RPG Blogging 101: Writing posts

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!

8 thoughts on “RPG Blogging 101: Writing posts”

  1. Excellent post as usual. I am really enjoying this series as I have decided to bite the bullet and start my own blog. (Of course I'll still be SGW member. ;) )

    Well done, the don't be your own critic spoke to me specifically. I found myself doing the same thing. Nothing is ever good enough. I guess now, i'll just turn my head and hit publish and hope for the best.

    Thanks my friend. You are helping more people than you might realize.

  2. I've always wondered about the "fire-and-forget" method. How would you handle editing a discrepancy found out after the article is already published for some time? Do you edit the content whole sale or just put up a bolded edit note at the bottom with corrections?

    1. It depends on the error. For some minor typo or grammar error I just edit it. If it's something bigger I usually add a bolded edit note which some clarifications.

  3. I am absolutely terrible for the "wall of text" – this is because I don't actually put much thought into writing my blogs – I'm usually too busy doing other things with DVOID Systems, and writing a blog isn't all that important. I should spend more time on it making them more appealing, but I don't do this until post-processing, and I normally never get around to truly post-processing my blogs. The only exceptions come from when I engage in the RPG Content Waterfall – using content from my latest writing to include in my blog, and this normally IS post-processed at some point. This is why pages on my websites look vastly superior to my posts.

    A big factor for this is my dyslexia – I suffer from a working memory disorder, so I am not really good at using multiple parts of my brain in a conscious manner effectively to their full capacity. I normally need to switch off, take a break, and then come back to it – and we aren't talking about a 5 minute rest, we're talking a 4 hour sleep to reset. Given the time constraints of maintaining a website and blog (actually – I maintain three right now) I rarely get around to actually going back and making my material look better before it is actually scheduled to go live unless I am writing it weeks in advance.

    I should improve, but it largely comes down to exactly how and why I am writing and why. Writing a blog post is often a wall of text, simply because it is like a giant commentary or discussion piece, not a piece of writing. I talk as I write, and I write as I talk. But, for proper production writing, I switch into "academic" mode where I write to write, with a proper planned structure, to present an actual argument , rather than the more casual talking style of writing – which simply doesn't come with headings.
    My recent post Lessons Learnt – Rebuilding the Circle

  4. Thanks for some great tips! I think another thing to add is frequency of posting, something I admittedly often have some issues with. Some weeks I’ll be able to get out 4 or 5 posts solid, and other weeks it comes to 1 or 2. Having a house full of kids contributes to this, but I’ve found that it’s easier to keep creating material when you’re being regular about it. Sometimes I get 4 or 5 posts written all in one weekend, time permitting, and I have to remember to space them all out over the coming week. Having extra posts ready to publish when your life gets hectic has definitely helped keep my posting more regular than it would be otherwise.

    And another way to avoid the “wall of text” is to do exactly what you’re doing here: splitting longer posts up into multiple parts. Anyway, thanks for the tips and encouragement!

  5. I have to say I definitely agree. Writing Blog posts is difficult. Figuring out what to write about and where to get the time are my biggest issues. Currently I have two unfinished post I really need to get back to, but all my writing time goes to the game: Free Spacer. It is the reason I'm Blogging after all. It is a dilemma and it is nice to have help figuring these issues out.

  6. The cmment about how you quickly find out what your niche is by who is reading what category is well-taken. I noticed that I have two sets of readers on my blog: those looking for resources for certain games, and those interested in reviews of tech and motorcycle related stuff. (I'm eclectic and it's my page, so I pretty much shotgun the subjects.)

    I've found linking posts to a Twitter feed seems to help traffic.

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