RPG Blogging 101: Let’s start at the beginning

So you want to start blogging about tabletop RPGs? Alas that’s easier said than done. Especially in the beginning you have to make a lot of decisions that will shape the future of your blogging career. Luckily blogs are not set into stone, so you can change quite a few things later if you are later unhappy with your initial decisions.

The first thing you should think about is the “why”. Why do you want to blog about roleplaying games? Are you an avid gamer who wants to share the love for the hobby with the world? Are you working on your own game/campaign/etc. and you’re interested in getting feedback from people on the ‘net? Or are you just enjoying writing down your thoughts on the hobby and share them with the world?

Whatever your reasons are think about why you want to blog for a while. Ponder whether this really is what you want to do. This advice might sound silly, but this actually might help you a lot in the long run. Especially when you start blogging out of the wrong reasons. If you are in for the big money you probably should think about a different topic. While I am sure there are guys out there who make some money with their RPG blogs most of us probably put more bucks into it than we get back. But if you’re happy with doing it just for the fun of it, welcome to the club!

The next step is deciding what you want to write about. Do you want to cover just one game system or all of them. Are you focusing on GM advice, play reports, reviews, your own designs or all of the above? This decision is a fairly important one.

Imagine you start out with a blog focused on GM advice for D&D 4th Edition and after a while you decide that D&D 4th Edition is not for you anymore and you run out of ideas for advice posts. In this situation the “why” becomes important again. If the blog is mainly a place where you can collect your thought even such a change is fine. After all your main audience is yourself. But if you want to reach others with your blog you have to move more carefully. Sudden changes in your blog’s direction might alienate your readers. On the other hand you might reach new ones. Whatever happens, you have to be ready to face the consequences.

The next steps
So, you’ve thought about why you want to blog, have decided on a fancy blog title and you are now sure what you want to blog about. Now we have to get a little bit technical and choose the right blogging platform for the job!

There are a lot of different blogging platforms out there. Covering all of them would be beyond the scope of this blog post. When it comes to free blog hosting services I can recommend both Blogger and WordPress. But if you are at least a bit tech-savvy I would recommend a self-hosted solution. Again, there are various pieces of software you can use. Again WordPress comes to mind (which is what I use for Stargazer’s World). Alternatives are Drupal, Serendipity, Moveable Type and many others. Heck, you can even write your blog just using a text editor and your mad HTML skills. Whatever suits your fancy.

Self-hosting usually allows you to more easily install plugins, customize themes and even tweak the software itself if you have the need for it (and the skills to pull it off). On the other hand if you’re mainly interested in writing, a hosted service might be better for you.

The alternative to starting your own blog
Of course not everyone wants to start his own blog. Some people are just interested in writing and don’t want to have all that hassle with managing a blog of their own. In that case, why not join an existing blog as a guest blogger? Working in a team also might take a lot of pressure off your shoulders. And even if you started your own blog, you still should be open to the idea of opening your blog to other writers as well as a later date. There might be a point in your life when you don’t want to run a one-man-show anymore.

That concludes this part of my “RPG Blogging 101” series. Stay tuned for the next part when I give you some advice on how to write a RPG-related blog post.

By the way, if you have any further questions post them below. I will try to answer all your questions directly or if more appropriate cover them in one of the upcoming posts of the series. As always I am also interested in your thought on the subject. So feel free to post your RPG blogging experiences below. Any comment is highly appreciated.