The Blog on the Blog
While this blog doesn’t have a massive following, I know that there have been a few people who follow it and a few of the entries have been quite popular. Over the past few months, we’ve simultaneously moved house with a four-month-old baby in a pandemic while self-fulfilling one Kickstarter and launching another one. Just to say, I couldn’t recommend doing them all at once if you could at all avoid it. It meant that something had to give and, in this case, it was the blog, so I took a little break from posting. Now that the majority of those elements have settled down a little bit (one Kickstarter has ended and the other completed fulfillment. The baby is still a baby.) its time to get back to posting. Having been away from the blog for a little while caused me to think about it some and with that I thought that with a little bit of distance a blog about blogging would be a good one to swing back in on. So, here are a few tips about writing a useful blog.
Become the guy
Two of our blog categories have considerably more hits than the others. Specifically, the blogs on CE marking and the blogs on designing skirmish miniature games. If you search for CE marking in boardgames we come up in the first page of results, and when we originally posted the first blog in this series it came up even higher, plus, I’m a lot more accessible than the people behind the other entries in that list. I’m a developer and designer on skirmish wargames, for whatever reason there isn’t as much in the way of useful design blogs on those sorts of games as there are boardgames. I have, to some degree, become the go-to guy for advice on CE marking and our Skirmish game blogs are in a fairly low competition field. For a far more effective example, Jamey Stegmaier’s blog originally gained its huge traction as one of the first blogs to give useful advice on friendly fulfillment.
If you’re designing and launching, or attempting to launch, a new game then there are about a hundred things you’re going to need to become an expert on. If you find researching even one of them to be a struggle then that’s something that you can become the go-to person on in your particular area. Your knowledge is hard won, by posting it in a blog you can make it work for you twice over, not only for the reason that you discovered it in the first place, but to drive traffic to your website and bring attention to your games and company.
Controversy doesn’t hurt
Now to preface, I’m not saying to stir things up just for the sake of it, and people are more than capable of coming for you with knives on the internet no matter how polite and reasonable you might be. However, when you share a blog around social media (you should be sharing your blog around social media) it will get more attention the more attention it gets, and people are more inclined to post if they don’t totally agree with you.
Saying controversial things just for the sake of it is a bad idea. If you attract people to your blog by saying things that are flat out stupid then you won’t get people returning to your blog, and you certainly won’t get people trusting your judgement when it comes to designing and releasing games. Most people have at least some opinions that not everyone agrees with though, you might feel the urge to bury those opinions, to avoid controversy and be everyone’s friend. Holding an opinion that not everyone agrees with is human, occasionally admitting to disagreeing with someone will make you more of a full-fledged person to them, if you want to be someone’s friend, occasionally you’ll disagree with them. If you have a controversial or hard to accept opinion, be honest, post it.
Stick to the subject
Controversial is one thing when it relates to issues of design or publishing. If you have opinions about the value of Euro games or the value of trademarking, have at it. Its quite another when it comes to the nature and value of other human beings, the typical areas are known as RSP, religion/race sex and politics. Engaging in these areas can destroy your persona at speed and there really isn’t an upside to doing so.
Be a person
Its great to post blogs about technical information, design diaries and mechanical think pieces, but you’re also a hobbyist, you collect and engage with the sorts of games that your fanbase are interested in. Tell people your story within all those other posts, people will return because of a personal relationship with what you’re saying, so be personal.
Considering that I opened this blog by talking about how I’ve just finished a sudden and prolonged break in posting this is a little hypocritical, but be consistent in your posting. Regular times and styles will help to build up a following.
Don’t be shy
Lastly, share your blog around. If you’re trying to build up a following, you’re going to need to hustle, get it out there and share it wherever you can. I’ve seen people ask if its worth being on various forms of social media. If you are an independent designer and publisher then free social media platforms with millions of users are resources you can’t afford to ignore. You may not personally like or want to use those platforms, but unless you have a major in principle stand to make against them those opinions should be secondary to using them to help draw attention to what you’re doing and grow your audience.