Dec 022010

I have a confession to make: I’ve been cheating on you.

I know, I know, you thought we were monogamous, but I have to say – I have more than one blog.  In fact, you aren’t even my first. AND, you’re not my latest. Let me explain…

Over a year ago I decided to jump onto the Adsense bandwagon.  For those of you who don’t know, Adsense is an advertising program.  You sign up for Adsense, Google puts an ad on your website, and whenever anyone clicks on that ad, you make anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars.  There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s it in a nutshell.

Well, back then I signed up for a few subscriptions to teach me how to efficiently make money with this program.  I did my research, settled on a keyword, built my first website (a fitness website), and went to work like crazy.

Right about this time, I went on a gaming hiatus.  Because of that, I had no vent for my creative energy – so this energy started to build up, and then build up some more.  Feeling brave, I decided to start up Stuffer Shack as a way to vent that energy.    I knew that I wanted the site to be a bank of character ideas, monster ideas, adventure ideas, and so on, as well as a place for gamers to get information on gaming tools.  That’s when I came up with the name Stuffer Shack (from Shadowrun – a street corner convenience store), and added the concept of Steal This (convenience stores are made to be robbed, right?).  I’m not gonna lie – I also figured that I might make a few extra bucks on the side.

Fast-forward to a few months ago.  I set up a website for my wife so she could display her crafting and scrapbooking projects (something that she could call her own, and be proud of).  She also wants to do a bunch of crafting video tutorials (hey, those spoony, crafty chicks all do that, I guess).  I’m looking forward to  helping her with all this, as it should be fun (plus we get to spend more time together).  That website was not at all designed with money-making in mind.

So, where am I going with all this? Well, my first website was all for money.  My second website was for both money and fun, and my third website was purely for fun.  See the transition?  I’ve made both money and mistakes, and changed the reasons I still do it all.  Hence, leading into the reason for this article: Why have a website?

If you’re thinking of starting up your own website, you need to know “Why” before you do anything else.  Pick one of the following, more than one, or something else entirely.

  • I want to make money online: For most gamers, this is not the best reason for starting up a gaming blog.  It can help with the cost of running the website, but it shouldn’t be the website’s purpose.  If you want to know how to make money online, there’s a whole slew of “gurus” lined up waiting for your dollars, so that they can show you their “secret.”   On the other hand, if you have something – some product that you feel might make you a few bucks, AND you think that having a gaming website would be fun, then sure, go for it.  Also, there are a few other options on making money with a gaming blog, but they aren’t very lucrative – they may help with the cost of running a website, but they won’t make you rich.
  • I want to practice my writing: Starting up your own gaming blog is perfect for those who want to practice their writing.  You don’t have to worry about a publisher telling you that your work is not good enough, that you need to make certain changes, or giving you a deadline.  Instead, you hone your writing skills while simultaneously building up your portfolio (should you ever decide to go professional).  Not only that, but your portfolio is on the web, open for everyone to see.  If you’re neck-and-neck in the running for a particular writng position, you’ll get the job over your competition if you have a blog displaying your work (and he doesn’t).  I know of a few talented writers that have started out this way.
  • I want to display my artistic skills: This is also a perfect reason for having a gaming website (assuming that your artwork is gaming-related).  I love imagery for my games, and I frequent several artistically-oriented gaming websites.  Also, if you’re any good, people may eventually commission you for specific projects or characters.  I’ve paid for a few here and there, as (I’m sure) others have too.
  • I have knowledge to share. This is the best, and most selfless reason for starting up a gaming website.  I love the gaming community.  It’s full of dudes and dudettes willing to share their thoughts on role-playing advice, role-playing aides, game reviews, and the gaming industry.  For every article related to RPGs, all gamers get to improve their game.

Really, what I’ve learned is that I can’t blog for money.  I started out that way, but I’ve burned out.  Yes, you CAN make money with a fitness website, a gaming website, and a scrapbooking website.  But I don’t want to do it anymore.  That takes too much work, work that I would rather spend towards something that I enjoy.  I have a job that pays the bills.  While the extra money is nice, I’m not going to work extra hard to get it.  Making a few bucks here and there is cool, but I’m not going to worry about it – nor should you.

So, I have to break up with my fitness website – you’re simply too high-maintenance.  I’ll keep in touch and occasionally drop in, but I will no longer court you.  I know that you’re going to keep giving me a little bit of money for a while – bribing me, but I’m not going to take you back.  As for my wife’s scrapbooking website, that is all for her enjoyment, and we’ll have affiliate Amazon links for tools and supplies that she likes (in case her readers want to get that stuff).  Stuffer Shack will also have affiliate links for any products we talk about, as well as continue to sell cool and useful stuff (like the Horse Minis, Mini Counters, etc.).  What we won’t be doing anymore (for any site) is hardcore marketing and promotion.   We don’t enjoy it, and I don’t want to dread turning on my computer.

In conclusion…

In my opinion, making money should not be the sole reason for starting up a gaming website.  It takes a lot of work, and the payout is far lower than other niches.  I’d say that less than 1% of gaming blogs bring in more than a few hundred dollars a month (and they really work for it).  That’s not to say that you can’t make money with a gaming website; it’s just not going to be very much.  It’s much better to start up a gaming website because you have something to add to the gaming community – perhaps gamemastering tips, player aides, gaming tools, insight into the industry, or even game session recaps.  If you make a few extra bucks from it, cool.  Just don’t make that your site’s purpose.

Once you figure out exactly why you’re starting or keeping a gaming blog, it becomes easier to steer your site in that direction, obviously.   Your site should have a purpose that thrills you, should be a force that drives you, and should be a place you can call home.  You should never feel like it’s work.  If it does, you need to refocus.  I like Stuffer Shack.  Not because I make a few bucks from it, but because it’s just plain fun.  It’s fun to write, fun to create, and fun to make friends.  Stuffer Shack is not work, nor should your site be.

Thanks for reading.

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Chris Stevens

In Chris's opinion, the very best vices are dirt bikes, rock music, and gaming, while the very best medicine is fatherhood. If he could just learn to balance them all, he'd live forever. He's much more creative than intelligent, often wakes up belligerent, and ponders many things insignificant. Lastly, in an effort to transform his well-fed body, P90X, Roller Blades, and Food are all laughing at him. And the pain continues.

  5 Responses to “Blogging Crits and Fumbles: Why have a Website?”

  1. Very good my man. Good to hear you speak from the heart.

    Also, looking forward to your series.

  2. Thank you, Travis. Really, I’m just glad to have eliminated certain shoulder-heaving burdens. It’s kind of liberating, actually. Now I feel like I don’t have to take things so seriously, and I can just relax and have fun.

    I’m looking forward to the series as well. There will be at least 15 videos showing everything one needs to know to start up their own gaming blog (as far as I know). Hopefully, no one will be left wondering, “Well how do I configure this? or, How do I increase traffic? or, How do I insert a cropped image here? or, How do I get a header for the site?” etc…

  3. Nice one, Tourq – looking forward to this series, too. Should be very useful! 😀

  4. It’s hard to do both. I heard you could make a lot of money if you create a website about Hemorrhoid Cream and get it to #1 in Google. Anyone really passionate about Hemorrhoid Cream? Anyone?

  5. Hey there, I…

    *Distasteful joke headed off at the pass*

    Umm, nope.

    Nice to see you round these parts, Sam.

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