The Commandments of Blogging

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.

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Web developer for a Connecticut-based insurance company that's over 200 years old! Also a bicycler, a blogger, a kayaker, and a hunter of bridges.

11 thoughts on “The Commandments of Blogging”

  1. I’ve always approached the whole blogging scene from one direction: It’s my blog and I’ll write whatever the heck I feel like writing at the time. *shrug* I would say the greatest part about blogging is that there are no rules. Be free and open up to whatever audience you choose each and every single time you sit down to write. That’s if you’re truly focused on simply blogging. If the attention turns towards traffic (Which never makes sense to me) then the person needs to create a site that isn’t just a blog but more of a hot-topic or news site. Look at the 1up’s, the Kotaku’s, the Massively’s and the other sites out there that classify themselves as “blogs” but are really just more personal news sites bent for one goal: They want the traffic because they want to generate $$$. How many people go there because they genuinely care what the authors have to say? How many people even know the names of the authors or their alias? Most people just go to read the headlines and get links to go somewhere else. Honestly I like the adventures here at your blog (hope you continue!) and I also like the thought provoking and interesting random facts. Keep it up – everyone.

  2. Rule 1. Have fun. If it’s not fun you better be getting paid for it and then you’re no longer blogging but writing.

    I’m with Keen on the “It’s my blog and I’ll write what I like” but then again, my blog is more of a car crash on the information superhighway than anything else. It was meant to be a gamer blog but, as always, I drifted off topic….

  3. Well, I think I focused a little too much on traffic, since of course I (like most everyone) make no money blogging. I have only stopped posting much about my sisters and kids, because why would anyone not in my family care? And fewer posts about my character’s random accomplishments. Pretty much everything else I write whether or not anyone wants to read them :)

  4. Having just recently started my blog about 2 weeks ago, I waited a week to get some content before I started sending out link requests. After the first wave of requests I received some replies saying my blog was too new, but to try later, most didn’t reply, but a few gladly accepted. I’ve basically been posting on MMORPG related forums and tring to comment on other blogs to get the name out, which brings me to this blog. Hello :) If your interested in exchanging links, please let me know.

  5. I also use Google Analytics which I adore, but my traffic results actually surprised me. If I write about “hey I leveled” – very little traffic (I range on average between 150-300 a day) if I post about anything at all specific, a quest, a zone, a craft, lots of hits. Of course static items like relic gem lists, SoD updates, Shinies, all get lots of hits as well.

    I’ve only ran the analytics for two weeks now, but so far, 37% is direct traffic, and 41% is from search engines, 20% or whatever from refering sites. Not that I really care who reads my site, I actually do post just for myself to experiment with writing skills and feel like I’ve done something aside from EQ2 (even if it is just posting about the game). 75 people subscribe to the feed, which I thought was interesting.

    I’ve never sent out requests to be linked, is it common? I don’t make money from the site (I contemplated putting ads up there and then remembered how much I hate seeing ads on blogs I visit, so why would I add them to mine) I didn’t realize there were rules about posting on other people’s sites either, I just sorta do what I want to do. LoL. Great post.

  6. I have never actually specifically asked to be linked to, but when Cameron Sorden dropped me in a blog redesign, he *did* ask if he’d lost anyone, so I asked for my link back :) I am terrifically happy if someone chooses to link to my blog. It’s like making a new friend!

  7. I post about family when it has something to do with games! You and Jazz are on my blog A LOT. Because when you come over, we game :) Andy is also on a lot, of course…

    But if anyone wants to know how we’re dealing with the family tragedy, or about Matt’s upcoming first birthday, or our Thanksgiving plans in Somerville, do you really think they’re gonna come here to find out? I might have put those things in the blog before, and now I probably wouldn’t. Though if we get Rock Band running up at Hillary’s place, and I get some decent pictures, I might :)

  8. What we need is a family blog, which everyone in our extended families could use. Facebook just doesn’t work well for me, it doesn’t display well at work OR at home, usually it’s just random bits of text and the occasional picture scattered around on the page. And work blocks some parts of it anyway.

    Just a blog, that any family member could post to. Ally might use it, and I know I would, and maybe you and Jazz could… maybe Dawn would. Dunno. I’ll have to think about it. I doubt Andy would, he’s too much into MySpace.

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