Swords vs Words – the popularity of blogs versus other media (Topic Discussion)

Jamey Stegmaier‘s blog post “Is There a Future for Written Reviews?” inspired Adam Richards of Punchboard to write a little post on his Substack to discuss the visibility of the written word compared to video or audio content. That, in turn, inspired me to share my thoughts on the topic and as always, I invite your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of this article.

Let me set the scene. Jamey‘s article came about after the release of Stonemaier‘s latest game Apiary. While looking through BGG, he found a thread lamenting the lack of written reviews of the new game being available before its release. I’ve not read the thread myself, but the main thrust seems to be aimed at the fact that advance copies only went to video reviewers or podcasters. The poster would have loved to see written reviews as well. Jamey confirms that the company hasn’t sent advance copies to blogs for a couple of years now, but concedes that maybe in the name of diversity, they should change that. He accepts that there is clearly a significant amount of demand for the written word.

Adam, in his Substack post, picks up on this idea and ponders what blogs can do to become more visible and more interesting to publishers as part of their marketing efforts. So while video and podcast sites publicly share views, likes and other stats, blogs don’t usually display that information and even when they do, the statistics aren’t independently vetted, which makes it harder for publishers to trust the information they’re given by bloggers.

Video and Audio

So, as an avid blogger myself, I thought I’d try and wrestle with some of these topics. I don’t think I’ll have answers for everything, but at least I can share my opinion.

First off, the written word is very important. Even Jamey admits that he is better at processing his thoughts in written form. All of the really great video reviews will have been created from a written script or at least a rough, written outline of how the video will play out.

At the same time, I love watching videos or listening to podcasts, often more so than reading an article. I’m not a fast reader. Most books, even short ones, take me many, many weeks to finish. So I’m not surprised that video reviews are more popular than written ones. Video reviews have the advantage that you can show a game’s components, maybe even offer a quick playthrough or otherwise visually illustrate your point. A lot of us, me included, are very visual creatures. It’s a powerful medium.

Even audio reviews tend to be more popular than the written word. My written reviews and other articles have now been available in audio format for quite some time. That was mainly to give people with vision problems the option to listen to what I have to say, without needing to revert back to an artificial voice created by a screen reader. Yet, everyone keeps telling me how they love listening to my podcast episodes, which are short and informative at the same time. The spoken word is just more appealing. You can listen to my writing while commuting, doing the dishes or going for a walk.

The Importance of the Written Word

Yet, there is something to say in favour of the written word. As I alluded to earlier, the best video reviews are based on a written script. Many popular board game video reviewers could easily do away with video and what they have to say would be just as important and valuable. Many of these video reviewers would do just as well in audio-only form and to be honest, even if they were transcribed, they would still be amazing. Of course, the order of popularity in platforms goes from blogs having the smallest audience, to podcasts somewhere in the middle and then videos with the most views on average.

At the same time, my blog gets a good number of visitors every week. I probably can’t compete with the most popular video channels, but it’s not bad. I wonder if I would attract more followers if I simply read my articles to the camera and added a little B-roll and other bits. The message would still be the same, but I would now appeal to more people: video watchers, audio listeners and blog readers. The problem is, as you can probably guess, the amount of time that goes into creating video content, versus audio and writing. I can probably write an article in about an hour. Recording and editing it takes probably about the same time. If I had to video everything and edit it all together, it’d probably be more like 5 to 10 hours. A huge difference and an extra amount of time I simply don’t have.

a close-up of a dictionary page for the word "focus" (Photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash)
(Photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash)

Making Words Relevant

So the question is what I can do to attract more people without reverting to video. While I could add a little counter to every post on my blog that shows views, that figure isn’t necessarily trusted. One thing I do think publishers find important when deciding where to send their valuable advance review copies is the amount of interaction I get on the blog. Every time someone comments, it shows they not only read what I wrote, but also cared about it enough to respond. A publisher will trust comments more than any readership figures I email them. Not only that, a golden rule in marketing is not to go for the largest amount of followers or the most likes, but to find those accounts that get the most comments for each and every one of their posts.

I always love it when I get an email that says someone commented on an article and prompts me to review the response and approve it. At the core, that’s why I write on this blog. It’s not so much about validation, but more about having written something that stirred something in someone else. Hearing when people tell me that they like my blog is wonderful. When I get two or more comments on an article, it’s amazing. It’s about connecting with people who want to share their thoughts with me. Having encouraged people to let me know when they agree with me or have different thoughts on a topic is really touching. It’s about having a conversation and as human beings, communicating is so very important and goes to the core of who we are.

So, yes, if you want to make this blog more valuable and meaningful, then please comment and share your thoughts. If one of my written reviews has convinced you to buy a game that you really enjoy, then please let me know. If one of my topic discussion articles has made you ponder something, then comment and say so. Let’s start the conversation.

What About You?

Depending on whether you read this article or listened to the audio version, your answer will probably be different. However, I do wonder whether you prefer the written word over audio or video. What is your favourite medium and why? What do video reviews give you that written ones don’t? How do podcasts fit into this? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. As you have just heard, I love to hear from you.

Useful Links

Audio Version

Intro Music: Bomber (Sting) by Riot (https://www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/)

Music by AShamaluevMusic.
Website: https://www.ashamaluevmusic.com


These are the songs I listened to while I was writing this topic discussion article: