Blog, Featured, Lunar Guidance, Mailbag
Thelyne of Eonar (US) writes in with the following great question:
My name is Thelyne and I’m a blooming Resto druid from Eonar. I’d like to know how you got this lovely blog started as I’d like to start my own! Thanks!
What an exciting question to be asked! I’m always happy to see new blogs being created, especially by other Druids like myself, and I’m flattered that Thelyne chose to ask me for some advice. Because I think a blog reader is 10x more likely to create their own blog than a non-reader, I thought I’d share step-by-step, the process of creating a blog to show you just how easy and rewarding it can be.
Step 1: Decide on a Focus
This is really important. As enthusiastic as you might be to start writing immediately, it’s helpful if you can first refine what you want your blog to accomplish. There are limitless options to the type of blog you can create. Here are just a few and examples of each:
- Spec/Class Niche: Haelz, Unbearably HoT, Yet Another Warlock Nerf, Parry! Dodge! Spin!
- Guild Leadership/Officership education: Lume the Mad, Chick GM
- Role Niche: ThinkTank, Tank Hard!
- Roleplay: Too Many Annas (though not exclusively), Blogatelle, Need More Rage
- PvP (Mis)adventures: Out of Mana
- One or More of the Above: Big Bear Butt, BigRedKitty
Step 1a: Familiarize Yourself with the Other Players in your Niche
Learn about the other bloggers who write about the same topics you do. Pick out things you like and don’t like to help you refine the plans for your own blog. Take note of their blog titles to avoid stepping on any toes with too similar a name. Familiarizing yourself with your fellow bloggers will also help later on when you’re trying to gain exposure.
Step 1b: Pick a Title
|Don’t get "Trapped" by your title later on!|
Hand-in-hand with your blog’s focus, you will want to choose a title that reflects that focus. Be careful here; if you choose a focus and title that’s super-specific, you may find yourself feeling restricted later on. When I created Resto4Life, for instance, I recognized that — unless I wanted to switch focus to playing a Restoration Shaman — I was pretty much committed to Phaelia. Common inspiration for class or spec-specific blog titles include talents and spells, forum-based pop culture references, and in-game places associated with that class or spec. Don’t name your blog after your character unless you’re relatively certain you won’t be switching mains or renaming them (or are considering a server transfer).
Step 2: Choose a Platform
Focus defined and prospective blog title in hand, you’ll want to pick out a space for your new home. There are several different options for a blogging platform, and I’ll discuss the most common here:
This is Google’s blogging platform. It’s extremely popular among new bloggers due to its ease of use and relative customizability. Many bloggers also already have a Google account, making creating a blog a relatively simple process. Theme selection is relatively limited, but you can customize available themes to your heart’s content. Image uploading can be cumbersome.
This is the company-hosted version of WordPress. Similarly easy to use. There are many different themes available, but once selected, your ability to make changes is extremely limited unless you wish to pay. Extremely limited customization.
This is a downloadable copy of the WordPress blogging platform for use with your own web host. Requires a bit of technical know-how to set up as well as paid web space and a custom domain name. Extremely customizable and flexible with practically unlimited available themes, but much more difficult to use than the previous two options.
It is not uncommon for a blogger to initially create a blog through Blogspot or WordPress.com only to move to a self-hosted option later on when he/she is more certain of her future commitment. Resto4Life actually started out at Blogspot.com before moving to a self-hosted option. (A detailed walkthrough of completing such a migration is available here.)
If you’re pretty certain that you’ll want to be self-hosted eventually but find yourself daunted at the idea of creating a database and completing a WordPress installation yourself, I recommend choosing a web host that includes an automatic install (and upgrades) of WordPress. Resto4Life is hosted with HostMonster.com, who is not only affordable but reliable and includes one-click installs for several packages, including WordPress. They’ll also throw in a free domain registration.
Step 2a: Register a Domain Address (Optional)
This step is optional for those choosing to host their blog through Blogspot.com or WordPress.com, but at $10 or less per year, I recommend it. Having a custom domain name lends a feeling of permanency and can make you easier for readers to find and remember. Just be careful. If you are considering purchasing a domain name, do not search for that domain name unless you are ready to purchase it. There are unscrupulous types that monitor domain searches so they can buy them up and "squat" on them to resell them for higher prices and/or to advertise on them. Also be aware that there have been some cases where squatters will purchase domain names that match the titles of blogs on Blogger or WordPress.com on the possibility that the author will later want to purchase a custom domain.
Help registering a custom domain name is available here.
Note: Many web hosts will include a complimentary domain registration when you choose them as your web host. Be sure to check to see if this feature is included with purchased web space before registering a domain separately.
Step 3: Write, Write, Write!
|The best way to improve
your writing is through
practice… or so I’ve read.
So you have your blog named, hosted, and created. Before you go shouting to the rooftops about your admirable accomplishment, you’ll want to shore up your concept with a few posts. Remember what you’ve learned from others sharing your blogging niche and start sharing your own thoughts. If you get stuck for ideas, you can always choose or pull inspiration from one of the Blog Azeroth Shared Topics to help get the words flowing!
Step 3a: Refine Your Style
This includes the style of your blog as well as the style of your posts. While you might have great things to say and share, if they aren’t in an easily digestible format, it will be difficult to attract and keep readers. There are a million-and-a-half recommendations on this topic, but here are a few of the easiest to implement:
- Avoid critting your readers with a wall of text. Break up huge paragraphs which can be difficult to digest. Use special formatting like bold, italics, and subheadings to make things more readable and organize your thoughts. A couple of examples of blogs that make good use of formatting include Yet Another Warlock Nerf and Parry! Dodge! Spin!
- Include pictures. Try to be consistent with the images you choose, be they in-game screenshots, pictures from the Model Viewer, or stock photography. For some great examples blogs that leverage images to best effect, check out /hug and Too Many Annas!
- Use a spell checker. It’s easy. It’s free. If you use Google Bar, it is that button labeled "Check" at the top of your browser. Firefox users will find spell-check is built in to their browser, as well.
- Categorize or tag your posts to make it easy for readers to find more information on those topics. For help learning about the difference between tags and categories, click here.
- Give your blog a unique personality. Try to make your blog’s aesthetics and writing style speak to its focus so that you’re not only easily identifiable but memorable, too. In the words of Runycat:
Choose a title that will make wayward porn searchers stumble upon your site.
I cannot tell you how many keyword hits I get for " bare ass"
Obviously, this is hyperbole (well, for most people anyway), but you get the idea. Find some way to make your blog stand out from the rest! Great examples of blogs with distinct personality that shines through in every post include Need More Rage, Big Bear Butt, and BigRedKitty.
- Tip from Valenna: Work towards consistency in your posts, speech and tone. If you are in character 100% of the time and you switch out to talk about your real life, your readers are going to jolted. The same applies to the way you write. If you post even-keeled, balanced posts that look at all sides of an issue and then post a rant, your readers will be surprised. Let your readers know what to expect when returning to your blog, and they’ll keep coming back.
Step 3b: Grow Your Blog
|Grow your blog … but
hopefully not into a
rust-colored fern like this one.
Once you’re happy with the content and appearance of your blog, start getting your name out there! Here are a few different ways you can do this:
- Offer to swap links with other blogs within your niche (and, of course, it’s helpful to add a link to the blog in question before asking if they’d be willing to link to you). Druid blogs can request to be added to the World Tree listing here at Resto4Life, a project designed to specifically help new and old blogs increase their exposure.
- If you write on a topic that’s similar to one written by another author, try to incorporate what they’ve already written by providing a brief quote or a link back to their original post. Many blog authors monitor incoming links, and this can be a great way to get some free link love in return.
- Join and participate in Blog Azeroth. Learn from others and share what you’ve experienced. Ask (and answer) questions. Meet other bloggers.
For non WordPress.com bloggers, I recommend Statcounter or — for the more technically savvy — Google Analytics to help you monitor your blog’s growth (WordPress.com includes built-in stats). Try not to get discouraged by slow growth, though. Building a blog takes both time and commitment.
I hope that I’ve been able to show you how easy it is to create your own web presence. I know that it can be daunting when faced with some of the more well-established blogs out there, but we all started somewhere. In fact, I’d like to share a small snippet of a chat conversation I had with Valenna back in March of 2007:
[11:26:07 AM] Phaelia: I would like to blog about being a Resto druid
[11:26:31 AM] Valenna: Make a new blog and call it Resto For Life?
[11:27:00 AM] Phaelia: good idea
[11:28:36 AM] Phaelia: I like that idea a lot.
[11:31:09 AM] Phaelia: resto4life.blogspot.com
Just remember: you’ll never get there without taking the first few steps!
The number of resources available to bloggers is practically endless. For World of Warcraft bloggers, the Blog Azeroth forum is a great repository of knowledge and friendly faces willing to help you with just about anything. Additional recommended resources include:
- Lorelle @ WordPress
Don’t let the title discourage you if you happen to choose Blogger. Lorelle’s has tons of information for bloggers of all types.
The model viewer is a fantastic program that will let you model and take pictures of your character, creatures, and items from within the game. This can be an invaluable resource for creating a consistent style.
- Twisted Nether
A brand new "blogcast" each week featuring interviews with other bloggers. Can be a great way to learn more about the world of blogging!
- News Sources
MMO Champion and WoWInsider are great resources for newly-released information. Just don’t fall into the trap of simply reposting news, though. Include your own commentary and personal take on the info.