If you read many MMO blogs, you’ll see this logo popping up a lot during May because the gorgeous Syp (of Biobreak and Massively fame) is organising a whole month worth of new blogger initiatives (NBI) to encourage new bloggers to throw down with the rest of us!
There are at least 70 other blogs supporting the NBI, and I’ll get a link to the others later in the month so you can check them out. If you are interested, or recently started a blog and want to get involved, there is a bboard where you can sign up here.
We’ll all be aiming to post some articles giving advice to new bloggers – probably including advice we wish we’d had such as ‘never offer to buy the first round’ and ‘don’t go to bed with your boots on.’ If there is anything in particular you’d like words of wisdom on from me, feel free to suggest in comments. (Don’t ask about how to make money from blogs, I’ve never tried to do that so I’m the wrong person to ask!) And we’ll be spreading some link love.
So if you’ve always wondered about blogging about games, whether it’s one particular game that you love, one that you’re really looking forwards to, or general squeeing or ranting about games you love/hate, there has never been a better time to get started.
Why blog, and how I got started?
Blogging is a great hobby. You get to practice your writing, polish up your editing skills, spend lots of time thinking and writing about your favourite hobby, and make new friends. That latter may sound odd, but after you have been knocking around the blogosphere for awhile, interacting with other bloggers and writing comments on their posts, you get to know people.
I’ve also found that blogging means I enjoy games more, rather than less. It doesn’t feel like work, instead I think more about the games I play and why I like them. It doesn’t work like that for everyone – some writers find that analysing their games takes the joy away, and if that happens then you can stop any time.
Others find that they love writing guides to their favourite games to encourage new or inexperienced players to get involved. MMOs encourage community building and social gaming, even if a player prefers to be solo at all times in the game itself. I’ve seen many keen and insightful commenters who play solo, where I’d reckon that interacting with the bloggers is part of the social gaming experience.
And the other great thing about blogging is that instead of bothering the partner/cat/random facebook friends with details about your screenshots, character and the cool stuff that happened in game, you can talk to readers who are actually interested :)
The first MMO blog I wrote was about Warhammer Online, which was called The Book of Grudges (an inspired name, I still think) – my sister, Arbitrary, thought of it and co-wrote the blog with me. We started it during the hype cycle for WAR and stopped soon after the game went live. I still have a soft spot for WAR, whatever it’s issues, we had a lot of fun playing it. We didn’t really have a blogging strategy, just we both posted short posts whenever we thought of something to say. This resulted in a blog which had loads and loads of short updates, BoingBoing style, which seemed to be entertaining for people. WAR also had a great blogging community and we threw ourselves into it, and many of the other WAR bloggers who got started during that time are still going now.
After that, I took a break for a few months, started playing WoW since Wrath had just come out, but I missed blogging. I did think hard about starting again on a new blog because it meant starting from scratch again with no readers. But this time I knew I didn’t want to focus on just one game, so I did it anyway! I knew that the WoW blogosphere was huge and unlikely to want much to do with me, but I figured “Hey, why not?” even if just me and Arb and a few old WAR blogging friends read, it’s something to do.
One of the nutty things I did when I was first getting started was write a polite rant about something one of the big WoW bloggers had written. If you read that post, you can see how my writing style has improved since then. But the thing which blew me away was that Matticus linked to me in his blog as part of a summary of reactions to his post, and replied. I wasn’t expecting him to even notice, I was just a two-bit blogger. But some of his readers came to check out the link and before you knew it, I had COMMENTS! (!)
So the WoW bloggers weren’t such an intimidating bunch after all. And this is what you’ll find with gaming bloggers in general, we do like to interact with new voices even when they disagree with us.
So you want to get started!
I’m not going to post a newbie’s guide to blogging right now, but the first thing to do is decide which platform you want to use. WordPress or Blogger are the main platforms people are using at the moment. I like WordPress, which is where this blog is located.
Blogger (it’s part of google so you can log in using your google account)
If you use Windows, I’d also recommend Windows Livewriter as a blog writing tool, although both WordPress and Blogger let you type your post straight into an online editor.
I also recommend reading other blogs, for two reasons. Firstly they’ll give you an idea what people are writing about, and secondly writing comments on other blogs and interacting that way will be one way to get involved and have larger blogs post links to you. Most bloggers have a blogroll to the side of their posts, mine is on the right hand side, which is a good way to start reading around.
And go sign up on http://nbihq.freeforums.org/index.php if you’d like to get involved, there will be a lot of advice and linkage around this month. Take advantage of it!