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Why do you Hobby Blog?

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?

Thoughts on Why Do We 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.

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.

Teach

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Wrap Up

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.

  1. A way to think out loud and share your thoughts with the world
  2. Teaching others through tutorials and battle reports
  3. Create new rules, mini-games, or even full blown games
  4. Provides a central place, a home for your hobby endeavors
  5. Fill a hole in the world of tutorials and styles
  6. Showcasing your commission work
  7. Enjoy the hobby of blogging and writing
  8. Staying connected with friends and making new ones

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  • Ed OMalley

    I love the idea of an international FLGS, the hobby blogging community really does have that feel at times. But the thing that keeps me going (as a relative newcomer to the blogging community) is the enormous positivity of other bloggers.

    The online 40k community can be incredibly negative, and yet, the comments I receive on my finished models are universally positive. Nobody ever says ‘actually, that looks crap’ or ‘buddy, why do you even bother?’ and for me, that’s incredibly motivating.

    Link to the blog here: http://berserkerbladeblog.blogspot.co.uk/

    • It really is an awesome community, and you’re right, I don’t think I have every seen a negative comment about the hobby side. The gaming side, yeah that has a ton of angry trolls.
      I haven’t actually visited your site, so I have now added it to my reading list and will check it out 🙂

  • A very interesting post and subject. I’ve asked myself that question several times over the 6 years or so I’ve been blogging. From the beginning it was just a tool for me to document what I painted but as the years have gone by, it has changed.

    The answer I would give today is a mix between getting advice/feedback and showcase. The biggest reason for that change was when I re-focused my painting to bigger miniatures. The biggest reason why I do it is that I enjoy it most of the time. I like to write, I like to take photos and I love painting so it’s a good outlet for me.

    I agree with what Ed wrote, it’s such a positive community, both the gamer as well as the painter bloggers never ceases to amaze me. Over 6 years, I haven’t had a single bad comment.

    The only negative side to it is that there’s so many sites dedicated to the same thing out there, it’s hard to find the gems that fits you the best and it does make it harder to get people to leave comments. Which I’m the first to admit that I’m not the best at commenting myself.

    • It’s been awesome seeing your new work on the busts, I haven’t paid much attention to that part of the painting hobby, but it looks like a good experience.

      In a way, the huge number of hobby blogs is a great problem to have. True, it is hard to keep up with, comment, and even find the gems. But each is adding to the diversity in each of their own way.

      I think there is an opportunity for service sites to pull the hobby feeds together and organize the content. Similar to tutofig is for tutorials. I’m not sure how that could be done automatically but it would be cool to see.

      • Oh I agree it is a good problem 🙂 and I wouldn’t want it to change in that aspects. We are lucky to have such an amazing community, it’s such a different mentality than many others have. It’s not about pushing people down and belittle them as many communities have degraded to. Instead we help each other and that is a thing of beauty in my book.

  • I am not sure why I blog anymore, maybe it is just for the enjoyment of the interaction with folks.

    • That’s pretty much my motivation as well. I write to get responses and create discussion.

      • Which is an awesome why and it’s fun to get conversations started and see the different thoughts evolve the conversation

    • It’s a tough place to be, but can also be a great opportunity to rethink about what you want to do. And you have your own voice and things to add to the community, such as bringing a voice to your local gaming group and friends.
      Asking why could be applied to all aspects of the hobby, why convert models, why paint them, why game with them, why blog about them. Thinking about the why can help get through slumps or discouraging days.
      Or for me, shit-busy days at work and finding the enjoyment of writing something new and interacting with friends from around the world.

  • D Power

    Well, Crimson oracle hit the nail on the head. A central hub! Actually, there’s a little bit of everyone here we could all relate to in one way or another. Nice write up.

    • Thanks D. It was great to see all the responses and how each resonated in some way with my own blogging experience over the years. We each have different, specific reasons and issues, but there is a lot to relate to as well.

  • I meant to answer that question, but last week was hell here.

    I blog because I like to blog. How’s that? 🙂 Creative Twilight started as a commission painting site – hence the name, and evolved into what it is today. That evolution came about because I found I enjoy blogging, period. Whether it’s tutorials, advice, showing what I’m working on, etc.

    I just love to write, and the only thing I enjoy more than that is interacting with those who read what I write through comments.

    • I heard there has been a bit of snow over there too 🙂
      I didn’t realize you had started as a commission painter, and I think that is a reason to start that I missed completely – that and the pure enjoyment of writing.

      I too find there is an enjoyment in the technical aspects of blogging as well. What features should I add, what else could I write about, how else could I find new readers. But even that part of the community is super supportive as well, none of us compete but rather share tips and each other’s articles which is awesome to see.

      • Blogging is a hobby, so exactly as you said, finding ways to improve it and get better at it – just as if it were painting or something.

        The community is really supportive, including other bloggers. We aren’t competing at all. I mean, what would we even be competing for? Bragging rights I guess, but I have yet to see that in this community.

        • I was going to think of a joke about my blog being bigger than yours, but it just kept coming out wrong 😛 Even when people do post that they reached 1k Twitter followers or 10k site views, I’ve always seen it done it a way to thank the community and we all celebrate.
          In some of the other online spaces I’ve tried to get involved with this is nowhere near the case. Egos, competition, and trolling happen way to often and kill it for me.

  • Spoticus

    Great read here, I really appreciate you putting it all together. I like the final list of ‘why’s’. I see a little of myself in a few of those listed.

    • Spoticus

      I also like the comments about the sound of silence. Just as important as creating my own posts, I like to at least once a week make the rounds and comment on what everyone else has been doing. All of us acting together as a community and supporting one another.

      • Cheers! It’s true, that when we all reach out and support a few blogs every week a ton of love gets spread about. I usually comment while on the bus and try to get in a few each day. It’s hard to keep up and I have to skip a ton of posts, but it’s great to take part in the online community and conversation.

  • It’s not something that I’ve thought about before and I’m not really sure where I would fit in with your list.
    There is a certain element of thinking aloud I suppose but I’ve always tried to stay clear of forcing my opinion onto others. Everybody has their own ideas about the hobby and what suits one doesn’t necessarily suit the other.
    Thinking about it, I suppose I blog because GW have taken 40k in a direction that doesn’t always appeal to me. Deep down, I think I’m more of a role player gamer, so I tend to focus on background, painting and campaigns involving my little corner of the universe and my characters within it.
    That said, I still enjoy going to tournaments, so I post about those as well.
    I suppose I blog to show people that there are many ways to enjoy the hobby and that sharing my experiences will hopefully give people ideas on how to make the hobby their own and get the most from it.

    • One of the things I love about 40k, and now with AoS, is the ability to create a rich background for your miniatures, stories, and campaigns. So I think it’s another great reason to blog that I need to add to the list.
      I think even GW is starting to open up to the idea of encouraging multiple ways to celebrate the hobby. From releasing more mini-games to getting involved with social media.

  • I am way out of touch with any gaming at the moment. I like Marc’s idea about an international FLGS. It’s a great way to vicariously hobby.
    Although most bloggers seem to be single system blogs, techniques and even miniatures from all over the place give me ideas for other projects.
    Plus obscure skirmish games can be hard to find opponents for, so the outreach can keep you keen on something that you enjoy even when it seems that no one else is playing.

    • I live vicariously through gamers lately as well, I end up playing more games with my family (especially my brothers when they visit). It is fun seeing the different game systems being created and played now. There is something for everyone.

    • Excuse me, but what is a FLGS?

      • FLGS is your Friendly Local Gaming Store. Your local gaming store.

  • Great article Joe. I am sorry I missed your tweet about it, as I would ha be like obedience to respond.

    Blogging for me is about sharing my painting and modelling, creating discussions and getting feedback from like minded people. I enjoy the process of writing, although I am not very good at it, not having a good ‘style’ like alot of blogs I read, but I perservere :). Definately struggling with the lack of posting at the mo. Life is incredibly busy but I still get a guilt feeling when I don’t update the blog for a while. It is weird as there’s is no reason to feel guilty, I am not getting paid to blog, nor do my readers demand content or anything, and it should be about hobby, which equals enjoyment. I don’t know why we bloggers put pressure on ourselves like we do about scheduling etc.

    • No worries, I know how life can get 🙂
      It is funny the pressure we put on ourselves, as you said there is not an expectation to write anything. But it seemed every year, I felt ‘required’ to write an I’m not dead post to make up for months of nothing. Meanwhile I have never expected the same of anybody else, instead it’s more of a ‘hey look NafNaf posted again, awesome!’
      The big part of the guilt for me was not joining the conversations within the community and feeling like ‘that guy’ who just pops up months later. But I think that social media is helping a lot with this though as it still provides a way to interact with the community in a very sporadic way.
      In the end, this is a hobby, and Real Life always comes before it. And as Real Life changes (like having kids!) it changes how we hobby.

  • Think i answered the same question on google+.

    • Yup, and that is your quote up there 🙂

      • That’s right. I’m changing my nick. Everybody calls me Clyde. hahaha

        • Ah man! I am so sorry, I know it’s not Clyde but either my fingers wrote it anyway, or autocorrect got me. I’ve now fixed it.

  • Turkadactyl

    Why do I blog? It all started with my Carcharodons. I wanted to see what other hobbyists did with the Space Marine chapter. I look at what I think worked and what didn’t. One person was writing about their progress on a forum and then out of the blue said, “I’m out.” He said there was too many Carcharodon players and that was it. I didn’t think there was that many Carcharodon players out there and it felt like a void.

    I figured I’ve been a silent roamer for a while so why not document a new army. I know looking at other’s work is invaluable to me so I figured maybe I could help someone else by posting some pictures. I’ve gone back to my old posts when I’ve forgotten what colours or techniques I used.

    Some days it feels like a chore. What makes it all worthwhile? Helping inspire others. I’ve been inspired by many other blogs so it’s gratifying to return the favour.

    • That’s an odd story, I don’t think I know anyone else who does the Carcharodons, but then again I started my Mentors thinking that hardly anyone did them, only to see them pop up everywhere 🙂 I think there is a psychological term for that suddenly becoming aware of something is all around you.

      That is an awesome way to start your blog though. And I too have gone back to double check paint colors as I switch around army projects, it is super helpful to search your own site!

      Inspire and tempt, your Sylvaneth are my standard for when I finally break down and buy some. 🙂

      • Turkadactyl

        I know what you mean but don’t know the term. When my wife and I bought our first vehicle we were surprised with how many Honda Civics were on the road. They were always there, we just didn’t notice them as much until we bought one.

        I don’t think Carcharodons are that prevalent but whoever this hobbyist is, hit a roadblock so to say and it derailed him. Hey, I can;t fault him for choosing to stop. It’s a hobby and if the inspiration is lost then it’s not worth pursuing. Shame though, he got off to a good start.

  • Grenn Dal

    I blog so I can remember what or how I did something. Keeping 7 armies it is hard to remember just how I did a paint scheme sometimes. It also motivates me to keep on painting. My blog doesn’t see much traffic so I don’t get a lot of responses. frankly I think most of my site hits is me checking out which parts I painted light green and which were light blue 🙂

    • Seven armies, that is a lot to keep track of. Keeping track of the colors is a great use of the blog for your own use and it does help others trying to figure out colors as well.

    • Same here. My blog is mostly just an online journal for myself. I have my paper “recipe book” for paint schemes and such, but I’m not diligent in keeping it updated. I more often mention the paints I use on blog posts, so can go back and find them later.
      It’s also a place I can go back see what my plans were for models and armies at any given point, and marvel at how quickly I abandoned a plan.

      • Ah man, if I cataloged all of my original plans I posted here, I bet there would a pretty high fail rate as well!