Friday, September 17, 2010

How to blog? Part 2

I do encourage anyone who has the slightest wish to become a blogger to go and get started! You don't have to write as much as I do, I'm kinda crazy that way. I wrote a small post on this subject before, but since then I have learned alot more about the blog-world, blogging in general and WoW-blogging in particular. Some of these tips are WoW-specific, but most of them count for any kind of blog. So here are my insights, and if you get started with your own blog - please give me a tell, I'd love to check it out (please don't make another resto druid blog though ;) )!

Make it interesting
Wow, what does that mean? How do I know what other people find interesting? Easy answer, you don't. There is really only one way to go about making an interesting post - what would you like to read about? As long as you like your own material you can be pretty sure someone else will. But there are general tricks to get your posts more interesting and eye-catching.

- Keep an easy to read text. This is very important since if people have to squint or otherwise strain themselves to be able to see and read what's on your blog, they'll go somewhere else (or they might need glasses, not much you can do then).

- Keep an easy design. I might not be the best at this myself, but try to make your page, and your posts, minimalistic. I don't mean that you should avoid alot of pictures or fonts, on the contrary (and I'll get to that in a sec). But make it easy to find whatever one would like to find on your blog. Avoid to implement stuff that are irrelevant to the blog just for the heck of it. This is tricky because people have very different taste on what a good blog-site should look like, but again, go with what you'd prefer.

- Keep peoples interest. A wall of text will scare people away. Using pictures to instantiate what you're writing about is a good way to let people keep up with your text. I write wall of texts myself, but that is because implementing pictures to Blogger is kinda tedious, and I don't always feel up to it :P Changing font size, Italicize, using pictures, underlining etc are things that will make your text easier and more interesting to read if used with measure.

- Engage the readers. The best way to do this is to be personal about your topics. What do -you- think about this. There are millions of blogs out there. What makes your blog unique and interesting is that it is written about you and your views of the world. No one else can write about that stuff, so that is your trump card, use it. Unless you happen to know other stuff that no one else does (like what the Blizzard devs are thinking), that usually catches peoples interest too. And everyone loves to give their own opinion on stuff, so ask the readers what they think about your topics to open up for discussions!

- Update regularly. Again, you definitely don't have to update each day to catch peoples interest. But at least give people a hope that you're still there, even if you don't post often. This is best done by trying to keep a regular update on your posts, like once a week, every third day or so. And don't forget to tell people if you're going to be away for a while! If people stop reading, they generally don't check back (unless you're presented on some other blog).

- Make sure everything on your blog works! I can't stress this enough! If you have implemented a comment system, search system or any kind of links on your blog, make sure they work! I have actually encountered blogs where I've tried to leave a comment, but the comment system doesn't work. I feel sorry for those bloggers, since they'll never get a comment on their posts and they probably don't know why...

To get a good idea on how to write a good text you could check out how wow.com does it. They're professionals ;)

There are tons of different places to make yourself known once you've got your blog going. Here are some;

- WoW.com (now known as wow.joystiq.com) has a list of blogs, and also gives suggestions on interesting posts written by bloggers in their own posts. Their list isn't very up to date however, and many of the listed blogs aren't active anymore (some of the webpages don't even exist anymore).

- WoWheadlines.com has a nice setup listing different wow blogs and is the perfect place to start searching for your own blogs to follow. As with wow.com their lists aren't very up to date and about half the blogs you look at aren't updated anylonger.

- wiki.twistednether.net is a wiki listing different blogs as well.

- blogazeroth.com is a forum page listing different wow-blogs. Here you can write your own introduction to your blog and find other authors introductions.

- MmoMeltingPot.com is a blog dedicated to collecting the goodness of the WoW-bloggosphere in one place. They write round-ups on interesting blog-posts and other WoW-related stuff they've found around the internets and is probably the best place to check out if you want to find a list of up-to-date and active WoW-blogs.

Here are some tools to help you know everything about your blog, that's half the fun!

- Statcounter.com collects alot of different stats about your blog, like traffic and the like. Blogger has a built in statcounter however so this might not be so necessary (if you decide to blog on Blogger). Statcounter does offer a neat little visitors counter for your page so you and everyone else can see how many visitors your site has.

- Feedburner.com lets you know how many people are collecting feeds from your site, that is how many are subscribing to your posts through RSS (just google feedburner).

Where will you Blog?
There are actually plenty of blog-hosters out there. I didn't choose Blogger for any particular reason and I'm quite sure all the providers are about as good as the next. They work differently though, so it could be a good idea to check them all out before deciding for one. Here are the most common ones used by WoW-bloggers;

- Blogger
- Wordpress
- Tumblr

So what are you going to write about? Well if you want to be a WoW-blogger I suggest;

- Blogazeroth.com has something called Shared Topic. Each week they present a question in the forums, that you can write a post about. Like what was your favorite thing in Wrath? What mementos have you kept? Those are some of the things I've seen since I started blogging. It's a great way to get some interesting topics to write on before you get your own ideas on what you can write about. It's also a great way to get started and practice on how to write a post. Blogazeroth collects all bloggers who write about their Shared Topic which also makes it easier for new bloggers to be seen by the masses. I would've joined in if I didn't already have a long list of things to write about ^^

- Comment on other bloggers posts. You might not have to become up close and personal like "Zinn wrote about X and I think she's an idiot". Well you could write that too, but people won't be interested unless you explain why you think what you think. Again, your thoughts are what make your blog interesting! Read alot of other peoples blogs and you'll get alot of ideas on what to write about yourself. If you see someone writing about what their thoughts are on a certain class for example, you can write a similiar topic about another class. Just remember that if you write about another blogger, or what another blogger has written about, it is considered polite to mention them in your own text.

- Play the game. You're writing about WoW. The best way to find inspiration about what to write about is to simply play the game. Anything could be interesting really. Everytime you think "gosh darn, why does this work like that" or "I really like it when they do this" or "I hate it when this happens!" you've got yourself the foundations for an interesting post. Check out what/if other have written about it to get more ideas on what you can write yourself. Or if you feel like you have enough thoughts about it yourself just let it flow.

Good luck with your blog! If you start one ;)

6 comments:

  1. Nice write up! Good to see some encouragement for folks thinking about starting their own blog but not sure how to go about it.

    (Btw, feel free to add my site, MMO Melting Pot, to the list of places people can get their blog added to a blogroll/list. If you need more info on it just ping me by email or using the contact form there).

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  2. Oh yeah mmomeltingpot! I knew I had forgot about something :D I'll add you in the post.

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  3. I don't quite agree about the importance of pictures. Some people read blogs at work and don't like blogs that are too colorful. Plain, white blogs such as Tobold's are way better in that aspect. And mind you - he's got +4k subscribers. They're not scared off by his text walls.

    For my own part I think too many screenshots can be quite distracting and make me lose interest in the post. In the end it's more about the content. However you're right that a too massive text wall can look scary. Be sure to break up the text with new paragraphs when it's apprapriate.

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  4. A great example on the importance of writing the blog the way you prefer it! But I mentioned the use of pictures "with measure" and I will still think that it is an important part of a good blog post - not every blog post, it depends on the subject of course. I also mentioned "Avoid to implement stuff that are irrelevant to the blog just for the heck of it."

    But not mentioning that using pictures could be a good way to catch someones eye would be wrong in this kind of post imo :) I will change the wording somewhat however, I agree the emphasize on pictures might be too big.

    EDIT: Retyped post for typos... there is no edit button :(

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  5. As always a good post Zinn. You porvided some great information for people beginning or thinking about starting a blog. My favorite part was the links you provided to get your blog listed. Thanks for the info!

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  6. Some good tips here, thanks for the write-up!

    Cheers,
    Gav

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