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How To Get Your Blog Herded

Just about every week you’ll find a “Blog Herding” feature on gameinformer.com where I highlight a few community blogs that stand out from the pack. These featured blogs are well-written, thoughtful, and do a great job of reflecting the writer’s personality. A lot of you have wondered how I go about choosing blogs for the post, and while I can’t tell you how to write a blog (everyone has their own techniques), I’ve decided to put together a few basic tips on how to stand out from the herd.

Headlines
Stop and consider for a moment how you browse your favorite websites. You’ll scroll through tons of stories and quickly skim headlines to only stop and click on one that draws your interest. Even if it’s on a topic you have no interest in, if the headline is compelling enough, you’ll click to see what’s past the jump (and the content past the jump should be equally compelling as well). The blogs section of GIO is no different. If your headline is simply just trying to start a flamewar, is blatantly misspelled, or says nothing about the topic you’re covering, the post probably won’t get read.

Formatting
I don’t know about you, but whenever I see blocks of text like this…
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…go on and on in one giant paragraph that continues after multiple scrolls down the page, I probably won’t get to the end. Even if your text is sound and you have some great ideas, there’s a good chance people won’t realize that what’s in front of them is a Pulitzer-worthy masterpiece because of eye strain. Relevant images are your friend.

Length
There isn’t a magic number as to how long blogs should be, but one thing I’ve noticed in comments sections of longer posts spanning multiple pages is “I haven’t gotten to finish reading it, but…” You want people to finish reading your blogs. Again, you probably have some great ideas there, but when people are surfing the web, multiple windows are usually open on screen and attention spans are short. If you do want to write a long blog you may either need to read it over and try to make your thoughts as concise as possible (otherwise it may come off as rambling), or if you don’t wish to part with anything, just break it up into a series of posts. Too many blog posts never hurt anyone.

Spell check
Spell check isn’t always your best friend as it won’t catch everything, but use it. I cnat raed somethin dat is mizzpelled, LOLZ. I’ll let a few light mistakes slide, no one is perfect, but just be conscious of your spelling. It’ll make everyone’s eyes and brains much more likely to process your thoughts.

Don’t write a news story and post it as a blog
That’s our job. While it’s great to see that readers are keeping up with the latest news, people would generally much rather read your thoughts on industry goings-on then a rehash of something we’ve already read from multiple sources. A blog is a forum for opinions so if news of studio layoffs or a price hike in Xbox Live drives you mad – write about it.

Comments
One thing I’m grateful for is that GIO by far has some of the most sane and intelligent users I’ve ever come across on a gaming site. Don’t blow it by writing hateful comments on someone’s post. It’s one thing to disagree, which is obviously welcome because it sparks discussion, but be respectful. Flat out attacking someone is not a proactive form of criticism. You’re just driving away a user from the site who may have some fantastic ideas that we’ll never get to read. If a blogger isn’t as skilled as you think you are, give them some advice instead of bashing their form. Everyone can always use help with their writing. Also, if someone writes a bad comment on your piece, don’t engage the enemy. If I did that every time I’ve gotten bad comment – well, I’d be out of a job.

Writing for the write reasons
I ask each week for users to send blogs they think are noteworthy for the herd. And despite popular belief I do read them. However, if I get a message saying something along the lines of “my blog hasn’t gotten any hits, can you feature it?” you’re probably best revising your own work and figuring out why no one will give it a look. If you put the time in and the quality is there it will be obvious and people will read it – myself included. Now if you post some misspelled, three-sentence post that reeks of troll and wonder why no one will read it, just think…would you?

Truth be told getting hits has nothing to do with me or Blog Herding. If you’re a regular blogger on the site (we have quite a few of those) you’re slowly building your own notoriety. You only get better with practice so if you’re consistently publishing polished, thoughtful work people will keep coming back. Before you know it people will click on your stories, not because of what it is, but because you wrote it. And even though Blog Herding is great to get your name out there, it doesn’t hurt to plug the work you’re proud of on social networking sites.

That about wraps it up. These mini tips may or may not help, but the best advice I can give is if you want to figure out how a good blog is written, read the blogs of people whose work you admire for inspiration. If anyone wants to share a few tips in the comments section, I’ll gladly update this post. For more insight, check out fellow GIO user Saint’s tips as well.

Happy blogging!

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