I’ve had a few people come to me for blogging advice. While I don’t consider myself a blogging pro by far, I’d like to think that I’ve been doing this long enough to at least offer some useful insight. Blogging can be extremely fun and rewarding, but it can also be very challenging. I’m going to go over what’s involved in creating a blog and why you might want to do it.
Why You Should Blog
I’m going to be honest, blogging isn’t for everyone. For example, you should somewhat enjoy writing (because you’ll be doing a lot of it!). Notice how I said you should enjoy writing – not that you should think you write well. While I appreciate well written and thought-out blog posts, I also admire those who improve over time. You don’t have to be a fantastic writer to start blogging. If you stick with it long enough, I actually think there’s a good chance your writing will naturally improve over time anyway. So if you’re passionate about writing but may doubt your writing chops, blogging could help you build on what you already have.
Aside from self improvement, blogging in the KingsIsle community in particular allows you to spread ideas, knowledge, and potentially help other players. If guides aren’t your thing, no sweat! Bloggers shape what their site is and what they want it to be. Blog posts aren’t always informational either- they could be creative song parodies, fan fiction, and anything in-between! Either way, you’re projecting your love for Wizard101 and/or Pirate101 and sharing that with other like-minded people. Blogging helps you build friendships and a connection with the community.
In a more professional sense, maintaining a blog is also something you can put on your resume. While a gaming blog wouldn’t necessarily be helpful for just any job application, it could definitely make a difference for future writers, journalists, or jobs in the gaming industry.
Do it For The Right Reasons
I’ve seen a few people try to make sites to gain “Official Fansite” status or because they think it will make them “popular.” The people who blog for these reasons don’t last. Why? Because they aren’t passionate about writing and therefore fizzle out. Write because you want it to mean something. Write because you genuinely enjoy it. Write for the right reasons. You’ll be much happier in the long run.
In my opinion, there are 2 key things to be aware of in order to become a successful blogger.
People like to read things they haven’t seen before. Try your best to stand out from the pack and present things from a different perspective. I’ve personally done a few letters, song parodies, and other one-off posts. More importantly, hone in on something that you’re good at or interested in and have that be your “focus.” For Duelist101, it’s PvP. For Paige Moonshade, it’s housing. For me, it’s derby. Having a focus doesn’t mean you ONLY have to write about that particular topic, it’s just something that people can identify your site with. I try to write at least one derby post a month to keep that focus going. Not only does having a focus help with site identity, but it also gives you something to fall back on when you run out of post ideas. I can always whip out a derby post if game news has been slow or if my imagination is dwindling. That being said, while helpful, I don’t think having a “focus” is a must for ALL bloggers. As long as you’re able to create unique and engaging blog posts, you’ll be good to go.
Blog content is only half the battle. As a writer, you need to be consistent. Readers won’t keep coming back to your site if you only write a few times a month. I would suggest starting with weekly blog posts at minimum. Try posting them the same day each week, at the same time. This isn’t always possible, but doing so will let your followers know when to expect new posts.
Contrary to what some believe, more is not always better. Make sure you don’t overwork yourself or sacrifice quality for quantity. As a college student, weekly blog posts are perfect for me. Find what works for you.
It’s Not Always Easy
You should know that creating consistent content is usually harder than it seems on paper. At the end of the day, blogging is a huge time commitment. That’s why, as I mentioned earlier, if you don’t particularly like writing, you’ll have a hard time keeping up with a blog. Most bloggers also stumble across “writer’s block” – not knowing what to write about – once in awhile. I actually think coming up with post ideas is harder than the actual writing for me.
Now that you know what’s involved (and hopefully haven’t been scared away yet), it’s time to get into the steps of creating a blog.
Step 1: Choosing a Blogging Platform
The very first step in the blog making process is choosing a blogging platform. There are many out there, but the two most popular by far are WordPress and Blogger.
Here is a quick rundown of each …
- Highly customizable
- Complete control over your content
- Requires hosting
- Requires a fair amount of HTML knowledge
- Free (so good for beginners)
- Pretty easy to use
- You don’t own your content (Google owns it)
- Has .blogspot in the web address until you purchase a domain
I had experience with both blogging platforms prior to founding The Untold Spiral, and both get the job done. However, I ultimately chose WordPress for this site because of its customization and the fact that I would own my own content. I did have to purchase hosting, but I personally believe it was a worthy investment. If you just want to give blogging a try and you’re not sure you’ll stick with it, I recommend trying Blogger. It’s completely free and will give you less of a headache. If you decide you want to switch later, you can always export your site to WordPress. I had a year of blogging at Adventures of the Spiral under my belt at the time, so I was already confident The Untold Spiral would be around for awhile.
Step 2: Finding Hosting and Purchasing a Domain
Hosting – You’ll only need to find hosting if you choose to design a WordPress site. Google hosts Blogger sites and that’s why Blogger bloggers (haha) don’t own their own content. I personally use GoDaddy for hosting, but there are many options out there. Besides pricing, there really aren’t any significant differences between who you go with.
Purchasing a Domain – Again, this will be required for WordPress sites. Your domain is just your web address. For example, my domain is theuntoldspiral.com
- Blogger sites will automatically have .blogpost in the domain name. For example, if I had used Blogger, my domain would look like this: theuntoldspiral.blogspot.com
- Blogger bloggers can get rid of the .blogpost by purchasing their domain name from a hosting provider.
Step 3: Designing Your Site and Writing Posts
This is the fun part! Both WordPress and Blogger have site templates that you can use and/or manipulate to your liking. Create a site that represents you and the kind of atmosphere you want to set. Make sure to insert an About Me page and a Contact Me page so your potential readers will know a little bit about you and where to find you should they have questions. From there, put your thinking cap on and get writing!
Step 4: Creating a Following
Once all the hard work is done, it’s time to get the word out! Make social media posts to drive people to your blog. Nobody will get to appreciate your work if they don’t know it exists! It’s worth noting that this can be the hardest step of all. When starting out, you may feel like nobody is paying attention or that nobody cares. Give it time. Quality work tends to get noticed eventually. Blog success doesn’t come overnight. That’s why you should …
IMPORTANT: Support other bloggers and content creators! As Swordoll went over in a recent blog post, community members should help each other thrive. Doing this will not only spread information, but it will also help form friendships and build connections. Reading and writing go hand in hand. Look at what other bloggers are doing and decide what you like and don’t like about their posts. Consider those thoughts when you write your own content.
If you have any questions about blogging or writing, feel free to comment and I’ll try to answer the best I can. Thanks for all the support!