Today is a special day for MtG Color Pie.
No, not because Rise of the Eldrazi is being released today. Today is the one year anniversary of the “new” MtG Color Pie. Horray! Happy party time, right? I guess you could say that. But instead of balloons and flashbacks to my favorite posts, I just want to talk about how I almost didn’t make it this far.
A year ago today, I almost deleted this blog and walked away.
You read that right. While I celebrate a year of blogging, I celebrate the day that this blog almost died and my decision to reverse it. While it’s not like one of those made for TV movie moments where someone comes up to me and says “No, don’t stop, think of the children,” it’s actually a culmination of events and sequences that I want to pass along to you guys. It’s a tale of excitement, adventure, intrigue, or none of the above.
This is the story of MtG Color Pie, lessons for new Magic bloggers and how Wizards of the Coast knows what they’re doing.
Most of you most likely started reading my work around a year ago but didn’t know that I’ve been writing for much longer. July 25, 2007 is when I first started this blog, so I’m actually nearing the 3 year mark. I started doing a good deal of posts not unlike what bloggers do when they first start out. After my first real big project of examining the Color Pie (The Color Pie Identity Project), I was a little burnt out. After a while the posts started coming fewer and fewer and I was like those other bloggers say “Sorry I haven’t posted much, I’ve been busy.” That’s usually the case but I still hated being a cliche. It was always “Well, I can do something next week.” But thanks to my Roman Catholic upbringing, I’d feel guilty for not doing new posts.
To those of you who haven’t run a blog before, you might think “What’s the big deal about not posting everyday? All they gotta do is write and there’s the content.” It’s the finding the time in the day to write new, (hopefully) interesting material. Once you skip a day then you’re like “I’ll get to it tomorrow” and it snowballs from there. If you’re not getting paid to write, then you have less incentive to continuing to do so on a regular basis. This fact is what tends to slow new bloggers down; they don’t have name recognition to get paid and can’t get paid until they start posting good posts on a regular basis. I know, Catch-22. I’m still in awe about people like Kelly Reid (QuietSpeculation.com) and how they’ve written for almost every Magic blog while still has time for his own.
Anyway, after spurts and starts I started to seriously look at if I should continue doing this blog. I somewhat foreshadowed this possibility in this After MaRo post in 2008. I was busy with work and spending time with my wife, wasn’t making any money off this blog (still don’t today), and were people really interested in Magic design? I had a niche, which is something I believe people should have when they write about a topic such as Magic, but I always seemed like the kid in the back of the classroom who raised their hand and corrected the teacher about why something shouldn’t happen. Was it worth it to keep up this blog?
Sitting there that day, I figured it might be easier on me if I didn’t stress out that I didn’t post anything for a month or two at a time. Maybe I should give it all up. After some soul searching, I decided to give it a real go. I love writing, and doing something I love about a topic I care about (i.e. Magic) I should seriously give it another shot. Maybe I wouldn’t focus on card design all the time, but other aspects of Magic that tend to get ignored as well. With this “new” focus, would it work? I was worried about if I didn’t post every day or even with some frequency if my “readers” (all 10 of them) would care if and when I posted. If a blogger blogs and no one reads, are they really a blogger?
And this is where Twitter stepped in. Whenever I meet Magic players I always ask if they have Twitter and if they do, get their name. I’ve gushed about Twitter before, and I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but having Twitter saved this blog. It allowed me to connect with my readers and a bunch of new people where we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to talk to each other. Talking about something on forums are one thing, but Twitter is something different. It feels more alive, more interactive; mostly due to the 140 character restriction. I ask followers for feedback and they give it to me. But I’m not the only one to have thought of this too.
Other Magic bloggers have taken to Twitter to where it’s assumed if you have a blog, you also have a twitter account. If you’ve noticed an increase in the number of different Magic blogs in the past year I believe it’s one of two reasons. With Twitter, you can have an interactive part with your audience. Conversations go from blogs to the open world where everyone can discus then finally lead back to the original topic that started it all. If you don’t post on your blog everyday, you can still interact with your readers through the short bursts that Twitter provides. You won’t just be a forgotten name lost to the graveyard of blogs, but a part of the Magic community. But it’s not just the blog writers who have embraced this but from the higher ups as well, which is the second reason.
It still amazes how much WotC, especially Magic focused people, have accepted technology. They realized that a huge base of players flock to the internet to get their Magic fix. The traditional way of spreading the word about Magic used to be the magazines; they died out, while sad, because of the rise of the internet. Players can get whatever info they want at any time, which magazines could never compete with. But it’s with this embracement of Web 2.0 (fancy speak for creator created content) that I don’t think a majority of players have fathomed yet. Do you see another company that interacts the way that WotC does: talking with it’s customers, chatting it up on Twitter, say they follow Magic blogs and take what we write and podcast seriously?
At first it was those darn forums for ruining all of their fun for spoilers. But now WotC gives out spoiler cards to blogs and certain Magic celebrities to release, which filters to forums and out to the player base at large. Spoiling cards like @maro254, @mtgaaron, @lee_sharpe, @dailymtg, @mturian do over Twitter makes it the hip place to be for Magic talk. They’re created a culture online (especially twitter) where it’s not just about Top 8s and new emerging decktypes (but that’s certainly a good portion of the talk), it’s also about Magic rulings, discussion of trades players have made, instant feedback to the WotC employees’ questions, taking about anything else Magic related including a small movement to get WotC to print a G/W Elephant Legend so people could have a themed elephant EDH deck. Not only Twitter, but blogs such as mine and GatheringMagic.com have allowed the chance to grow and tap into another side of the Magic community, one where a majority of the other high-profile Magic sites have forgotten about: the so lovingly called “Middle Children of Magic.”
I decided on that day that I should write what I’m feeling and not feel pressured about what other people think I should write. Figuring out the odds I believed that there would be people who liked the same stuff I did. Players visit my blog, which still shocks me, to visit my blog not because they were led here by mistake by a faulty search term (it happens a lot more than you think thanks to my off-beat topics). One post I can be serious talking about how the Reserved List effects design while the next do a parody of A Few Good Men with Mark Rosewater as the bad guy parodying the whole Mythic situation. Lotus Cobra is Evil is one of the most popular things on this blog (which I don’t know if that’s a testament to my writing or to Sixten’s awesomeness), but it’s something that I love being able to do for you guys.
One year later from possibly deleting this blog to not only continuing to writing this one but running one of the first EDH only blogs (99EDHProblems.com). Organizing my time better (but still not perfect) has helped with my writing on these two blogs. I still have a life, still spend time with my wife, still have a job, and still have time to write. So far I haven’t burned out like before. This is still a learning process for me (but isn’t life a learning process) and I intended to get better. Writing and Magic go together for me, and the more I do both, the more it seems like a logical extension of me. For the My Magic contest, I wrote about how I almost deleted this blog and how it has now become a part of me. I was sad I didn’t win, but when I found out that the winners help send Magic cards to the Troops and over come a personal loss, well, I can’t help to think that those are more important than a blog.
I try to write stuff that I would read. Sometimes it works, other times it falls flat. But thanks to the support of Twitter and being able to feel comfortable with myself not posting as often as I’d like (in a perfect world, you’d always have new content from me), my fingers still work away on the keyboard like Angela Lansbury’s. I keep trying to write stuff that makes you laugh, make you think, make you appreciate the game of Magic even more. It’s the least I can do to give back to a game that’s given so much to me. But that’s another story for another time.
I joked that I signed a deal to continue writing MtG Color Pie for 8 years and $150 million dollars mirroring the deal that Joe Mauer got to stay with the Minnesota Twins. While I’m not going to be getting that kind of money, I don’t see me stopping any time soon. Like it or not, I’m here to stay. But I hope you like that I’m here; I’m starting to get comfortable where I am.
Cue the confetti, the blow horns, and the champagne. It’s been one year. Here’s to many more.