Ah, the time of annual hobby reviews and thoughts on 2017. Not a popular post for many to read, but, as with many others who write one, this post is mostly a reflection for myself and introspection on what I want to do next year.
If you believe the internets, 2016 was a shit of a year in many ways, and as one put it, much of the low points will setting us up for an even tougher 2017. Call me an optimist, but I think 2016 was a remarkable year, and 2017 is going to be unbelievably awesome.
For Broken Paintbrush, I know this is true as this was my best year yet regarding painting quality, blogging consistency, and community growth. And yet, I have some plans for 2017 that have me giddy with excitement. So let’s get started, shall we?
Looking Back on 2016
While 2016 wasn’t my most prolific year regarding painting, I am happy with what I did get done as I spent more time focusing on improving techniques, creating tutorials, and trying new things.
Mansions of Madness
At the beginning of the year, I got Mansions of Madness and had an awesome time playing it with my family as it is a mix of Clue and simplified RPG. I spent much of the summer/fall painting each of the heroes and monsters. While I have a few more to post from the 1st Edition set, I got a whole pile more when my brother-in-law got me the 2nd Edition boxes!
I also started delving into the world of INQ28 with a Techno-Barbarian. Not the most balanced looking model, I agree, but I did enjoy building him and trying a new color with the Turquoise. I have the remainder of his squad on my painting table now and hope to finish them soon.
Painting Skin Tutorial
As I painted the Mansions of Madness set, I had some people comment on the diversity of skin tones I used. So I grabbed a pile of spare heads and created two sets of painting tutorials, one for light skin, and another for dark skin. Not only do I hope these tutorials are helpful, but I tried a slightly different technique/recipe for each to push my skills forward.
Mentor Legion Dreadnought
For my entry into Dreadtober 2016 (more on that below) I converted a Furioso Dreadnought into a Mentors Legion Ironclad. This was a huge accomplishment for me as I’ve grown to struggle to get anything for my Mentors done (he is the only one to get finished in 2016!).
To finish off the year, I started painting some of my Ork walkers while watching movies on the couch. The Orks are a great army to do this as being sloppy is part of their charm 🙂 They are also super fast for me to paint so I was able to finish up the Morkanaut and a set of Killa Kans in just a few weeks. I haven’t posted up a post for them yet, but I should get to it soon.
A year ago I pledged to significantly improve my blogging in a few different ways but primarily by staying consist in writing posts and improving my reader’s experience on the site. Much of this was set back the first few months as I was still unpacking from our move into a new house and a new job.
But at the end of the year, this has been my best year of blogging ever!
Consistency and Growth
My original goal of blogging this year was to write two posts per week. The Tuesday post would be either a tutorial, review, or a work-in-progress post, and Thursday would be a community post with either a Good Reads or Watch This.
For a blog of 9 years, I only have 284 posts, but 100 of those have been from this year alone! Not only that, but nearly all of those posts are over 1,000 words, and 23 of them were tutorials.
A big piece of this was using Trello to plan out my post schedule using the calendar power-up. As I wrote each post, I created a header image that I also attached to the Trello card and created a column for each month. This helped keep the motivation as I could quickly look back at how many posts I’ve done since April.
This consistent posting, along with many of the other changes I did, clearly built up the traffic over the year. With WordPress stats showing 51k visits by 28k visitors, I am very honored and blown away by how many people visited my corner of the interwebs.
Another significant contributor to October and November’s traffic growth was that I had the honor of hosting Dreadtober this year. It was an incredible amount of work, and as I mentioned in my review, I wouldn’t do it the same way again next year.
But bringing together the community for this month long challenge produced 50 incredible modelsÂ and many more hobbyists encouraged to work on their projects.
One of the other things I changed this year was opening the site to guest writers. I had six writers so far that have brought some remarkable insights to the site. Thor gave some great blogging tips, Sean shared his love for Oldhammer, Rob discussed the conversion points metrics from tournaments, Ben had a tutorial on Blue Skatarii, and D Powers discussed finding your painting style.
Many of the authors have additional post ideas to share, and a few more have shown interest in writing, so hopefully I can have even more to share in 2017.
Want to add your voice in? Check out the simple guidelines or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org!
In my goal of improving reader experience, I have been doing a bunch of back end upgrades. Many of these I got for free for Broken Paintbrush as I was also building a professional blog as well.
While the end results have been great, most were a pain in the ass and crashed the site more than one. Thank God for backups as I screwed up WordPress way too many times to count and even deleted the whole directory once! So to all my fellow hobby bloggers: BACK UP YOUR SITE! Do it right now…
Did you back it up? How about now? Seriously, back it up.
Some of the changes I did for the site in 2016:
- Updated theme with a more minimal look but with a nicer front page
- Upgraded to a WordPress optimized server that runs a ton faster
- Added an email newsletter and automated emails for new signups
- Added a Blogroll featuring all the hobby blogs I follow
- Tweaked a bunch of plugins and removed ones that didn’t add value
In the end, the site loads faster, it’s easier to read, and am growing my readers with the newsletter and blogroll. Still plenty more to do, but this has set up an excellent foundation to build off.
Goals For 2017
And now for the fun part! Looking forward to 2017, I have a ton of goals both on the hobby side and the blogging side.
One of my big goals for 2017 is to build up a hobby table using the Secret Weapon Miniatures TableScape tile I picked up. Not just content to paint up the 4×4 set, I have a huge pile of Games Workshop and Pegasus building kits that I plan to use to build up a tall city table to fight over.
For the Orks, I have a Stompa that is half assembled that will be next for my couch painting. I also have the Megaboss that I have partially completed. I’m not sure where I will go with them after that as I have a ton of boys, nobz, and characters waiting in the bits box.
Also on my painting table waiting to get completed is the rest of the INQ28 squad. I’m hoping I can get these done in the next week as I want to get them done for my birthday and something exciting that I plan to do with them.
Finally, I have a huge backlog of Mentor Legion, Mansions of Madness, and even some Tyranids in the box of shame. For now, I’m going to focus on getting the models that I’ve started completed.
So the models I commit to finishing in 2017 are:
- Ork Stompa!
- INQ28 Inquisitor and squad
- Ork Megaboss
- 4×4 tile set of Urban Ruble TableScapes
- At least four big buildings for the TableScape
- Mentor Legion Razorback
- Mentor Legion Storm Talon
On the blogging side, I have some ambitious targets as well. First and foremost, I want to continue the twice-a-week post schedule including the Watch This and Good Reads features. Also working in guest posts on as many Saturdays as I can find writers.
I also have a goal of producing one big tutorial every month similar to the skin tones or custom base articles I did this year. Each of these I want to turn into an eBook to download as well.
There is a bunch of maintenance-style work to do as well including updating the menus, organizing all the tutorials and showcases, and updating.
Among the exciting things I have planned for 2017 is three book-style products that I have been working on. The first of these is almost ready, and I’m pledging myself to have it ready by the end of January.
In short, my blogging goals are:
- Continue the twice a week post schedule
- Get more guest writers and have previous guests write more articles
- Create a big tutorial every month with a PDF
- Update the menus and blog structure
- Release 3 products to help painters while providing an income for the blog
Happy New Year!
With all that said, I want to thank each and every one of you who has read my blog, left comments, and shared it with others. It means so much that others find Broken Paintbrush useful and that I’m able to add to the community.
I am looking forward to the adventures of 2017 and all those models that will be painted!