Maybe it's my academic side, but I start wondering after a while what the heck I'm doing. What's the context? What's the underlying meaning? This is especially true of blogging. Truth be told, I don't read other blogs and I can't honestly see the appeal. So here are some questions and answers as I see them. The whys of my blog.
Who is it For?
The intention is several fold. First, it's a kind of diary for myself. It helps me collect my thoughts and plan actions, much like a real world journal. Second, it's for my customers and fans who want to read about what's happening with the new store. In that respect, it's a deliberate marketing effort, which can be good because it justifies my time from a business perspective. Third, and least important, it's a record for my investors and employees. This is a heads-up of what's going on and a means to brainstorm on ideas. "Hey, here's how I spent our money today!" Often when I'm meeting with them, the information in the blog is a baseline for discussion.
Who Really Reads It?
I do, of course, as does my wife sometimes. Often she learns about how my day went by reading the blog. My two most active investors read it, which makes it useful for discussions. A couple friends pop by now and then. A good number of customers are also reading it and I'm often surprised in the store when they bring up something I've said.
Then there's the general public. I've been tracking traffic for about a week now and I get between 50-70 unique users each day from five different countries (total). They spend only a couple minutes on the site, on average, so it's not like I've got devoted readers. About 85% are from the US, 5% from Canada, 3% from the UK. There are 32 other countries listed, but the time spent on the blog makes me think it's a search engine or other crawler software.
What Doesn't Get Said
This includes a lot of industry stuff that I don't want to discuss in front of customers. My latest issues that I reserve for the industry forums: Why my customers with wholesale accounts are allowed to continue ordering. Why Wiz-Kids can't keep their street dates with large retailers or sell Haloclix without parts missing. Fantasy Flight Games is shifting their costs to the retailer with their new Starcraft board game, making selling the game much less profitable. I also discuss store specific information that I don't want public, like choosing security systems, how to deal with unruly customers, the merits of various product lines, and trouble with people in the industry.
I also don't talk about my personal life much, mostly because it's not the focus of the blog. I sometimes would like to discuss how my spiritual life suffers because of the demands of my work, or how we're dealing (or not dealing) with serious illness in the family. It's not what people are reading this blog for and I don't want to make my life into a reality show. My son is also included in that. I would prefer not to feel like I'm exploiting him to make a point. Parents out there understand this. It's something special in your life you don't want to tarnish, as much as you like to talk about them endlessly.
Money rarely gets discussed. I've learned that money is a fantastically interesting topic amongst other game stores. Amongst customers or the less informed, it's just a complex mess with lots of misunderstandings. Try explaining to a customer that you're only making $8 net profit on the $100 board game they just bought. Talk about a can of worms. My own finances are also somewhat off-limits, unless someone gets the impression I'm wealthy. Ha!
What I Would Like To Say
Usually I just say what I would like to say, but it would be nice to actually steer the blog towards more positive topics. Unfortunately, if I'm willing to write about something, it usually means it really excites me or really pisses me off. Spirit of the Century and D&D 4.0 are like that. Rackham is somewhere in between - what a spectacle! The game industry itself is a really easy target to take shots at. It's mostly a bunch of people in their basements who aren't big enough to warrant attention or a few corporations that can't seem to do anything right after many attempts. If I can rattle some cages in an industry forum to get results (like I did today), that's somewhat productive. To rant on a blog is just ineffective unless you're trying to communicate a problem or come up with a solution. Maybe it's because of that 2-minutes the average US reader spends reading it.