The whole idea behind the Newbie Blogger Initiative is for the sponsors (there is about 80 of us I think – see a list here) to both enthuse those thinking about starting their own blog and offer advice and guidance to get the going. I’m not sure I’m the best person to do the second half of that but hey ho, I’ll give it a try eh? 🙂
As far as I can see there are two types of bloggers, those who are looking to become professional writers and those, like me, who just do this for fun. If you want to start a blog with an eye on becoming part of the gaming journalism fraternity then the Newbie Blogger Initiative is perfect for you because there are sponsors there, like Justin of Bio Break, who can advise you on how they managed it and what routes you could take. If, on the other hand, you are looking to use your blog to write about all manner of fun and silliness then stick around, I have a Ph.D. in writing nonsense 🙂
Which blogging platform to choose?
I chose WordPress as it is simply the best I’ve found so far. Blogger was too fiddly and LiveJournal was a strange walled garden. WP offers a hugely powerful tool for free that is simple to use and great for allowing readers to interact with. They have a pretty good mobile app too 🙂 In the end it’s going to be down to your own tastes but the number one thing I think you should look for is ease of interaction because you want your readers to see you posts and then be able to comment on them, don’t you?
What to write about?
Anything, everything and whatever the hell you like, the only rule is love what you write otherwise your readers will be just as bored as you are. Write in your voice about what you find interesting and you will bring readers along with you. For me this means my thoughts on the games I play, silly stuff, bad puns, occasional rants and quite a smattering of mild filth & swearing. For you, well that’s up to you 🙂
What not to write about?
Ha! If I knew that… Seriously though I would steer away from easy, trolling posts because, well, they are just very dull to read.
How often should you post?
If you are aiming for a career in writing you need to be writing much and often. Look at the output over on Contains Moderate Peril – Roger puts out a good stream of well written posts whereas an amateur like me only really posts in splurges. Whatever you do never feel stressed to post but try and keep something turning over on your blog because nothing kills your readership more than a blog with no new posts. Dry & busy periods are the perfect time to hit youtube and post something silly 🙂
Should you encourage & answer comments?
I find that most professional blogs don’t indulge in replying to comments, or at least not often because their writers are busy writing for a living. Freed from such constraints I have the luxury of following my comments and replying. I *love* comments. I blog for my own creative outlet in the main, but I love to chat about posts and ideas with people who take the time to comment.
How to get noticed…
I can only speak as an amateur here but but I’ve found there are lots of ways to get known and read. Mostly you need to read other people’s blogs, add them to your blogroll & comment on their posts and then people will start adding your blog to their lists and commenting on your posts.. Eventually people will link to a post of yours in their blog and their readers will come over. People will like, tweet & share links to your blog and you’ll start to gain a core of loyal, lovely readers. Or in my case, loyal, lovely and obviously deluded.
That’s simple. Don’t wait. Open a blog now, Write a post and tweet it out with a hashtag so people can find it. Find other people’s blogs and link to them, comment on them, start building links that will lead people back to you and then keep posting. Once you start is become addictive!
Most of all, just have fun – it’s only blogging after all 😀