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Much like podcasting, I get a lot of questions about how to get started blogging. I’ve been answering the question so often that I figured a post on the subject would be helpful.
Blogging has been super rewarding for me in more ways than one. I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of writing these posts, it generates a little income through Patreon, it showcases my work (and helps me get writing gigs), and it gives me an excuse to write regularly, which has vastly improved my skills over the last five years. Seriously. Go back and look at some old posts. Actually don’t!
Writing and maintaining a blog is a lot of work, no matter your chosen topic. Many people start then stop after a few posts because they didn’t realize the work involved. Let me share my wisdom to help!
Step 1. What’s Your Name and Idea?
Before you start blogging you are going to need a site to post your writing and that place needs a name. You should also know what you want to write about, be it reviews of tabletop RPGs, an original world you are creating, or the outdated use of boxed text in RPGs. It’s best if your blog name at least gives people an idea of what you’re writing about. (Don’t call your blog The Gnoll Hole if you never plan to write about gnolls.) Come up with a few name ideas, and research each. Someone might already have a website with the name you want, so it is good to have backups to avoid brand confusion and possible legal troubles.
Step 2. Find Your Host
Where will your blog live? Many people use sites like WordPress or Blogger that are specifically made for blogging and have a lot of features and templates for your various blog needs. They’re easy to use. You can often get started for free on these sites and later pay to get a custom URL and some more customizable features. I got my start with WordPress and still use many of its features (though I have since worked with Ryan Hennesy to make this custom, beautiful site).
You can also use sites like Squarespace or Wix to build more custom websites, which include blog pages. These sites often allow for more customization off-the-bat, but you’ll have to pay. This can be a significant investment for something you may not be sure is for you.
Step 3. Build Your Site
Once you have your host, you have to build your site. This could be as simple as selecting a theme or color scheme, or as advanced as creating (or commissioning) an original logo and building a website from scratch. If you’re just starting out blogging, I recommend going the simple route. You can always get fancy later!
Step 4. Write and Edit Several Posts
Before you officially launch your blog it’s a good idea to have several blog posts ready to publish. This will put you ahead of the game and stay on schedule when you get sick or life gets too busy. I recommend having at least four blog posts ready to go before you publish your first post.
I plan posts in outline form, then write, and then read them aloud as I edit. I also run a spell check after this. Even then typos get through sometimes. Don’t sweat it when they do, but go back and fix them ASAP when you (or a reader) catches them. It’s not a bad idea to have a friend look at the posts before you publish to give you feedback. Be sure to bake them cookies or something!
Step 5. Attach an Image to Each Post
Social media posts have more engagement when they have an image to go with them, and your blog will look better with some pictures. You can use Creative Commons to find some awesome images (or buy stock art on sites like DriveThruRPG). Be sure to read art licenses before you post pictures and properly credit the images on your site. You’ll save yourself time and grief if you do this, plus it’s the right thing to do!
Step 6. Make a Schedule
Now that you have a few blog posts under your belt, you have an understanding of how long it takes you to write a post. Creating a lot of content is great, but it’s more important for you to put out posts on a consistent basis that works for your schedule. Yes, a blog post every day can bring viewers to your site, but for many folks that schedule is unsustainable. Take it from me, once a week can be a struggle sometimes with work, family, travel, and friends. Some blogs post every other week or every month.
Whatever schedule you pick, make sure its right for you. My advice is start slow. You can always ramp it up later! You can also slow down if you need to, just make sure your readers know. (I did that when I went from posting twice a week to once.) Communication and consistency are key to building an audience for your blog.
Step 7. Launch and Promote
After you launch your first blog post it’s time to promote. Create Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts and get blasting. Some subreddits allow you to post your own content, but be sure to read each forum’s rules. Shout out your post on message boards, and encourage readers to spread the word. Ask people you know to share your blog.
Step 8. Stay Consistent
That first post is out! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a lot of views at first. You’re building a library of content for people to come read. Yes, some posts will have big hits when they launch… eventually. But the more content you have, the more people will come to your site to read, be it a post you wrote this morning or three years ago. Stay consistent so you keep putting out content regularly and your loyal readers know when to expect an update to your site.
Staying consistent also gives you a self-imposed deadline you know you have to hit. Mine is fast-approaching, so I better get to editing and publishing this post!
If you like what you’re reading please consider supporting me on Patreon, supporting me on Ko-fi, follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!