Promote your gaming blog here… Well, not here…

When Syp ran the Newbie Blogging Initiative last year Roger from Contains Moderate Peril had the very good idea of starting a blog to aggregate posts from anyone who wanted to add their blog feed to it. And all for free! Told you it was a good idea 🙂

Why not head over to The Gaming Blog Nexus and add yours (for free!) so more folks can read your excellent stuff. Go! Go now!

Newbie Blogger Initiative: That was the month that was…

This is it folks, the last day of May and the last day of the rather excellent Newbie Blogger Initiative and after a whole month of posting advice and offering support, what does Syp’s brave experiment have to show for itself? Only an impressively proportioned codpiece full of new blogs, that’s what!

I’ll leave the final word to Syp himself as I’ve copied his post directly below, but let me say that even though I never used the forums (forums really aren’t my thing) I have really enjoyed this drive. Not only do I feel as though I’ve put my experience out there for people to draw upon, but its provided me with a very enjoyable opportunity to re-examine why I blog. So thanks Syp, the Newbie Blogger Initiative was a blast!

Don’t forget that the forums are staying live so you can still visit and take part – just go here: http://nbihq.freeforums.org/ and join up. Also why not take a journey through the huge number of new blogs and sponsor posts that Syp has present (and I have copied) below. And last but not least, why not check of Roger from Contains Moderate Peril’s excellent new post aggregation site here: http://www.gamingblognexus.com/. You can read all of my NBI advice posts under the category “Newbie Blogger Initiative“.

And now, over to Syp 🙂

This is it!  The final NBI link-love list that I’ll be putting out this month.  I promised NBI participants and interested onlookers that I’d be compiling all of the new (and newish/undiscovered) blogs that have emerged this month, as well as all of the terrific advice that seasoned bloggers gave.  Here we go!

New blogs to check out:

Sponsor advice posts:

Newbie Blogging Initiative: How to get noticed…

All kids love log. And all bloggers love attention. I know I do, attention and log. But as a blogger just how do you get noticed? I don’t know why you are asking me but I’ll give it my best shot…

First off write well and often. People don’t follow blogs that are dead or just downright awful. Once people follow you you’ll find at some of them will link to your blog, both in their blogrolls and posts and your readership will slowly increase. But if you are looking to be more proactive than that then here are a few tips I know other blogs have tried (not me, I’m far too lazy):

  • Find a niche, an alternative view point – give people something to think about and they will come back for more.
  • Get a gravatar and use it when you comment – that way you build up recognition and people can follow your comments back to your blog.
  • Join all the forums you can – post there and people will follow your profile back.
  • Look for well known blogs that may want a guest contributor – get a good guest spot and you’ll get known pretty quickly.
  • Syp from Biobreak contacted up all the other cool blogs and interviewed the owners – this is a great idea to both get known and up your readership in all the right circles.

This message was brought to you by the Newbie Blogger Initiative and Dr Burro’s Dept of Log!.

Newbie Blogger Initiative: Is it ever ok to rant?

Oh hell yes, it’s just a matter of context & delivery.If you don’t care about alienating some readers then you can rant to your heart’s content in the shoutiest way possible, but if you want to manage how your online persona is perceived then you need to give real thought to not only when & if but also to how you blow off steam.

If you are passionate about something then it’s a fair bet that you’re going to come up against something that annoys you, some development or event that really rips your knitting. Sometimes even the most patient among us (and I do not count myself as on of these enlightened souls) just reaches a point where a red haze descends and our fingers take on a writing life of their own. When that happens you need to know you balanced on a razor’s edge; on one side lays the deep yawning crevasse of ridicule whilst on the other a cold ocean of lost respect and in both lurk the twin evils of error and libel. Your job, should you chose to walk this fine line, is to get you message across with all the passion you feel whilst at the same time ensuring you are correct, polite and, if possible, amusing. If you can do that then your rant will have been worth it – you will feel better, your readers will have had an amusing post to read and the target of your rant won’t feel you are a loon wanting to call a jihad down upon them.

I’ve had several rants on this blog, mostly about technical difficulties or roleplaying dullards I encountered in Second Life and which conspired to ruin my fun. It’s fair to say that since I left SL and started playing MMOs my ranty nature has calmed down a lot and now my only rant in the last year was expressed in a polite open letter to Turbine about why I was not going to renew my LOTRO subscription. Still, back in the day when I did rant I always tried to make the post funny and never actually attack any game devs personally (after all, they are just regular people too and don’t set out to annoy you personally) and instead directed my criticisms at the company, or the direction the management appeared to be taking it in. My advice is to keep your rants polite and on message because if you throw in personal attacks, drag up other issues and generally construct your rant in the manner of a tinfoil hat wearing loon, you will deserve the derision that is passed back at you.

Of course there is a flip side to ranting – the replies. Not everyone who reads your words will agree and some of them may well be moved to comment that they think you are wrong. What should you do about these? Delete them? Hell no! Look, it may well be your blog and the commenter does not agree with your passionately held view, but as long they are expressing themselves in an equally polite and well constructed manner you should let the comments stand – maybe even reply to them, after all this is how adults behave and how discussions evolve to inform. If you treat those readers who disagree with you with respect and fairness then all of your readers, including those who disagree with you, will respect you all the more. Now if some twunt just posts a reply that is offensive or trolly then delete it & don’t give these people the oxygen of recognition as they will only derail your post and dilute your issues – be bigger than they are*.

This message was brought to you by the Newbie Blogger Initiative & Dr Burro’s educational leaflet entitled “I’m alright. You’re alright. Let’s have a ruddy good rant!”

*Mind you, when some lazy git just takes on of your fun rants and uses it to prove a fatuous point over on their blog, I say it’s ok to have some fun with them. This happened to me when some blooger took one of my SL rants and likened  me to the “Leave Britney Alone!” guy. This annoyed me for many reasons, not least being he didn’t have the nuts to say it to me with a comment**, so I took the *ahem* conversation back to him and a fun time was had by all, even him although he’d never admit it.

** But also because the Britney guy was obviously a set up, a piece of performance art and as such had roughly 1,000 time the validity of my original ranty post. I keep saying it – this is a blog about a game and therefore is as deep as a puddle and as meaningful as daytime TV, something my detractor never really understood.

Newbie Blogger Initiative: Are comments important? Hell yes!

Are comments on your blog important?

Yes. Next question.

What do you mean “Is that it?” You want more? Blimey! You NBIers are a demanding lot!

Look, as far as I’m concerned, right after providing me with a creative outlet/hobby/platform for saying daft things to amuse myself, comments are what blogging is about. Obviously you want people to read your posts otherwise you wouldn’t have written them, but other than a few numbers on a stats page how do you know if people are reading you? Comments! That’s how! You want your readers to be so impressed that they stop whatever they are doing to actually write to you.

So for the love of all that is holy, turn your ruddy comment feature on and make sure anyone can use it (Blogger & Live Journal I’m looking at you – nothing guarantees I will never read a blog again than finding I can’t leave a comment) and reply to them!

Ahhh, replying to comments. Should you, you wonder? You’re busy after all, you have stuff to do, things to write, should you reply to all the comments you get? Well, and this is a personal choice of course, but I would say yes! yes! and double bloody yes! Look, if someone has been good enough to reach out to you, you really owe it to them to say something back, even if it’s a “Thanks for your kind comment!” or “Cheers for that!” Also, unless you are a a huge blog like Massively then the chances are you aren’t going to be inundated with comments so I wouldn’t worry about it taking over your life 🙂 Looking at my stats most posts here never get a single comment and I’d call 2 or 3 on a post a success. Hell, even though I’ve been blogging here for 5 years the single highest commenter has only left a grand total of 56 comments!

If you want my honest opinion, we bloggers should be honoured that people read our scratchings (especially the drivel I offer up!) so the least we can do is say thanks when they leave us a note 🙂

But what to do when a commenter disagrees with you, or is being abusive? Well first off you need to be prepared that if you are posting opinion pieces then you will get people who disagree with your opinions and there is nothing wrong with that – I’m a great believer in allowing such comments through and then replying to them, after all an open dialogue is always a great way to spark debate and that in itself will bring readers to you blog. But if you also attract trolls and idiots who just post crap then feel free to delete it and ignore them – do not take them on because not only is that what they want, but such displays of anger will drive the intelligent readers away from your blog in droves. The golden rule is: Ignore comments at your peril but ignore trolls and idiots at all costs.

As an adjunct to that last point, even though I always advise you always turn your comments on to allow people to interact with you, you must equally always keep some form of moderation in place so that trolls, idiots and spammers can’t just post away with impunity – there is nothing worse than being unable to get online for a day only to come back and find some pillock has spammed a stack of your posts with idiocy and/or filth that has then gone out to any readers following those posts. WordPress has a very powerful but very simple set of moderation functions that help keep my blog free of crap with a combination of ensuring that someone’s first ever comment is held back for my approval as well as comment containing even a single URL is also held back – this way not only can I see that a new commenter isn’t a troll, but I can also intercept any mass Russian lolita pr0n links before they get to my readers. WordPress for the win, I say 🙂

This message was brought to you by the Newbie Blooger Initiative and Dr Burro’s Dept. of Mutual Back Scratching.

Newbie Blogger Initiative: What should you blog about?

An question that every person thinking about blogging asks at some point, I know I did. I started this blog after my previous blog came a natural end – the thing is, that blog had been written specifically to document the home improvements I was undertaking at the time where as this blog was harder to define. I started off telling a story but it quickly began to morph into a destination guide and then moving into the realms of a journal that found its way back towards being a story-based blog once more before finally settling as a hodgepodge of the lot. This is not a blog with a coherent voice, rather they are legion and they are are all, without exception, as dumb as mules and twice as rude.

Now if my experience is to help you, what can you take from the evolution of this blog? Well, first and foremost, whether you chose to roleplay from inside the game or present hard-nosed articles on its development outside, all you need to do is write. If you find you want to change your style then do it. Just keep writing and soon you’ll find where you are happiest. Sure your blog may not be the first with breaking news or have the most original content (I know I don’t, that’s for damn sure) but none of that matters when you find your voice because people won’t come so much to read what you say as how you say it. Say it well and they will come back.

So don’t worry about what to write, just write and write about what you are passionate about and you will enjoy your blog immensely – and so will your your readers!

This message was brought to you by the Newbie Blogger Initiative and Dr Burro’s pamphlet “Feel the fear and write it anyway: 101 tips for making post titles puntastic!”

Newbie Blogger Initiative: How to deal with writer’s block…

If you’re going write, whether for fun or (possible) profit then you are going to face the dreaded Writer’s Block. Sometimes you’re not in the writing mood, sometimes your’re knackered or have too much on in your day to day life. Other times you want to write but nothing pours forth from your fingertips and every word you tap out comes to you like a pine-cone moving through your lower intestine.Sideways. Whatever the reason and whenever it strikes, writer’s block can be a right bastard and no mistake. It robs your hobby of joy (and your working day of its productive reason if blogging helps put food on the table) and can, if it goes on for any period of time, be a worrying thing to experience. If you have it now, then you also have my sympathy – I’m sure you’re rather not have either, but I can only offer so much.

Now there are a metric ton of articles offering advice on writer’s block out there (really – look!) so I won’t waste your time or mine rehashing them. Suffice to say that when the words won’t come then you should take a look at some of these articles – especially if you need food on the table! No, instead I’m going to give you the one piece of advice I’ve always found helpful when I have found myself barely able to type my own name without slipping into a coma. I don’t know where I got this advice from, I like to think a wandering Tibetan monk imparted a nugget of wisdom unto me in my moment of need but we both know that’s not going to be true so I won’t try and pass that off as a likely source. Instead I’ll cut to the chase and say that if you find writing hard, if the posts slow or even stop then the first thing, next and last thing you should do is quite simply this…


That’s right. Do absolutely nothing and then mooch off somewhere to chill.

The muse has left you yes, but she will be back so until then just accept, wait & relax. After all, it’s only blogging. No one is going to die on an operating table, eh? 🙂

This message was brought to you by the Newbie Blogger Initiative and Dr Burro’s Campaign to Chill Out and Live Longer.

Newbie Blogger Initiative: Some great NBI advice from the sponsors

The super talented sponsors over on the Newbie Blogger Initiative forums have been busy posting a metric ton of advice to help all the newbie bloggers out there.

Head over to these posts as well the NBI forum for more great advice and help, and why not show a little newbie love and follow the new blogs – I’m going to read ever one of them and I’ll drop some links for you when I find a post that catches my eye.

Newbie Blogging Initiative: Does Traffic Matter?

No. Yes. No. Maybe. Yes. No. Hope that’s clear.

Look, if you are hoping to take up blogging as a career then yeah, knowing your traffic and how to increase it matters because you’ll want your posts drawing in more readers in order to get noticed and open doors for you. But if like me you’re just blogging for your own personal amusement then as long as someone is reading your posts traffic numbers doesn’t really matter.

I have an average of 40 views a day on this blog which I reckon comes down to between 20 and 30 readers and I’ve had this average for years now. Every now and then a post gets picked up and my daily stats spike, but I doubt I keep many, if any, of the new readers brought in and that is fine with me. I don’t blog to gather readers, I blog to entertain myself, meet folks who like what I do and who hopefully do something similar themselves so I can follow their work.

Of course this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be interested in your traffic – maybe you want to mine the stats (1) in a way I don’t (I look at my blog stats every couple of days but only out of curiosity rather than a desire to analyse and capture the ephemeral ‘something’ that makes one post work and another not) and that is fine, I just don’t want you getting hung up on the numbers. Popularity is an illusion and internet traffic doubly so.

(1) WordPress has an amazing toolset for analysing your blog stats, links and followers. Just another reason to fly WordPress 🙂

Newbie Blogger Initiative: Some advice on blogging…

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.

What next?

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 😀