Recently I got a ping from a Discord server that I’ve not visited in several months, and it reminded me that the annual Blaugust blogging celebration was right around the corner. I was reminded of a community of fresh-faced content creators who, without the desire for status, fame, nor fortune, explode onto the scene once every year to start up a new hobby or revive an old one. I likewise pictured the selfless mentors who give time and advice freely throughout the course of the event, hoping to encourage the follow participants and subsequently add to their ranks. Lastly, my mind wandered back to a bygone era when I was much more active both on this blog and within the greater community. I realized that I have not recently posted about the latest step in my writing journey.
But first, some background! After contributing to both the website and podcast for lotroplayers.com, I decided to start my own gaming blog and podcast where I could discuss anything my little heart desired outside of Lord of the Rings Online. In order to meet like-minded folk and to gain some insight into the world of blogging, I joined the Newbie Blogger Initiative back in 2014. As it turned out, this was my blogging peak. I was a fountain of fresh ideas and was publishing several posts a month, many having to do with gaming/content creating communities as opposed to the games, themselves. Thanks to the NBI and the community that had accepted me openly, my blog gained some traction and attention. It continued on an upward trajectory for another year or so.
Then something happened. Several things, actually. The ideas dried up. I found myself co-hosting a podcast for MMORPG.com trying to talk about games that I had no interest in playing. I was trying to run a podcast network when I barely had time to produce my own. My kids, mere children when I started my blog, had started to become more and more involved in activities that filled up our family schedule. Yet, the pressure to capitalize on the momentum I’d managed to gain with my blog/podcast continued to gnaw at me.
Finally, in late 2016, I called it quits. I dropped everything: the blog, the podcasts, the network, and began to scale back my social networking involvement. Eventually, I cancelled the braxwolf.com domain name, and my blog traffic dropped to nearly zero. In some ways, it was a relief. I no longer had an obligation to fulfill. Obviously, I didn’t walk away from the community completely. I merely contributed in a highly diminished capacity.
One issue that many content creators discuss from time to time is: how can one make money from this hobby? It’s a sticky subject, but after a few years of fairly intense content creation, I had decided that it’s nearly impossible to see any financial return from blogging or podcasting. That’s not to say that it’s completely impossible, but I would advise most new folks to treat it as a hobby and not the start of a career. There are a lot of “opportunities for exposure” in the gaming news/blog community, but most of those opportunities are more beneficial to the website than to the post author. After observing the landscape, I decided to take my own advice and treat all of my content creation like the hobby it was unless the perfect opportunity presented itself.
*90’s record scratch*
Then something weird happened. Somehow, during one of my infrequent Twitter checks, I happened upon a tweet from Massively Overpowered stating that they were looking for additional staff. MOP is the MMO news site that I have always had the most respect for, due to the way that they approach the genre and the code of ethics they insist on following. Out of sheer curiosity, and knowing full well that I didn’t have time for a side job, I clicked on the link. The post listed several columnist positions, many that I skimmed past (knowledge of Asian MMO’s required, PvP focused, etc.). But, to my surprise, one position caught my eye: Columnist wanted to split time writing the Elder Scrolls Online column. Wait, ESO? ESO was the one MMO I was currently playing! Column required twice a month. Twice a month? Even a busy guy like myself could handle that kind of posting schedule, couldn’t I? It was almost as if this job posting was written just for me! After conferring with my wife, I decided to go ahead and apply.
Long story short, I am now forced to give the advice “do as I say, not as I do” with regards to paid blogging because, well, I’m essentially a paid blogger. Professionally speaking, I’m the ESO columnist for MassivelyOP.com. The guy who had given up gaming content creation has once again picked up the baton since being given the chance to do it for a renowned gaming site. To be completely honest, though, this specific job with this specific MMO site is probably the only thing that could have tempted me to relinquish my amateur status. It just happened to be the perfect fit.
So take heed, newbies and seasoned alike. It is possible to make money from your hobby. But I would advise not going that route unless the job is tailor-made for your circumstance. And be very wary of those who offer “exposure”. The old saying about getting the milk for free does apply in this situation.