The Game Geex Report is a weekly exercise in transparency. We will pull back the curtain and show you the workings of how we do things around here, what we are planning for the future, and what we've learned from the past. And then we'll ask for your input on how we've been doing with the site.
We’re reaching a tipping point here at Rogue Knight Studios. For three years now we’ve been working on creating a successful gaming blog, and things haven’t exactly gone the way we expected. Our dreams of spearheading a shift in how people interact with gaming journalism just fizzled, and in the end I was left in a place I did not want to be in. I was writing articles simply to put something on the site, and wondering why we had no community.
Lately Art and I have been doing research into how we can make the site successful. So far we’ve been pouring our own money into RKS, without any return. But profit to me is only one measure of success. In order to feel like I am working on something worth my time I need to have a site that either has an active reader base, makes money, or both. Right now we’re not doing much of both. Sure, we have great writers, and occasionally we put up a post that resonates with people, but even huge traffic numbers don’t bring commenters to the posts, and it’s that conversation that makes me so excited about blogs. Even small blogs have commenters, ones without such a slick engine, and if simple Wordpress affairs can do, why can’t we?
Obviously we’re missing something. On the design end Art is working on something quite special, creating a new site that is exciting to use. But people don’t come to a blog for the engine. They come to consume content, to fill a need. We have built a gaming blog, and that topic is great, but it’s too general. A great blog needs more than a general topic, it needs:
1. Passion: Writing about what you are personally passionate about bleeds right onto the page.
2. Fulfillment: The reader comes to your site looking for something. A great blog feeds that desire, and then satisfies it the way a great meal satisfies hunger.
3. Fun: Not only should your blog be about something you care deeply about, it also needs to be fun. If you’re not having a blast, you’re writing the wrong blog.
4.Knowledge: The age old saying goes “write what you know.” It’s always okay to know just a little about a topic, but knowing nothing means you’re going to run out of things to say pretty quickly unless you start increasing your knowledge through research.
5. Evidence of Success: Other blogs on a similar topic should exist, or if not on the topic, at least in the general format. You have to know what you are going to work on will succeed before you start pouring your heart and soul into it.
Looking at this list, we’re doing okay -- not great, but okay. Are we passionate about gaming? Definitely. The name Game Geex says it all -- we love to geek out about video games. Are we having fun? Not always, and that’s a problem. Are we knowledgable about the subject? Yep, we’ve been writing about games for over five years now, and have been playing them analytically for much longer. Are other gaming blogs successful? Yes, by both of my measures there are hundreds of successful blogs out there; blogs that either make money, have an interactive community, or both. Are we fulfilling a burning desire? No, not as far as I can tell. And that, I think, is where we need to change things.
So that’s my first dilemma. When I think about the content on our site, I need to make sure we are fulfilling a need. Who reads our site, and what do they need from a gaming blog that they aren’t currently getting? In order to answer that question, I need to spend some time talking with our community. The trick is, they are a small bunch, and a quiet one. So how does one get people who don’t comment to communicate with the blog they read? I suppose I can reach out on social media and see what they say. Again, we don’t get much in the way of Facebook comments, but that might be because there’s little motivation to talk. This is the conundrum we face, and if we can’t figure it out we’re doomed to be another blog that just regurgitates news from other sites.
I’ve talked about the sorts of questions that I wanted to ask of our reader base in order to try and discern what shift we should be making in our content focus. General gaming geekery isn’t specific -- as the term implies. And we specifically want to provide a service to our readers. We just have to figure out what that service is.
To answer that, I’m going to start a little brainstorming based on the Million Dollar Blog Project run back in 2011 on ThinkTraffic.com. I stumbled on this today and have been eagerly reading through the articles, gleaning what I can that might help us improve Game Geex. The first couple steps of the project don’t apply to us as we’ve already started the site. We have already selected our topic and our domain, and have started the blog itself (obviously). The next step involves selecting your particular unique spin on content, what sets you apart from the other thousands of blogs out there on your topic. This “Unique Market Proposition” is some major marketing magic, I tell you.
We start the process of finding our UMP by thinking about our audience and answering questions about them:
What do they need help with?
What are they afraid of?
Who (and what) do they admire?
What dreams do they have that they might be afraid to admit?
What do they regret?
What have they failed at?
What makes them laugh?
What else do they read or watch?
What conventional wisdom do they subscribe to?
What are their current thoughts on your chosen topic?
It’s going to take some serious noodling to answer these questions, and some of them will need answers from our readers. I consider Art to be our target demographic, and our Alexa statistics back this up as well. An older gamer in their late 20’s to mid 30’s who is looking for...well what they are looking for is what we need to figure out.
Last night I had a discussion about this with Art. While we talked about many things, he brought up the fact that what he really geeks out over is facts and trivia. That got me thinking about what it means to be a Game Geek: You don’t just play the games, you immerse yourself in them, learn every line of the dialog, dress as the characters at conventions, trade facts with your friends, live for speed runs even though you’ve played the game a hundred times. I had forgotten our brand, our mission -- to write passionately about games. I had forgotten that gamers love to geek out. That is a desire that we can certainly work towards satisfying.
And so I have it, our Unique Marketing Proposition -- and in a way it was what we started with two years ago, but forgot about: We will be the site that geeks out over games. I feel much better about this focus: It sets us apart from the news sites, and definitely fits our brand.
Our next steps:
Build a content plan that focuses on depth not breadth. Let’s get back to geeking out over the games. That’s who we are, we should own it.
Create a blog project. I am reaching out to the writers to see if we can all geek out on a common theme.
Solicit the community for article ideas. I already posted on Facebook, and received one response. I suppose one is better than nothing.
Begin some epic articles. I have several in the works, and even a couple ideas that are a bit out of the box. This is all good, and even if it takes me weeks to write them, at least I know I am working with purpose, and working with focus.
And here is where I ask for your feedback. What do you think about our new content focus? Are there any gaming subjects that you would like to see us geek out about?