Time to talk State of the Union. My Christmas break blog reading was packed with people talking about how their blog had done in 2017 and what they had planned for 2018. I always like reading these posts so I think it’s time to add my own to the pile. As is traditional, it may get a bit navel gazing-y.
So let’s talk about how 2017 went for the blog. The big thing is that this year is the first year that I’ve focused entirely on the wargaming. In previous years, I had a mix of posts covering all sorts of things from tech to wargaming to airsoft. Now, every post is wargames focused which makes the site a little easier to navigate and a bit more interesting for people reading it – you find an entire site of posts to read rather than having to find the gold amongst the rubbish.
The other thing is the decision to aim for a schedule rather than just posting whenever I felt like it. Having a deadline to hit forces me to keep being involved in the hobby, to get my paintbrush out or sit down and think of ideas. I’ve managed to do a heck of a lot of writing, gaming, socialising, painting and buying (oh god the buying) off the back of preparing things for the magazine. That said, there is no fixed immovable deadline crushing down on me – if I don’t finish something or don’t feel like posting, the only thing that would force me to write something is me. There is just enough pressure to make me productive without causing issues relating to burnout. This will prove crucial as actual job becomes more and more frantic.
Combining these two has changed the site fundamentally. Rather than being another hobby blog, it’s closer to a magazine style, focusing on ultramodern wargaming (with one or two other periods sneaking in). However something I’ve tried very hard to do is to keep it MY hobby blog, rather than turning it into a faceless site. Every post is written by me and in my tone (leading to spell check having a nightmare sometimes) and I try very hard to never refer to the site as a group – it’s always “I” rather than “we at the site”. Much like how I’m happy that all my figures are painted by me, it’s just a little point of pride. It’s also something that came up in the comments in the survey (more details below).
Here are a few stats for 2017:
- Total Views: 33k views (up from 6,978)
- Total Visitors: 14,990 (up from 4208)
- Top Five Countries for views: UK, USA, Australia, Germany, Canada
- Total Posts: 113 (up from 34)
- Estimate of painted models (as featured in posts): 235 figures, vehicles and weapon teams
I think the most promising thing is that the trend for monthly views is continuing to rise (ignoring the tiny spec that is January 2018). You can also really see the effect that doing two posts a week does when I started in May.
One thing I noticed is that actually, many of the indepent hobby blogs I follow were hitting much higher than 33k in their yearly views. There could be lots of reasons for this (long established communities, lots of sharing through social media or on forums that still float around) but I’m guessing “broader target audience than just Ultramodern players” plays a big part. If this was my day job, I’d be concerned but seeing as this is just a hobby I’m not that worried. I’d rather make the best thing for the people looking for this topic rather than water it down to appeal to more people.
The top 5 posts of the year were:
- The Great Big Modern Wargaming Comparison (2016)
- Spectre Miniatures: First Games and Rules Thoughts (2015)
- Spectre Miniatures: Rare Models (2017)
- Spectre Operations Starting Lists (2016)
- Spectre Operations Weekend 2017 AAR (2017)
So turns out Spectre is pretty popular – my guess is the popularity is down to both the active facebook group often referring to posts (The Starting Lists especially) and how well the site does in any search request that feature the terms “Spectre Operations”. Outside of the top five, the rest of the posts are all 2017 except for a legacy post which has since been removed as part of the purge. Overall, a good sign! Looking just at the popular 2017 posts, it’s really obvious that sharing via Lead Adventure and Facebook (as well as the few occasions where TMP has picked up articles) makes a massive change.
I’ll cover future plans in tomorrow’s post.
In case you missed it, I ran a survey throughout December and got the required number of responses (100 as it’s the max I can get without having to pay for them). If you want to look at the data, you can find it at https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-YD729TGM8/ – I’ve removed some of the open ended answers as it might allow you to identify people.
So the questions:
- Ultramodern Players – No surprises, most of the people who read the blog play ultramodern games
- Finding ChargeBlog – Lots of people found the site from Facebook. An option I should have included is google as 14 people said they found me via a web search which would have been third place
- Hearing About New Posts – Again the top was Facebook, but also quite a few people chose either checking the site or email subscription. In fact, lots of people converted from other social media to just checking the site
- Favourite Types of Post – Battle reports are the clearest winner. Wargaming Week is last which doesn’t surprise me – it’s really more something I enjoy writing to setup the week. What was surprising was how many people chose to write in “I like all of them” or “The variety is what I like best”.
- What Would You Like To See – Again lots of people voting for Battle Reports (seems to be the theme). Also lots of talk of projects (you’ll all enjoy tomorrow’s post) and scenarios. Interestingly, video and audio content was lower than expected – I though lots of people would be asking for video as it’s the most common request on many of the facebook groups.
- Painted or Unpainted – This was really a check to see how many people would be annoyed if I didn’t paint some figures for an impressions. The plan is always to get them painted but its nice to have the option to just ink them as a just in case.
- Comments – Seriously, thanks to everyone who filled this in. It was great to read all your comments, especially as lots of your were saying how much you enjoy reading the blog. I’ve also added quite a few blogs to my RSS reader than to people posting them.
Overall I found the survey pretty handy. It’s going to help tweak my plans for the year but it also showed me see how many people were actually interested in spending the time to fill it in – I must be doing some right to keep you all interested.
So that’s last year, tomorrow I’ll take a look at what’s coming up.