11 May 2012

#NBIMMO Why and What to Post

Blogging tips and help for new and prospective bloggers! What a great idea! I hesitated to add my own 2 cents, but the nature of blogging is to talk at length whether anyone is listening or not, so...

The point of the Newbie Blogger Initiative, hosted by Syp of Bio Break, is to encourage those thinking about or just starting a blog to do so with style! I think something like this would have helped me to get started, what, a year and a half ago? Dang, it's been a long time. Since I write about WoW, some of this advice will be specific to the game, but hopefully it can be generally useful to anyone interested in blogging!

When I first considered blogging, my thought process was something along the lines of "Man, I have a lot of thoughts about WoW but no one in my immediate circle cares about them! Who will listen to all my feels?" The answer is: the internet will listen! Tell us what you think! What do you care about? Before you pick your site name and register it, you may still struggle with what will become the content of your blog. Fiction? Random thoughts? Artwork like screenshots or drawings? Guides to DPS, transmog, or quests? Anything is okay, even a mix. Especially a mix! Guides take a lot of time and energy to produce, but they don't generate much conversation (unless you make a mistake). I follow guide-style blogs for news and info about my class, but in the end I mostly skim them until I need the information. More personal blogs are what keep me refreshing my reader at work.

Perhaps the most important thing is to write what you want, because you want to, and not because you want internet fame and oodles of money. Sharp writing and savvy networking may bring at least the first, if not the second, but that's not a good reason to start a blog. Write because you have thoughts, stories, opinions, or other creations that you want to publish and point to and say "I made that." Your readership may be small and slow in coming, but if love of creating is what's driving you, you won't care. And one day, young lowbie, you too may be featured on WoW Insider. Or not. But don't get discouraged!!

let's talk about holidays
Content is anything you want it to be. I've read poetry, fiction, and prose, looked at artwork, and listened to original music. If it moves you, write about it! A lot of the motivation to post comes from thoughts that start small but grow into information to be shared. Obscure lore observations, beautiful screenshots, and funny personal experiences all make for good posts. Readers want to learn something new, or find common ground with the writer, or appreciate a good piece of art. What do you want to share?

Find your voice - be it fun and relaxed or polished and formal. How do you feel about emoticons and lolsp34k? Post screenshots, with or without comment. Showcase your personality and style. I was going to say be yourself, but more importantly you should be the you that you want to present to the world. For some that means writing in character, for others a professional detachment, and for others a conversational lightheartedness. Include personal information if you'd like - your readers care about the person behind the URL. Watch your language - or don't. Your choice of slang or expletive contributes to the overall atmosphere of your blog and affects its appeal for different people. Realize that offensive language can, well, offend some readers, and colloquialisms can alienate non-native speakers. (Not that it's stopped me!)

NBI content unedited
Polish your writing. Organize your thoughts with an outline. Add addenda and notes in the margins and arrange everything coherently when you construct the post. Even if you want to publish without editing your ideas, use spell check. Write your post, sit on it for at least a few hours, and reread it for consistency and flow. Consult a dictionary or thesaurus if you need to keep using the same word or can't think of the right one. Get a beta reader to help you look for misspellings, awkward phrasing, or confusing narratives. For fiction, be consistent with verb tense and perspective, and relieve long dialogues with descriptions of each character so the reader doesn't get lost.

Develop a quirk. What makes people remember you? Some bloggers are known for fun quirks like quotations, title themes, or colorful setups. Others are famous for their unique writing style or incredible insight. Still others like myself are just uncontrollably awesome undeniably strange. You can intentionally cultivate something like this or just see where your blogging adventures take you!

yes that's a crying alot
Keep a memo of post ideas that occur to you as you read news or other blogs, play the game, or zone out at work. Take ideas from memes or the Blog Azeroth Shared Topic. Write about current events or deeds from long ago. Write on scraps of paper until you can organize your thoughts at the keyboard. Post tweetable snippets or bearwalls or somewhere in the middle. To me, around 500 words is the perfect amount of post, but that doesn't stop me from reading - or writing - more!

Include screenshots or graphics if you have them and if they're relevant. Crop them to the important bits, and if you have the intestinal fortitude, spruce them up with a (free) image editing software. Graphics can help break up an imposingly long post. You can also keep your paragraphs short and break up sections with headers, or use bold and italics to highlight important points.

If you're inspired by a quest, a news piece, or another post, link to it! The different color of a link creates a unique emphasis, so choose your linked words well! Cite your sources. Those cited may get pingbacks and thus see your commentary, and readers can go to the original content that sparked your brainwave.

scheduling topics
Post regularly to keep your name in people's minds. Pace your posting - even if you churn out multiple posts in one frenzied sitting, polish them and schedule them over a period of days or weeks. Publish hot topic items as close as possible to the issue's debate, holiday information when the holiday is being celebrated, and fill the rest with your less time-sensitive musings. If you are creating a series, post them consecutively and provide links to the rest of your series. Try to keep gaps in an ongoing story short.

Publish or die! Do whatever works to keep you posting - set deadlines or weekly minimums, make a friend pester you to post something, set alarms on your phone or computer to blare horns when it's Friday and you haven't written a thing. Set aside time to write. Give yourself homework. Take the time to arrange those screenshots just so in your post or finally jot down that story that's been wriggling around in your head. Make writing a part of your routine so that it doesn't seem like a chore. A lot of blogs go dark after just a few weeks, so find your motivation and stick to it! We are looking forward to hearing from you :)

Next time: Blog Setup and Community Building, Roundup, Using Screenshots


  1. Wow great advice; I'm bookmarking this to re-read every so often. I think my favorite quote from this has to be:

    "Write because you have thoughts, stories, opinions, or other creations that you want to publish and point to and say "I made that.""

    Well done and thank you. =)

    1. Thanks so much! Here's to blogs becoming personal pinboards for all of our most impressive work :)