Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Hatch (Chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on June 28, 2009

MMO community connection:

Escape Hatch

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

I opened the Escape Hatch in February 08, but didn’t really take it seriously until October 08.

Why do you blog?

I hope to get some ideas out there while being at least marginally entertaining. Get people thinking, maybe help them learn the game. Practice writing and keeping on a schedule.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?

I post 3 days a week, Mon-Wed-Fri. Most Fridays I cheat with a low-content post. That’s why I call it Friday Laziness.

Is there some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?

There is a bit of a grind when I’m trying to keep to a schedule. Some days you just don’t feel like writing, or don’t have the time, or don’t have any interesting ideas. If I don’t have time because of work or family, those things come first, so my posts get canceled (though I usually try to announce it so people don’t forget about me). If I just don’t feel like it, then I’ll push through anyway, and maybe adjust my expectations to write a smaller post, or a simple guide. Or, try something totally wild and different to spark my imagination or start hunting through announcements and news until I run across something that at least makes me mad enough to rant about it. Since part of the purpose of the blog is to improve my work ethic, pushing through these phases is important to me.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

The number one thing is looking back at my own work, on the few times I get it right, and going “hey, look, I made that” and being proud of it. Close second is finding out other poeple read it and actually didn’t think it was terrible.

How many people offline know you blog?

Just my girlfriend, and she doesn’t read it because she wants to give me space.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?

There are three absolute most important things about blogging:

  1. Be interesting to your audience. Too many times you’ll see new blogs which blabber on and on in big walls of text about uninteresting subjects, or that are just boring diaries of what someone did today in WoW. The most popular blogs fall into 3 categories: useful info, entertainment, and ideas. WoWinsider and Matticus are mainly info sites. I’d say Jong is a good example of entertainment. Tobold, Tesh, Larisa, and Spinks are places to go for ideas and theory. Some sites, like Ixobelle, are particularly good at marrying entertainment with other types of content. The Greedy Goblin pretty much set the blogosphere on fire by combining ideas about highly volatile subjects with tutorials about something every player is interested in. If you want people to read your blog, you have to give them something worth reading. Always think first about what you think someone else would enjoy reading before you write about something that interests you.
  2. Keep working at it. The more you do it, the better you will get. The more consistent your schedule, the bigger your audience. You’ll need to build up some content before anyone notices you, so don’t feel bad if you go a month or two without any signs of recognition. If your content is good, people will catch on.
  3. Networking. It has to be genuine. Bloggers can smell self-promotion a mile away, so don’t bother. Instead, find blogs of people you like and try to make a genuine contribution to their commenting community. Do it because you find their content interesting, not because you are looking to promote yourself. Once you have a few weeks of content under your belt, make a blogroll with your favorite bloggers on it. Make sure you wait until you have some actual content before you do this.

What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?

It’s really, really difficult to get noticed. You need a bit of a thick skin, and you need to be prepared to step up your game when it comes to creating content people actually want to read.

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?

Certainly. If I get a job that does not afford me as much free time at my desk (I’m quite busy, but there are a lot of “hurry up and wait” spaces in my day), then I’ll definitely hang it up. Or I might just get bored of WoW and not feel like blogging about other subjects.

At your funeral, what song(s) would you have played as your corpse is set alight and cast out to sea on a funeral barge?

I’m debating between “I wanna rock!” and “You give love a bad name.”

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