Content is king and even the most dedicated people get burned out so you have to have a well of content to turn to.~J.A. Laraque
What I’ve learned from Obsolete Gamer
When you speak about creating a video game website you normally will here two different responses. One will be about how cool it sounds and how they will visit it every day. The second, is about how much work it is and how your competition will be great. When Ignacio told me he was creating a video game website I was crazy about it. Mainly because in my past I had tried to launch many different types of websites and just ran out of gas. With Obsolete Gamer moving into year four I thought I would take a moment to talk about some of the things I have learned and experienced being part of Obsolete Gamer.
What are you doing this for?
Like almost everything in life you have to know if you really want to do something before you do it. Not only that, you need to know the different milestones you want to hit and the overall goal of why you are doing something. Now surely you can do something for a bit and move on, but if the idea is to make whatever you are doing part of your life it is much more than just a temporary thing. The first thing I wanted to be sure of with OG was that it was not to become one of the thousands of video game blogs that end up abandoned after a year or two.
This takes us back to knowing you really want to make your endeavor part of your life because there will be a lot of ups and downs and if you lose focus you will lose interest and that’s the end of your blog. We may not be able to see the future, but if you are in it for the long hall you have to ask yourself if you will still be able to do this when you are working like a mad person, swamped in school work and trying to have friends and relationships. Again, if this is a temporary thing it may not matter, but if this is for as long as possible you have to make the time to keep things running.
TLDR: You need to really love what you are doing.
Everybody is in right before they are out
The idea of having a video game website sounds awesome to many people. As such many people will want to be a part of it and will promise everything from writing to donations to promotion and everything else under the sun. True commitment is hard to come by in this business and believe me it is a business. If you do not want to remain unknown you are constantly planning and re-planning and that includes finding out who is with you.
I have found the best way to deal with people you want to help is think of it as a one-time thing and if it becomes more, great, if not then it’s fine. You can never expect someone to have the same dedication that you do. Remember, it is your website not theirs so they may care deeply about the subject, but there is a difference between that and how you feel as an owner. Expect people to come and go, frequently and expect this to continue no matter how successful your site becomes.
We’ve found the key is multiple sources. Which is also why we reach out to people who want to start a blog but feel it is too hard, had a blog that is dead or dying or just someone who wants to write and offer them a spot. You end up helping people and yourself. This goes to planning and re-planning. Content is king and even the most dedicated people get burned out so you have to have a well of content to turn to.
TLDR: Content is king so make sure you have a deep pool of talent to turn to.
And what makes you so special?
That is always the question when writing or creating a blog. Why should anyone read your blog when there are tons of major websites covering the same thing. There are answers, but they change constantly. Here is one reason. In the past you did not see many writers on one website. Back in the 90’s most websites had a small staff and only they posted content. In time more people contributed and today you have websites that are mostly contributor based. So in the past you could talk about providing a unique perspective, but today with so many sites and so much submitted works you can find that as well. So you kind of have to accept that you might not be that special, but perhaps you can just plug along and earn your reputation and in time gain readers.
For the most part people want interaction. They also want a mix of media so they can enjoy pictures, video as well as text. You have to have a bit of everything so people don’t get bored. With Obsolete Gamer, we could have tried some strict policy of retro gaming related content only, but we love a wide array of things and so our site reflects that. We also know in the middle of the night you gamers like looking at sexy Cosplay girls (we have the data to prove this) so we give the people what they want.
Sometimes just being there is enough. There are tons of good classic gaming sites. We never claim to be the best, we just want to be considered one of the good ones. We also want to promote those who for whatever reason cannot do their own sites. Add in things like our Gamer Profiles and interviews, videos and podcasts and with time and practice and learning from our mistakes we have created a decent following.
TLDR: Stay true to yourself, but also give the people what they want.
Keep your day job
If you are in this for the money get out now. There are real costs to a website especially if it ends up getting a lot of hits. You can search for the cheapest webhosting, but you better know what to do if your site goes down. At one point we were ranked about 30K in the U.S. for our website which means every website in the U.S. and then we had a major server crash and move to a new hosting company which shut down OG for about a week. Over a year later and we are still trying to get back to where we were.
Everything costs money and sometimes the biggest cost is time. I personally work a full time job, am almost a full time student (6-9 credits per) am working on my novels and trying to have a social life. Even with OG only posting an article per day it is still a challenge to keep up with new content, writers, news, website issues, promotions, advertising, social media and a whole lot more. At the end of the day we spend more than we make. Web ads do not pay what you might think unless you’re IGN and let’s just be honest, most gamers are not one to click on random ads. I know I am not. Most gamers I know ad-block and hate ads which is why we constantly update the site so we do not bug you with them. Of course the result is less revenue while costs go up.
There are things you can do to keep costs down like knowing your software. Sometimes something breaks and if you can fix it yourself you will save a lot. The same goes for hosting, do your research so you have a stable and fast site, but also one at a good cost. Finally, remember it is about the love of writing and of games. This is why we have day jobs and are working to better ourselves so we can continue doing what we love regardless of the monetary gain.
TLDR: This costs money so don’t expect to make much if any
I had to talk about some of the perks or I might scare off some future writers or website owners. The first perk is just creating something and being part of it. I learned with my novels it does not matter if they sell 10 copies or 10 thousand. The point is I took the time and finished it and put it out there. The same goes for your writing and your site.
You accept the complements as if they were hundred dollar bills. When you tell someone you have a video game website and they are impressed it is worth it. When someone reads your work and likes it you feel better. Now this is the internet so expect people to troll you and tell you that everything you do sucks. You know you’ve made it once someone is criticizing you and saying how much you suck.
Beyond that if you promote your site and make contacts you can meet some awesome people. We have been to many events like CES, E3 and Florida Supercon as well as many local events and have met so many cool people. Being invited to after parties and having people tell you they read your site is a great feeling. Also getting swag and the ability to review games and hardware is nice as well. You might not make a paycheck, but an after party in a fancy restaurant in Vegas in pretty sweet.
For me personally having Wil Wheaton post about Obsolete Gamer and going on 1337 Lounge Live was some of my highlights. As said, also having access to every Con in gaming is also great. We still have standing invites for PAX, ComicCon, Quakecon, and more. Sadly, the time and money restraints come into play regarding which and how many events we can attend. However, just knowing you can go and as press is awesome in itself.
TLDR: We work for trips, swag and food, it’s almost as good as cold hard cash.
Now there is more, but even with the TLDR’s it is best to separate some of the others into another article. Still, the overall point of this is to get more people to try what they want to try. I watched at least 10 of my former websites close before we started Obsolete Gamer so there will be failures before there is success. Bottom line is I love what I do and want to keep this going as long as I am alive. If you feel the same way stop waiting and get rid of the self-doubt and just do it. Trust me, in the end it is better to try then wonder why.