If you have a big site that incurs a substantial operating cost, then you may wish to ask for donations from your readership. This quid pro quo approach really only works if you have a big audience. Again I see nothing wrong with this, if it is done correctly. By correctly I mean the money raised is genuinely used towards running your site. As with advertising, some people won't mind where others will consider it begging. Tread carefully
The moment you take money from people two things happen. Firstly, you immediately have a responsibility be totally transparent about your accounts. You have to credit all donations and show all expenditure to the last penny. Secondly, those who have contributed may feel that they now have a greater stake in your blog. Be aware of this. A reader who doesn’t like something you've done or said may now feel they have some sort of say with regard to your content creation. However services such as Patreon are very useful for raising fund and allowing you to be very clear with regard to where funding will be spent.
The truth about "be yourself":
I think nearly every veteran blogger who’s participated in previous NBIs has said that it’s important to be yourself. I whole heartedly endorse that sentiment. Yet this position does come with some potential pitfalls. With regard to gaming, your readership will get to know your likes and dislikes over a period of time. You may follow common consensus or have unorthodox views. Either way, this can be part of your appeal. However although your readers may enjoy your stance on gaming issues, it doesn’t mean they will reciprocate your views on other subjects. So stay clear of such troublesome areas such as politics, religion and wider social issues unless you have to.
Now this is a lot harder than you may think. Your personal views are the very things that contribute to you as a person. I have written previous posts about sexual stereotypes in games and also same gender romance arcs. These posts, although not overtly political, betray some indication of my views on certain things. As a result I have been accused of being a "purveyor of filth" from some quarters along with other hyperbolic epithets. Gaming may well bring readers to your blog, but anything else may push them away.
The internet provides you with a truly international readership. Its immediacy and the use of common languages such as English can make us feel like we are all each other’s neighbours. But cultural differences can and inevitably become apparent. So be yourself by all means but never assume that the audience from your gaming blog is willing to follow you anywhere else. Oh and never admit to being a brony.