May 6th, 2020
Why did I build a website?
Blogging as a whole is a bit of a bygone era of the early 2000’s, so it might seem a bit odd to choose to spin up a personal website in the year 2020 for purposes other than a portfolio/link-tree/contact page, but to me it has been feeling like the right thing to do recently.
For clarity, I’ve worked in the greater website industry for nearly ten years (oof, my bones!) having built them and supported them for basically the entirety of my career, so me building a website doesn’t feel all that out of place, but I’ve never actually built a website for myself to use. I’ve had portfolios in the past, often used for short-lived stints for professional reasons, but I’ve not had a truly “personal” project in this capacity since I began building sites and I think it’s finally time to change that.
oof, my bones, I’m getting old. Please don’t tell The Youths.
So part of this stems out of me simply wanting to get back in the saddle of building websites again since it’s been a “hot minute” since I’ve built my last site for a client and I wanted to dust off some old skills. Everything on the site is hand-coded from scratch including integrations, layout, the theme itself, interactions, motion, the whole nine-yards, so any new features to the site might take a little bit as I’m trying to keep that statement as true as possible for as long as I can.
So you did this “just because?”
No, I developed the site myself “just because”, but the actual purpose of the site itself is much more direct. While the site was created as sort of an exercise to prove to myself that I still know how to do these things, I also wanted to make this site because I know the power of websites and what they can do for individuals. Websites give people a constant voice which can be rebroadcast elsewhere, agnostic of where people might find themselves. Websites are built to be accessible to the widest audience possible, much wider than the reach of any individual streaming platform, and your site can be loaded on far, far more device (shucks, you can technically open a web browser on some refrigerators these days).
Websites give you the power to talk to more people in a much cleaner format, agnostic to more barriers.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from becoming part of the greater streaming community over the past few years, it’s that you as an individual person are worth much more than simply being “a streamer on XYZ platform”, and that many people will never learn of you simply by finding your stream (regardless of where that might be). You must first and foremost be an individual in your own right, and bring yourself to the table in whatever you do, so this Hrothmar.com website is my first step towards extending myself (not my brand, just Me, as a human) to more people, compared to what solely Streaming/Social Media might have seen. An example of this reach extension would be simple post I made about Stardew Valley a few years ago, originally posted in August of 2018, has had over 500,000 page views over the course of its existence. This hasn’t bolstered any follower counts, nor do I have any monetization on that page, but the reach of a website extends far beyond traditional streaming avenues.
Atop this, owning your own content (such as owning your own website), allows you to keep control of your own creations regardless of where you might be streaming. At the time of this writing, I steam solely to Mixer.com, a Microsoft-owned competitor to Twitch.tv where I intend on staying, but if any issues were to arise (such as the platform shutting down), my website presence is not tied to that platform since everything here on the site is under my direct control.
Update: In a direct example of the above statement, Mixer officially announced its closure on June 22nd, 2020, about two months after I wrote this article. Due to this, all of my live streaming is now done on Twitch.
Website content such as writing these blogs, or constructing Guides also offers me an avenue to be much more than just a form of Live Entertainment on a stream somewhere. By writing articles such as my Guides To Stardew Valley, it allows me to genuinely create opportunities to help more people across the world. The goal here isn’t to “get a wider audience” so that it turns into more follows, absolutely not. The goal here is to try and provide insights, advice, tips, tricks, and everything in-between using a platform that doesn’t require the person partaking in the content to know what streaming is and with no expectation of them ever becoming part of that community. Writing on this website allows me to help even more people, with even less effort.
SEO is also abysmal for people who solely stream
Due to the way Search Engines operate, even if a streamer has tens of thousands of followers, it’s likely that their name won’t generate more than a handful of results when searching for their name on Google. You’ll likely see their streaming location (Twitch, Mixer, etc.), and maybe some social media links, but in general you won’t see much else. There’s some nuance to this conversation (don’t spread yourself too thin, for example), but it’s something to be aware of as a whole when marketing yourself to non-stream companies. Getting a partnership, for example, might be more difficult if the company can’t find much about you or what you do. I know I just said the the reason I’m doing this is to help people, but selfishly I also want “Hrothmar” to have some better search results to it in general.
A quick aside on how Search Engines work, and why it’s bad for streamers:
For anyone who doesn’t know how search engines work, they do their best to essentially crawl the entire internet non-stop for material, looking for references to phrases, then it surfaces that material which is most relevant and recent to people searching for it. Since most streaming services only have links to an individual streamer’s profile on one page of their “site” (ie: “mixer.com/hrothmar”), this would be the only place within that domain (“mixer.com”) that Search Engine Crawling Bots would see that phrase used. Most other common locations for SEO bots to see streamer’s names would be on various social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook (if you roll like that), Youtube (if you have enough subscribers for a custom channel name), and others. Overall this results in an extremely low number of websites which contain your stream’s name.
This gets worse if you share a name similar to someone else (I’m looking at you, everyone who has “xXxDeathSn1per69xXx” as their name). If there was other streamers whose names included partial matches to the phrase “Hrothmar “(such as “HrothmarPlays” or “HeyHrothmar”), this further lessens the likelihood that someone searching for you will be able to find you online, since Search Engines will be surfacing multiple streams in their results and displaying them. This plays a bit into branding (be unique!), but for the purposes of this conversation, let’s keep it scoped to SEO specifically.
Wait so why does a website help with SEO then?
Search engines loooove original content that it hasn’t seen elsewhere on the internet since that was their original purpose in the late 90s when they first started appearing. Being yourself online, writing your own content, updating a website often, encourages bots to scan your site more frequently, resulting in you becoming “more relevant” when people search for phrases that are somewhat similar to what your content is about. This is why blogs are lovely tools since they need to be updated frequently anyways! If you solely had a static website, such as a single page site with some links to your social media, this would still be powerful for name recognition and you’d likely be a top result for your name if configured correctly, but the true power of a website is when you start appearing in searches other than when people search for your name specifically. This is seen with the Stardew Valley posts, where my name is popping up in more places “organically”, since nobody on this planet is searching for “Hrothmar Stardew Valley Profits”, they’re likely searching for just the phrase “Stardew Profits”. So while the purpose of this website was an exercise to myself, and to generally help people across a broader audience, there is some pretty solid benefits as an individual starting this kind of site as well.
I currently have no plans of monetizing this site, it’s solely for the enjoyment of those who find benefits from its content, so please enjoy and let me know if you have any feedback in the meantime by reaching out to me via the links at the bottom of the page.