This may come as a surprise to some, but generating traffic and comments on an MMO blog is not all that difficult. It’s also not (IMO) all that fun for the writer long-term, but if your beer money or (god help you) rent depends on Google ads, follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to making just above minimum wage with your blog.
One: Pick an upcoming AAA MMO and dissect every minuet detail about it, but always end with “Man I can’t wait for release, this game has so much potential!”
Two: While establishing yourself as a mini-fansite-posing-as-a-blog, refer to other popular games (or just WoW will do), and make comparisons between your current ‘next big thing’ and WoW. Always give WoW credit and say it’s awesome, but point out how this NEXT game is going to fix everything WoW did not get right.
Three: Keep your posts short. The longer and more thought-out the post, the harder it is for the average internet dweller to keep up. Only ask simple questions that not only everyone can answer, but also have been answered a million times before. It’s not about the content; it’s about giving the most people the opportunity to feel like they are contributing (even if all they contribute is ‘lolz that was awesome!’). If you need help with this one, just visit an MMO general or class forum.
Four: Post screen shots, skill trees, maps, ect with a quick thought or opinion. Don’t break it down or go into detail; remember shorter is better. Not only is this ‘easy’ content, it also allows the average reader to see the point without a whole lot of time or effort, which is key if you’re going after the biggest crowd.
Five: Start a guild that will play the upcoming MMO. State it will be a casual, friendly guild whose goal is not to powergame but to enjoy this awesome new game together and help each other out. Use the word ‘family’ often. Refer to this guild in each post about the game, and always mention what a great community you have going on the forums, with everyone super excited to play and everyone being really nice, which of course bodes well for the upcoming game.
Six: 2-3 weeks before your MMO of choice is set for release, do a review post of the game. The context of the review does not actually matter (you can just copy/paste the feature list from the official website) so long as you put a score at the end that is either much too low or much too high. If you put 7/10 you have failed. For added effect don’t explain the score, or say the game does what it sets out to do really well and then give it a 2/10.
Seven: Make a few posts about the MMO as it is released, starting with ‘everyone loves it’ stuff and how your guild is doing great, and concluding with a ‘why this game failed’ post about two weeks later. Your actual reasons for the failure (even if the game has indeed not failed) are not important; just throw some stuff out about the graphics and how it’s the same old grind and lacks innovation. Don’t explain what innovation you were looking for, just say it failed.
Eight: Pick another upcoming MMO, revamp the layout of your site to fit THAT game, and go back to step one.
Joking aside (most of that was joking, mostly), it can be a little discouraging even for veteran bloggers to see well-crafted posts go ignored while tossed-out drivel sparks a firestorm of activity. Combine that with the very easy “WoW = traffic” formula, and at times blogging really makes you question the direction the genre is headed. Unless you just absolutely don’t care one bit about reader feedback (and in that case you’re just awesome at lying to yourself, you don’t blog often, or your Beau and no one can explain wtf goes on in your head), what drives readers can at times make it more difficult to actually blog about what you want or care most about. I know for a fact that if I suddenly talked 24/7 about Blood Bowl here on the site, feedback would die to 1-2 comments. And while I don’t make a single dime off traffic, it’s still motivating to see people react and comment on what I write.
Part of the reason I don’t have ads on this site is almost exactly for that reason; I don’t want some little Google counter driving what I plan to write, and I know if traffic=money, it would be hard to resist writing more about WoW or other ‘easy’ topics. The road to ad traffic gold is certainly not paved with DarkFall posts or deep looks into MMO economies or breaking down combat systems. It’s also why I tend to avoid any blog with ads myself. Sure, the author might indeed be great at just writing what they want and not writing for the sake of views, but who knows? Do they really like upcoming MMO X, or are they just following the formula above?
For most of us, blogging is just a hobby, an outlet we use to enhance the MMO gaming experience. And just like you might have a bad night in your favorite MMO, sometimes getting too deep into WHY people read/comment the way they do can drain some of the fun out of blogging. Ultimately, just like the games we play, as long as you’re having fun writing/playing, the rest usually works itself out (or Trammel happens, but yea).
(And if you got all the way through this post, you are not the person I’m talking about attracting in my six easy steps to blogging mediocrity)