Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

7 May, 2012

NBI: What makes your blog special
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:53 PM
(This post has been viewed 3736 times.)

Rawr! It's a dragon!

I'm going to claim that I'm fashionably late to the Newbie Blogger Initiative. To be fair, I've been busy. So, I'm going to cheat a bit, ignore the rules, and jump right into offering advice. :)

So, what does make your blog special?

Why blogging is important

The first question you might ask is why blog? In this age of Twitter, Facebook, and even Google+ who nobody but us really awesome people use, it seems blogs are an outdated medium. I think it's a fair question.

To me, there are two main reasons. The first is community. I think Tesh really nails it that there's a feeling of camaraderie between bloggers. I've met a lot of people at conferences and conventions mostly by virtue of being a blogger. I've exchanged a number of emails with Tesh directly, in fact, mostly because we were both bloggers.

The other major reason is permanence. Want to know what I've written about permadeath? It's easier to use the search box over to the left there than to search through the detritus I've left on Twitter. A lot of social networks seem transitory; I don't have control over them as much as I have control over my own blog on this site. Google+ might shut down tomorrow, but my blog will remain online as long as I have any say over it.

My advice for newbie bloggers

So, what advice to I have for people who want to follow in the illustrious footsteps of existing bloggers? Find your own voice. Sounds cheezily generic, but it's true. I'm not the fairy godfather who can help you find your voice, unfortunately. The best I can do is describe what I've done.

The first unique element is who I am: I'm an MMO blogger, but I'm also an MMO developer. I'm also an avid MMO player, so I've seen things from all angles. I believe that a lot of people have come to my blog in order to get my insight because I'm a developer and I write from that perspective most of the time. I have a hint of why some decisions are made; although I rarely have any special insider information, I do have insight to share to give a glimpse from behind the curtain.

The second thing relates to what I said above about permanence: I treat my blog as a serious repository of information. When I write a blog entry, I do so with care. When I write about a topic, I always go back and use that search function to find out any related topics. I take care to link back to previous posts, so that I can show some context. Maybe my opinion has changed, maybe something important has come up since then. I take particular pride in all my older post as I view them as important. It's one reason why, no matter how much I might use Twitter or Google+ for a while, I still come back and post on my blog. Anything I see as truly worth saying I say on here.

The third is my style of writing. I try to be conversational. I try to be a little funny; stuffy, formal writing about MMOs would be boring. I also try to be smart; I enjoy writing and try to play around with words a bit. I like to think that all these factors make my blog entries fun to read.

Fourth, I love interacting with people. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the comments are my favorite part of my site. I know what I'll say, but it's the insightful comments that really make posting worthwhile. I usually try to end my entries with a question to spur discussion. I take time to respond to most comments people post, if I have time. It takes more time, but it makes the site so much more useful for me, and I hope for others.

Why not have fun?

My last bit of advice: don't sweat about how often you post. Many times newbie bloggers will post frequently at first as their ideas come out in a rush. Pace yourself, because eventually that rush will not come quite so freely. But, once the rush slows happens it's not time to panic. At one time people did visit sites from a list of bookmarks or from memory, and sites that didn't update got ignored. But, these days pretty much any serious blog reader will use an RSS reader. Even after weeks of silence, a single post with light up RSS readers. So, don't be afraid your site is dead if you can't post as frequently as you once did. Hell, if slow posting killed sites, my irregular posting schedule would have killed my site long ago. :)

In the end, you probably blog because it sounds fun. So, don't forget to have fun. Write what you want, find your voice, find your audience, and enjoy yourself. Is there much more you can expect from life?

What do you think? What makes a good blog? What keeps you coming back to a site? Why haven't you donated to the Storybricks Kickstarter project yet? (Okay, you knew I had to sneak that in here somewhere.... ;)

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23 Comments »

  1. It's fun when email conversations sprout up, too. It's nice to have the chance to dig into topics with a bit more specificity that might not really be relevant to the blogs. Those conversations would never happen without the blogs to start things, though.

    Thanks for the link, and reminding me I need to write up a Storybricks Kickstarter post! Gotta find a way to weave it into the NBI narrative. :)

    Comment by Tesh — 7 May, 2012 @ 2:02 PM

  2. I agree with all of that, as I generally agree with most Psychochild posts.

    I was part of an apazine scene for many years. Apazines are kind of an offline version of blogs. A group of people, thirty in the case of my main apa, each produces a printed zine, sends it to a central mailer who collates them all and sends one copy of all 30 to each member. Each zine has "mailing comments" in which members say what they thought of all the zines in the previous mailing. It's blogging with time dilation.

    Any of my apazines, and I wrote and compiled scores of them, contained the equivalent of a dozen blog posts. Sometimes much more. I was used to writing very long form. Blogging is to apazines what tweeting is to blogging. Another difference is that maybe 25% of the members of my main apa were close personal friends and I had met virtually all the other members in person. Once a year we had an AGM which lasted all day and most members attended. Nevertheless, despite major differences blogging feels quite similar. I often feel like I'm just writing a few notes towards an article when I post and I've never met another MMO blogger, yet a good portion of the satisfaction of self-expression remains and I do feel a real sense of community with other bloggers.

    I've been slightly concerned at the NBI's emphasis on traffic. To me, the point of blogging is to write for myself. Wilhelm at TAGN, another blogger with whom I am usually in sympathy, sometimes says he blogs to keep a record of what he's done so he can come back and remind himself later. I always wished I'd kept a diary but I never could. Blogging for me is primarily about self-expression, then about historical record, thirdly about community and only fourthly about seeking an audience.

    Write to please yourself is my advice.

    Comment by bhagpuss — 7 May, 2012 @ 3:03 PM

  3. I just sit here nodding at everything you say. But I know you, like me, like to get a little vocal comment once in a while, so I'll post one here, just to let you know I'm still here and listening, still a part of the community, even if my attention nowadays more is directed towards movies than towards games. You never know though. Things may change and a little part of me will always remain pink and pigtailed. There are some voices out there that I never will forget and yours is one of them.

    I'm glad to see all this reaching out to new bloggers going on here but it makes me wonder a little bit at what happened to Blog Azeroth? Wasn't that much about this very thing? Anyway: the more, the merrier. We move in circles and things come back over and over again - the same but not quite the same, since the people have changed.

    cheers!

    Comment by Jessica — 8 May, 2012 @ 1:47 AM

  4. bhagpuss wrote:
    To me, the point of blogging is to write for myself.

    Sure, but at some point it's nice to have others read and respond. If you just wanted to express yourself, you could just as easily write into a Notepad file and save it to your computer. Putting it online means that you want people to read it and respond.

    But, I do agree that traffic shouldn't be the ultimate goal of a blog. That way lies madness. Finding your own voice and saying what is important to you is definitely the more important aspect.

    Jessica wrote:
    I'm still here and listening

    Thank you. I still miss PPI, and I don't get enough time to really read The Velvet Café often.

    ...what happened to Blog Azeroth?

    I didn't follow that as closely. There are very few single-game blogs I read (with a rather notable exception ;), so I didn't get quite as excited about Blog Azeroth. Given the more global nature of the NBI, I'm more eager to see how it turns out.

    Thanks again for stopping by, Jessica. Do check out Storybricks and let me know what you think!

    Comment by Psychochild — 9 May, 2012 @ 2:34 AM

  5. NBI: It was an accident!

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  6. I had to chuckle about the line that any serious blog-reader has an RSS reader - just because I consider myself a pretty serious blog-reader and don't use an RSS reader. I keep telling myself I should ... but I never get around to it. In the meantime I keep several dozen urls in my head, and "easy routes to get to" several dozen more. ¨

    I don't know if this is because I started reading blogs relatively early in the day - 2001/2 when such tools were not so easily available, or more just because i started back then and am stubborn :)

    Comment by Lewis Maskell — 9 May, 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  7. Eh, I was a long-time holdout. But, then I started using Google Reader. I'm sure Google is now mining my eclectic tastes and making a marketer somewhere cry. ;)

    But, hey, thanks for keeping my blog in your mind. :)

    Comment by Psychochild — 10 May, 2012 @ 12:07 PM

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