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Becoming a WOW blogger and growing the community

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!

Posted in Blog Azeroth, Uncategorized, Written By Lissanna

BA shared topic: Preparing for cataclysm

So, one of the upcoming Blog Azeroth shared topic posts asks about how we are preparing for Cataclysm. Personally, I feel that it’s a little too soon to prepare specifically for some things (ie. future profession leveling). However, it’s not too soon to start preparing for other things.

For example, trying to get achievements completed is a good goal for heading into such a major content change. For example, they announced quite some time ago that weapon skills were being removed. So, few days back, I leveled up my weapon skills to get the achievements that are unlikely to be possible once weapon skills are removed. However, doing those types of achievements are still risky, since they could be removed without being turned into a feat of strength. However, sometimes the risk is worth the fun.

Other types of achievements are things like Ulduar hard mode content that I wasn’t able to previously complete. On Friday, we finally went back and did Mimiron’s Firefighter on 10-man, which was still somewhat challenging (even when we slightly outgear the content). I’m hoping to be able to kill Algalon, and get the Starcaller title. I’m also still hoping to kill the Lich King and get more ICC raiding achievements.

I will also be needing some herloom items to help with leveling up whatever new characters I plan to create. However, I should have plenty of left over badges & such along the way between now and then.

The most important thing, however, is to stay interested & motivated. No matter how small your goals are, having some goals helps keep the content from being too boring.

Also, one of the things I did to prepare for Cataclysm is catching up on some Lore reading. I finished off reading the Stormrage novel so that I would be caught up on that piece of druid-related lore, so that I won’t feel as lost when Cataclysm comes out.

Once Beta starts & Cata is further along in development, I’ll start working on additional goals. However, it’s too soon to know what kind of materials should be stockpiled and saved up for use later, since we don’t know much about the profession changes. Also, as development is further along, we’ll have a better idea of what kind of gear our mains should be gathering up for the 4.0 patch, since all the stats on our gear will be changing.

Although I feel pretty bored most nights when I log into the game, thinking about how to prepare for the next expansion helps give me goals to make the waiting game more fun.

So, what are you doing to prepare for Cataclysm? What are your goals to achieve before the next expansion?

Posted in Achievements, Blog Azeroth, Cataclysm

BA shared topic: Warm fuzzies?

I recently volunteered to help be a moderator at Blog Azeroth, along with a handful of other people. So, now, it’s not just one person burdened with keeping the forum community going, but now there is a whole team of people helping!  It’s nice to see that Phaelia’s BA community keeps growing every day!  If you are a new blogger, you can post in the Introduction forums and then get started on posting about other topics!

One good thing about Blog Azeroth is that there is a weekly shared topic, so that when you get stuck on what to write about, you can choose one of the topics there and do a post for it. One of these topics is on Warm fuzzies from positive random dungeon experiences. Only… not this kind of warm fuzzies:

These two new super adorable plushies just went live in the Blizzard store (with in-game non-combat vanity pet also available when you buy the plushies). However, that’s not the kind of warm fuzzies I’m supposed to be talking about today.

No, instead, he is asking about positive experiences you have in random dungeons, since most people only post about negative experiences they have had.

The most positive experiences I’ve had is running into people I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to run with in-game. I’ve run into several people I knew, and several people recognized me from my blog.

Getting randomly put into a dungeon with people you know from other servers on your battlegroup can be a lot of fun and totally unexpected.

Other than that, positive dungeon experiences seem to not really be that memorable. The best heroic random runs with PUGs tend to be the ones that go smoothly, where nothing out of the ordinary actually happens, and you are going to be unlikely to want to blog about something totally ordinary happening. Instead, people tend to dwell on the negative experiences because they stand out, and actually end up being a deviation from the norm. I think that overall, people have more positive experiences in random dungeons, but all those positive experiences usually don’t get translated into something worth blogging about.

I also tend to do a lot of partial guild runs, where we may pick up 1 or 2 PUG players, rather than having all the other people be PUGs, so my most positive experiences tend to be with my guild members or friends that I’m having fun instancing with. However, since I’ve been running the heroics so frequently for so long, it’s hard to talk about a singular positive event that has been better than the others.

Pugs also tend to not talk to each other much at all, so that makes it particularly hard to have super positive conversations with them. With the exception of people who I recognized, or who recognized me, I haven’t been spending a lot of time talking to the random people from random servers, almost to the point where sometimes I try to talk & start up conversations, which may or may not actually work.  However, for as much as I cry to my guild about not wanting to PUG, I’ve actually had primarily good experiences with PUGs and the random dungeon system. I’m actually really happy that they put in the random dungeon system, and that they made it so easy to get those groups going. I think that’s why I’ve been able to have so many positive experiences that none of them stand out in my mind.

What about you guys? If you are bloggers, you can write about your positive experiences with the dungeon system on your blog and post it on the BA shared topic!

Posted in Blog Azeroth, Druid - General

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