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Veteran Member - Level 13
(Note: there are some odd parts of this blog that are bolded for no reason. For text that's bolded, which isn't a header, that's a glitch, not intent. Said text is stuck in a vortex of bold font, and no amount of editing can change it to regular type)
The Short List - Table of Contents
The starting line: Blogging starts before you write the first character. You're ruminating about ideas, figuring out phrases, and coming up with an argument before you sit down. Here's what you should look for before you begin writing.
As you're writing: These are tips that you should keep in mind as you're writing your blog.
It's published...now what?: You've written your blog, you're possibly a tad tired. You might start worrying about the quality of your blog, how people will respond, and why you have so much bellybutton lint. Here are my tips:
Italic text are additions. Regular text is original writing from a year ago.
As I was perusing my previous published blogs, I saw this one and noticed it's a day less than being exactly one year old. Thus I figured I would try to add to it, what with having another year of experience to draw from. How drastically have my perceptions about blogging changed since posting this tips list? I have no idea, so let's find out.
I've been around for only a year, and compared to the 'elegant eleven' as at least one user has called the top bloggers around here, I'm definitely not at eye level. However, I've had my share of successes and failures on this site to the point where I think I can give bloggers assurances, help, and pointers regarding blogging on this site in particular.
The Starting Line
1. Give a damn
Give a damn about what you're going to write. Fellow members here are not dumb: they can easily tell when you didn't try or didn't care about your blog, and some will be sure to rail you for it. If you care about what you're writing, you'll have the motivation to do some research about it and support your arguments or write your story. Most of the time, if look you at the clock and realize you've sunk in 2+ hours that flew by, you care about what you just wrote.
This one still holds true in my opinion. It doesn't matter if you're arguing against another member's blog, writing something humorous, or playing devil's advocate: if you don't care about what you're writing, your blog will suffer as a result. I've posted a few blogs that I did half-heartedly; these got very few reactions from other people, and the reactions I did get were along the lines of "meh, this blog's alright."
2. How to start
Starting blogs can be tough for me. Sometimes I know what I want to write about, but not how to write it. Whenever I get hung up on the introduction or format of my blogs, I utilize the advanced editor and write an outline. Outlines for blogs are similar to essays: they help you figure out what stuff you do and don't want to write about, and help you lay out where you want to address your main points.
They are also indispensable for figuring out where you want to put sources as well. Blogs that aren't outlined can still be really good; just be sure to read over these more than once before posting, because you'll have to do some paragraph/sentence rearrangement to make your argument flow. Blogs that are outlined take longer to write, as the outline takes as much time to figure out as writing the blog itself. However, taking the extra time to outline your blog before you write it increases the blog's quality dramatically.
As you write the blog, you don't have to worry about drawing connections between points, since you've already done that in your outline. You channel that extra effort into your prose or by looking for other points to add.
3. Blogging and your opinion
Blogging's about statements, not just questions. You can ask questions while blogging, but these questions should branch off of a statement demanding clarification. As a blogger, you're sharing your point of view as a basis for your blog post, not asking a question to all the community without any statement of view from yourself. That's what forums are for. "What is the future of the gaming industry?" by itself is something more for a forum.
But if you answer the question after sharing your own views and takes, you're good. A question alone leads to an awkward and short blog that may end up getting removed from the blogging section. If you're having trouble declaring your own statements, feel free to start out with "I think" and then just launch into a ramble. You'll have to make it pretty and edit out spelling in the end of course. You just don't have to start out with a perfect-looking blog as long as you'll make adjustments worthy of publishing your blog.
I haven't seen very many blogs that ask more questions than they provide answers, so this point needs some re-working. Some newer members on this site think that all they need to do to write a good blog is share their opinion, and leave it at that. While an opinion by itself is technically a blog, what separates the ok from the good and great is how much the writers back up their points. "I think Call of Duty sucks." Ok, cool I guess. Why? When did you start hating Call of Duty? Once you begin answering those questions, backing your answers up with relatively strong points, you're on your way to a quality blog.
4. When to blog
What time you post your blog is also important. People are constantly blogging, and if you want the maximum amount of views, try to find out when most users are online and post only then. If you post too early or too late in the day, not as many people will see your post as it inevitably slides down the blogging section's page. A note here: if you use the advanced editor, set your post's time to when you want it to go online. I'm in the northwest, and it seems to me that most people are online around 2pm-7pm Pacific. This time will vary depending on where you are in the country.
There will be a viewing difference if you post at midnight, when the community is mostly inactive, versus posting mid-day, when everyone's at work on lunch break. Still, blogging at a specific time doesn't change all that much. Most blogs stay on the first page of feed for at least half of a regular day, so it'll be viewed by members even if it's posted earlier in the day, when everyone's going to work.
Whatever you're blogging about, someone's probably already blogged about it. Don't let this stop you though; just be sure you blog about it in a way that hasn't been done to death. Accomplishing this could be as simple as just including your own take on the subject or writing about it in your particular style. Take this blog for example: you can find many Blogging Recommendation threads from bloggers with much more experience than I. If you're a new blogger, don't be deterred from writing your own reviews or takes on the gaming industry. Just know it may be tougher to write a good blog on these topics since they're written about on a daily basis.
This still holds true, and it doesn't seem like that worry is stopping people from writing about a topic someone else has recently done. I'd add that don't be ashamed if you jump on a bandwagon and write a blog about "My Top 10 Favorite Gaming Cleavages" right after someone else posted a blog about it. What? Why are you looking at me that way? No one's written a blog about Top 10 Gaming Cleavages? That's interesting. Something to think about for my next blog...Anywho, don't be afraid to follow the trend, if a certain subject has set it. Writing about Mass Effect 3 when the ending was still getting beaten to death by journalists and the internet was still a lot of fun.
6. Why you blog
Don't try to make your name by writing blogs, which isn't a good way to look at blogging. Good blogs, not writing blogs, will establish your name in the community. So don't worry about the pace at which you blog. Worry about writing good blogs. Don't try to gain renown or fame for yourself by writing once a day; just try to write well and 'be good' at blogging. Take credit for the good blogs you write, and take the heat for writing bad ones.
When you post, tell yourself that you don't care about about what other people will think about it, worry about whether or not it's good enough. This a thin but important distinction to make, as then you'll gain confidence when writing. Don't constantly worry about what people will say about your blog. Worry instead about writing a good blog that you can be proud of, regardless of the feedback.
I agree. There's such talent in the blogging section that if you blog just to get your name out there, to 1up other members, your writing will suffer. Blogging is whatever you make out of it, and if it's a competition to you, best of luck; you're shooting yourself in the foot. Blogging as a passion or past-time is a much more productive way to blog: you don't worry nearly as much about what another person has said in their blog, and how yours will stack up to theirs. Write what comes naturally to you.
7. Difficulty of Blogs
There are different difficulty levels of types of blogs you can write. From my experiences on the site, these are the difficulties
Don't fear bringing blogs back from the grave. With good reason of course. While bumping threads in forums might be taboo, and it would be here as well, bringing a long-dead blog from the grave can be a fun, interesting experience. My writing about my past writing was like talking to myself. And man, was I a snide little...um, well, there may be children reading this (I hope not, considering the "cleavage blog" I mentioned earlier). Back to the topic: looking at and re-working your past blogs isn't a bad idea, if it works. Rummage through them, and maybe you'll find a blog that's about why a game developer sucks. Hey, wait a minute, you love that developer now. Well, why not bring it back and poke holes in your own arguments?
As You're Writing
1. Gaming-related or not?
Don't blog about stuff that isn't gaming related. True, you can post off-topic blogs. Just keep in mind this is GameInformer.com, which is supposed to have a focus on gaming. People generally come here to talk and discuss gaming topics, and if they see something about politics or religion, they'll may your blog annoyed at you.[Thanks Demon]) <--- He's now called Chris Mrvkickvakewika .... I don't think I got that right
Over time, I'd say I've become more lax about the whole "zomg you mentioned something not about gaming in your blog." You can write about whatever the hell you want, as long as it's an interesting, quality blog, and you aren't spamming the forums with your entries. Since this original blog, I've seen plenty of sports, politics, and religion blogs. Hell, I've seen a member rate his recent bowel movement. I think that one got something like 300 views just for the subject matter.
2. Save your work
SAVE YOUR WORK AS YOU'RE WRITING!! I cannot stress this enough. I love GI.com, but I have worked hours on a blog, I think it's perfect and that it's the next big article that'll reinvent the way humanity thinks of its existence in the universe, only to post it and have GI.com tell me it's lost track of the whole thing, and that I have to start from scratch. So save your work! Usually I copy all my current writing and then paste it in Word as I add to it. You may have a more convenient process.
What I realized a while ago was that there are a few kinks in GI.com's programming that do some funky things with your blogs. Most of what would make me lose my blog's progress was if I started to put pictures into the blog by simply copy-and-pasting them in. This'll prompt the site to disregard your blog when you try to publish it, and all your writing will be gone into the ether. Use the 'Insert Image' and 'Insert Video' widget thingies instead of copy-and-pasting the image into the blog.
3. You could always be wrong
Be prepared to be wrong. If you're writing a blog about a controversial topic or arguing for a specific point of view, simply saying "I'm entitled to my opinion" isn't good enough when people tell you need to back it up with facts. So back the heck out of it by finding at least one source for each point of view you have. If you back your points of view up with facts, you have an opinion. If you don't, you have a guess.
That being said, even if you back your stuff up with credible sources, there's always the possibility you're wrong. Accept that as fact if called out on it, as people admire honesty, even though it may hurt your ego while doing it. Don't just roll over at the first sign of adversity, but if they gain the upper hand, throw in the towel ask for their sources. You'll be the better blogger when you admit you're wrong; the person you argued with could become a valuable supporting ally if in a future blog you're trying to stand against arguments and need help.
Also, if you're not prepared to be wrong you'll never come up with something original (a nod here to a lecture by Sir Ken Robinson), and by not admitting you're wrong, you're hurting your chances of growing as a blogger. Honest mistakes are a good thing.
Nothing to add here.
4. The Advanced Editor
Use the advanced blog editor. Beginners and even some more experienced bloggers don't know that it exists and how great it is, but the advanced editor lets you do some neat things. Play around with it, save drafts, manage blogs even down to setting them to when you want them published, along with all the things the simpler blog editor lets you do. You can reach it from the simple editor page.
The advanced editor lets you see where you got views from in each blog, has a graph that shows how many views you've had for that blog over a given amount of time, and the list goes on. Simply put: it's an OCD blogger's paradise if GI.com is your main blogging site.
(Side note: it's been told to me that using the advanced editor decreases overall performance of your computer while it runs. I've got a relatively powerful laptop, so it's worked fine for me. Also, if you post using the advanced editor, your GI.com profile will not recognize that post as a blog and thus won't 'count'. For example, if you post two blogs from GI.com's regular editor, and three from the advanced editor, GI.com will only say you've posted two blogs, even though you've posted five. As far as I can tell, other than the number under your stats table to the right of your profile page, this affects nothing else and your blogs still show up under your profile's blog section. [Thanks Drym])
Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't find on the Advanced Editor where to check where views came from or a table to see quantity of views over time. I don't know if those abilities have been removed. Those tools aside, the Advanced Editor really is cool, and it's still my preferred editor of choice compared to the simple editor.
There are just so many additional ways I can tailor when and what I want to be seen on each individual blog. Say you think of a blog idea in the middle of the day. Keep it in your head and write a few notes in a blog titled how you want it, save it as draft, and access it later when you get some more ideas.
As I mention above, none of the blogs edited using the Advanced Editor register with GameInformer's stat-tracking program. You'll still get points for blogging, and your blogs will still appear on your profile like usual. It's just that GI.com will say you didn't write any blogs, if you use the advanced editor to write your first few.
5. Take Breaks
Try not to blog all in one sitting. Most of the time I write each of my blogs (blogs like this one) in one sitting, and that's something I have to work on. Pressing the 'publish' button right after you finish writing is satisfying and tempting. It's not a bad habit to have necessarily, but it's not the best either. It's always a good idea to come back to your blog a day or so later and look it over again before posting it. You may find you need to make some major changes to make it better. Reading your blog aloud to yourself will also help you fix typos and sentence structure issues, which both count towards making your blog look and sound good, important parts to a good blog.
One year later and I still rarely follow this rule. It does help, however. Just like with outlining your blogs, coming back later prevents you from publishing your blog right away, but you'll catch many grammar and prose problems the second read through. Come back a day or two later to read over it again. Also, blogging can take quite a lot out of you, depending on how long each blog is and how much experience you have writing them. I still feel kinda mentally drained after writing a blog. So take a breath, and come back later when your mind is fresher.
6. Ask for advice from fellow members
Look around the internet for good writing tips. They're everywhere and many are great ideas to understand and use when blogging. Typically blogs take on an essay structure when talking about non-fictional topics, like the gaming industry. When writing stories, look around for story-writing tips; the same would go for debates and interviews. Or simply just ask a fellow blogger what they typically do to make their blog look and read well.
Kissing up to them a bit could help you in the long run. Yes, brown-nosing is despicable to many people, but many bloggers love to feel the pride of teaching others. Makes them feel important (of course I'm too humble to even consider feeling pride...). Brown-nosing a bit may hurt your image. However, think about what could happen if a big-name blogger on this site starts helping you out on a regular basis and backs your blogs, or recommends them to Blog Herding. Connections are never a bad thing. And if brown-nosing is what it takes, use it carefully and discreetly.
I'd think twice about this advice about brown-nosing, looking at it a year later. While some people might not mind or notice it, a lot of members would get it immediately, and distance themselves a little. As a blogger who wants some tips from fellow members, that's not good. You want to make friends, sure. But don't come across as trying too hard. It's like making friends elsewhere in life: if you are true to your personality, the people who talk to you are the people you'll naturally want to be with, and take advice from.
7. Use pictures and humor
Utilize pictures and humor. Both of these make your blog more pleasing to read. Pictures break up what would be a Great Wall of Text, and injecting the occasional humor breaks the monotony of a long, serious blog. My personal habit when it comes to inserting pictures is to insert them every three or four paragraphs, depending on their size. This ensures that people can mentally take a break from your writing at multiple times during your blog.
A blog without pictures and humor can become intimidating to the reader, as we're not known for our extensive patience. We are, however, understanding. Now to the subject of using humor in blogs. Just know what each blog's balance between serious writing and humorous writing is. A comedic blog has no limit for humor, and a low one for serious matters; vise-versa for more serious blogs. There's a time and place for humor within every blog; you just need to know when and where.
8. Have Fun!
Have fun while doing it, and be an active member in the community! The more you try, the more you'll be rewarded for trying. It's that simple. The more you comment and help other people blog, the friendlier they'll be when you post your own. Enjoy blogging, because if you don't, there's no point in spending multiple hours writing when you simply don't enjoy it.
It's published...now what?
1. Brace for negativity
Negativity is always a possibility. I remember posting my first few blogs absolutely fearful of what kinds of responses I'd get from the community. Each blog is your opinion, thus it's a little part of you opening up to the internet, which can be a scary place in and of itself. The truth is, even if you gave a d@mn about what you just wrote, you may get anywhere between 1-3 negative comments for every ten.
So it's an important lesson to learn: use negativity to your advantage. If people say your jokes need work, your spelling is terrible, and your blog is too hard to read, chances are, they're right. As a blogger, never sit back and say you have nothing to learn from your fellow bloggers and can't improve yourself. And therefore, if you get negative replies to your post, don't necessarily view that as a sign of failure to produce a good blog. I've had a blog that ended up being rated as barely three stars and nearly all of the responses to my thread were disagreements. The blog ended up getting featured in a Blog Herd. I'm still scratching my head about that one.
And there I go bragging about my blogs being herded again. I guess slapping my past self across the face with a glove wasn't enough. *Grabs nearby katana, pauses* naw, that might mess up the supposed laws of the time continuum or something. We'll leave that for later *puts down sword of awesomeness*. Still, subtle bragging or not, past me has another great point. No matter what you write about or what you think about your blog, there's always a solid possibility that people will not agree with you. Names might be thrown, feelings might be hurt, but you've just got to deal with it. You can always try to defend your argument; nothing wrong with that.
2. Blog Herding
Getting your blog on Blog Herding is great, but it doesn't make you God. Believe me, as I've said before, I've still got a long ways to go if I hope to become a well-known and productive blogger. Just look at my most recent stuff: a Sith tribute, Batman short story, and photoshop-ed motivational posters. Yet I've had a few blogs featured.
And don't think you have something to prove if you've already made a few great blogs. Everyone needs a break at some point, and if that includes making terrible posters or boring stories, go for it. Just be sure you know you put your best foot forward. Going back to Blog Herding, if you didn't get your blog featured, don't worry about it. It's not the end of the world, as Annette (and whomever will take her place) is still human and could have simply missed yours.
Getting my blog into Blog Herding doesn't make me God? Considering how many times past-me subtly bragged about getting herded multiple times, I certainly thought I was a blogging God; subconsciously at least. The point I mentioned above ties in with one of my previous tips: don't blog to get your name out there. Similarly, don't blog just to get it Herded, just to get a ton of views, and/or just to start arguments. Write because you want to share your personal interests or opinions on something; not to make waves.
3. Your unique experience
Your experience will be different. All of the advice I give may help you generally, but each blogger writes about different things, has different priorities and habits, and thus will have a different set of experiences. After blogging a few times you may feel you just don't have a handle on it, or blogging's the greatest thing since sliced bread (?). Your experiences will be different from mine, both for worse and for better. You'll have good blogs and blogs that you wish you never ended up publishing. But you're never done improving upon your blogging skills.
If there's one thing I can hope you learn, it's that no blog is finished; it's just 'better'. That being said, it's always good to know when to stop. And if you have something you want to add to an old blog, add to it and resurrect it. You'll develop your own set of habits and tendencies.
"if you have something you want to add to an old blog, add to it and resurrect it." That's some prescience right there. Apparently I was full of myself and could sense the future.
As I stated at the very beginning, I'm by no means on the level of some of the veteran bloggers around this site. So ask them if you want more tips! They're friendly and will be more than willing to give you pointers. Many people have this concept that the GI community expresses animosity towards the newer members, especially new bloggers. I'm not sure where that's based off of, since if anything, I've gotten more heat the more I've blogged, when according to that concept, it's supposed to be the other way around. Don't just post whatever you want; care about what you're writing and the community will give you some slack. As I've recently discovered, it's when you've written quality blogs that people expect you to write great stuff from then on.
GI.com really is friendly towards new faces in the blogging section. The most recent newcomer I've read a blog from made his entire blog on himself, about how he was new, and what games he was looking forward to. His writing got over 200 views in one day. Definitely not bad for the new guy around town. So to those of you who've been apprehensively reading blogs for some time, but haven't been sure about writing a blog, don't worry about it. You won't get your first blog "right," if there really is such a thing as "right." Just write naturally, write what you feel you need to write about.
Thanks for posting this blog. I consider myself a new blogger, so this is really helpful to me and others alike.
Thanks for the tips! I'm just starting out on blogging, and I'm considering my own type of blog. This will greatly help me out, thanks!
All excellent points/suggestions/etc.
Good points man, couldn't said it better myself.
Check your profile comments. There's a present there.
Thanks for the pointers! I'll be sure to keep them in mind.
*thumbs up* You're one of the good ones, fella.
Hey I remember this blog. Nice updated information and very helpful.