Are there any? Are there things you should do (or not do) in your blog? Darren over at Common Sense Gamer was inspired to write about that after getting a random email asking for him to link to a new blog.
And then he asked if there were any other rules. Ten minutes later, I looked up from the tome I was writing on his site and said to myself, hey, isn’t one of those rules to post a SHORT comment on someone else’s blog, and then explain in more depth on your own?
So anyway, here’s what I wrote over there:
Regarding random blogroll requests: A friend emailed me last night and I was glad to add him to my blogroll. But usually I ignore them — though my blog isn’t so popular that getting on the blogroll will help anyone in any real way, but I guess having more links to someone’s stuff helps with some page ranking, if you care about that, in which case, there should be money involved :)
The only people, by the way, who don’t care about their page rankings, are the ones with low page rankings…
Blog rules? Hmmm. Disclose your bias; how’s that one? Blogs are almost entirely subjective, but you see people trying to sound objective, which means they’re being subjective but lying about it. Get it out in the open about where you’re coming from. Luckily, most real games journalism has given up on the whole objective thing, so it should be easier for bloggers to do so as well.
Regular content helps. If you care about traffic at all, you need to post at least daily about something hopefully marginally interesting, or people will stop coming by, fellow bloggers will remove your site from their blogroll (I went a couple of weeks without posting once and my blog was entirely forgotten, and removed from many places… I should email them to get put back… I just felt so horrible about it, though, like I had done something wrong.)
Ever since I installed Google Analytics, I know exactly what sort of posts people like and which they don’t. For instance, nobody cares how my characters are generally doing in EQ2, unless they’re in some new content or something. But generally, if I post that I gained three levels or whatever, nobody will read that. If I talk about my family, only my family reads it. My top article for the last month still is one of the overview ones I did about LotRO, a game I no longer play. The second is the bit I did about the Mythos Beta. The third is the EQ2 vs LotRO screenshot thing I did. So you know what sort of pieces people want you to do, and the question is, how much do you want to change what you talk about in order to get more people to read your blog? Because if nobody reads it, you might as well just scrawl it in the diary you keep locked beneath your pillow.
So that would be another rule. Find out what people want you to write about, and then write stuff like that. If anyone else’s traffic is like mine, an eighth of the people are regular visitors. The rest are split between search engines and referrals. Both depend upon writing something that other people are already wanting to read, so they will find your blog when they look for something, or because someone else thought something you wrote was interesting enough to tell others about.
That brings up the next rule. Write clearly and directly. Get to the point. Follow the rules of writing ANYTHING. State up front what you’re going to say, and then say it, then move on to the next post.
I’m sure they’re lots more… blogs that just post random facts without theme or direction — like mine was at the beginning — are everywhere, and get lost in the noise. Make your blog useful for people looking for a certain kind of blog experience and you’ll be a winner. My blog was instrumental in getting me my current job, though it isn’t in the games industry. In that, it’s already succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.