The World of Warcraft community has overall had one of the largest and most active out-of-game communities. This community involves blogging, podcasting, forum posting, theorycrafting, and more! I started posting on the official WOW forums shortly after the game’s initial release. By the release of the Burning Crusade expansion, I had joined the ranks of guide writing. My druid leveling guide, that I took over at the start of Burning Crusade (Summer of 2006, I believe), is my longest-running WOW guide. I didn’t actually start blogging until much more recently, in comparison (early 2009, when Blizzard threatened to shut down the class forums and I needed somewhere to host my guides if that became a reality). While many of you come here to read my guides, I really enjoy reading other people’s blog posts. I can’t do my guide writing without a healthy theorycrafting and blogging community to be part of. So, today I’m going to give some advice to new potential bloggers, to encourage other WOW players to make the leap and start writing!
Why start your own blog?
- To pass along advice and helpful information to people newer to the game than you. To have a place where you can express your own opinions about the game on a space that you control.
- As a new player, it may be helpful to chronicle your own learning and journey so that other people in a similar situation will be encouraged.
- Writing is something required in most professions these days, so getting in the habit of writing and reading WOW blog posts provides skills transferable outside of WOW.
- To become part of the WOW community outside the game and open up new adventures outside of Azeroth.
- In the end, the point is NOT to get “famous” from your writing. The majority of blogs have only a small number of readers, and only a small number of blogs manage to reach the point where they get thousands of views per day. So, the important point that everyone says is that (especially at the beginning), it is important to write for yourself and not for fans. However, if you take an active role in the community at large, you are doing your part in making the game more fun for all.
- As some of the more established bloggers in the WOW community stop posting (e.g., Graylo and others), it is important for new people to come in and take over. So, it really is important to the WOW community as a whole that new people join the blogging community.
How do you get started?
- Phaelia of Resto 4 Life wrote a great introduction to making a WOW blog back in 2008. While some of the links won’t necessarily work anymore, it is a great place to start. There are some things that Phaelia covers that I won’t duplicate here, but there are a few main overlapping topics where I want to share some more specific advice:
- Importantly, you have to pick a theme (though keep it broad enough that you can have some flexibility in your topics). While it is important that your first 10 posts or so really fit into the narrow theme, you really can post whatever you want in your little “home”. However, some consistency in what to expect will increase the probability of people staying on your blog for longer to read similar posts and want to return for more. For example, most of the early Restokin posts were specifically related to resto and moonkin druids. However, over time I have covered lots of different WOW-related topics (some of my non-druid posts have been more popular than my druid posts!).
- You have to pick a title for your blog. It should be something “unique” (so, google search the name you want to choose and see what comes up that could draw traffic away from you – it’s embarrassing to find out that you picked a name that is being used by someone else!). You would want to avoid choosing something too similar to a larger WOW fan site, or related too closely to non-WOW websites. I tried out about 10 different blog names before “restokin” stuck. In my case, the blog name and the domain name is the same, so finding the right domain name that wasn’t taken already was also important for me (and I would recommend buying your own domain name so that other people are less likely to come along after you and steal your preferred name). However, now that I’m playing a mage and not my resto/moonkin druid, the theme and my title don’t actually match what I play in-game anymore (awkward!). However, I noticed that no one actually cares if I write about mage related topics on Restokin sometimes, as long as I still spend time following druid mechanic updates and posting druid-related topics.
- Overall, I would recommend hosting your blog with WordPress. Blogging software has gotten a lot easier and simpler. In general, if you understand enough about computer programming, you can host your own blog using WordPress software (downloaded from WordPress.org). If you aren’t really as familiar with how to do that, you can either learn how – or you can have it hosted by WordPress.com. The main difference between the two is that hosting your own allows for being able to modify anything (fully customizable theme, a broader range of plugins allowing you to have things like mouse-over wowhead or wowdb tooltips for game spells and items). Having it hosted for you means that a lot of the technical back-end things get done for you, instead of having to worry about it yourself, and it may cost you less to have it hosted by someone else, since hosting it yourself requires more money. We pay a lot of money each year for the space that we use to host my blog, my husband’s blog, my guild forums, and other small sites. At the peak of Restokin’s popularity, we had to be able to survive heavy patch-day hit numbers, which has it’s own problems. My husband does all the technical stuff for Restokin, so I just point and complain when stuff is broken.
Once you have your blog, start writing!
- The best way to grow your blog is to write. Choose a set time each week for your post releases at first – consistency really helps to build momentum. When I started here, I was actually putting up one blog post a day. However, even 1 to 2 posts per week is often enough (and now I’ve hit the point where I miss some weeks!). You don’t have to always keep a set schedule, but if your blog has no content, then no one is likely to stick around reading it. So, building momentum in your writing is very important!
- Pay attention to spelling and format! You want to proof-read your posts before you send your writing out into the world.
- Pictures say a thousand words. Thus, it is important to include images on your posts to draw readers’ attention. They can be used to break up text (along with careful use of bolding, bullet points, colored text, and other important formatting tools). However, be careful about copyright problems with some images you find google searching. It is usually better to put in citations to external picture sources (don’t plagiarize other people’s work!), or when in doubt – just stick to using your own in-game screenshots.
- Be honest and avoid plagiarism. You can write about topics that other people write about. However, make sure that you link back to the original source where your topic idea came from (for example, earlier in this post, I linked to Resto 4 Life who wrote a similar topic a number of years ago, and I still send people to read her post from time to time!). However, if you copy and paste huge chunks of text from another site and put your name on it, then all you will do is make enemies. Also, make sure you are truthful and honest (and yourself!) when you are posting (it’s okay to post under your WOW character name, but importantly, don’t misrepresent yourself, like this person, or it will come back to haunt you). You want to be part of a community, so make sure that your work on your site is your own original writing, and make sure you are positive member of your new community!
- Spread the word! Once you have around 5 posts, you can start telling other bloggers about yourself. I’m usually happy to add new druid (and mage!) blogs to my blogroll. However, I’ll often overlook someone who doesn’t have any content other than their introduction post, as I don’t know how relevant the blog is if it has zero content.At around 5 posts, I get a sense of how frequent the blogger is posting and the type of content they are likely to keep writing. Before 5 posts, you can still start sharing your blog with your friends and starting to builds some momentum. You can make a twitter or facebook account to go along with your blog, and start using social media to meet new people who may have similar interests and start driving traffic to your blog. Comment on other bloggers’ posts that have related content. If you join the community, it is much easier for the community to support your blog in return.
You can also join sites like Blog Azeroth to get more blogging help and advice! Also, after you start your blog, you can introduce yourself on Blog Azeroth. Happy blogging! If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments!