NBI – Spurious Blogging Tips and Lies My Parents Told Me

The New Blogger Initiate appears to be over already.  I thought the last post was supposed to be on the end of the month.  And yet I still have bad advice to spread about.  Enough procrastination.

I generally have one good suggestion for bloggers, after which my advice tends to fall into two categories.

The first is advice that is so specific to my own situation that it probably won’t be all that helpful, while the rest is so general that it will likewise not be all that helpful.

So, first, my one good piece of advice… and even that is just my opinion.

Be The Blog You Want to Read

Even that seems to be sort of a “duh” statement.

But seriously, I presume that you have decided to jump into MMO blogging after having read some other MMO blogs.  And those blogs have probably made an impression on you.  And I bet some of those sites had aspects you did not like.  Don’t do those things.  Your blog should be the example you want others to follow.

Other than that, I have a few items which work for me.

Organize

You want to know Tobold’s biggest blogging crime is in my opinion?  You cannot find shit on his blog once it falls off the front page.

Effective use of tags, categories, and timelines can make it much easier to find your past efforts on a given subject.  Unless, of course, you don’t want people to find what you have said in the past.

For the most part people won’t go looking for things.  Most people will rarely look at anything except your last couple of posts.  But if you are like me, YOU will probably want to find things you have posted in the past, and organization helps.

Have a Philosophy

I feel that failing on this front is what leads most bloggers to give up after a short time.

If the answer to the question, “Why do you have a blog?” is “Because I want a blog!” then you might not be ready to begin.  I know I wasn’t.  I started off with wanting to write a blog about online gaming and was all over the map for a while.

Then I settled down a bit when I finally realized what I wanted the blog to be.  My blogging philosophy is to weave together my own gaming experiences… tales of the weekly instance group, exploits in EVE Online, and so forth… with a timeline of major events in the industry like MMO launches, closings, expansions, and that sort of headline and press release sort of thing.  I also add in a bit about the actual act of blogging and that is the general mix that makes up TAGN.

And yet I do not feel bound by my philosophy.  I set aside the weekend for the occasional post on other topics.

Add Value

This is tough, because value can be very subjective.  For example, I do not post press releases without comment.  But my comments are rarely very insightful.  They tend to sum up the impact on me.  That is value to me, but it may not be so for you.  And if you have decided to create a MMO press release blog, you can make the argument that a single source of such press releases, especially if well organized, adds value by its existence.  But you ought to feel that there is some value to your posts.  That may help sustain you when the initial warm glow of a new blog starts to fade.

Give Yourself Some Structure

I have one regular weekly post about the instance group’s activities over the past weekend, which runs on Thursday for reasons of laziness.  And then I post a once a month summary for reasons I can no longer recall, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Those two recurring posts are the structure of the blog, and everything else is extra.

Link Like You are Getting Paid to Link

When in doubt, link to something.  Link to source material.  Link to press releases.  Link to other blog posts on the subject.  Link to your past posts on the subject.  Link to definitions of big words.  This is the internet, and the biggest advantage it gives you is the ability to quickly and easily connect to other material on the same subject.  While I link out a lot, I still feel I could be doing more.  Plus, you know, link whoring.

Do Not Depend Too Much on Links

The flip side of the above is link rot.  While it is a great thing to be able to link to all sorts of supporting material, do not depend on it to carry the weight of your post.  I groan when I see a post that contains a “go read this” link and then offers an opinion that depends on the context of off-site material to carry the post.  Because that link is going to go dead some day, and then that post will make no sense.  I try to keep quotes and context on my own site and link back to their source… like I was writing a real paper or something.  Sometimes I get lazy and don’t, and then a link goes dead and I kick myself for it.

Do Not Take Things Too Seriously

Yourself included, unless you plan to make this your profession.  It is only a blog.  Blogs are a dime a dozen, and for each one that is against some aspect of online games, you can find another that is completely in favor of it.   So if you reach a point where you find yourself taking game companies to task because they do not listen to your advice… and you are not actually in the industry but just some person on the internet… you’ve probably gone too far.

Headlines Can Be a Lot of Fun

Even now, somebody is probably trying to figure out what lies my parents told me.  Other than the usual ones… Santa, the Easter Bunny, the impact of swallowing watermelon seeds, and the existence of El Segundo…  I cannot recall any huge, earth shattering lies.  But they might still be holding out on me.

8 thoughts on “NBI – Spurious Blogging Tips and Lies My Parents Told Me

  1. Rohan

    I don’t agree with your Organize section. Automatic search is more powerful than manual categorization. Tagging can miss posts, or cause a lot of work when you introduce a new tag.

    Simply searching for the tag text probably brings up the same posts, and is far more flexible and powerful.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Rohan – The automatic search works if you can find the right term. However, when you start searching a WoW focused blog for a WoW related post using about a common MMO function, search can fail you just as badly if not worse than tags.

    For example, if you want to see just posts for our regular instance group, which has played multiple games, I have a category for it and you can select that from a drop down on the side bar.

    And why you reject tags and categories (WordPress has those two as concepts) as a tool? Wouldn’t more ways to find things be better than less? Yes, I wish the tool was stronger. I wish I could select a tag or category and then search on that subset. I suspect we’ll get there some day.

    Anyway, as I said, it is something that works for me, and I am one of those people who gets all excited in stationary stores when confronted by all the different ways to sort and organize things. So clearly I am biased in favor of such things.

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  3. bhagpuss

    My mother once told me, when I pointed at a sewage plant and asked her what it was, that it was where they made the bread.

    I am pretty sure if I ask her about this she will disclaim all knowledge. And now i come to think of it, I can’t imagine where I would have seen a sewage plant.

    Still happened though.

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  4. mrrx

    Know what you want to write about – truly. Getting the right focus is pretty hard and not to be underestimated. If you vomit forth opinions on everything from how to make carrot soup, to why Obama sucks, and protest the ending of Desperate Housewives, I doubt anyone will read your blog other than random linkages from search engines.

    I keep getting tempted to post about things outside of gaming. Thanks for validating my thoughts that it’s a bad idea.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @mrrx – Know your topic is good, though I might even step back and say just be honest with people about your depth of knowledge with the topic. People are pretty forgiving if you expose your ignorance honestly. At least they have been with me.

    @Rohan – And, as an adjunct my previous statement, I would add that part of my organization process is to link back to past posts on the same subject so as to create a web of commonality in something that might otherwise be a small sub-topic.

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  6. Rohan

    I don’t know. In my opinion, tagging adds clutter, looks bad, and is invariably incomplete. A strong search option is cleaner and more accurate.

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  7. Rohan

    Yeah, you’re right about that, they are ugly. I’m not sure I’m going to continue with that experiment/idea.

    That was mostly for titles that weren’t game specific, but did apply to a single game. The better route might have been incorporating the game into the title where the title doesn’t stand on it’s own.

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