First of all, an apology:
Actually first-first of all, if you don’t want to read some apologetic BS ctrl+f Hundroog and skip ahead to part five of five.
Okay – apology:
It is pretty obvious that I haven’t updated the blog or the Feats of Strength the last month or so; and we have had less gas going on for Season Two than the super exciting season one.
So first I was sick near the end of Season One, and then as we started to get back into the groove I went on vacation; and then when I got back to New York holiday season was in full swing. Also, I guess I had just been burning it at both ends for too long and Flores Rewards was what had to hit the shelf.
So for everyone who has been enthusiastic from the beginning — and who joined up starting Season Two — sorry cats!
I promise that by the middle of January at the latest Flores Rewards is going to be better than ever. So keep those point totals sharpened… Spectacular fireworks will be in everyone’s futures!
And to seal this section off, my own much-belated Re-Run Week submission… The “Shake Shack” challenge, but in the Three Broomsticks, brandishing a mug full of butter beer:
Part 5/5 – “Niche”
All right, the grand finale of our five-part “how to make some better content” blog post series… “Niche.”
Essentially, if you want to establish, grow, and cultivate an audience, I would heartily recommend developing a niche. Figure out what you do better than everybody else, and push that one thing in a unique way.
The reason you should behave in this way is kind of obvious… Even though deck lists and Constructed are inherently stickier and more interesting than Limited and Tournament Reports, there is a wide palette of things that you can talk about that other people aren’t already talking about, or cultivating content in a way that other people aren’t cultivating it.
For example, one of the legs on the stool that I sat Five With Flores on 2-3 years back, on the way to making it the legitimate fan favorite that it has become… Was producing Constructed deck tech videos using Magic Online. I mean today that is almost old hat (even though almost no one does Constructed particularly consistently). But when I started? No one else was doing it.
We’ve come a long way, baby (I hope!)
Pushing a unique kind of content in a unique way allowed me to more quickly build an audience, and believe me — that audience loves themselves a Five With Flores. That lets me get away with writing about comic books, television, Top Chef or whatever; because I have lots of stuff to talk about, and even though most people started showing up originally to check out hot deck lists and Constructed videos… They stay for reading recommendations and vigorous chats RE: Robotech.
This blog is another example of cultivating a unique niche. I mean, who else is in the “do crazy stuff and give away chase Mythics” business? Exactly.
Flores Rewards isn’t huge huge yet, but it has attracted more interested interest, from different sectors than you usually look, than any other kind of project I have ever done before in Magic.
But seriously, think about the new guard of Magic writers. The skilled mages — Brad Nelson and Nick Spagnolo — They approach the game from a particular perspective, and teach players from that very valuable place; in particular think about how Nick, a Jace mage through and through, can teach us to correctly cast Preordain. These players ostensibly produce “regular” Magic strategy for mainstream Magic sites; but it doesn’t take too much scratching to uncover that they do so in a very different way than, say, I do.
Or look at writers like Jonathan Medina or Thea Steele at Star City. Before you finish reading the sentence, you know who I am talking about and what it is they specialize in (Magic finance and Cube, respectively). The identification is immediate. Both writers — who as far as I can tell, came up through Twitter — are at one of the top Magic sites and get paid cash money to share their thoughts. Jonathan is even a Premium writer! Do you think either of them would be a household name today if they focused on draft walk-throughs? Exactly. It’s painfully obvious.
And even before Five With Flores innovated the world of Magic Constructed videos, Evan Erwin innovated Magic video at all… Look at how a trailblazer like Evan — with few unique advantages from the outset besides his considerable passion — was able to create perhaps the most beloved personal brand in the game.
In a word, niche.
If you want to create a brand, if you want to build it and convince your audience over and over again how much they love you — you have to figure out what you do, and do it well, and do it over and over again.
So what is the danger in not cultivating a unique niche?
Nobody remembers second place. And really nobody remembers third place. If you are the fifteenth-best bitchy deck designer putting out Magic Constructed MTGO videos (and on an inconsistent basis, for that matter)… What are the chances you are anybody’s favorite? How about your influence?
Figure out what you do. Hopefully that is something interesting that no one else does, exactly.
Do it with passion. Do it over and over again.
That is the secret. That’s it.
Finally – Don’t scramble your eggs.
Have you ever noticed that Top Decks, Five With Flores / Top Magic, Five With Flores on Twitter / Flores Rewards and the amalgamation of MichaelJ Monday / Flores Friday / Flores at TCGPlayer / or whatever… are all distinctly different voices? What do I do well? Why do so many projects so many different ways?
It’s not just that they are different brands – it’s almost like they are different people. Certainly different niches.
- Top Decks is a magazine writer. He isn’t a reporter, exactly, but he doesn’t make the story if you take my meaning. It wasn’t always this way, but I have tried — over the last couple of years — to make Top Decks interesting, but interesting in a way that wasn’t 100% reliant on having me “me” as the persona behind the voice. Don’t forget that before there was a Top Decks there was Swimming With Sharks… And I wasn’t even the original Swimming With Sharks columnist.
- Five With Flores on Twitter is… not me. It is entirely possible that he is way better than I am, seeing how many friends and followers he has, but he is, at best, the silly, exaggerated, me. I consider him my connector; it is through him that I met many of you, and he is also the hub of all my other worlds. He links to podcasts, asks questions that drive official Hasbro columns, and really, really likes Flores Rewards.
- Five With Flores (the blog) and Top 8 Magic are probably the closest to the “real” me; when I wasn’t a regular columnist at a grown-up website, Five With Flores filled in for that other me, but especially when you factor in Top 8 Magic, this is the aspect of me that is just about expressing myself and having a good time with Magic and life. In sharp contrast to previous incarnations of my online persona, Five With Flores in particular tries to stay positive.
- Finally, Flores Rewards is my attempt to undo all the crap I’ve done with earlier versions of my persona. Sorry about all those. He promises it is going to be awesome [again] soon.
So what is it that I do well?
I love Magic, and I think about Magic, and I want to share that love and those thoughts with the world. And even though there was absolutely nothing about me that was special or better than anyone else (at least to start), I was so passionate about sharing those passions with the rest of the world, I managed to convince the best players in the world that I am an elite deck designer, acquire more Twitter followers than all the major Magic feeds put together, spearhead half a dozen new and different (and by now old hat) ways of talking about Magic, and once or twice… even managed to open a door for someone else.
PS – #FloresRewards opportunities one and two (up to 2 points). Use the Share and Enjoy links on this page to share this blog post on Twitter and Facebook… One point each.