Guidance – State of the Blog: A Year in Retrospect

Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, I’m going to be doing a retrospective about Guidance’s first year as part of the Know Direction Network.

Time flies when you’re slaying dragons, doesn’t it?

Although this isn’t perfectly timed to be an anniversary piece, its pretty darn close. My blog (originally titled Everyman Gaming, a name that I would later adopt for my Third Party Publishing company) began in February 2014, but it didn’t become what it is today until August 1st, when I officially joined the Know Direction Network. Its been a long year coming, and by my count, somewhere around 29 articles and 14 podcasts later. Back when Guidance was Everyman Gaming, I used to do a State of the Blog article every three weeks or so. This is going to be something like that, but different.

The Move — Good or Bad?

Obviously the first question that many have for me is, “Was the jump from being independent to being part of Know Direction a good move for your content?” The answer is yes; a thousand times yes, actually. Moving to Know Direction literally multiplied by blog’s exposure a hundred times over. It was honestly our merging with the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Facebook page that really bolstered Guidance’s exposure, as it represented an established Facebook group with over 500 people. Having more regular content helped too, I’m sure.

Dropping the Wednesday Article — Good or Bad?

This is a tough question. Up until January 2015, when Anthony and I took over the Private Sanctuary Podcast, I had been writing three articles a week, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. When we became podcasters and I gained the responsibility of recording and editing the podcast, I knew that I was going to be able to write three articles a week, create the Private Sanctuary Podcast twice a month, and do everything else I needed to do without making Know Direction my full-time job, which was not (and is not) happening. So ultimately Anthony and I decided to switch to a bi-weekly cycle where we would release the podcast one Wednesday and a Behind the Screens article another Wednesday while dropping Guidance from the Wednesday slot altogether.

Ultimately, this was also a great move. For once, it gave me more time to recharge and create new ideas for articles. By the time January 2015 rolled around, I often felt strapped for article topics by Wednesday, and giving up that slot REALLY helped. In addition, we saw a surge in Behind the Scene’s Day-One popularity now that it had no competition from Guidance on Wednesday, which is good for Anthony.

Other Things That I Learned

Here are a couple of other bits of data that I picked up over the last year.

  • Super Heroes are popular topics. All of my Marvel-themed Iconics were HUGE hits, averaging an extra 1,000 views on average. I got one, maybe two grumps who were like, “Why would you do this?!” but for the most part Marvel is popular, and I think that the idea of playing superheroes in fantasy is both appropriate and novel. Expect to see more (but not noticeably more) super hero-themed Iconic Designs in the future.
  • Top 10 Lists are popular. My first two Top Tens (the spell list articles) were something of an, “I NEED SOMETHING TO WRITE QUICK SO I CAN FOCUS ON WRITING THREE ICONIC DESIGNS FOR MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!” arrangement, but much to my surprise, those were two of my HIGHEST viewed articles of the entire year. Moreover, I got more comments on those articles than any other, both on Facebook and on our site. I’m not going to go click-bait-and-spam-you-with-Top-10-Lists or anything, but you’ll definitely see me doing more Top 10 Lists in the future. Many people have asked me to do a series on the Cleric Spell List next….
  • Bigger Audience Means More Meanies. Thankfully, they were few and far between, but as the blog’s audience grew, I started getting more and more negative, unconstructive feedback. (Hint: Bashing me, then closing with, “I only want to see you improve,” does not make your feedback constructive.) I don’t think that there’s much I can do about this; as a readership grows, the number of meanies in said readership is bound to grow alongside of it. But man, I was NOT expecting some of the meaner comments that I got this year. Luckily, I have some good friends and family members that I can read such comments to and make fun of them with. 😉

What I Need to Improve On

Here are a couple of bits that I think that I could stand to improve on for the next year.

  • Make my articles more topical. There’s a lot of interesting, topical conversations that I see flying around the Paizo Forums and behind, and I think that I can improve the quality of my work by talking more about the conversations and discussions that other Pathfinder fans are having. Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ll be pouncing immediately, as I usually write my articles a week or two in advance, but I want to try to be more relevant in what I’m discussing. An example of my attempts to do this is when I wrote an Iconic Design for the vigilante class; the playtest was going on and not only was I reading and considering what other people discussed in the playtest, but I was playtesting my own vigilante and had my own thoughts and opinions to share too. So don’t expect, “topical,” to mean, “echo chamber.” If I read something somewhere and disagree with the general consensus, I’m still going to write an article about my opinion.
  • Tie-Ins with Anthony and the rest of the Know Direction Network. I feel like I’m losing out on a big opportunity to connect with what my fellow creators are saying and doing with my work. They seem to feel the same, and we’re talking about doing more interconnected content more often. Think of how we did Harrow Month for August 2014, except even more planned and cohesive. I don’t think that we’re going to make this an every-month thing, as we all want the opportunity to say and write what we find interesting or inspiring independently, but I definitely want to work more closely with the Know Direction Network to improve your viewing experience. And currently, we have two such opportunities planned—stay tuned!
  • Make my articles more direct. If you want to translate this as, “shorter,” that’s not entirely incorrect. By and large, my articles are more verbose than any other Pathfinder blogger that I’ve seen, and while I don’t think that being verbose is a bad thing, it is rather draining on you, the reader, who might not want to read nine pages about dying in a single sitting, and me, the writer, because it means that I need to spend more time prepping articles then is necessary. So I guess you can say that I’m going to try to be making better use of all of our time with my blog articles in the future.

And that’s all I got to say about that? What do you think? What are some things that you REALLY liked about Guidance since the Know Direction move? What are some things that you haven’t liked or that you would like to see improved? Leave your questions and comments below, and I’ll see you on Friday for a very different sort of Iconic Design. Take care!

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.

Alex Augunas

Alexander Augunas lives outside of Philadelphia, USA where he tries to make a living as an educator. When he's not shaping the future leaders of tomorrow, Alex is a freelance writer for esteemed Pathfinder Roleplaying Game publishers such as Paizo, Inc, Radiance House, Raging Swan Press, and more, and also acts as a co-host and blogger on the Know Direction Network, where he has earned the nickname, "The Everyman Gamer." Recently, Alex has forayed into the realm of self-publishing through his company, Everyman Gaming, LLC.

6 Comments

  1. Gilotto Davanar Reply to Gilotto

    I’m following your blog since the start and still enjoy reading them very much. Keep up the good work! For me, it is bad you don’t write articles for Wednesday, as I have to wait till Friday ;).

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      Yeah, its certainly a downside of the transition, but I like to think that breathing new life into the Private Sanctuary podcast made the sacrifice worthwhile. Anthony and I are still learning the ropes and working out some kinks, sure (namely sound quality issues), but we’re getting there!

  2. If you are planning to interact more with the network, can we please get more podcasts with all 4 of you? Yes, it was long and took me three tries to get through all of, but the “Unchained” episode of “Know Direction” was so much FUN! I totally didn’t mind listening to it several times & am in fact tempted to try again. 🙂

    And yes, I enjoy the superhero iconic designs the most. Been meaning to send you a list of dema–I mean, “requests.” 😉

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      I take requests; with the exception of a request that’s coming out next week (which I kept pushing back because of how PERFECTLY it fits into next week’s slot), I usually get to them within a month or so.

      As for having all four of us on the show, its certainly still in the cards, but I wouldn’t expect it with any regularity. I think it works well for special events, like the release of a new book or when it makes sense to have Anthony or I there. I’d also guess that Perram and Ryan would want to settle into Twitch a bit more before we try something big like that. But having my face in that fancy backsplash that Perram made? Yes please!

  3. Kevin M. Reply to Kevin

    I was one of those meanies. I posted a long comment about the grammar in your articles and said some rather harsh things. I have looked back at it since then and I should have been more tactful with my criticism. When my point is buried under callous words, it undermines it and makes me the subject of those words. I still recommend reading your articles out loud to yourself before posting them, and using a spellchecker that has grammar functions in it, but I do apologize for the insults. I should not have lowered myself to that level.

  4. I enjoy reading your posts here. You seem to have a keen understanding of Pathfinder.

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