Blogging: Turning Over a New Leaf

I have had Creative Twilight now for five and a half years. In the blogging world that’s damn near a lifetime. I started the site for commission painting I was doing at the time and it evolved into a Warhammer 40K blog. I quickly discovered that blogging was addicting and that it helped feed my hobby motivation. I wanted to show everyone what I was working on and to share my thoughts on the game. Blogging continues to keep me motivated to do the hobby stuff that I enjoy.

Something I feel every blog needs to be successful is a voice, a focus. All of my favorite blogs are blogs that do something very well, whether that’s hobby tutorials, gaming editorials, etc. Finding the voice for Creative Twilight is something I have struggled with over the years. I have learned what I don’t want the blog to be, usually through trial and error, but I had not found what I wanted it to be.

I have often commented here, and on other blogs when the subject arises, that I would rather have less traffic with higher reader engagement than high traffic with little engagement, or the wrong kind of engagement. How to approach that has been the dilemma; how to get more people caring enough to comment and share.

Now, I can’t say that I’ve found the answer but I think we’re on to something. In talking with Kamui on the subject I expressed this and he had some great feedback. See, we aren’t master-class painters and people don’t come here like they do with James Wappel to see stunning figures. Breaking down painting techniques isn’t exactly something we do either, however Dave at Wargaming Tradecraft does it well. What we are though is a group of people with a lot of experience that can share those experiences with everyone. Those experiences aren’t always positive either, not every project comes out as planned, but sharing that with everyone is just as useful as when things go perfectly.

Teaching people is something I really enjoy, as well as the other authors here, it’s why we blog. Getting asked for advice on anything is a proud moment because it means your opinion matters and you’re doing something well. This is what we want to bring forward with Creative Twilight, sharing these experiences and creating approachable hobby content based on years of experiments, the good and the bad. We may not be the best in any one area regarding this awesome hobby we enjoy, but if what we’ve learned can help readers, motivate them and propel them, then that’s what counts.

To our readers I ask, is there something we do, or have done, that you would like to see more in-depth? Anything is fair game here and knowing what you all enjoy, the reasons you come here, will only help us deliver to you more of what you enjoy.

I’m really looking forward to this new approach and I hope you all do as well.

  • Baron Smithers

    If you were to review models, scenarios, formations, etc. in the light of how much fun could be had, or interesting combinations, for gaming unrelated to competitive tournament worthiness, it would probably be very interesting. Sort of a tabletop analog to painting a model well. Most GW games are more hobby than competition by design anyway, despite the fact that the internet tends to overlook the reality of the situation.

    • Good idea and right down my alley. I tend to play a lot of lists I find fun, often because I just enjoy the models in the list. I have done some unit reviews that aren’t focused on competitiveness so I’ll try and work that angle more and flesh it out.

      I agree that a vast majority of gamers aren’t the competitive type, it’s just that the competitive players are the vocal majority.

      • Yet the non-competitive gamers put A LOT of importance on the competitive ones, treating netlists like gold no matter the meta.

        • It is a rather interesting paradox not you mention it.

          • Well, I’m part of the Trollbloods group on Facebook, because Trolls. Nice to see the work other people are doing and lend a hand where possible. But what gets me is how every list discussion tends to start and end with a netlist. Instead of trying a model idea by proxy, they want to be told whether to buy model A, B or C. It doesn’t matter what their meta looks like, if it’s good against Cryx, it’s a “winner”.

  • Thanks for the mention, though I struggle with it too. I’m often torn by this, because I’d love to have more interaction. I see my numbers.. I see that my stuff is getting read _a lot_ and it’s neat to be this internet dictionary on miniature hobbying. But I often wish I got more feedback and comments, something to reinforce that I’m going down the right path. The New Year should speak to that I hope.

    Having multiple authors like you do is good, as I like the mix of stuff you show on this site. As for where to go, I wish I could suggest more.

    • Gladly. You have a great site and it deserves more traffic.

      I think we all struggle with reader engagement. I, obviously, have not found the answer. I thought that shorter articles, no longer than 700 words, would get more engagement by keeping their attention and not overwhelming readers. I was wrong. In fact, I find my longer articles get more engagement. People who aren’t going to read thoroughly and comment will hold to that course regardless of article length or depth. However, a longer article (if done well), may engage the other readers.

      Having multiple authors definitely makes for some diverse stuff, which I also enjoy as a reader. If it were just me then this would mostly just be a Chaos focused blog and drawing a smaller crowd. Having the other guys write has certainly widened the audience, which is awesome.

      • The extra authors also lets you post more often, which goes a long way to a site’s success.

        I’ve found, as far as length of a post, that there are a few sweet spots. Brief posts showcasing something awesome can get a lot of traffic.

        But so can super long “opus” posts that cover a topic in great detail. Part of the trick is to break up posts with photos and point form at times, so it’s not a wall of text. I’ve found through work that you can communicate a lot by cutting back on what you’re saying so the reader focus’ better. Tutorials I’d write for employees or emails describing stuff went over much better with a KISS approach.

        • Good points.

          The wall of text is something I’m notorious for and know I need to work on. We all have our weaknesses!

      • I think the thing with engagement is that it is time-sensitive. If you review a book, write a tutorial, or post an army list, the responses must come in a very short timeframe to feel relevant for both the poster and the author.
        You have at most three to five days to garner responses and reply to them. As soon as the post is bumped from the front page of a blog, that tends to be it for the conversation. Most people will not post directly to a blog entry if it is older than a week purely because they don’t expect a response. Unlike say, a message board where every new reply bumps the conversation back to the top, blog entries are fixed in place.
        Doe something exist in the blog software that can “surface” posts in a sidebar that have a lot of recent comments? I know you have your Recent Comments bar over there, but is there a “Hot Topics” bar you could add?

        • The recent comments does work in that capacity as well. Well, not exactly as you said but the comment shows the article it’s for and is clickable. However, I get your point and I know at one point I could do that with Disqus, show popular articles by comments. They’ve changed a lot of things over the years so I’ll have to see what they offer now for something like that. Good idea.

  • Nafnaf

    Hey Thor. Though a fairly new reader and blogger myself I have enjoyed the content you both have put out so far. It is great you have found something you want to focus on more. I think for me blogging is about engaging with the community and showing my hobby stuff and getting feedback on it. I am pretty new to the whole business though so who knows if in 5 years time my blogging focus will have changed too. I am looking forward to seeing the new content you will be putting out :)

    • Thanks.

      I completely agree that engaging the readers is what this is about. Getting a lot of traffic is nice. It looks good in stats, but that’s all it is, a number. Generating interest and discussion in whatever the topic is makes for a far more rewarding experience. That’s what the focus is intended for here, to create a more engaged community. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but you have to experiment now and then.

  • Ming

    I love coming here on a regular basis to catch up on your articles.

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