The people who paint miniature wargames is relatively small. And those who choose to take the extra time to write and share pictures is even smaller still. To these, I ask the simple question: why do you hobby blog?
Last week I posted this question: “Why do did you start your hobby blog, what motivates you, and what frustrates you.” I wanted to get a sense of why others choose to write and share their work. And what keeps them going.
Below you can see some of their responses. I also added my thoughts about why to start blogging about the hobby, frustrations along the way, and ways to stay motivated.
Reasons People Start a Hobby Blog
I started what is now Broken Paintbrush in 2008 as a way to log my painting progress of my Iron Warriors. With no idea what I was doing, how to find other hobbyists, or how I “should” blog. I just started writing and posting pictures.
@brknpaintbrush I blog to try and make sense of what I'm doing – kind of 'thinking aloud'. Plus I find it motivating to keep going.
— Sir Luke (@battlesandbrush) March 12, 2017
When I got this response from Sir Luke, it made me realize that I was ‘thinking aloud’ through my posts. By posting army ideas, work-in-progress, or even showcases, a blog is a way to share thoughts and get the communities feedback.
I guess I am still thinking out loud through my blog.
@brknpaintbrush I like to help and teach. Writing can be fun too but also gets exhausting and I have to remember to be true to my passion.
— Dave G (@InDavesLife) March 12, 2017
At some point, I decided to change the focus of the blog and help teach as well. When I was getting started, Ron at From the Warp was a huge part of the online community. But he did so by providing a ton of tutorials and constantly giving back. I was inspired to model my site after his and since have found many other great hobbyists like Dave G doing the same.
Real People Loving the Hobby
@brknpaintbrush Indeed! I show what I did and how I did that and I hope to get advice how to do it better 🙂
— Swordmaster (@SwordOfHoeth) March 12, 2017
When Swordmaster brought up the idea that blogging is about sharing ‘real examples’ it made me think about the online community as a whole. We post pictures of our miniatures, stories of our games, and wishes for future kits. But without an agenda. Well other than the agenda of wanting feedback and how to improve.
Hobby bloggers are real people sitting at the other end of the web.
Creating Something New
@brknpaintbrush painting minis so I can use them as images for the mission packet & designing my own tiles etc
— Crimson Oracle (@crimson_oracle) March 12, 2017
And sometimes those other people express their creativity in new ways to play the game. Crimson Oracle is an example of the gamer who starts blogging to share fan-made expansions. The web allows you to become an amateur game designer in your spare time.
Others have a go at fan fiction, either has short stories or as a a back story for their models.
Your Site is Your Own
@brknpaintbrush I blog about my hobby because it gives me a central place I control to find and store all my stuff
— Crimson Oracle (@crimson_oracle) March 12, 2017
Another great point about blogging is being able to have it a central point for your hobby. I didn’t think of it that way before, but Crimson Oracle is right in that your blog is controlled by you and you can store anything you want on it.
Pictures of my completed armies, check. Tutorials I want to save for later, check. Tutorials on how I painted my stuff, so I remember years later, check. Even my Good Reads posts could be argued as a way for me to bookmark excellent content.
There is Plenty of Room For You to Teach
@brknpaintbrush I also like doing tutorials that are simple, but give excellent results. Or that don't take advanced techniques to get right
— Scott Ferguson (@ryglore) March 12, 2017
Even within the hobby blogging world, there are different styles and focusses. You can follow Golden Deamon winning artists who share their progress and create some fantastic tutorials – but use a bunch of advanced techniques. Then there are those like Scott who are great painters but work to make their tutorials simple.
Whether a conscious decision or not, each of these styles provides benefits to the community as a whole. There are painters of all skill levels trying to learn. And if a hobbyist has a technique or style that they think is missing, it can prompt them to start blogging themselves.
Staying Connected and Reliving a Moment
“I always used to write battle reports for our games, back when my gaming group were young teenagers. Sharing photos was a lot harder back in those days 🙂 The purpose was to re-live the narratives (funny moments) that the game produced, particularly for people who couldn’t make it on the day. When we drifted apart I took up blogging out of nostalgia for those days.” – Marc
Other bloggers start out to remember and share the good memories of gaming with friends. It’s been many years since I’ve seen my original gaming buddies, but I still remember the many games we had on the floor fighting around cans of coke and stacks of books.
The Frustrations and Temptations
But hobby blogging isn’t all fun and games. And it is definitely not a way to make money (despite what all those ads tell you!). Over the years I have seen many hobby sites come and go. Bloggers catch the excitement of writing a blog, only to have the many frustrations of it break that spirit and the site shuts back down.
My site has gone through these phases and almost shut down many times. The new year would bring a flush of inspiration. But by mid-year silence returns and guilt of not blogging builds until it doesn’t make feel ‘right’ to do yet-another-I’m-not-dead-post.
When Tools Get in the Way
@brknpaintbrush also the mobile app doesn't let you customize the social widget that posts to twitter, so you can't easily add tags w out
— Crimson Oracle (@crimson_oracle) March 12, 2017
Dealing with the blogging platform itself can be a huge sense of frustration. The site crashing right in the middle of a post, images being eaten by a backend upgrade, or the mobile app being difficult to use.
It has become easier to create the look and feel of your site how you want it without touching a line of code. But it still isn’t simple. And if you have a vision of what you want to see, it can be agonizing hours trying to tweak things just right – and then find it breaks the mobile view.
Difficulties Never Stop
“My frustrations.. loads. When my paint won’t go on the mini smoothly, my dusty workspace, getting a hair on a miniature then not realizing until it’s dry.” – Laurence
And then comes the frustrations on the hobby side of the blog. As I posted more, I felt like I should be improving as I was getting traffic and part of the community. But I still have issues like Laurence where my paint doesn’t go on smoothly (this week was the orange for my Blood Bowl team!). Or my desk is a disaster and kills my motivation.
“I find my own cripplingly slow production rate frustrating! Like Marc, finished content is the main feature of, not just my blog but most of my internet presence. Being slow and steady might produce works of art… but it doesn’t do it very quick XD ah well. Such is fate.” – D Powers
I too am a very slow painter. Combined with I get very little painting time in during this season with two small boys, and my production is, as D puts it, cripplingly slow. Where this hurts the most is when I put together a schedule that includes tutorials and showcase posts for projects that should be quick to get done, only to have them linger in the backlog for months.
The Sound of Silence can Hurt
But I think the biggest frustration all hobby bloggers was said well by Cylde:
“Frustrated when no one says nothing, that is I’m not the best painter over the world but I’ve put a lot of interest and time, tell me something, ok that line is too fat, or force a bit more the lights , try to darken the shadows, or just a simple it’s ok. but no silence please.” – Cylde
Unfortunately, this is the story of nearly every new blogger – the people who desire the feedback the most. The internet is a noisy, crowded space and for those trying to get heard, it is upsetting to put so much work into a post, and have it sit silently.
But even for those who have been writing for what seems like forever, a silent post still hits hard.
This is part of the reason that Thor and I have been writing articles on how to improve your blogging. We want to help make it easier for your site to be found. It doesn’t take the short term pain away, but it can help you make steady progress in growing your reader base.
Finding Motivation and Purpose
When you do get comments, it can be exhilarating. I still get excited when I get comments, especially when someone new adds their voice.
“My motivation comes from everywhere, Films, artwork, nature and looking at the best figure painters work on ‘Paint and Putty’ etc…
We only really blog to each other, so when people post their minis we can appreciate the skill and hard work that is part of miniature painting.
I think it’s nice to get comments from other painters and I try to comment and help when I can. It’s a good feeling. “- Laurence
There is a lot of what Laurence said that resonated with me. Between finding inspiration from other painters (pro and beginner alike), each person gives their take on the hobby and seeing their process can open a window into how we can improve in some way.
But I also liked his thought about we are blogging to each other. We are hobby bloggers who wrote for other people in our hobby. This is a similar idea to Swordmaster’s above in that we aren’t trying to preach and market.
An International Game Store
I paint miniatures, and I provide tutorials on how to paint miniatures. Once in a while, I game, and I read posts about gaming. And while few people in our hobby blog, it is great motivation to interact with those who are on this writing journey.
“Mostly, I blog to be part of the online community now. What we have is a bit like an international FLGS with the complete spectrum of interests and abilities amongst us to share.” – Marc
An international FLGS. That is such a great way to put how I feel about the bloggers I follow and those I interact with on social media. Most I haven’t yet met in real life, but I also feel that I now have friends all over the world.
Finding Diversity in Style and Thought
But it is also the huge diversity of thoughts and ideas each brings to the virtual table. Want to paint pristine Space Marines? Enjoy writing huge back stories? Or want to create insanely competitive lists? There are bloggers for that.
Or if you like the darker side of 40k or AoS, there are bloggers like D for that.
“I’d like to think I’m a Blanchitsu disciple; there aren’t many of us around, and we need to make our existence known.” – D Powers
There will be things you may not enjoy (I’m not a competitive gamer, barely a gamer at all right now) but it is easy enough to skip that post and dig into something you do enjoy.
Reading other posts and joining the conversation are fantastic ways to build motivation. Explore new projects. Or use the community to break through when burnout gets you down.
Building and painting a miniature is hard. Putting it out for the world to see and judge is even more difficult. But then to do it again and again and building up a blog is a challenge of mental endurance.
But if you hold on to why you are blogging in the first place, and find ways to keep yourself motivated, it can be an incredibly rewarding hobby into itself.
Perhaps you are looking to start a hobby blog. Or you need some motivation to keep yours going,. Either way, here is the summary of why to start, and why to keep going. Find your why and add it to the list.
- A way to think out loud and share your thoughts with the world
- Teaching others through tutorials and battle reports
- Create new rules, mini-games, or even full blown games
- Provides a central place, a home for your hobby endeavors
- Fill a hole in the world of tutorials and styles
- Showcasing your commission work
- Enjoy the hobby of blogging and writing
- Staying connected with friends and making new ones