First of all, I finally realised that my last post completely forgot to link the forum where new bloggers can sign up for all of the support and, apparently, link whoring on offer. The moral of this story is probably “don’t drink and blog” but that’s not the advice I’m going to give – probably because of how badly it would depopulate the blogosphere if anyone actually listened to it.
Instead, my advice is this: read, think, write, edit. Four words to being a blogger with a blog worth reading.
First of all – read. Read other blogs, of course – but also read game forums and also read stuff that isn’t game related at all. The more you read, the more likely you are to see something you want to respond to and write your own post about. The more widely you read, the better informed you’ll be and the more chance that what you have to say is interesting enough for people to come back to your blog. Even if you’re a hardcore Age of Conan PvPer and that’s all your blog is about, you might see something on a Rift blog that triggers a “how AoC does this and which way is better” story. Or you might go from reading about the battle of Cannae to an article on how to utterly crush an enemy guild in battle. Whatever – reading is the source of grist for your ideas mill, and if you don’t feed it you’ll run out of things to say all too quickly and your blog will wither away because you can’t think of anything to post. Go see what other people have to say, or pick up some interesting ideas, and you’ll be in the enviable position of having so many articles you want to write that you have to pick and choose.
Next – think. The best blogs are more like op-ed pieces than straight journalism. Few readers go to blogs to get news per se – there are plenty of news websites with pro or semi-pro staff who are far better at providing that. What a good blog does though is pick up the day’s news items and discuss them, trying to figure out what this actually means. To pick a topical example – the news is that Dominus has been cancelled. But what does that mean? Does it mean that it’s impossible to launch a small, plucky insurgent in an MMO market ruled by the big budget beasts? Does it mean that three faction RvR isn’t actually an idea that will work and all those old DAoC players should put away their rose-tinted glasses? Or does it mean that Guild Wars 2′s WvWvW is going to be so abso-frigging-lutely awesome that any potential competitor just curls up into a ball and dies after seeing it in a beta weekend? Whatever you think about the news (in this case, probably that all three of Tremayne’s suggestions are full of shit) – THAT’S what you want to write about.
And then – write. If you don’t write it down, then we don’t get to see it and you don’t have a blog, just some ideas in your head and maybe a vague intention to have a blog someday. Put fingers to keyboard and give us the benefit of that reading and thinking you’ve done. Keep the blog alive. You don’t have to be as prolific as Tobold with his four thousand posts, but at the minimum try to write something at LEAST once a month. It doesn’t have to be very long. Some of the best ideas can be expressed in a couple of sentences – or a single question, can ignite a great debate (either by being a very good question, or by trolling. Don’t do the latter).
Finally – edit. For the sake of your own reputation and that of your blog, do an editing pass both to clean up your writing and to make sure you actually mean to say what you’re actually saying on a public forum. For the first of these – while there are people posting on game forums who actually seem aggressively proud of their bad spelling and appalling grammar, on a blog your readers will expect stuff like punctuation and paragraphs and proper words. Most of the active people on forums seem to be there for the sake of their own post counts rather than any interest in what others have to say anyway, but if someone has come to your blog they probably genuinely want to read what you have to say. Don’t make it hard for them.
The second part of “edit” comes in if you are writing on an emotive or controversial topic. As they say, “post in haste, repent at leisure”. So once you’ve finished, don’t hit “Publish” immediately. Take a breather, then re-read what you’ve written. You might want to reword it in a more thoughtful way. You might want to delete the whole thing. Or you might stand by every word and publish it as it stands. Incendiary posts tend to get a “Hell, yeah!” from those who already agree with you and to turn off those who don’t. They aren’t conducive to ongoing, meaningful discussion. But on the other hand, sometimes you have to make a stand. Just make sure it’s when after some reflection you really do have to make a stand, and not on some pointless minor topic because of poor impulse control.
And that’s it – drink, read, think, write, edit. Five words to make you a more active and maybe even better blogger.
Wait – weren’t there only four words at the start of all this?