Thoughts on Blogging Part 3
I read a post over at Tobold’s Blog recently that got me thinking about blogging, popularity, and the ebb and flow of our passions. The reason being is that Tobold, like many other long-term bloggers, has seen a decline in his audience over recent years. He certainly wasn’t carping about it, just simply observing the correlation between reducing your written output, the decline in popularity of his original subject matter and the number of visitors coming to his site. He also made a keen observation that blogging is not necessarily “where it’s at” with regard to cultivating an audience. If you are producing content specifically to grow and maintain a following, then You Tube and Twitch are better platforms for that. Especially if your content is part of the wider gaming scene. For better or for worse, I now associate gaming commentary with visual mediums rather than blogging. Yes, there is still long from criticism being produced but it’s aimed at a niche gaming audience. One that I would guess is older.
Even when blogging was the medium of choice within the gaming community, it was far from a homogenous platform. There was (and remains to this day) a wide spectrum of output. Those pursuing an in-depth analysis of gaming did so and developed their audiences accordingly. Those who pursued a more “populist” approach to their content did so and likewise found success or failure. Like today with streaming, bloggers were free back in its heyday to either treat their work as a hobby done for its own pleasure or intellectual reward, or as a means to seek the fickle finger of internet fame and grow a readership as well as a line of revenue. Let us not forget that a decade ago adblockers were a merely a vague nightmare for marketing departments and that clicks, and advertising links were the key to financial success. However, whatever path you pursued as a gaming blogger during this time, it was quite an interconnected community. Events such as the Newbie Blogger Initiative of 2012 further reinforced this.
As for the fifteen minutes of fame that Tobold alludes to in his post, I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that Contains Moderate Peril achieved that. However, traffic increased to the point in 2014 where a conventional hosted WordPress package was not up to the job and I had to look for a more robust solution. Fortunately, I managed to secure sponsorship from Host1Plus which I consider to be an acknowledgment of the site’s internet “reach”. Certainly 2014-15 were good years and it was during that time that I started finding myself on various emailing lists from PR and marketing companies. Because the scope of the blog has never been exclusively about gaming, I also received invites for movies screening and other material. Certainly, having a podcast linked to the blogs activities helped find a wider audience. Posting regular content was another reason for the growth in readership.
A lot has happened in the world of blogging since I started in 2007. Alternative platforms have emerged that have a “different” barrier to entry. As ever, visual mediums are more accessible to wider audiences and thus You Tube and Twitch have become venues for the latest internet Gold Rush. As for Contains Moderate Peril, well a variety of factors have impacted upon the sites online presence. I had to relocate the blog due to technical reasons and then there were a series of issues that interrupted content creation. By mid-2016 the blog had lost 75% of its traffic. However, I returned to regular posting in 2017 and the site has seen a steady increase in visits each month since then. Gaming as a topic only constitutes about 45% of the material I write about at present and only certain subjects and games seem to gain traction. However, movie reviews and analysis seem to be attracting a lot of traffic and an audience who are happy to read lengthy articles.
I’m not a big fan of “what if” scenarios and “if I could do it all again” flights of fancy. I have in the past harboured ambitions to write professionally but the practical realities of life meant it made better economic sense to stick with the proverbial day job. I have now retired and have become a carer, but the odd thing is because of the very structured and routine nature of that task, I now have specific designated times to write which I didn’t in the past. Hence the regular content and the site growth. Ironically, I am now being offered and undertaking paid work. In a perfect world I would have liked to have done this years ago but c’est la vie. The wheel has also turned full circle for many of my writing peers are dusting off their blogs and sharing their thoughts once again online. Hence, I think game blogging will always have a place and will attract those that seek the potential depth and intimacy of written content. It may not present the same opportunities that some seek from Twitch and You Tube, but that’s also why it doesn’t share exactly the same failings.