Interested In Joining The Ranks Of The WAR Bloggers?August 12, 2008
About a month ago, I had a deep heart-to-heart conversation with Snafzg, the kind punctuated by burps and manly pronouncements to our wives of “Five more minutes, honeeeeeey! Then I’ll come snuggle and watch Grey’s Anatomy! Promise!” The conversation revolved around our predictions of the upcoming blogopalypse, when Warhammer’s imminent arrival would trigger a cascade of “me too!” blogs that would rush over the world and drown us all in RSS feeds.
On one hand, we both were hesitant about its arrival. I’m not putting any new bloggers down here, trust me — I was very very new once, and I still feel quite wet behind the ears when it comes to this level of internet interaction. But we knew that what had been a tiny, tight-knit handful of bloggers and sites would explode into a virtual ocean of blogging fish, who blog with their gills or something. I kinda lost that metaphor. We feared being lost in the masses. We cringed at the prospect of people who’d start up blogs for the sole purpose of trolling and flaming Mythic, since they lacked an official forum to do so. We wondered how we’d ever be able to keep track of them all — just try to get a grasp on all of World of Warcraft’s current blogs, which expand at the rate of at least 10-20 a day.
But really, we couldn’t be too down on the foreknowledge of an influx of blogging wunderkids. There was bound to be some really good, talented, hilarious bloggers to come on the scene to make us all shake our heads in awe and laugh. We looked forward to a time when there’d be an actual community of bloggers that was more than the number of people who can safely number two in your average public restroom. We knew it would be great publicity for the game, and would help to inspire us to do better and write… good…er.
So if you’ll excuse my arrogance in this post, I’d like to talk directly to you future bloggers out there. Yes, you — you know who you are. You’re the one who has an itch in the back of their brain that isn’t parasite-related; you actually think, “Wow, that looks like a lot of fun! And people will read and fawn over my every opinion! I’d be stupid NOT to do a WAR blog!” If that is indeed you, I wanted to share some do’s and don’ts that I’ve learned from personal experience. A lot of these have been said elsewhere, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat them, especially if they help you get a foothold into the blogging community.
WAR BLOGGING: DO’s
- Spend a decent amount of time thinking about your blog: its name, its theme, what you want to accomplish with it. Good names make highly remembered blogs (and “WAAAGH!” is taken, by the way), and a blog that launches with a strong identity and message is one that makes a great first impression.
- Figure out whether you want to use Blogger or WordPress or another blog site/program. I have blogs on both, and they both have pro’s and con’s to consider (but nothing major, you can’t really screw up that choice).
- Make your blog look good. If you’re talented in graphic design and layout, go nuts. If you’re like me and only know rudimentary HTML and graphic clipping, pick a clean, attractive theme and add a few tasteful, bold graphics.
- Find your own voice — don’t try to imitate others, just be yourself.
- Write about what interests you the most, and forget everything else. Write always to please yourself, first and foremost. Great novelists don’t write with “best-seller!” in mind, they write a story that they’d love to read themselves.
- Get to know your neighbors: the other WAR bloggers, WAR sites and WAR forumites. It’s not just a good idea to be friendly and avoid being an island, but it helps your blog out tremendously. Many of us in the WAR community are all about lending a helping hand and a hot link if we like you and think what you’re doing is worthwhile, but we have to know about you first.
- Give without expectation of getting.
- Create a decent-sized blogroll with as many solid WAR blogs and sites that you would recommend to your readers. Remember, linking to others never cuts down on your own traffic or drives people away. Blogging is a collaborative experience at the core, not a competitive one.
- Figure out what you want to write about the most: experiences in game, talk about MMOs in general (theory), breaking down the game features and stats (theorycrafting), humor, lists, comics, unique features, news, commentary, what have you.
- Get a good handful (3-5) of posts on your blog before you start a mass PR campaign to get people to read your stuff. Remember, first impressions matter, and if someone hits up your site and sees a chunk of articles they like, they’re more likely to return.
- Once you got your blog up and running, head over to Blog Warhammer, sign up and introduce yourselves to the rest of us.
- Post on forums and other blogs’ comment sections (making sure to discretely link to yourself, of course).
- Write consistently. This is different for different people, and nobody’s telling you that you have to post once a day, minimum. But you should be posting frequently enough so that when you do post, people don’t have an initial reaction of “Oh, THEY’RE still around?” Personally, I think you need to handle at least 3-4 posts a week as a bare minimum, or reconsider doing this at all. Consistent content is what builds up a loyal readership.
WAR BLOGGING: DON’Ts
- Throw together a hasty blog that looks like crap, had a badly misspelled first post, and then tell everyone about it.
- Be an arrogant jerk who is far too opinionated, rude or crass to be likable.
- Get into blogging if you can’t handle the time, the hard work (and it is work at times, believe you me), or the patience to become noticed and read.
- Live or die according to the statistics on your blog — hits, page views, etc. Lots of readers is great, but you will be a very unhappy person if this is the foundation for your blogging happiness. What goes up will come down, and you need to be okay with that when it does.
- Slam other bloggers. Sure, it’s okay to disagree, or write a rebuttal post — I’ve done that from time to time. But personal attacks, slander or mean-spirited posts need to be solid no-no’s from the get-go. Even if you don’t care what that person will think of your piece, you should care that your readers and other bloggers will cringe away from you when you do so.