Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Welcome to the Show

So you want to be a blogger, or a streamer, or a podcaster? Cool, welcome to the ever growing community of game enthusiasts, publishers, and thinkers that make up our diverse gaming community. There’s a ton of us, but there’s always room for more voices in our community. I’m going to try and help you get started with some of the questions that have helped me figure out what exactly I’m trying to do with my blog/podcast/production company amalgamation thingamajig.

“What is the focus of your blog/podcast/company?”

Now this is a doozy of a question, and it may take you awhile to answer. What are you trying to share with the rest of the world about games? Do you have a particular viewpoint you want to share? Are you a rules expert who wants to make the game easier to get into? Do you think you and your friends are awesome fun and want to share that with that the rest of the world in an actual play podcast or stream? Do you want to print your own adventures and supplements for the world to see?

I’m not going to tell you that there are people who are already covering all of the potential viewpoints in the universe, or that there are better rules experts, or any of the things like that. In some cases, there may be a podcast or blog just like the one you want to write. Those folks (and there might be a bunch of them) probably share an experience with you in regards to the gaming culture, and you can probably find different things to talk about. Take small steps in getting ready for this, and grow slowly. Write articles and produce pods about things you think are important, neat, or are just the things that you want to share.

Finding your own voice is going to be essential to this project. The thing that is going to grow an audience is YOUR voice. There are a ton of content producers out there, but the thing that is going to attract (and help keep) an audience is the way you approach gaming and how you express yourself in it. None of us have a magic formula for the right way to do stuff, but as long as you stay honest to what you want to share with the rest of the community, you’ll find people who’ll consume your media.

To answer this question, i use my blog as way to help new players figure out how to write their own adventures and craft their own stories in a variety of games. I also use it as a platform to show off the Campaign Setting i am currently working on, Lakeport. It also let’s me go over the rules and mechanics for a number of games, and once in a great while i show off some of the miniatures i’ve painted over the years.

“How do you handle criticism?”

This one’s a pain. If you have a live stream game or an actual play podcast, you’re probably going to get comments from the people watching at home. This is a mixed blessing, and honestly comments are good. It means that you have engaged the audience (your target audience, hopefully) and they are interacting with you. Sometimes the criticism is not so good. People can comment on the way your players aren’t playing the game correctly, or the basis of your idea is flawed, or you are just a stupid idiot. Criticism is easy in the age of the internet, and it takes a certain amount of bravery to put yourself out there for people to take shots at.

The other end of the spectrum is equally dire. I put out about 250 articles last year, and i think i received a total of 9 comments on them over the course of that year. That’s not counting the spam ones that wanted me to invest in bitcoins...It can feel like you’re shouting into an empty void, and in some cases that’s true. Every blog, cast, or streaming service gives you the details to track your metrics, and that’s going to be a thing that you will have to decide how you want to engage with. Growth is good, but honest, organic growth is great.

“How big is your budget for this?”

Now this is a tricky question and comes down to a whole bunch of complicated factors. How much money are you willing to spend on your blog/podcast/stream/production? Each one has its own inherent costs and there are much smarter people who have crunched numbers on this than me. My advice as a bookkeeper is to make sure that you keep the receipts for the things you spent money on, track how your money comes in and goes out, and spend very carefully. If you don’t absolutely have to have something, you might hold off on it.

The flipside of that is that you are going to have to spend some money to make the moneys. There are some wonderful artists out there who put together overlays and designs for streaming setups, and equally talented musicians. If you think your channel needs these things, spend the money on them. It’s an investment in the future of your channel, and it helps another artist. DO NOT TRY TO GET FREE ART.

Eventually, you’re going to want some custom graphics and things of that nature, so figure out what you want, find an artist with a style you like, and see about commissioning them to do a piece for you. There are tons of awesome artists out there, and i bet you can find a style you like.

“How are you going to market yourself?”

This is another hard question that every single one of us has considered. Self-promotion is one of the single most terrifying things that we all experience. How do you walk up to folks and basically say “hi, I’m a blogger, here’s my blog, and here’s what i blog about.” (that’s honestly not a bad start). Social media has given a lot of us reach that we didn’t have before. Twitter has honestly been one of my most useful sources of finding new contacts in the hobby and i like to think i’ve made friends out there in the twitter verse. Follow creators you like, follow blogs you like, and put yourself out there on twitter. Figure out how hashtags work.

It’s tricky, and it’s a hard balance to strike for folks, but if you are persistent, you’ll get noticed by folks. If you see folks looking for guests or people to fill in a spot on a game or podcast and you feel comfortable playing that game or talking about that spot, give it a shot. Be open to the opportunities that present themselves.

Concluding Thoughts

If you can come up with an idea of an answer for these questions, i think you’re off to a good start on finding your way into our crazy little hobby. Yes, there are people who may not like your work, and that’s okay. Not everyone has to like everything else. Be yourself, be honest, and remember that you are broadening our hobby by sharing your perspective on it. Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and see what you see. Game On, Game Fans.

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