In the last 2 weeks, I wrote a primer about starting a new RPG blog. While I knew it wasn’t going to be all that original, I thought that would-be RPG bloggers could benefit from it. It turns out they did as I’m already seeing a few new RPG blogs cropping up (Here’s one and here’s another).
This last part is about dealing with the future of your newly minted blog. Let’s fast forward a few weeks/months and discuss what will likely happen with your shiny new RPG blog. I want to discuss a blog’s success or failure as well as likely motivational slumps. I’ll end this series with links to other people’s articles you might find interesting as further reading and a request for more!
So you’re getting a few comments per post, you got a few links by other bloggers and the overall feedback is good (or bad, it that’s what you’re after) and you feel full of energy and pumped! You spend too much of your work day checking your emails for notifications.
Yup, it has started! People read your blog and have started to react. Congratulation you’ve made your first step out of the huge pile of unread questionable content that is 90%+ of the blogsphere.
If growth of your blog is among your goals, now is the time to resist the easy lure of safe comment baiting. Don’t try to mimic what gave you a few comments but think of expanding your range of subjects for new posts.
The cliché that content is king, is true. While the tips I gave about networking and linking to other bloggers will bring about curious onlookers, it’s fresh content that will turn visitors into regular readers.
One reaction I see frequently among bloggers with burgeoning readership is jealousy/insecurity vs other bloggers. I read more than one comment, usually in jest, in the likes of ‘Don’t come and steal our 5 readers’. I also keep seeing bloggers selling themselves short by mentioning how ‘no one reads this post’, or ‘if you feel like loosing time, please read the following’
This is nothing more than those inner demons rearing their ugly heads again. It’s fear of inadequacy, of not being able to cope with success and the good old impostor syndrome (“Oh Noes, they’ll soon discover I’m nothing but a hack that got lucky”).
Please don’t let the demons win. Any defensive and/or self-defeating reaction on your part (in posts, comments, Instant messages and emails) is a warning sign to readers that you’re not comfortable as a blogger. Don’t sell yourself short, ever!
Success should not be scary. Humans get used to everything, that’s why we don’t go insane because we hear a clock ticking. Success is nothing more than getting recognition for the hard work you poured in your website. Take it in strides, you’ll get used to it… eventually.
As the success of you blog increases, it will translate to more and more comments on your posts. You’ll have to decide how you wish to react to them. Following comments is extremely time consuming (especially trying to respond to all of them) and may very well threathen your day job’s performance.
Let’s be honest here, most readers and your response to comments are done during regular buisness hours. If you have a job that allows you the liberty to follow your blog, fine, but be careful to keep your priorities straight. Unpaid successful blogging can become way more rewarding than your day job and therin lies the danger.
I suggest that you disable email notifications and check on your comments at specific periods of the day, where you can afford to spend time on them (I’ll get to that with my own blog… eventually).
As mentioned in the ‘Who?‘ part of this series, you might also think about leaving your commenters to fend for themselves and visit only a few times a day to read and comment when your input is needed.
After a certain point (more than 10-20 comments or so), the discussion often becomes self-sustained and you can enjoy the ride without the fear of insulting your readers by not showing up all the time.
Bottom line: Success is fun, take it in stride and make sure you won’t lose your job because of it.
So you’ve been spending a few weeks writing your heart out. You comment on forums (with a link to your blog in your signature) and on other people’s blogs and no one ever comments on your blog.
That’s not fun for sure.
Try to find a reason for that, chances are it’s not because the RPG blog readerships is made of tasteless jerks, it isn’t. They’re an interesting, spirited, opinionated, but usually nice bunch.
There’s a good chance you’re doing something that keeps readers from “getting you”:
- Is it because you make too many mistakes or post huge walls of texts with no paragraphs?
- Is it because your ideas are all jumbled up and the text is hard to follow?
- Is it because you are an emotional person and you post vehemently about things that bug you about RPGs (This can work, just not all the time and with limited amounts of venom)?
- Is it because your subject range is to restricted or you revisit the same subject too much?
- Are you the blogging equivalent of that guy that always talks about his character?
- Is it because your blog is written in pale blue over a yellow background?
- Is it because readers have to register and fill unreadable Capchas to comment?
If it’s any of these reasons, you should try to change a few things to make the experience better for the readers. Chances are, they’ll eventually start coming.
However if, after all the effort, you just don’t have that much to say about RPGs or writing is just too much effort for you, maybe blogging is not your cup of tea.
As I said before, that’s okay too, you can always try later when inspiration hits or if you develop your creative writing skills through other outlets.
Bottom line: If no one will read you, don’t blame others, check what you may be doing wrong and change. Maybe blogging might just not be for you.
Hitting a slump/Blogger Burnout
Somewhere in the first few months of blogging you will hit a wall. Blogging will start feeling like work. You’ll feel you have to post something new. You’ll feel all your posts end up saying the same things. Worse still, Writer’s block will set in.
Much like a gym membership, you’ll start to rationalize why you’ll skip the next post and you’ll feel guilty about it.
When this happen you need to pause and reflect on the reasons why you blog and the true goals you set for yourself. Ask yourself some questions like:
- Do you have to post that often?
- Do you post to please a crowd?
- Have you ventured in a series or a blog project that does not interest you anymore?
- What would you need to do to make blogging fun again ?
If you forge on through this without some reflection you’ll eventually go through blogging burnout and most likely quit for an extended period of time.
One good way to get out of the slump is to take a short break. Don’t worry, your readers will come back, that’s what RSS feeds are for (I’ll take good care of them…. he he he).
During that break, revisit your blog’s theme and plugins. Brainstorm for some new types of posts. If you focused on campaign logs, how about posting some house rules (we all have them) or giving your players some questionnaires to post online? If you are artistically inclined, start a RPG themed webcomic or post some of your art.
One thing you should not do during a slump is posting about how sorry you are for not posting or how down you feel. While you can occasionally share your feelings when life takes a turn the wrong way, your readers’ tolerance for melodrama is not infinite.
I mean, I used to love the Megatokyo Webcomic, but I stopped reading the artist’s Angst-ridden ‘woe is me’ posts a long time before I stopped reading the strip.
A slump is a signal that your motivations are no longer aligned with your original reasons for blogging. Heed that signal and see what needs to be changed. If you do, you will likely bounce back…
I did, at least twice, in the last year. As you can see, I’m still here, on a nearly daily basis.
Bottom line: A slump is a signal that something’s wrong. Stop and reflect. Change something and bounce back!
Where to go from here?
My work here is mostly done, like Yax said, I made a one post idea into a 8 000+ word epic.
If you want to learn more about blogging in general, I suggest that you give a visit to some of the blogs that focus on writing.
Men with Pens
- The Art of Blogging: Starter Tips
- 20 Resources For Better Writing
- Never Write Alone
- How to Write About Old News and Be Original
- 7 Decisions to Make About Your Posting Frequency
- Feed Reading and RSS for Dummies (Like Us)
Finally, during my writing of this Series, Trask, of Living Dice wrote an interesting post about Search Engine Optimization for RPG bloggers. Ninetail of A Butterfly Dreaming also chimed in with a very useful post about hosting your blog on a hosting service.
Your turn, the E-Book project
Seeing how popular this series became, I’m thinking seriously about making it into a free PDF book.
In order to make it more useful, I would love for your RPG bloggers to chime in with posts on RPG blogging of your own. Maybe you think I missed something or that something could be expanded upon.
Post the articles on your respective blogs and tell me about them. We can then discuss how to make them into chapters of the book (With credits and links top your blogs).
The book would be built shortly after Gen Con and I’d love to get some nice art, professional layout and editing. I’m going around you guys by email asking for help.
Thanks so much one and all for reading and commenting!
Now time for a vacation!