Eight easy steps to becoming a ‘kind of a big deal’ blog

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)

42 Responses to Eight easy steps to becoming a ‘kind of a big deal’ blog

  1. Slurms says:

    Yeah, it’s interesting to see how many hits our site gets for the stuff written about Champions and Aion, but when I write stuff about playing Harvest Moon or Gran Turismo…..jack squat. Oh well, I’ll still just be writing and talking about what I play, regardless if it gets hits hehe.

  2. Andrew says:

    Combine that with the very easy “WoW = traffic” formula, and at times blogging really makes you question the direction the genre is headed.

    You aren’t kidding there. I still get about 800 hits a day from people looking for WoW articles either via Google or links to my old articles from WoW sites. It’s kind of depressing. Most of these people never bother to read more than the one post they landed on.

  3. sid67 says:

    You missed…

    Nine: Create a sarcastic anti-WoW blog in which many of your posts blame Blizzard for everything wrong with online games. Pay particular attention to how Blizzard ruined other MMO titles they didn’t develop. Avoid the pitfall of crediting Blizzard with anything to the genre and if backed into a hole, point out that Blizzard has more money than God.

    • Remastered says:

      While Syn’s anti-WoW sentiment is certainly palpable Sid, you haven’t been reading close enough and for long enough if you think Syn has never credited Blizzard for developing anything worthwhile. Don’t confuse criticism of what WoW has become or what the blog author feels like WoW could have been had Blizzard applied its resources in a manner more in line with the author’s opinion with the idea that Blizzard/WoW has given nothing to the MMO space. In fact, I would say that if pushed, Syn would admit that on balance WoW/Blizzard has done more positive for the MMO space than negative? What say you, Syn?

      • sid67 says:

        I never wrote that I was talking about Syncaine!! I was just making the point that anti-WoW posts are controversial and get a lot of hits. Why would you ever think it was directed at him?

        Joking aside, my only point here is that not even Syncaine (who is clearly anti-WoW) is immune to the “WoW = traffic” phenomena. I obviously enjoy reading the blog, I just couldn’t resist the opening he left to poke fun of some of his entries.

      • syncaine says:

        Trust me, I know EXACTLY what I’m doing when I make an anti-WoW post. In my defense, I at least try to make it more entertaining than just saying “WoW sucks” and leaving it at that, and I try to point out why Blizzard doing X instead of Y would not only benefit my view of WoW, but the genre as a whole. When you have 11m subs, everyone in the industry watches what you do, and if you replace all orc with pink bunnies, who is to say MY game won’t be stupid enough to follow suit.

        And here is the difference between WoW and every other MMO out: WoW DOES influence other games in both a positive and negative way, while other games only do so in the most minor of ways. WAR is the best example that I know of for this. If WoW had 300k subs, Mythic would have NEVER spent as much time/energy on the PvE of WAR, and in turn RvR would have been that much better.

        And many of the arguments people use when saying WoW has helped the genre I don’t see. Sure WoW is a household name, but every other MMO out has similar numbers (50-500k) now than they did pre-WoW. There are 11m WoW players, but the number of MMO gamers has not increased in any noticeable way. People also credit WoW with bringing a new level of polish to the industry, which again is only partially true. Yes WAR launched in a very polished (by MMO standards) state, but how much effect has WoW had on Fallen Earth, or other titles. And how much did that added polish help games like WAR, where it might run smooth and look nice, but at it’s core it’s busted. Perhaps less time spent polishing and more time spent getting T4 right would have been the better choice, but in post-WoW land, that’s not an option.

        And here is the biggest thing people confuse or ignore when I talk about WoW. At it’s core, the 1-60 Azeroth game, WoW is amazing for PvE. It’s just flat-out fun. But that’s 2004, and between then and now, I’ll argue all day that Blizzard has done more harm than good to the genre with their updates to WoW, which is where my hate comes from. That said, with all their mistakes and errors, WoW is still a great game, but IMO that’s DESPITE what Blizzard has done with it since release.

      • sid67 says:

        At it’s core, the 1-60 Azeroth game, WoW is amazing for PvE. It’s just flat-out fun.

        Hmm. Well, the thing is, the 1-60 game flat out sucks by comparison now. The really took some big steps forward in terms of quest design, zone design, dungeon design etc. Not so much in BC, but if you compare Wrath to vanilla WoW, it’s actually quite remarkable how much better they are at delivering the PVE game now.

        If you are burned out on the PVE, it is easy to argue that “it’s really just more of the same.” But if your not burned out and that’s what you like — well, then Wrath does a much better job of delivering it and Blizzard should could some kudos for improving upon an already well designed model.

        And that is where I think all the other MMO titles really end up falling short. It’s not that they can’t improve or what-not, but that they try to be clones. So you get 2004 WoW in a 2008 release of WAR. The irony being that even 2008 WoW players think that 2004 WoW sucks now.

        It’s funny how I end up defending Blizzard on your blog because I’m not really pro-WoW. I haven’t been subscribed in months and won’t resub until the next expansion. But my criticisms are different than your criticisms.

        I’m more critical of the flawed social engineering, the retarded reward system and the lack of significant content updates in a timely fashion.

        If WoW had 300k subs, Mythic would have NEVER spent as much time/energy on the PvE of WAR, and in turn RvR would have been that much better.

        Wouldn’t it have been interesting if there was NO PvE in WAR at all? That leveling and questing came exclusively from PvP and RvR objectives. Once upon a time, I thought that was the vision…

      • syncaine says:

        The current 1-60 might suck only because it’s been nerfed to hell and back. What few pieces of challenge were around in 2004 have long since been removed, and now that you power through it at 3x or whatever speed, it makes it even more obvious. Plus at least the 1-60 game relates heavily to WC3 in the lore, which I always liked being a big Warcraft fan.

        And while WotLK might be amazing for PvE (I don’t doubt a few of the quest lines are good, but when everything overall can be accomplished by bashing your head into your keyboard, does it matter?), TBC was terrible in that regard. Hellfire made STV on a PvP server look like a paradise. And since the majority of my WoW time was spent in 40 man raids, it’s rather clear where I stand when comparing Nax40 to anything in WotLK and it’s one-handed ‘hard’ raiding.

        “I’m more critical of the flawed social engineering, the retarded reward system and the lack of significant content updates in a timely fashion.”

        I agree on all that, especially the rewarding of failure that WoW is full of now.

        And WAR needs some PvE, but it should only have had as much as DAoC had, which is to say enough to offer a break from RvR, but not even close to the 50/50 split originally envisioned for WAR.

      • sid67 says:

        The current 1-60 might suck only because it’s been nerfed to hell and back.

        That’s not why it sucks. The overall design of everything is simply better. From quest hubs, to phasing, to quest design, to look/feel, it’s all just a better game design. Is it radically different? No. Just executed better.

        So when you go from that to the old 1-60 design, it becomes painfully obvious how much they learned about what works and doesn’t work.

        You can actually see this a bit in Burning Crusade by comparing the Blood Elf and Draenei starting areas to the older starting areas.

        Now if you are burned out, these improvements aren’t going to “fix” anything for you.

        That’s the problem with the WoW clones. They are 1) attracting the burnouts and 2) offering the old foundation without any of the design improvements. They might have a better paint job, but the floor plan sucks.

  4. Werit says:

    “I don’t know how to put this but I’m kind of a big deal. “

  5. Werit says:

    @Andrew: That’s why I tend to favor RSS readers over web views. I assume most RSS readers aren’t actually being checked though, but those that do are likely more interested in all of the content.

  6. Beau says:

    If you are worried about how many readers you get, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Once you start making money, you have to ask yourself if it is work or just a hobby.

    This hobby has allowed me to meet people like developers and community members, travel for free and has granted me access into places I would have never gotten into before. And yes, I have made some money. But, it is not a job. Jobs suck.

    Syn, understand that in this little world we inhabit there ARE no big deals. A blog with 100,000 or even 300,000 readers means nothing when the entire audience is made up of millions upon millions in the entire world. The largest podcasts and radio shows don’t do squat when you look at the big picture.

    Just enjoy the readers you do have, and maybe you need to branch out and get some interviews, go do some coverage? You’re a smart guy, go get some more content if you are not getting the readers you want?

    I’m not saying you are not, for the record.

    Beau

    • syncaine says:

      Yea this post is not about ME being worried about my blog. I’m more than happy with everything about it, but that does not mean I don’t look at one post and go ‘hmmm, I thought that was a good post, and only 3 people commented, why?’. I’d like to think that the more I blog, the better I get at it, so I’m constantly analyzing how things are received and how people react to the content. So while I might tweak a post or idea a bit, I still never go “ok, the site needs a traffic spike today, lets bash WoW”. If I want a traffic spike, I’ll just make a quick post with a screen shot of something and be done with it.

  7. Bhagpuss says:

    On the other hand, talking everything down so that nothing anyone does has any significance isn’t really very helpful. Having pride in what you do and being graceful in acknowledging the pleasure or interest it affords other people is not a personality defect. If even a handful of people appreciate what you do, then that is worth celebrating.

    Very interesting piece, by the way. Although I am au fait with internet advertising, I confess it’s never actually occurred to me that any of the blogs I read might actually make someone money. I have been thinking of it like my old punk/comics fanzine days, where most people creating stuff were actually digging into their own pockets to keep it going.

  8. evizaer says:

    I know it’ll make That’s a Terrible Idea unpopular, but Motstandet and I focus on actually producing posts with content that are relevant to designing MMORPGs and sometimes games in general. Even though we’re amateurs on design, I think we’re set apart by our no-nonsense attitude and willingness to offer ideas and what limited insight we have without walls of text and covering one or two games to death.

    Screw reader-numbers. I will say what I think needs to be said. I comment on some blogs (primarily larger blogs that I don’t think are particularly good, like Tobold’s and Keen’s) to get my name out there and perhaps grab a few hits for the site, but I’m not worried about taking their audiences. If we just get ten people from Keen and Tobold that have good stuff to add to our discussions, I’ll be happy.

  9. Centuri says:

    There are actually a few blogs that I took out of my rss reader after I got tired of reading their 4-5 entries a day blog spam.

  10. Eyeball says:

    I found that most of my blog posts that were in my top ten hits were guides, strats, and etc. These are the ones that people find in Google search engines, and such.

    The week the ToVL released for WAR my boss strat guide received almost 1k hits a day, and my WAR FAQ I posted recently is rising quickly.

    No one really seems to care about our opinions as much as we may think or hope. I figure most of my readers are other bloggers.

  11. Cuppycake says:

    People are evolving to like short bits of info on the web rather than long diatribes. Look at microblogging, photoblogging, status updating, tweeting, etc.

    I am not really interested personally in reading a blogger’s long post on gaming. If I want long form material, I read educational academia and journals rather than opinion pieces. Just me though :)

    • syncaine says:

      It’s like gaming. I think daily quests are for morons, while lots of people love them because of how easy, short, and guaranteed they are. I think twitter is 140 characters of ADD, others check it hourly. TMZ has it’s crowd, CNN has another. To each his own.

      I like the MMO genre, enough that I enjoy reading the thoughts of like-minded gamers on different subjects, especially those who can express it in an interesting and well thought out manner. I’m far less interesting in reading a twitter-blog about what quest you just finished, or your newest shiny weapon.

      • shadowwar says:

        Maybe that’s why I’m terrible about updating my twitter (tweeting, twittering, whatever, I’m uncool and getting old). Noone wants to know that I am sitting down to watch a movie with my wife.

        I have a hard time understanding what drives comments as well sometimes. My top views are posts where I got early information out about a specific game before others did, where I chimed in on some blogging practices of Tobold, and I talked about the new Metroid game (who new samus aran was a popular google search!). I’ve no idea how to quickly check what comment history is, but some of the stuff that people chat on surprises me. 15 comments on a one paragraph blurb, but a 1,000 word entry on gamer habits of placing blame, gets two? /baffle

  12. “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?”

    Doesn’t that make you just as bad as the people you dislike for being flippant and shallow? You’re essentially judging a book by it’s cover.

  13. Mig says:

    Sounds a bit like Keen

  14. Frank says:

    Can get behind with the serious part of this post. While I’d like more readership, it’s not the main driver behind why I write. As someone who is generally optimistic and who just turns it up to 11 to write, I get that if I don’t make a “controversial” post I probably won’t get the traffic. But that’s not really why I write. I write because I enjoy what I write about and want to share it with others, whether that is 2 others or 2,000 others.

    It was fairly funny that the post I made that got the most traffic was not a post about WoW, but a sarcastically optimistic post about that one incident with the guild who attempted an FFXI boss for 18 hours. Oh, the wonderful comments that rained down.

    • syncaine says:

      You can be thought provoking or ‘controversial’ and still be positive, it’s all in how you present it. If you are positive or negative just for the sake of it, it comes off as shallow. If you have good reason to be positive about something most people feel is negative, and explain it well, there is no reason it should not create a good debate. If however the very next month you do a 180 and argue the other side, especially just to argue it, you won’t retain a whole lot of people.

    • slurms says:

      That’s it Frank. Gloves are commin’ off!

      (it’s so damn hard to type negative things at you with them on)

    • Dblade says:

      That guild went on to beat the nerfed version of him Frank. I don’t think any but a couple even bothered to try even the nerfed form, it’s still months to get pop items to spawn him, and they were the top guild in the game and still wiped a tremendous amount of times.

      As for blogs, I don’t really care. It’s like being the biggest in an MMO, you can but its too much work for most of us, and its not really why we do it.

  15. Anjin says:

    It’s a good idea to reevaluate why we bloggers are doing what we do. Personally, I like that MMO bloggers are in a constant conversation. Sometimes it gets heated, but the interactions are so interesting. The day I stop wanting to participate is the day I’ll stop blogging.

  16. Bonedead says:

    Step 1: Don’t be me

  17. [...] scotch, scotch Syncaine made a very tongue-in-cheek post the other day on posting habits, and the quick way to internet blogger fame. I’m pretty sure [...]

  18. theerivs says:

    If people can make money in doing what they love, why do we bloggers sometimes frown upon that. If what I’m reading is good, and has integrity so what if they get money for it. Good for them.

    Every man has a price, mine is pretty damn low.

  19. [...] my blogroll are looking to score some extra comments and grab some attention. Syncaine talks about becoming big time. Ysharros talks about cheese.  Ardua follows it up with American pie hate. Syp just wants fun ways [...]

  20. Aiiane says:

    My blog is definitely never going to be a “kind of a big deal” blog then, I *like* details and dissection of topics. ;)

  21. [...] second that this was a real posting. Well it is a real blog post, but not about WOW. I was reading Hardcore Casual blog the othere day, and he was talking about words to use to bring your numbers up on your blog. One of [...]

  22. [...] again, if it was up to Syncaine, these new mobs would simply wipe the floor with you and call you names when you fell down. So, I [...]

  23. theJexster says:

    I can’t agree enough. Recently an certain MMORPG site I frequent has put out a string of blatantly controversial posts in a pathetic attempt to drive up it’s hit counter. I no longer read the posts on that site, how can I? None of them have any truth, nothing said can be taken in, it’s all meaningless fluff.

  24. skarbd says:

    Now I know why I spend hours and hours on something to get 20 hits on the whole article. Note to self, bash WoW more and learn to love MMO’s that I have no interest in and will never play.

    Oh yes, and make sure RL never interacts with blog posting since no one cares why you had to take 2 weeks off :)

  25. [...] This is one way in how you become sort of a big deal. [...]

  26. Radishlaw says:

    A easier way would be to dis other people using this technique.

    Oh wait :D

    Seriously, this method works in forums too. Comparison threads/Game bashing/Bashing other game threads will generate hundreds of posts while calm, impartial discussion get no response at all.

    It even works in real life. Look at how journalism works nowadays.

    Virtual world is no different than real world, because it’s still people sitting in front of the computers, and people are easily affected by a topic they care about, be it politics, movies or games.

  27. Derrick says:

    It’s sad, really. I’m not sure if blogs even get hit results from me most times, I read a lot through my RSS reader, but only comment rarely (typically, I read posts on my iphone while at work, so I can’t devote the needed time to comment).

    Radishlaw is right, though. It’s how all forms of journalism work now, and don’t doubt that many traditional journalists have bemoaned it for the same reasons.

    It’s depressing. It’s becoming ever harder to find quality blogs (on any topic) that don’t devolve into hit whoring. That said, I greatly appreciate the ones who continue to post intelligent articles. While I may not always comment, I love having good meaty posts to chew on throughout my (alas, tedious) workday.

    Keep it up!

  28. Joshoua says:

    The point is not to get better stats but to have a community that actually follows you and reads what you write. Staying relevant is important here. Just my two cents.

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