Social MTG is Magic: The Gathering (MTG) fan blog that shares strategies and memes related to the card game.

Growth & Content:

Beginning the blog was a feeling-out process. Many posts, even hashtagged appropriately, did not pick up views, likes, or followers. With qualitative assessment, we discovered what created the most stable growth:

  • Fanbase crossover posts (for example, Magic crossed with Harry Potter) increased exposure to multiple fandoms
  • Reaction GIFs (such as this classic Arnold GIF referring to politics in multiplayer games) emotionally connected and generated more comments than most types of posts
  • Cosplay and “real MTG” posts (like these incredible French sculptures mimicking an MTG universe)

While early posts were custom-made for the platform, Matt discovered early that there was plenty of crossover content from other bloggers. MTG Alters and MTG Fake Cards had lots of great ways to engage fans with crossover content. SocialMTG made a significant effort to find and share this type of content.

Following blogs for more material had another consequence: following a blog sends a notification that they are being followed, which opens curiosity to check out our blog. 20-25% of those followed blogs would follow our blog back if they had “liked” or “reblogged” material we’ve posted before.

Milestones:

  • January 2014: 1,000 followers
  • April 2015: 8,800 followers
  • October 2016: 11,500 followers (coming back from a blog hiatus)

Revenue:

  • Handmade MTG-inspired clothing
  • Independent vendor affiliate programs

When blog started generating momentum at 1,000 followers, we looked into ways to create value for the MTG community, while generating some revenue on the side. We fielded the question to friends, and decided to create affiliate relationships and produce a physical product to get out feet wet.

The first revenue stream was Amazon’s affiliate program, offering a 4 to 7% commission on any purchase made after clicking an Amazon link. This made occasional (if random) sales and generated a few hundred dollars.

The second revenue stream was 2 beanies inspired by popular MTG characters. To test the market, we shared a mockup with the community, to judge interest. When we concluded there was an opportunity, we created a storefront website and began to sell them.

The third revenue stream was affiliate relationships with card vendors. Our largest affiliate relationship generates between $100-150 dollars every month.

Lessons Learned:

What led to the blog’s relative success?

  1. Being truly passionate about the community. MTG is a tight-knit community, and our love for the game/multiverse is genuine
  2. Having a clear goal. Our goal for this blog was the net follower metric. As long as that kept going up, we knew we were on the right path
  3. Studying what content offers the best follower-to-effort ratio. Lots of posts we thought were silly become viral successes. Those we thought were incredibly informational and purposeful have failed. The same lessons applies to profit – try to know what channels/content are working, and what are not.