Writing posts is actually the hardest part of running any blog. Everything else up to this point was mostly theoretical or technical stuff, but now we come to what really makes a blog. A nice theme may help grasp a readers attention, a good blogging software might make things easier for you, but if you’re unable to get any posts written your blog has already failed.
The first post
In my opinion it’s ok to have a first post that basically says “Hello, world! Here I am!”. Sit down again and ponder why you wanted to start blogging in the first place and what the topic of your blog is going to be. Then write all of this down. There’s nothing wrong with starting with a “teaser”. It helps you to get in the right mindset and tells new readers what your upcoming posts might be about. And perhaps you can even reuse this post for your about section!
Avoid the dreaded “wall of text”
This was the first mistake I did as a new blogger. My posts looked like walls of text. You should avoid that at all cost! Separate your text into paragraphs and use bolded paragraph headlines if needed. By basically cutting the text into smaller chunks you make it easier for the reader to swallow it and the headlines give the readers an overview of what the post is about without actually reading all of it. Using images also helps to break up the “wall of text” and they also help to attract readers.
Don’t be your worst critic
When I started blogging I was basically my worst critic. You probably can’t believe how many posts I’ve started, edited, scrapped, rewrote and scrapped again, that never saw the light of day. And I am pretty sure some of the posts I’ve scrapped haven’t been that bad in the first place. Remember that the worst enemy of “done” is “perfect”. If you only want to post perfect posts, you will never get anything done.
Don’t be afraid to post something which is not the greatest thing since sliced bread. I am sure a lot of my posts are crap, but that’s ok. The more you write the more you learn. The only way to improve your writing skills is by writing, incorporating reader feedback and writing some more. I’ve found out that some of my best post have been written in one session and I didn’t even reread them before pressing the “Publish” button. Sometimes fire-and-forget is better than editing the post to death.
Categories, tags and all that
It is common to put your blog posts in various categories or attach tags to them. Each blog software makes slightly different uses of categories and tags, some only use one or the other. Using categories and tags not only helps your readers to more easily find posts they are interested in, but it also helps you to find out a lot about where your blog is heading. You might have started out with the idea on posting mainly player advice but after a while you notice that the majority of your posts are in the review category. Sometimes you don’t realize easily that your focus has changed and categories might help getting an overview about what you posted about.
Deciding on what categories to use it alas not that easy. I have to admit that I am not entirely happy with the categories I’ve used so far. The majority of my categories where basically the ones the RPGBN used at the time. Just pick the ones you think appropriate and feel free to add new categories if needed. If you join a blog network check out their category/tag requirements.
Coming up with new posts
I have to admit I have no simple advice to give you here. Coming up with stuff to write about is probably one of the hardest parts of blogging. I sometimes have great ideas under the shower, but showering all day is probably not the way to go. But there are other things you can do to give your creativity a kick start.
Reading other people’s blogs is a good start. Find out what other people are talking about. Sometimes a comment you made on some other person’s blog may actually be a good foundation on a full blog post. Be inspired by what other people write about, join the RPG blogosphere’s discussion and participate in blog carnivals.
And whatever you do, don’t stop playing or at least reading roleplaying games. Roleplaying games are meant to be played and actually playing may give you new ideas for posts. Reviewing games you’ve played or read also help to generate content for your blog.
There are still thousands of things that could be said about the writing of blog posts, but I think I’ll leave it at that. If you have further questions, feel free to post them in the comments below. In the next part of the series I will write about how to attract readers and how to cope with the fact that the RPG blogging field feels pretty saturated right now. So stay tuned!