Hello to all you prospective newbie bloggers and even those out there looking for a little advice. Now I’m fairly new when it comes to this game blogging community of ours and make no pretence to knowing it all or even being a blog to aspire to. I have made many mistakes already in regards to my blog with how it is structured and what is written but because of this I’ve also learnt a bit from my mistakes and misgivings that may be of use. I’ve already written one little guide that went over the basics I learnt in my first year, here though I wanted to explore some more personal points that don’t get as much attention as the fundamentals.
The first bit of unconventional wisdom I can give regarding blogging is that it can and probably will overrun the rest of your life from time to time. At first it seems more like an experiment you’ve always wanted to do but never taken the plunge to complete which you either become enamoured with or forget about entirely. If it does end up being something that interests you then you might find yourself losing hours to writing or researching a post when you could have been gaming, reading other blogs when you could have been enjoying a book, and cataloguing screenshots when you should probably be asleep.
The urge to write more grows as time progresses. It seems this slows down with how long you write for, those that have been in the community a while seem to post regularly but not as frequently. Sometimes I just want to keep writing; I have a ledger full of ideas, a drafts folder that could do me a month and news pieces flowing out of every orifice. Getting your ideas published and out onto the website, even if they are barely read is a compelling thing, compulsive sometimes and as with most things it requires moderation. It will consume your life just as strongly as gaming, or any interesting hobby can if you let it.
That might sound stupid to you at first, writing a blog in the beginning is hard work and not the sort of thing you thought would ever overcome other urges like gaming, study and many other interests but it can and does. Provide a schedule if it helps or just keep remembering that there are other things that need your attention.
The Fancy Focal Point
In the beginning try to focus on a specific set of skills and what you want your blogs selling point to be. Trying to be a little bit everything will either result in a lot of poor quality material or require an immense time investment and likely blogging burn out. There is a bit of learning and technical understanding that goes into the many different interests that blogs focus on that can sometimes take weeks to learn and months/years to master so think about what you want to do at first and work towards that.
If you love posting pretty pictures then maybe focus on making them the best pictures you can by learning about photoshop or your program of choice and photo editing techniques.
If your into the new videotube craze then learn about video editing and invest in your production values.
If you want to create a podcast then practice your voice, become a more eloquent public speaker…. and buy a goddam decent mic.
If you want to write guides be knowledgeable about it. Research, theory craft and read read read.
If you’re like me and like word spam then brushing up on grammar and spelling is probably your best bet but there is a lot to learn in regards to formatting.
Also learn your blogging format of choice. Look at the shortcodes, bbcode,and html as it will improve the layout of your posts and enable you to produce them much quicker. Eventually look into styling more heavily in a way that makes your blog a representation of you.
These are the absolute basics of those medium as I wouldn’t even know where to begin in making it more than an amateur production and that is exactly the point. You can and should branch out of course but don’t try to be a bit of everything; firstly that’s just insane time wise and secondly because it will affect your quality. Producing shit will often lose some of your potential readers/listeners, if it’s frequently bad then maybe even current ones.
Turning into a Twit
I didn’t think I would say this when I started blogging but you really should become a twit/twat on twitter.
At first it will seem like no-one notices you, talks to you, or friends you and it might seem like a stupid waste of time and one in which you feel terribly alone. Stick with it, build a following, friend and reply to others, retweet, post random things and slowly you will build a base and see redirects to your site become more frequent. If you get a couple retweets off a post in the mean time you will see traffic jump and may even meet new people and grab new followers. This holds true with the other social mediums too although I really have no idea about those other scary places.
The one thing I will say about twitter is try to keep it kind of in line with the information and persona of your blog.. sorry no imgur pictures of what you’re having for lunch. When people are getting to know you that sort of thing is a turn off, they come to you for game/ whatever related things and want to hear more of that. It is a hard balance to get at times because bringing people into who you are and your personal life can be a good thing, people should know who you are but within reason.
After awhile, when you’ve grown a strong community and have established a report then you can branch out into posting about the lovely filet mignon with asparagus and pumpkin risotto you made for dinner and you know what…. they might actually care. One thing I have seen is having both a personal and professional twitter account as a way of distinguishing between the two, if people want more of you then they can subscribe to both. I have trouble dealing with one so that is beyond me but it may be useful to you
Lastly, just remember that everyone believes from time to time that they are a terrible blogger, that their writing is awful and that no one could ever be bothered reading it. However you’re not as bad as you believe, you’re more popular than you think but always less than you want to be. There are a lot of variations on this theme but I have noticed over the year now that from time to time many great established writers and bloggers will feel a bit self-conscious. It seems to be something that just happens when your work is so open to evaluation.
I remember writing a piece about Archeage not long ago and having it talked about on a fan site. While they did discuss the points of the article to an extent they also attacked my credibility as a writer. It made me feel rather self conscious for a bit but eventually I realised that we’re not experts, just people sharing their opinions and people will and do disagree with you which is ok. It shouldn’t be taken personally, even if it is directed at your abilities.
Thanks for reading and if your after more excellent posts that explore the issues in blogging then check out the new Newbie Bloigger Initiative forums. Lots of guides already and many people there eager to help. You can also ask many anything you so please in the comments below and I’ll do my best to be honest and informative
Take care and may the blogging force be with you