Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A newbies guide to blogging.


** Image used without permission from http://www.newbiesstarterkit.com/ **

I follow a lot of blogs and it always saddens me when I see one get abandoned, especially if it was a relatively new one that had good stuff on it and showed promise. Now, I know that sometimes people leave the hobby and life can get in the way blogging but I think a lot of it is new bloggers getting disillusioned with their blogs and abandoning them to return to the forums of instant gratification. So, I thought I'd put together a post with a few thoughts and tips, and hopefully it'll encourage you guys that are new to blogging to stay around and stick with it. So, lets start at the beginning.

Why do you want to blog?

I imagine a lot of bloggers are much like me, refugees from the various forums after getting fed up with the various 'personalities' that frequent them, seeking a little place of their own on the interweb thingy. Well, if that's you, then welcome to the club, if not, then you're still welcome. 

If you are, then there's a few things you need to get your head around, blogging and the blogging community are quite different from forums. Blogs arn't like forums, they're yours to do with what you wish which is great but the downside is that they don't come with the instant traffic that the forums provide. You have to work at it, and it takes time, so if you're after that instant hit, stick with the forums, you're not going to get it blogging.

So, what are you going to blog about?

Most commonly, people just blog about their hobby and the bit's of the hobby they most enjoy. For me, it's my guard, my scenery and campaigns, for others it's painting or tactics. It doesn't matter what you blog about as long as you're passionate about it and enjoy sharing that passion. If you're not sure what you're going to blog about, then for the time being, just stick with posting blogs about your mini's. If you've got no mini's, you don't play games and aren't into the tactics or fluff, then what are you doing in this hobby? lol

Now a lot of people start blogging and try to emulate some of the more popular blogs out there. In most cases, it's a mistake. In the case of hobby news, unless you secretly work for the design studio or have photos of Jervis J in a compromising position involving an actress and a bishop, then leave it alone. If you're sourcing your material from other blogs (Bols etc) or sites (GW etc), then there's a good chance that anyone who reads your blog will have already read it on the original and that means they're not going to be interested in rereading it on yours, and so it'll devalue your blog. Feel free to comment on other postings and news, but don't just copy them. The same goes for all the different aspects of the hobby, remember, the blog is yours, so put your thoughts on it, not others.

How often should I blog?

Well, it really depends on how much you've got to blog about. The main thing is to be consistent, personally I try to post twice a week. It's just the right level for me and lets me get the best out of the communities I belong to (more on those later). It's ok if you miss the odd post, life often gets in the way of our hobbies but if you're going to be taking a big break from blogging, then it's a good idea to put up a post just to let your followers and passing visitors know that you haven't abandoned the blog and that you'll be back.

Also, if you're new to blogging, don't make the mistake I made of posting all your stuff as soon as you start. Once you run out, you'll feel pressured to keep posting at that rate and then get disillusioned with your blog when you can't. Save all that stuff for when life gets in the way of your hobby and then you've got something in the bag to post about. I've been blogging since last March and I still haven't posted any pics of my space marine army. 

How do you get visitors to your blog?

The easiest way by far is to get involved in the two main blogging communities out there. First and foremost is From The Warp (All hail the Great Ronissar!) which is a great community of bloggers who support each other and take part in various collaborative posts. After three months of regular blogging, you can then join the Bols Blogging Alliance which is another great source of visitors but lacks the community support of FTW. Both of these bloglists will bring you lots of visitors to your blog.

To get the best out of them, space you posts with at least a day between them to make sure each post gets the maximum exposure. These bloglists only show your latest post and so if you post twice in one day, you won't get any exposure from your first post as it'll disappear when you post your second.

Finally, if you still use forums, make sure you put your blog address in your signature. You won't get a lot of traffic from forums, but unlike the bloglists, your signature will advertise your blog whether you post a blog or not.

On comments and followers ....

'If you blog, they will come', in truth, there's no rhyme or reason to getting comments and followers. I've posted things that I expected to bring in loads of followers and they haven't. Overtime, I've come to realise that it's not about what you post but whether it interests a person as they pass by your blog, and this is something you just don't have any control over. Feel free to post blogs that you think people might find interesting, but don't expect people to like it just because you do.

As long as you keep posting regularly, then they will come in time. If you're after that hit of instant glory, stick with forums because unless you're a golden daemon painter or a tactical genius, you're not going to get it from blogging.

But my stuff ain't good enough ....

Don't ever, ever, ever think that, and if you do, I'll give you a cyber smack around the head. The hobby is about the journey and it doesn't matter what aspect of the hobby it is, we all have something to learn and something to share. Also, remember blogging is actually a two way thing, we've got a great supportive community going, so if you don't think your stuff is good, just ask how you can improve it, the community will be only too glad to help.

Well, that about wraps up this blog, I hope you found it useful. Finally, I'm going to take a bit of my own advice, so guys, what do you reckon? have a missed anything?

Happy blogging!

35 comments:

Karitas said...

Pretty spot on.

I would additionally suggest the use of pictures is quite key.

We're a visually stimulated lot, and even a fairly hastily snapped phne shot is better than nothing.

when we're talking about minis people need to be able to see them.

HuronBH said...

I was going to say pictures but Karitas beat me to it. Even if it is just pick of a chapter badge at the top of the page to set the mood, some visuals are always helpful. In no time you will be creating little Icons to mean this and that, it is a slippery slope.

Also I would suggest being consistent, at least at first. Talk about one army or project and share all the details good or bad. Once you have a few followers switch it up and go with something else (but don't feel you have to wait if you are not having fun with what you are blogging about).

After a while you can start jumping around but in the beginning it right with one or two topics first.

Col. Corbane said...

Excellent points guys, keep 'em coming.

See I told you we all have something to share and something to learn ;-)

Blitzspear said...

I only started this blogging lark to follow Dan Abnetts blog and post the odd comment but that's where i found Dave Taylors blog listed and from there found FTW and you lot;)The point about not doing multiple posts on the same day is one i will have to keep to in future, and i do find myself planning posts in my head now. And joining up at FTW would be a good idea but as my blog is about a 50/50 split between 40k stuff and scratchbuilds made from stuff i find in skips i dont think i'd be allowed in lol. One day posting an IG squad followed the next by a scratch'd anti grav tank followed by a 1/20 sculpt of Hit Girl from Kick Ass might be straying of the 40K theam a bit.
Excellent post btw, Rich

Draz said...

I will definitely be keeping up with the blog posts from now on, life is more stable so no excuses.

Plus, how could I not let the world know that the Imperial Guard once again fell to the might of the warp and all that resides within it? :-D

-Draz.

Admiral Drax said...

Thanks, matey: good thoughts for all.

- Drax.
(NB: not Draz!)

Max said...

Excellent post sirrah. I would also add adding videos for the more adventerous. I just put together my first one today- not terribly hard as most computers have iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. It should hopefully go up tonight, YouTube willing.

*makes the proper signs and blessings on the site's machine spirit*

Admiral Drax said...

Hullo, Max - do you realise 'Sirrah' is an insult?!

RonSaikowski said...

Excellent post.

All very good points.
I agree about the photos, this is a visual hobby and it draws people into your blog. We all love looking at minis.

Another thing I've found is really important are headlines. Make them accurate and descriptive.
Saying something like "This is so cool!" doesn't tell me anything, but "Space Wolf HQ conversion" tells me tons more about your post.

Keep up the good work.

Itkovian said...

I second the HuronBH's comment about sticking to a single or clearly defined goal to start with.

@Colonel: Great post, I'll be linking Just Chris (friend of mine who just joined up) to this. Essential reading for first time bloggers.

@Blitzspear: Are you mad?! You're stuff needs to be seen sir! Get that e-mail over to Ron right now! *cyber whip* :D

Mordian7th said...

Great post, Colonel!

While I've never explicitly stated it on my blog, my main goals for blogging have been to try to post at least once a week, and that every post has to have at least one picture of some variety or another. I'll echo others sentiments that we're a visual bunch and I'll admit that more often than not when confronted with a wall o' text I'll usually just give it a cursory inspection and move on. If there's pictures I'm much more likely to really dig in to the post and comment.

Having a specific focus for the blog is key as well. While my blog was ostensibly focused on the Guard originally, the truth of my hobby style is I veer off into other 40k-based projects willy-nilly. :)

Your blog is one of the most influential and inspirational ones out there as far as I'm concerned, and I do my best to follow your lead! Keep up the great work!

Col. Corbane said...

Excellent points guys, and I'm really chuffed with how the community (you guys) have jumped onboard with this.

Now, do I edit my post to include these great comments and perhaps elaborate on them or just leave them as comment and hope that visitors take the time to read the comments?

The reason I ask is after reading your suggestions, it's given me quite a few extra ideas that I'd like to add and also I don't want your great suggestions to be missed or is doing that bad form?

@Blitz - cyber smack coming your way, get yourself on FTW! Plus, I actually see your scratch building as inspirational.

@Draz - I wasn't actually thinking of you mate when I typed this but I'm glad you're getting back into the blogging lark. Also, my guard have to fall before you can tell the world ..... might be a while cus I'm going to kick your arse! lol

@Max - excellent idea mate, and to all those who've followed me from the start, I will finish those video tutorials I started, the wifes let me back on her pc now, it only took 8 months. Also, 'Sir' is an insult, I work for a living, it's an old army joke mate (wink wink nudge nudge Drax).

@Ronissah - excellent point mate, so simple, so important, so obvious once you pointed it out.

@Itkovian - another excellent point, there's so many blogs that seem to jump from topic to topic, must admit, sometimes I feel I suffer from the same problem.

@Mordian - totally agree mate on all you said, and thanks for the kind comments, you made me blush - lol

Flekkzo said...

Blog because you want to say something, not to get famous. If that is your goal I recommend sleeping with someone already famous and releasing a video. Works wonders:)

I find that if I do something exciting with my hobby, I blog about it. There's a very distinct connection there. A painted model becomes *better* if I get to post a picture on my blog. There's a pride in being able to show something I have done myself.

But even better than that, getting a comment on my blog is awesome. It makes me want to post more. So this is reverse advice, if you find a new little blog and like it: post a comment! A comment is such a much warmer feeling than a view count. My blog has got something like 800 hits (got some map counter thing. Not sure what it really counts) and around 40 posts. But what rocks is getting comments. Go take a look at it and see if it is worth commenting on. You can come back to reading this again later:)

Which brings me to my next point. Read your comments. The guys that reads their comments and replies to them makes their blog a lot friendlier. Like Master Darksol telling me his way of painting wraithbone in five steps. The dude got a killer blog, and is friendly.

Someone who just let's the comments hanging feels a bit more like a diva really.

Also if you have a high volume blog, feel free to promote others that you enjoy in your post and not just in blogrolls. I am starting to get a fairly sizable list of blogs I read, but I can always squeeze in more if they entertain me:)

Alan said...

Spelling isnt really a problem to most bloggers. We all type fast, sometimes we hit the wrong keys, or not hard enough. most of the time the human brain can figure it out.

Its the words you choose to use that matter. This is a modeling/gameing blog group there is no need for any type of profanity, be aware chilren under 18 more than likly visit most of the main 40k/WFB blogs if nothing more than to oooh and aaah over the paint jobs. Do you really think they cant see the four letter words?

Another thing. If you do get on someones blog roll, dont be surprized if your new post doesnt hit for a few hours. Dont get discouraged, just give it some time.

I usually hit FTW and read all the bolgs down to the last group I looked at the last time I was there.

Little Max said...

Boom!

This nails it on the head... I've been out of the blogosphere for about 2 months now and only just remembered about my little fledgeling blog recently.

One other quick comment I might add is don't start up a blog a couple of weeks out of exams or starting a new job like I did haha :P

That being said :) didn't stop me checking out other blogs between study periods :)

Still love this blog!! Always enjoy the content :)

Little Max

Soundwave said...

@Little Max: That's sort of what I did, my poor blog hasn't had a post in a week or so! A week Thursday and I'll be back to it.

Excellent post. Sets out some good guidelines for us newbies. I'd post up the guys comments in the main post so they don't get missed :)

Pictures are my favourite bit of blogging, isn't that sad :P

Menzies Tank said...

Great post Colonel!

I agree that blog burnout can be an issue (as I'm relatively new and furiously posting, have yet to reach that stage, but I dread when it does come) and one should be careful.

With that in mind, one should want to blog, because you like to blog!:)

Darkwing said...

Following on to what Flekkzo said, if you read someone's blog post (or comment) that inspires you to write a post, mention it in your post, even if it's only periperally related. Cross-pollinization and promoting each others' blog posts keeps the community going. And everyone likes to see their blog not only commented on, but mentioned on someone else's blog!

Maverick Collecting said...

Probably unknown to most of you as I don't do much GW stuff (and have an uncomfortable relationship with the 'whole programe'!), but this is one of the best posts I've read in a while.

The real trick is to get started, once you've tried out all the buttons and features and worked out how easy it is you're away.

Big thing is 'Original Content' and Original Copy. Lots of links and quotes don't help at all. I'm up to about 80/100 visits a day which is good for what I'm doing, but I wish more people would click on the links, not something that will interest those who don't have adsence, but for those that do, blogging is a hard way to make $10 a year!!!!

P.S. I WAS one of those 'personalities' on a forum, I'm afraid to say, in my defence it was frustration with certain aspects of forums (and forum users). The endless wish-lists, endless plugging of vague 'mates' products, enless repetition of false rumors, historical inacuracies, right-wing 'flamers' and forum-owners 'favorites' were all targets of my bile. But I was new to the internet (or that aspect of it) and got carried away.

Now I know the forums are not taken seriously in the wider world, I do my blogs (one of which is a rant-page only I follow!!!) and stay out of the forums all together,

An example of synergy - I was lying in the bath the other night thinking someone should do a step-by-step blog on how to blog, using screen captures to explain each page element and how to use/apply it/them?

Blitzspear said...

More great points to remember! i'm going to have to write them down. Thanks Itkovian and Col Corbane, consider me cyber smacked :) I always try to leave a comment even if it's just a "nice job" to let people know that there hard work is not being wasted. Which reminds me that i need to up to discqus on Itkovians blog so i can comment as it wont let me be a guest for some reason. This may be a silly idea but could this not be used as a basis for a how to tip on FTW like a painting tip but for noob bloggers.
Rich

Col. Corbane said...

And as if by magic, a post appears. Ron's adding to the archives mate and welcome to the FTW community.

Dj Batman said...

Hey Corbane,

This post doesn't refer to anyone in particular does it?? *eep*

Along with a few others I have been guilty of this over the end of year break so I'm back and aiming to shoot for at least 2 posts a week. That being said along with the other ideas I always like to see quality over quantity and hence try to post as such and then if you're running a bit behind you can always use one of your "filler" images/projects.

Also I'll agree with the others in that I think Photos are key! Even if it's just an army list of the idea for a new conversion I would recommend posting a related pict to grab a readers attention and to inform them some what as to what the post is about.

And I actually have to disagree with you a bit on leaving at least a day between posts as I would much prefer to come across a blog that has snuck in a few extra posts and as such I am much more likely to check their blog for new posts more often. If you can fit everything into one post then that's better but if you blog in the morning then after a days hobby activity your busting with enthusiasm to show off your new hobby efforts then do so! It's sure to make for a more lively post.

Also I have found being Aussie based means my updates don't appear on BoLS when they should and when they do they are listed as being much later than they actually are due to date stamping so again I'm not too worried about putting out a few extra posts. Happily I never have that issue here or on FTW!

Finally don't be afraid to edit your post if it's layout and such isn't quite right. Since we are so used to looking at websites and design type layouts I always try and spend that extra bit of time after posting to edit my post to catch any mistakes and punctuation problems but more importantly to make sure it reads well and there aren't any gaping holes anywhere :D

Da Masta Cheef said...

Thanks for all the tips & ideas! I've been thinking of starting a mini gaming blog for quite some time now, I this is the impetus I needed to actually try it out for myself.

Just Chris said...

Thanks for the information, I recently started a blog and it's good to see some helpful information.

I already joined FTW and just wanted to say it is probably the best thing you can do.

Thanks again!

Iliana said...

I totally agree with Karitas, that's why I thing photo blogs have so great success

Muskie said...

Hmm, I've probably made over a 1000 blog posts, most of them not about 40K funnily enough. But I finally started a dedicated miniature painting blog with a strong 40K bent and will hopefully be joining FTW soon enough.

I've been at this webpublishing game a long time and the most important words from a search engine and from an end user point of view are the title, specifically what goes between the title tags which for blogging is generally you blog name then the blog title.

Some folks have chosen some dubious or not very distinctive blog titles which probably hearts them more than they know. On the flip side being overly clever or L33T or whatever the kids think they're doing when they butcher the English language won't help you in Google and it likely won't encourage people to click your post title, it'll probably just confuse them.

Having observed From the Warp from afar and having been on the forums for years an in-line picture matters. A picture, especially if you can actually paint well, will entice people to click the link you post above or below the picture in forums and likely encourages people to click on your post on the sidebar of Ron's blog.

I've also taken to using Flickr for finished minis this gives me a bit more Web 2.0 magic and Flickr and WordPress for that matter make my images available in a variety of sizes with unlimited bandwidth. Previously I just hosted everything myself for control but the costs can add up, especially with people always wanting bigger pictures...

WordPress and Flickr do the whole click to see a bigger version well too.

I'm still unsure why Blogger seems to dominate 40K blogs when WordPress to me at least, someone who has used it for half a decade or more is such a superior platform. I've seen newbies take to WordPress well, but From The Warp and most of its members stick with Blogger/Blogspot/Google technologies.

Google bought Blogspot and Blogger, I think WordPress and WordPress.com was built from the getgo better... Take people bragging about having Pages on Blogger now, they had that on WordPress forever... And better still you can have unlimited number and can comment on the pages...

Well enough WordPress evangelism.

Muskie said...

I just wrote a long comment and Google said too long of comment to process. Colour me annoyed and doubly glad I'm using WordPress instead of blogger...

Josh_theMexican said...

Thanks for the post. I've literally just started my blog, and this post helped confirm my strategy for going about running it. You implied you made some mistakes, and it's good to hear that you can make mistakes early on and still have a good blog in time.

Warflake said...

This is super helpful! I've just started so this is sending me on my way. Thanks so much.

Darkenedsquire said...

Will have to keep this is mind I used to have a habit of blogging every day at least once a day and I realise now that keeping posts spread out is much better for the readers and easier on the soul. Agreed about the FTW guys they are excellent people to get involved with.

Matthew Beavis said...

Thanks for the helpful info Colonel!

I'll stick to weekly for now as I'm a very slow painter! Drop me a comment now and then eh ;)

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