As most of you already know, Return of Kings’ sister site Reaxxion is closing down this week. Back in March, Roosh selected me to be the site’s editor after I retired as a weekly columnist; I didn’t have enough time to juggle all the sites I was writing for at the time and I wasn’t on top of gaming news enough to consistently write new articles on the topic. Managing Reaxxion’s other writers was better suited to my schedule and temperament.
While I’ve edited online magazines before (most notably my old blog, In Mala Fide) as well as worked as an editor on various books, this is the first time I’ve been paid to edit a website. While I’ve made my living solely off the Internet for over a year now, editing Reaxxion taught me a number of things about web publishing and making money online that I didn’t know. Here are a few…
1. You need to balance your employees’ autonomy with quality control
While Roosh gave me a set of directives when he took me on as Reaxxion’s editor, he also gave me a huge amount of freedom to run the site. It’s this autonomy that made it easy to do my job. Publishers and editors who insist on micromanaging their underlings usually end up driving their websites into the ground. For example, a close friend of mine was driven out of her position as editor at one magazine because her boss couldn’t resist the urge to keep pissing in the soup.
At the same time, editors need to be willing to tell those under them to get their act together. When I first started out, Roosh took a hands-on role in acclimating me to Reaxxion, showing me how to write article titles and tighten up otherwise weak posts. I in turn had to take a firm line with the site’s writers in order to help them improve; in fact, I had been compiling a dossier of mistakes each writer kept making in their articles and was planning to present it to them when Roosh announced the site’s closure. The main reason In Mala Fide declined in quality was because I couldn’t effectively implement quality control.
2. Editing is more time-consuming than you think
I offered to become Reaxxion’s editor because I figured that fixing typos in other peoples’ articles would require less work than writing my own. This was a huge mistake. Given the varying writing abilities and skill levels of Reaxxion’s writers, editing articles took more time out of my schedule than I thought it would, leaving me less time to devote to my own projects. Fact-checking articles also took a sizable bite out of my free time.
Additionally, as the editor, I was essentially required to be on call at all times in the event of breaking news. For example, when a bomb threat was famously called in to the Washington, D.C. GamerGate meetup back in May, I had to interrupt my Friday night and get home so I could edit and publish a pair of Reaxxion articles on the story. Fortunately, I was drinking at the bar across the street from my apartment, so I was able to get home quickly. It’s things like this that took some of the shine out of being the site’s editor.
3. You need a more in-depth knowledge of a site’s subject matter in order to be a truly effective editor
As Reaxxion’s editor, I bear some of the blame for the site’s demise. While I’m an accomplished writer and editor, I’ll freely admit that I was tuned out of gaming news—and gaming in general—before GamerGate happened. Indeed, it was my lack of knowledge of modern gaming—and the lack of time I had to dedicate to learning more about it—that led to me resigning as a weekly columnist from the site to begin with. All I could really write were game reviews and retrospectives of classic PC titles, neither of which moved the needle in regards to traffic.
Because I wasn’t as plugged into gaming culture as I would have liked, I wasn’t able to steer Reaxxion as effectively as someone with a deeper knowledge of the subject matter. I was reliant on the site’s writers to generate article ideas, and while Reaxxion’s staff were good at what they did, I wasn’t able to give them the knowledgeable nudging that an editor is supposed to.
Nothing in this article is meant to disparage Roosh’s or Reaxxion’s writers: it was a pleasure working with all of them and I wish that the site could have continued. But assuming the editor’s mantle came with a set of responsibilities that I didn’t expect. If you’re looking to create a website in this day and age, you need to be prepared for all the trials and issues that come alongside it.