Newbie Blogger Initiative 2016 - The Realities of Blogging
As this year's Newbie Blogger Initiative draws to a close, I would like to take time to reflect on some aspects of blogging that don't always get talked about. I guess that's because some of them can be perceived as negative things, although that may not necessarily be the case. The NBI is all about encouragement, promotion and advice; however it would be remiss of us all if we simply ignored some facts because they weren't "upbeat" enough. So let's grasp the nettle and talk about some of the practical realities of blogging, in the spirit of "forewarned is forearmed".
Many new Blogs will fail:
After five years of being involved with the NBI, it's hard to ignore the fact that many of new blogs despite being born out of the enthusiasm surrounding the event, will fail and peter out. Writing regularly is hard, takes times and self-discipline. It also has to compete against the practical day to day realities of life such a holding down a job, family life and other social obligations. There will be occasions when a new blogger simply runs out of stamina or time, resulting in a blog that slowly falls into decline and is then sidelined. There is no shame in this. Not everyone who starts a blog can sustain it. The positive side of this situation is that a blog can always be resurrected at a later date or a new one created when the circumstances are better suited. If you only blog about a single topic then it’s only natural that as your passion waxes and wanes, so does your blogging on the subject. A natural rate of attrition is a healthy thing and in my experience; the blogs that survive will do so through their author’s hard work and dedication.
Blogging is not a fast path to wealth and fame:
I've raised this point in previous NBI posts but it does no harm to reiterate it once again. Despite what many people say to the contrary, it is still quite a common "dream" that blogging, podcasting or becoming some sort of internet personality will lead to fame and fortune. For a few fortunate individuals it does so, however that is usually due to a lot of hard work on their behalf, along with being in the right place at the right time. For the rest of us lesser mortals, creating content is simply a time sink that costs money. I can testify to the fact that as a website grows, the operating costs do so as well.
Since 2011 when I consolidated all my various blogs into Contains Moderate Peril, I think I've spent somewhere in the region of £1,750 on various hosting packages, Word Press templates, design work as well as podcast recording hardware and software. That's a sizeable amount of money for a hobby and doesn't include the competition and giveway budget. Furthermore, although I've enjoyed myself immensely over the years creating content, Contains Moderate Peril has not put a red cent back in my pocket. As for "fame" well I now annoy a few thousands of people on Twitter instead or a few hundred. So if you're looking for a quick buck, then try the race track or writing a self-help book.
Blogging does not make you an expert:
Regularly writing about the things you love does not by default make you an expert on the subject. Blogging can sometimes be a bit of an echo chamber and if too many people tend to agree with you and a small circle of readers always post positive comments, it can somewhat jade your outlook. Therefore always endeavour to research what you write and make sure you quote your data sources. Try to think critically and don't fall into the usual literary and rhetorical traps. If in doubt when writing about a tricky subject or controversial point, sleep on the matter before hitting the publish button. Too many gamers confuse knowledge with wisdom and the two are most definitely not the same.
Also simply having strong convictions does not make your point right. Playing a game does not give you a unique insight that the developers do not have. The internet is sadly awash with armchair experts and bloggers who are legends in their own lunch hour. More often than not they have no practical experience of games development, business management or corporate finance. Therefore a little bit of humility in blogging goes a long way. Recognise that your personal opinion may not be any more informed than others.
In some respects the blogging community is still a meritocracy at heart and genuine talent does mainly rise to the top. However not every blog needs to be a literary masterpiece so there’s more than enough room for niche sites and every day writing styles. Simply sharing your enjoyment with others can be enough to find an audience. As long as you're having fun blogging then that's all that really matters. These are ultimately the realities of blogging and for many writers that is enough. So don't get diverted by pipe dreams of fortune and glory; just write for pleasure and enjoy communicating with others.