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NBI2: Blog Promotion through Unique Identity, Collaboration, and Social Media

September 30, 2013

nbilargeDear Reader,

A lot goes in to making a blog popular.  I suspect it has as much to do with luck and who you know or whose eye you catch as anything else, and of course, regardless of any of that, it takes time – a lot of time.

There are a few things, though, that could help the process.  They won’t necessarily speed it up so much as improve the final outcome as the word of mouth about your blog spreads.  Those three things are having a unique identity, going out of your way to collaborate with others, and utilizing social media to further the reach of your blog.  Each of these take a little more time than just diving right in and writing, but each is worth it alone, and together they can make your blog a very powerful force.

A Unique Identity

Creating a unique identity can really help your blog flourish.  Early on, the “letter” format of my correspondences caught a lot of attention, though, if we’re being honest here, I’m not entirely sure why.  It’s a bit of gimmick, and I stole it from The Perks of Being a Wallflower (before it was a movie) to help encourage a personal, conversational, and somewhat intimate tone for discussion on the blog.  Since then, I’ve heard more about my writing style than the letter format, particularly my use of parentheses as asides.  Both of those elements help distinguish me as me, which helps people feel more personally connected to the blog.  That personal connection brings people back time and again, so you should work to establish your own.

Another way to help define your blog is through coming up with unique topics; I suspect that this is what really first got my blog noticed.  I’m very interested in cognitive science and psychology, but I’m a teacher by trade, and I worked hard early on (perhaps even “peaked” early on, as my most viewed article was within the first month of my blogging) to combine all the interesting tidbits I’d learned and apply them to gaming.

Each of you with your very diverse backgrounds know about unique and interesting topics that are unfamiliar to many of your readers.  As a result, you can bring unique viewpoints to the genre of game writing, and you can generate unique topics that others wouldn’t ever consider.  Make a real effort early on to take whatever personal skills and knowledge you’ve accumulated and think How does this apply to gaming?  What unique viewpoints do I have a result of my background?  What two ideas are out there that others haven’t put together, but I can?

I did this early on with the Johari Window and WoW, the aforementioned “most viewed” post.  The ideas were out there, but no one had thought of putting them together.  Each of you have ideas like that in you, whether you are engineers (look at the structures of your games and talk about their construction), geologists (how do mining nodes compare to the real world?) painters (talk about color palette and meaning in the designer’s choices) or whatever.  Find that interesting angle, and write about it.

Collaboration

Not only should you generate your own interesting topics, but you should also collaborate with others to create group topics about which to write.  This can be accomplished in several ways.  The first is just to read others’ posts and respond to them.  Nothing gets links back in like a great comment or a civil back-and-forth between two bloggers who are linking to one another.  I’d guess that for each time I link to another blogger’s article, I get 3 or 4 new readers, maybe 1 or 2 of which remain.

Beyond just that sort of normal reader response relationship in which many bloggers participate, you can also set up shared topics about which to blog.  There are community sites that already do the work for you, where people suggest topics weekly for you to blog on, such as Blog Azeroth for WoW players.  If you’re getting into one of the next generation of MMOs like TESO or Wildstar and find that there’s no such place, then if you’re of the technical nature, start one yourself!  That alone will help get your name and blog out there.

Additionally, don’t hesitate just to contact other bloggers you know and ask them directly about collaborating.  Most bloggers have their contact information available, and you can set up a project of your own and get others interested through some marketing.  I did that with my Individualism versus Collectivism in MMOs posts; I asked several other bloggers I was familiar with if they’d be interested in approaching the topic from their own points of view, had them invite bloggers they knew, and so forth.  Pretty soon I had a very nice turn out with some very big names, which both helped really promote the conversation as well as get my blog’s name out on other popular sites.

Use Social Media

Lastly, my most general and likely-to-be-repeated-by-others suggestion is to use social media to help promote your blog.  I avoided social media like the plague for a long time (and still do to some extent), but after seeing post after post about using it to promote one’s blog, I finally gave in and began using my mostly-defunct Twitter account (I had only started it to ask some devs questions at PAX) to promote my blog.  It was slow-going at first, but I now suspect that most of my non-feed-reader views come from Twitter, either directly through links (which you can monitor) or from people who come here after they see I’ve put up a new post.

I don’t engage in Facebook or any of those other social media sites; I stick to Twitter, but if you’re already on there (and many of you are), then you should absolutely use it to its full possibility.  You can set up a group for your blog and invite people and put out information that way, or in whatever other ways Facebook can (I wouldn’t really know).

So regardless of your specific game of choice, your background, or your play style, remember that you have a very personal perspective that can be applied in unique and informative way.  Use that as often as you can, and be patient as your collaborations and promotions slowly but surely drive up your viewership.  I won’t happen overnight, but if you keep on keeping on, you’ll get what you want from your blog.

For more information, here’s a link to my last year’s entry in the Newbie Bloggers Initiative: Advice from an Old Bull.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and sending my best wishes to each new blogger!)

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2013 9:43 am

    I don’t think I could ever participate in the twitter-verse. As a teacher and writer, don’t you squirm at the prospect of such restrictions on conversation? You cannot construct an argument on twitter. You are limited to only writing witticisms, and link-spamming.

    As an editor and writer, it makes me sad to see how we have embraced reducing our voices to snippets. You will laugh at this, but twitter makes me morally uncomfortable: people shouldn’t be content with 2-line exchanges, they are able to say and to read much more than that. Our attention-span hasn’t got quite as bad yet.

    Am I condemned to fall behind the times if I don’t pick up these egregious monsters?

    • September 30, 2013 11:31 am

      I’m a teacher and writer (I think..) and I couldn’t disagree more with all of your points. :)
      twitter is what you make of it – it’s wonderful to cut out a small corner for yourself, exchange links with kindred spirits and have short but fun conversations. it brings communities together and has been a source of inspiration to my blogging. I am glad that after resisting for all the wrong reasons, many of which came down to ignorant snobbery, I actually gave it a try myself. twitter is something you need to try and not overthink imo – and teachers should go with the times. ;)

    • September 30, 2013 1:07 pm

      I think Twitter works as an excellent networking and marketing tool, though I personally would chafe at the character restriction. The younger set are very much into social media, and it makes sense to harness the tools they’re familiar with and make it work for themselves.

      For myself, I’m avoiding it for primarily one reason. I’d end up hooked into it 24/7 and have no time for anything else, including blogging and gaming. As such, it wouldn’t work personally for me.

      But I’m glad it does for others, and feel free to keep re-tweeting posts you like on my behalf! :P

    • September 30, 2013 1:21 pm

      Before I can answer, I’d have to know what you mean by “fall behind.” (;
      I agree with many of your most basic points, but I also feel, like Syl and Jeromai do, that there’s more to the medium than just what you’ve described. I think, though, that as later generations grow up without a pre-social media and pre-twitter existence, that there will be unintended consequences of such forms of media, many of which you’ve described in your comment.

      For me, though, I think of Twitter in the way one might think of smoke signals, morse code, telegraphs, or AOL IM. Each one represented a simple way to communicate information over long distances. Twitter’s just the most recent version, and that’s mostly what I use it for. Occasionally, I’ll put up a witticism (though I have few enough that it’s a rare occurrence), but for the most part I just use it to let people know when my posts go up and ask direct questions about this or that.

    • October 2, 2013 3:38 pm

      It’s kind of amazing what you can actually communicate with said restrictions. Writing succinct, yet engaging blurbs (especially for the posts of others) is a fun challenge for me. I have found Twitter to be a full of interesting people with whom I can have fairly meaningful interchanges. Granted, for long-form in-depth posting, G+ and Facebook, and especially your own blog are more appropriate venues. But for getting to know people and promoting your blog, it’s perfect.

  2. September 30, 2013 10:44 am

    I used to write a rather popular Warlock/Shadowpriest blog in the Wrath-era, but I wrote to a rather small audience for almost a year before a random article landed on the front page of WoW.com. One day I logged to WordPress in and saw that I had landed at least 8x the normal traffic and had no idea why.

    Honestly, the article in question wasn’t even that good, but I guess it was unique? “Shadowpriest A-Z”, as it was titled, basically took the alphabet and associated each letter with something Shadowpriest related. D for Dispersion or F for Free HK (since we were so awful in PVP back then), etc.

    With so many WoW blogs floating around online, and very few of them lasting longer than a few months, standing out is key. Whether it’s your writing style, collaborations, podcasts, theorycrafting or RP-related posts, if you plan to stick around for the long haul *and* it’s your goal to expand your reader base, it’s definitely important to network with other bloggers. Just going around to the blogs you enjoy and dropping comments is a great way to draw attention to your own slice of the internet.

    I’ve just recently started blogging about WoW again, but it’s really just a creative outlet for me at the moment. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t mind luring in a few new readers. I have a background in sales and marketing, so using your advice to somehow wrap that in to a blog post is a great idea. It also makes me wish I played a Goblin lol.

    Keep up the great work, Stubborn.

    • September 30, 2013 1:24 pm

      Well, thank you for your kind words. Everything I did here I did as part of the New Blogger Initiative, which you, too, can participate in if you’d like. The icon on the sidebar of my blog will link you right to the boards. With your experience and relaunch, I have no doubt you could bring a lot of perspective to it. Check it out, and see if it’s something you’d be interested in!

      Thanks for the comment!

    • September 30, 2013 1:44 pm

      I’ll definitely give it a look after work today! We have a pretty strict firewall and everything aside from WordPress seems to be locked behind it.

  3. kaleedity permalink*
    October 1, 2013 10:49 am

    Parentheses?! — Alt-0151 m dashes for life!

    I’ve been considering starting a twitch channel where I just hang out and play whatever video game. I’ve been watching Trump stream a bit — one of the more competent Hearthstone streamers — and I’ve watched a ton of saltybet. I wonder if I can come up with something as fun as saltybet, or if I can be as moderately entertaining as trump.

    As an aside, Saltybet.com has got to be one of my favorite things I’ve seen created in years. For the uninitiated, it’s a fancy mod for a twitch.tv site that streams a mostly automated 24/7 stream of Mugen. Mugen is an open source fighting game engine such that anyone can develop and share characters using many kinds of art/animation assets. There’s no requirements for balance or whatever for this sort of thing, and there are apparently tons of Mugen communities that have developed characters for it over the years. This stream takes two random characters from a huge list, lets stream watchers bet fake money on who’s going to win, and then has the two characters, controlled by AI, fight it out. The odds for each character are determined directly by the bets, eg. if a total of $1000 salty bucks are bet on player 1 and $500 are on player 2, you’ll have 2:1 odds. Player 2 betters will receive double of what they put in on winning, while player 1 winners would receive 150% of what they bet if their champion wins.

    This is disturbingly entertaining. Periodically (Thursday night Salty Classics!) the stream owner runs an actual tournament of characters he handpicks, with live tournament brackets and everything. Even though the majority of the normal random matches involve one character absolutely dominating the other, there’s something endearing about watching an extremely powerful version of Dr. Doom lay waste to a personification of Windows 95.

    That aside, maybe I’ll get started by doing something basic like seeing what streaming myself playing the new terraria patch is like. I don’t think I’m going to get into the blogging thing unless it’s directly related to something I’m doing for my day job, but I can get on board with having a twitch channel. I see twitch style streaming and blogging as being two very similar things as far as cultivating an audience goes, and will likely utilize some advice from this post.

    • October 2, 2013 3:42 pm

      I love the em-dash—use it all the time. I even go back and fix old posts with the double dash — when I see them. :D

    • October 2, 2013 3:47 pm

      Hah, WP changed my double dash :P

Trackbacks

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