Blogging FAQ, Part 2: Content
I need to confess. In Part 1, I was wrong.
In Part 1, I said this FAQ would be divided into two parts because I was too chatty. I was wrong. Because I’m that chatty, this FAQ will actually be divided into three parts: the basics, content and building your community.
So here is part 2, with my (personal, selfish) answers to the most common questions I notice and receive on blog content.
1- How do I pick a name for my blog and for myself?
This actually isn’t a question new bloggers ask. It’s a question many established bloggers wish they’d asked.
When picking a screen and a blog name, you want to go for something that is:
- Easy to remember.
- Eye Catching.
- Relevant to who you are as a blogger.
Look around the WoW Blogging community to get a feel for which names are taken (and which are overused!). You don’t want to end up stuck in someone’s shadow or worse, constantly confused with another blogger. You also want a name that eases your introduction to your readers, that gives them an idea of what to expect when browsing through your blog for the first time.
Some examples of blogs who have excellent names: The Pink Pigtail Inn, Greedy Goblin, The Stories Of O (although I wonder how many people other than me got the reference without having to google it ;D), World of Warcraft Philosophized, Life in Group 5.
On the topic of screen names, some bloggers use their character name. It’s a great thing to do if you want to be recognized in game (you know you’re famous at last when you get recognized in game), but if you want avoid random strangers stalking your armory, consider making up a new name.
2- What topics can I talk about/How strictly should I stick to my niche?
It’s your blog and you can talk about whatever you want. A lot of blogging guides will tell you to pick a niche and stick with it, but my experience is that a niche is something that happens naturally. There are topics you’ll love to talk about and topics that will bore you to death. Posts on certain topics will seem to write themselves while posts on other topics will be impossible to finish. As you get to know yourself and become comfortable with blogging, your blog will end up with a voice of its own and will revolved around certain topics.
It’s also ok for your writing to evolve over time. Blogging guides say “your audience will change”, but your audience will change continuously whether you do or not. People come and go from WoW, their interests shift, their reasons for reading blogs change.
If you’d like a hand in discovering your blogging self, I highly recommend taking part in the Shared Topics at Blog Azeroth for a few consecutive weeks. You’ll be encouraged to write about a variety topics, all while getting some link love and meeting other bloggers.
3- Can I talk about my guild and my friends?
Oh, the big question! The answer is that there’s no absolute right and no absolute wrong.
There are, however, consequences to your actions. As a general rule, people don’t like being slandered on the internet or having their family secrets exposed to strangers. If you rub a friend, a guildie or a guild the wrong way on your blog, you just might burn your bridges with them forever.
Personally speaking, I’ve experimented with a few approaches and these days I like these two rules:
1) Ask the people involved in the potential post if they’re ok with it going on the blog. If you’re worried about stepping on toes, asking for permission prevents misunderstandings and waking up to cold showers. In cases of conflict, it also forces you to resolve problems instead of using blogging as an escape route.
2) Ask yourself: “If I were applying to a new guild, would I want them to read this?” Regardless of who’s right or wrong, potential guilds see a troubled blogger and label them “drama hazard”. Anything you publish can be held against you in the future. If it’s not something you’d want to advertise to a future guild, don’t publish it.
4- Can I be myself on my blog?
You can be yourself, or you can be whoever you always wanted to be, as long as you’re credible in your persona. A common mistake I notice from newer bloggers is that they try too hard to sound professional. Their posts end up looking like college homework assignments and their interest in blogging goes out the window.
It might take awhile for you to find your voice, but writing in a way that feels “right” to you will sound better to your readers and will be more fun for you. Those bloggers from past and present that we love (or in some cases, love to hate)? Larisa, Big Red Kitty, Phaelia, Gelvon, the guys from Righteous Orbs, Big Bear Butt, etc? What makes us feel so strongly about them is that each has such a distinct voice that if you found an unsigned version of one their posts, you’d figure out pretty fast who wrote it.
5- What limits are there in terms of sharing personal information?
Like most aspects of blogging, how much information you volunteer about yourself is up to your personal comfort level and on the image you want to portray. Don’t post your credit card information or WoW account info on your blog (just email them to me instead!)… Maybe leave out your address and phone number too. If you have an uncommon name or live in a town with a population of 10 or less, you’ll probably want to keep those pieces of information to yourself.
Anything else is dependent on your comfort zone. There was a blogger some time back who intended to build their entire persona around anonymity (unfortunately they got tired of blogging before we could see how it would play out). Then you’ll occasionally see bloggers who use their real name, have pictures of themselves on their main page and who are pretty specific with details of how to find them in the real world.
Just remember that anything published on the internet is published forever. Don’t give away anything about yourself you wouldn’t want your roommate, your mom or your boss to know about.
Stay Tuned For Part 3!