Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Frontline Gamers guide to writing a successful Blog

   
    


Right at the risk of coming across as a complete dick and self righteous ass hat, I'm actually going to write an article about my top tips for writing a successful Blog. Obviously this is not about writing just any old sort of Blog (although hey, many of the ideas are applicable no matter what your Blog is about), but a wargames Blog specifically. Doing this might make me sound really arrogant or even presumptuous, considering I'm not too sure I've actually written a 'successful' wargames Blog or not. Plus more importantly I'm really not all that sure just what the hell 'success' should look like... but I'll return to that later, don't you worry. The reason I'm doing this is because I've actually had an awful lot of people contact me and ask for my secret formula, or advice and tips with certain things. Although interestingly no one has asked me what shade of pink my Blog uses! Honestly my initial response was pure bemusement that somebody would ask for advice off of me, my second response was to say 'well there's no magical formula'.

Catz iz why yur Blog iz gud!!!

To an extent I do believe that for me there wasn't actually a magic formula as such, I just did the things that I did, the same sort of things that I always do naturally. So to me it was just normal behaviour, but if contact with other carbon based life forms has taught me anything over the years, it is this one solitary lesson... I really don't think my behaviour patterns could be described as being anywhere near normal, or average, or modal or median in any way shape or form. I do things in my own way and approach tasks with an interesting degree of fastidiousness, possibly bordering on the obsessive compulsive side of human behaviour. Let me explain, for me this isn't a surprise, as from a very early age I was very acutely aware there was something wrong with my brain, despite teachers just thinking I was away with the faeries and that there wasn't anything wrong with me at all. I knew there was something up. To not put too fine a point on it, I was smarter than all of my class mates through infant and junior schools by some margin, but my spelling remained atrocious, appalling, awful, abominable... you get the point.

I was aware that no matter how hard I tried to learn how to spell words, or indeed structure sentences, I was always rubbish at it. The tools to construct the English language in its written form remained illusive to me. My inquisitive mind worked out there was something not quite right, but no one would listen. So I developed an amazing array of coping mechanisms. Chief amongst these was analysis. I dissected everything that came back to me with red pen all over it... which was a lot of work trust me! I started seeing patterns in my writing and spelling mistakes that weren't necessarily anything to do with learning, or indeed memory. I consistently spelled a similar number of words wrong within a set amount of text, but the words I got wrong were different every time. The next trends I spotted were that writing in blue ink upped my failure rate and that words in the middle of a page were more likely to be spelled wrong. Something was amiss, I didn't know what, but it was. This was hit home to me, when in a spelling bee type competition I actually won, yeah the idiot that couldn't spell in class managed to win a spelling contest! Mrs Farringdon at my junior school was the first teacher to pick up on this.

She was also the first teacher to encourage me to do something about it. I explained to her the patterns I'd witnessed and she mentioned something called Dyslexia. The first time I'd heard the word. It wasn't really an accepted learning difficulty or disability here in the UK at the time, some education authorities offered help, but mine... did not. Mrs Farringdon though encouraged me to do some simple things that helped me out:

  1. Always write in black pen because that seemed to greatly reduce my spelling mistakes. (I latterly worked out white text on black backgrounds was even better for me, hence my Blog layout!)
  2. She also taught me to slow down, take my time and to concentrate mentally on the word I'm trying to write. There were a number of things she taught me to do to aid this process, but she taught me to take my time and be sure I knew what I was writing before I wrote it. 
  3. She encouraged my analytical ways! She was the first teacher to spot that I had a 'unique' brain shall we say, with a talent for picking apart data of all varieties and sorting it into meaningful chunks that held value and understanding.

These three things have served me really well throughout my life and still do to this very day. Why am I telling you all this? Well I'm trying to give you a bit of background behind the way I write and explain the way I approach my Blog in general. The above three points could help you too, and I've sort of converted them into decent overarching Blogging rules here:

  1. Think about your text layout and how your Blog will look. Copiously use the preview feature and make sure it looks good and is easy to read. Take your time with layout.
  2. Slow down, take your time in general. Decide what you want to say in an article and write a skeleton frame down first, maybe jot down some bullet points. Then flesh it out knowing what your ultimate aim for that article is. In short make sure you know what you are going to say before you say it.
  3. Analyse, analyse and then analyse some more! It's the only way to be with your Blog if you want to improve. You can try to analyse other people's work, but the reality is the one Blog you'll have every piece of data you would need to analyse something properly is your own Blog. Come up with simple hypotheses and then test them.

As I said I call these the overarching principles of good Blogging. I guess they could be summed up as know what you plan to do and then do it, work out if it worked and then do it again if it did, if it didn't try something different. The next few sections will break my own behaviour down even more into further distinct tasks and ideas, as well as adding more detail behind it all. Hopefully some of you will find my own brand of 'meticulous planning' useful! For now I'm still going to happily skirt around 'success' and what it is for now, and discuss the processes that I think have made my Blog what it is, look I promise I will talk about defining success later on, stop hassling me people. Jeez!

Analysis: It's all in the figures

Obviously recently I wrote an article about hitting 300,000 hits in under 10 months, but ultimately that figure is actually meaningless without some form of context. In my case the context provided was that I looked around at other people's Blogs that I respect. I saw that they weren't anywhere near getting as many hits, and in many cases had been going longer than my Blog had been, so it actually impressed me. However, that's not the sort of analysis I'd normally do on my Blog! I am not only by training, but also by nature a researcher, I've always been inquisitive and I've always wanted to learn things about why things are the way they are, not just what they are. A professor once asked a room full of students I was in 'how do we know the things that we know', now he was trying to make a point about epistemology, but me being a rationalist, or possibly more accurately an empiricist I believe that knowledge resides in data. So we know the things we know, because we've tested them and the data tells us that 'they' are true, or it describes what 'they' are. We need to test things to make sure it's not just coincidence that is causing things to happen, or that they stand up to scrutiny.

This is how I've approached making my Blog successful, I've looked at my own internal results in terms of number of hits and comments and built up a damn fine data-set on my own Blog. This might sound insanely intensive, nerdy and lame... BUT... here's some of the things I've done:

  1. Built up a database using Google Analytics that shows me relative to my own performance, which of my posts have been most successful in terms of hits and comments. Both short term (48 hours), medium term (4 weeks) and long term (3 months or more).
  2. I then go and review these articles for tone, content and style. In this way I've been able to develop my own style of writing and my own attitudes towards my Blog from the tacit feedback you have all provided me. Interestingly in terms of content or tone, these appear to have a negligible effect on actual hits and overall comments... but it does effect who comments and from what part of the globe! So I rapidly worked out diversity of coverage and writing tone was the way to go.
  3. I've also been able to discern that for my Blog personally there is a lunchtime rush to read it. People who read my Blog are clearly doing so between the hours of 12:00 and 14:00 in whatever country they reside in. Lunchtime surfers! So globally the average lunch break is 30 to 45 minutes. I try to keep my articles reading time between 5 to 10 minutes and certainly stick try to keep to a 15 minutes maximum as best I can, because I don't want to hog your lunch break!
  4. Wider than this though my analysis also shows me how various people use my Blog, and what proportion of readers come back or don't, how many read multiple articles in one visit so forth and so on. To make certain visitors life easier I included the LinkWithin Widget, it's been successful I think. Uplifting hits by 9.86%. You should all use LinkWithin regardless of viewing patterns, it works.
  5. It's also told me that for my specific Blog Monday's and Thursday are without fail my best days in terms of hits, while Wednesday garners the most comments, although not by much. It also told me Sunday was my worst day, this led to me experimenting with my Sunday Sermons, which have increased my Sunday traffic by 45.27% above my Blogs average uplift since I started them roughly 4 months ago.
  6. It's also told me that regardless of how many articles I write in any given week, it's not necessarily the ultimate number of articles that increases my 'hits' alone. In fact anything above 3 or 4 articles a week is pointless as it doesn't massively increase my traffic. To grow my 'hits' beyond what I'm achieving currently therefore I need to grow my number of readers. I need to promote my Blog somehow, or get others to do it for me.

It's all valuable stuff... for my Blog. Look, for your Blog these patterns might not exist, but approaching your own data in a similar methodical way might uncover some interesting trends and facts about your own Blog that you are currently unaware of. As a starting point the basic stat tools you get with Blogger are actually quite good for the 'headline' stuff, and if you're careful and meticulous enough you should be able to eek out some useful information over time. But, if you are wanting some more useful information you'll be needing Google Analytics and StatCounter, I owe my thanks to Loquacious of House of Paincakes fame and her own Blog, World of Wonder for introducing me to StatCounter's particular delights! These are actually quite powerful little tools if you couple them with a good scientific approach to your Blog, and they can be very handy and help you to understand what's going on and how you can tweak things.

Tybs number crunching
For instance I very rapidly learned that my reviews were highly popular, and that over the long-term period many of them are outperforming some of my 'instant hits' articles significantly. I've also found that my opinion pieces or thought for the day pieces, as some have called them, generate a lot of buzz amongst my regular readers and generate a fair degree of comment on here... but... they don't really survive as valid hit generators beyond the medium term at best. This has helped me shape the way I schedule and write articles for my Blog and I'm starting to slowly build up a picture of what it is that I think you're all after from me, and this Blog specifically. So if I can do it for my Blog, then you can do it for yours. I'm going to be honest, my Blog is still very much a work in progress, there are lots of different article types that I want to test out over the next 12 months of Blogging on here. Going forward there will be changes, and I'll monitor how successful these changes are, and as always learn and adapt. I'll be always be tweaking, monitoring and analysing the data as it comes in and trying to make sense of it all, and honing what I produce to make it more palatable, entertaining and useful to you, my readers.

There is also another richer more vibrant source of data that many of us overlook as well. It's not always numbers, figures, charts and graphs. Nope sometimes a simple compliment from a reader in the comments section can be worth way more than all the data collected from all the stats software packages in the world. It pains me to say it but quantitative research isn't the be all and end all... and through gritted teeth... qualitative research has its place too. Sorry I need to go wash my mouth out with soap and water. OK I'm back now, that's much better. But, it's true, ask your readers what they think of your Blog and what they like. I recently asked the silent majority who read this Blog to get in touch with me about what they thought of it, well as of this morning I'm 3 responses away from 500! I've been thoroughly pleased and impressed with the level of response I've gotten off of you all, much of it has been encouraging and confirmed my own thoughts on my Blog. One or two people have even helped me formulate and crystalise my ideas for those other types of article I mentioned earlier on, and I'm immensely grateful too them for helping me. So as the last word on analysis, ask your readers opinions and listen to them.

Die n00bs, DIEEEE!!!!!!
Develop a voice, personality and identity

To quote one of my cinematic heroes, Tyler Durden:

'Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.'

I've always loved that quote from Fight Club, because it's so hate filled and aggressive. It's also charged with so much negative energy, depression, defeat and a subtle hint of truth that it bites hard. Many of us go through life thinking we're a unique snowflake, and maybe to our friends and loved ones we are. But, in the broad scheme of things we are the same decaying organic matter as everything else. Unless we do something about it, unless we step out from under other people's shadows and get a personality, use our voice to say something different. This might seem like a particularly obvious thing to say, but it's by no means an easy thing to achieve. It's taken me nearly 10 months to get to this stage, where I feel comfortable with my persona and identity on this Blog. The language I've used and my own writing style has changed significantly from my first ever Blog, and I'd hope it's changed for the better. I'm not sure I've changed, but what has is that I'm now better at communicating who I am and showing you all more of my personality, I'm more comfortable with it now. But, there are some key things that I think have helped me to remain true to who I am as a person in my writing AND allowed me to develop a unique online voice:

  1. Know why you're Blogging, and try and stick to it. I have a note book / diary that I write my notes and thoughts in. On the back page are a list of reasons as to why I'm Blogging. Every now and then I read them to give me a gentle reminder of why I'm doing what I do, who I am and what I want to achieve. It keeps me focused as a Blogger and helps people understand and engage with what I write.
  2. Have fun, whatever fun is to you. Seriously sometimes even I get a bit too serious and wonder why the hell I'm doing all of this... then I stop, re-read that list I mentioned above and remember I'm doing this because it's supposed to be enjoyable.
  3. Try and write about things you're passionate about. There are a one-hundred-and-one Bloggers out there writing on flavour of the month topics, and doing so in unoriginal and bland ways. So don't join the herd. Find your own way and remember ol' blue eyes and do it your way.
  4. Don't be afraid to let who you are, the way you speak and anything else about you shine through. I'm told one of the reasons I'm so popular is because I wear my heart on my sleeve and say what I think and then explain why I think it. That's very much who I am in real life. I'd urge you all to do the same, if people don't like you for it, well tough! Don't change who you are to suit others, otherwise what's the point in you Blogging?Who you are and what you like will have a natural audience out there, you just need to find and connect with them.

Princess Dinah Bear looking regal
That's all about your writing style I guess, what you say and how you say it. That to me is the most important stuff, because when the pretty pictures and swanky gadgets are exhausted it's who you are and what you say that's of paramount importance with any Blog. But actually, I've found that a happy accident that made my Blog pink and purple has really helped give me a strong 'brand identity'. Good God that made me sound like a complete prick, but it's true... the brand identity bit, not the bit about being a complete prick... I hope! I've caught people on forums referring to me as the 'pink Blog', or the 'purple Blog' with the Hexes and people seem to know who they mean. So don't be afraid to make your Blog stand out from the crowd and look different. Grey is not a colour it's a cop out! Obviously pink and purple hexes are taken, but hey there's not many of you out there who'd want your Blog to look as... erm... vibrant as mine. Just play around with the look and don't be the same as all the others. I've personally found if a Blog makes a visual impact when I first see it, I'm way more likely to remember it. Sure, OK, so maybe being known as that 'pink Blog' isn't doing my man points any good but it certainly doesn't seem to be harming me any either. Just try and grab yourselves an identity, and then run with it and above all else accept it... even if it is pink!

Presentation

This is honestly very different to personality and image. I'm not a professional print editor or graphics designer, and even if I were Blogger, and to a lesser extent I'm told Wordpress, offer us very limited design tools. that doesn't however mean we should just give up and just ignore presentation. Let's be honest, badly laid out messy Blogs annoy the hell out of us don't they? Well they do me. Hopefully I've kept mine simple and clutter free, but here are some simple rules with regards to presentation:

  1. Always re-read your articles two or three times before you publish them, and give them a cooling off period. Maybe 24 or 48 hours and come back to them and re-read them, allow them to breathe like a good wine, refine and finesse them to make sure they say what you want them too. A polished article is always easily noticeable and just elevates the Blog that it resides on above the mass of amateur Blogs out there. Rushed crap comes across as rushed crap!
  2. Proof reading, this isn't the same as above. I was once told by a professional proof reader and editor that she'd never proof read her own work. The reason? We're all a little bit blind to our own faults and mistakes. She's right too, we all know what we think we have said and often gloss over things without really reading them properly. In short if you can find somebody else to re-read your articles, do it. It's not always going to be possible but it will help with your presentation. God only knows I could use more of it myself, but I'm a stubborn bugger, who wants to try and do this myself because of my dyslexia. Don't make the same mistakes as me!
  3. Try and lay things out with images and make it look presentable, a wall of words can be very, very daunting to read off of a computer screen. Ironic I know given this article is essentially nothing but a huge wall of text!!!
  4. Keep the look of your Blog and its layout as clean and simple as you can. Don't over clutter it with lots of gadgets that aren't needed and things in weird places.
  5. Have a decent header / banner. I know my Blog didn't have a proper header for quite some time and it really looked poor because of it. Maybe my banner isn't the best in the world but it's crisp, it's clear and it actually says quite a lot about what me and my Blog are about.
  6. Use jump breaks, seriously it stops your Blog page just being really difficult to zip around and it just looks prettier with them.
  7. Don't be afraid to go back and re-edit articles if you've made grammar or spelling mistakes, or even if the page layout looks utterly pants, change it! I view my Blog as a living entity as opposed to a stuffy archive, while I wouldn't necessarily change the meaning of an article, all other things are fair game as far as I'm concerned. Plus often I'll insert 'edits' and make it clear they're an edit. 
  8. Be honest. I like to think that most of us are honest, but I like to make things clear in my Blog when it comes to my opinions and where I'm coming from. The clearest example for me is my reviews of product I've been given for free, I always let you know, and I always will. Honesty goes a long way.

Speaking of my reviews I've been asked by a lot of people for specific guidance on how I approach my reviews, so I'll possibly do an article on that at some point, but for now it's just too big a topic to include here. Now the above list might seem like much of it is the boring things you don't want to do, because it just makes it all seem like hard work, and we all want Blogging to be fun, right? However, much of it you'll only really have to do once, plus with the article presentation stuff once you get into the swing of things and start displaying good habits they'll become second nature. If it looks professional you're half way to being professional in my book.

Sadly the other cats learned this bum warming trick!
Learn off of others, but don't obsess about them!

Honestly, you could arguably do a comparative content analysis and check some menial or nominal (as stats in name only) stats like hit counters, or on Blogger, number of Followers. Truth is though you shouldn't obsess about such things. I don't personally, or I try to avoid it, for me I like to read other people's Blogs and take from them what I like and enjoy, or conversely what I don't! It might be less scientific on the one hand, but the truth is these comparative analyses I've conducted myself have kicked up an alarming none pattern amongst the data. Lack of patterns scares me, because there should always be patterns and order to the universe... and that's quite enough of my neurosis... for now. Content and quality of articles actually has very little to do with, which Blogs become popular and, which Blogs don't. Anyone who says otherwise is talking crap. In many cases it just seems utterly random to me. I've looked at Blog layout too, I've also looked at content analysis like I said and I've looked at many other factors besides. What I have noticed is that those Blogs with quality content tend to have 'firmer' fan bases and therefore are more stable in terms of their hits, comments etc... But beyond that whether a Blog becomes 'big' (relative term I know), or remains obscure, in many respects seems to be down to blind luck... and as us gamers know lady luck can be a fickle mistress! So don't stress about it.

I'm sure I could analyse it some more and find a complex many layered pattern if I really tried, but I'm not too sure that within the sea of data if any pattern did emerge it'd be 'significant'. There I go again with my empirical brain! The one thing that I have noticed though is that many of those Blogs that do seem to get 'big' tend to do so through a number of quite simple tactics:

  1. Write about populist stuff. Might seem obvious but if all you are after is lots and lots of hits then get yourself onto a bandwagon people. There are a few, which seem to yield good results. Most notably the 40k netlist Blogs. Hey people want to know what works and what doesn't in 40k and if you're good at it like like Kirby and co at 3++ is the new black your site will get noticed very quickly. Just like if you are good at writing painting tutorials, or actually if you are good at anything popular you'll eventually get noticed and people will start seeking you out.
  2. Network effectively. I'll talk about this in more depth in the section below, but if you're not a mathammer guru or painting savant then the other option open to you is to network like a Beverly Hills hooker!!! Put yourself about baby and shake that ass!!!

But what I take from other peoples Blogs, as I said, is mainly my own enjoyment. Linking back to the whole analysis thing I try to think about what I like about other people articles, and why it is I enjoy them so much. Often there's not much in there that I can actively emulate, and nor would I want to, but it does bring your own writing and Blogging into sharp relief. It helps me understand my own writing and how I fit into the 'ether' so to speak. I would urge people to go out and read other people Blogs and not become isolated in their own little rank, fetid corner of the Internet going stale, because that way lies obscurity and irrelevance.

Network, Network and Network some more.

There are two types of networking I guess that you as a Blogger can do, and they're pretty simple if I'm honest:

  1. Be part of the community. Sounds obvious, but go out there and read other people's stuff. I do, in fact I do it a lot. You guys who write Blogs give me a lot of personal inspiration so it's good from that aspect, and if you enjoy something leave a comment saying so. It only takes a couple of seconds and it builds a connection to someone else who might come and take a look at your stuff. Don't do the mutual Blog following crap though, that's redundant and ultimately leads to hollow results in terms of upping your follower counter, but does very little to enhance performance of any other stat. Follow Blogs you like and build relationships with Bloggers you like. Help each other out people, create communities that's what this hobby should be about!
  2. Join a Blogging network. I know, it seems so simple doesn't it? Well why do so many people not bother to do it? Or even only join just the one? Obviously I've joined House of Paincakes and Tabletop Gaming News, but there are others out there that might be better matches for your Blog and personality. Seek them out.

Those are the simple things. The first one though kind of links back to just good old fashioned socialising and maybe even a bit of good social etiquette. What I mean is this, if I write a Blog and somebody takes the time to comment on what I've written that really makes me happy, and two things spring from this for me. Firstly if it makes me feel good about myself and what I have written, then it stands to reason that it would also make others feel good about what they've written too. Just take the time to say thanks or take part in the debate. Secondly if somebody has gone out of their way to engage with something I've written I'm going to be damn sure to try and engage back with them on my Blog. I try to respond to everyone who takes the time to email me or comment, it's not always easy or indeed needed in the thread of discussion, but I still try and respond, be helpful and engage with others. Again it's just good manners in my book and it seems to go a long way to encouraging others to come back time and time again to your Blog.

Here we can see Dinah and Macca 'networking'

But there are other good Blogging etiquette issues out there. I personally became rapidly aware that my Blog might actually be receiving a fair old degree of hits compared to some of my peers. I therefore felt it was somehow my duty to include people I followed and liked on my own Blog roll. It's a really simple tool and it's really easy to set up, but it helps share everyone's work. My own Blog roll has arguably gotten so big I might need to split it into two rolls so everyone gets enough 'air time', but I feel it's a really important part of the whole Blog networking thing. I've gone one step further and actually given shout outs to Bloggers I really like, and whose articles I think deserve a wider audience. It's a common courtesy and something we should all perhaps do more of, myself included, and while I don't give shout outs to get reciprocal shout outs, it very often happens that if you give someone a plug they'll plug you right back because... it's just good manners!

These buttons open up a world of possibilities!

You can help people get their Blog out there more than just plonking them on your Blog roll though. At the bottom of each Blogger article are a number of tiny little icons that can help disseminate articles in a variety of ways. Read an article you've really liked? Well email it to a friend who might also like it, Blog about, Tweet it on your Twitter account, post it to Facebook or Google+ it. Doesn't take much of you time but helps put other people's work out there. I've used these symbols and I guess I think of it as a way of tacitly supporting someone whose work I appreciate. Another way of networking and promoting what your doing is to take part in other online communities such as message boards and let people in those communities know what you're up to, and what you're doing if it might be interesting to them. Be warned though, do not simply spam sites with a never ending stream of links, it can annoy the hell out of people and thus end up counter-productive. I've had other people link back to some of my articles on forums they're part of and I know who they are and I appreciate it. So network, it'll significantly increase the success of your Blog and may actually be the most important factor in a Blogs success.

Being Organised: Get into a routine

This is something I've actually not quite got down yet myself, even after almost a year of Blogging I guess I still feel there could be way more structure to what I do on this Blog. I think having a more stringent framework would not only help me to organise my time, but would also help my readers to perhaps become familiar with a pattern of posting. This could help them to use my Blog more frugally and efficiently, which given many of you appear to be lunchtime surfers is something I'd like to help with. You know cutting down the time you have to spend checking up to see if I've posted something new. Because you know every Friday is comic post day or something, a bit like I've done with my Sunday Sermons. But, first I have to figure out what is 'right' for me. To aid with this I've been keeping a Blogging diary of sorts, whereby I've been able to monitor my productivity level over the past 12 months... and yep... I've analysed it. I know that even when I was doing a full time job my productivity levels on this Blog were still as high as writing between 3 to 5 decent sized articles a week. It seems I'm able to churn this crap out at an alarming rate right now, but I need to keep monitoring that because it might change.

Poppy getting organised... or just destroying stuff!!!

However, what is right for you might be different to what's right for me. We've all got different life pressures and commitments, so what's good for one person might be another's worst nightmare. So I urge you all to get a diary started and just keep track of what you do, it doesn't have to be anything massively detailed. For me I just jotted down what I'd written, when I'd written it and how many words it was. In this way I've been able to build up a good profile of my productivity and understand when I'm actually at my most productive (just before dinner if you must know) and I plan my time around exploiting these moments where inspiration or energy is high with me. It's actually really helped me. What I will say to you all though is that you should try to avoid 'dead air' at all costs, nothing kills a Blog faster than A) getting out of that routine and B) having nothing up for people to read for weeks on end. I try to ensure two things to help me avoid this problem:

  1. I aim to always publish at least one article a week, but preferably two.
  2. I aim to keep a store of already completed articles ready to rock and roll in case my productivity levels drop. My arbitrary figure is a store of 10 complete Blogs, if I drop below this I know it's time to step up the productivity levels and get writing.

Those two rules coupled means that 9 times out of 10 I'm normally writing at least one Blog a week. That keeps me in a nice routine. Right now though my stash of 10 completed articles involves a hell of a lot of Sunday Sermons, and I really need to diversify my fall back plan options... but hey as I'm so organised on the Sermons I can afford to neglect them for a few weeks. See routines are useful! As I say though my own Blog could do with more routine, so perhaps I shouldn't labour the point too much as I'm certainly no paragon of orderly routine myself. It's just I think it is important and if you can get yourself into a good one and be disciplined about it, it'll make your life a hell of a lot easier and your Blog more user friendly to engage with.

Offer to help a fellow Blogger out!

Look, it doesn't take too much of our time to offer a little bit of free advice. My door is always open to any of you who want to ask for any hints and tips. I'll always try to help if I can. I'm by no means an expert but if we all give each other a bit of help and advice we'll all become better Bloggers for it, and if we're all getting better we'll all generate more hits. Then if we're all being good little networkers the trickle down will hit us all and we'll get ourselves into a virtuous circle people. This isn't a competition, it's not a dog eat dog thing, it's nerds writing about our hobby and believe it or not there's more than enough of us to go around. So take the time to help a n00b out or even a veteran who is struggling to get more traffic or whatever, why? Because they might attract new people to your own little Blogging network community that you wouldn't have, and once they're locked in they might stumble across your Bog. I don't want to go all hippie on you people, but spread the love man... or woman... don't want to come across as sexist! So there are three things really to remember:

  1. Ask for advice if you need to. There are loads of Bloggers out there who will give you honest friendly advice. Hopefully I'm one of them, and if you ever need to ask, you know where I am.
  2. If somebody asks for your advice don't fob them off and try to wriggle out of it. Treat it as a compliment and help them out, I'm not saying write their Blog for them, just take the time to be friendly, courteous and above all else helpful.
  3. And remember if you're going to ask for advice, never take criticism personally, and always, always be polite. Rude people and sweary angry Blogs and Bloggers get ignored and bypassed very quickly. Take criticism with dignity and learn from it and come back stronger next time.

It's this part that has surprised me the most. I was surprised originally by how many people were willing to offer me some help back when I was taking my first tentative steps onto the world wide web. People like Doctor Warlock, Sorrowshard, Lauby, Jake Thornton, Martin, Eastwood DC, MCT, James S, Papa JJ, Colonel Shofer and Von. If I haven't said so already, I'd just like to say thanks to you all, you've really helped me grow my own Blog and helped me to become a much better Blogger. What they have generated in me with offering their help so selflessly is good will, and interestingly me helping out others has garnered a lot of good will too. Do not underestimate the power of good will, because today's n00b could be tomorrows Blogging superstar, and most people do actually remember those who helped them on their way! Well they do if they're any sort of decent human being.

Defining success!

I told you I'd get around to it eventually. I really don't want to sound all new age again and clichéd, but what the hell... success is really what you make of it. Honestly, when I started doing this Blogging malarkey I set myself some terribly simplistic goals:

  • Keep the Blog going for 1 year and still be enjoying it.
  • Promote all aspect of the hobby in a positive way.
  • Write 100 Blogs in my first year.
  • Create a positive friendly community around my Blog that discuss things openly and freely.
  • Write at least 1 Blog without a bloody spelling mistake!

Well I've certainly achieved the 100 Blogs in my first year, and I'd like to think I've promoted all aspects of the hobby in a positive way... Dreadfleet aside, but I'm positive it's crap! I also think you guys have helped form a really strong community around this Blog and that's something I'm incredibly proud of. So I've not quite made it to a full year yet, but I am close and I am still enjoying it. The other one I'm not so sure I've achieved yet, bloody defective brain! But I'll strive to get there.

For a tired Tybs this is a great success!

For others it's all about the numbers, and I can see why that would become addictive in its own way. However, that way lies madness I feel for a number of reasons. You can't predict the Internet, trust me many smarter people than I have tried too and got it horribly wrong. So don't bother, by all means celebrate a numerical achievement if it feels like one, but don't have them as your goals. Because if you're focused purely on the numbers as a measure of your success you'll be ignoring the things that will actually make your Blog a success... good solid, well written and thought out articles. You should have as your primary goals things that focus on quality and output rather than arbitrary markers in the sand. If you Blog it and Blog it well, trust me the success in terms of numbers will come. As for me I celebrate every comment I get on my Blog the most, because engaging with fellow gamers in a constructive and interesting way was a key reason I started my Blog in the first place. Lets be honest forums can be depressing places at times. So I'd say set your own targets, use mine if you really want to, but whatever you do don't compare yourself to other peoples Blogs as a means of measuring your own success!

Conclusion

So this is it, this is my magic formula. It wouldn't quite fit onto a dry wipe white board and I'm sorry about its length. Not everything will work for everyone and some people will just think that what I have written is a big old pile of crap. That's fine, but this is my contribution to the greater good as it were. Hopefully if any of you think there is anything useful in this Blog you'll all be good citizens and remember to link people to it. I'm also fully aware that I don't know everything, despite rumours to the contrary, so if you guys have any top tips yourself then please either write your own articles and link them back here in the comments sections, or just put your own top tips in my comments section. Hey, perhaps we can make this Blog a repository for all worldly knowledge on Blogging, now that would be a success! Right, I started this Blog talking about little Frontline Gamer who struggled to cope with having a defective brain, and a teacher who helped him. Well there was another teacher who helped me greatly while I was at High School, Miss Pompfrey. She too noticed my problems and got me tested finally for dyslexia, but more importantly than that she told me that everyone had a voice that deserved to be heard, even me. She encouraged me to write, and to express myself not just in music or other outlets, but in the written word, not to shy away from it because I found it difficult. If it wasn't for her I assure you I would not be writing this Blog and thus you would not be reading it. Hopefully this little article can be my way of encouraging somebody else to speak up and be heard. Peace out!

66 comments:

  1. My pleasure buddy - great piece - keep 'em coming !!!!

    CS

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  2. I am glad StatCounter is helping you. Thanks for the shout out.

    I personally use far more spaces and punctuation than you- I always feel I'm out of breath when I read your articles, however- they are fun. So, Shrug; I guess it works for you.

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    1. lol. I've had a fair few people tell me they like the fact that I write 'proper' paragraphs rather than lines. It was one of the most common compliments actually. To quote one such response I had:

      "I think a lot of blogger underestimate what capacity people have to read. I much prefer your essay style writing to the Twitter feed broken style many bloggers have."

      Obviously Sam was the most articulate as to why he liked my style but many seem to appreciate that I don't skimp on content or language.

      However, this is a beast of an article. But I felt as so many had asked me to do it, I ought to do it properly. It's not been so bad so far, 523 hits and counting. I'm not too sure everyone will read it all though!!! :P

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    2. Cheers I_D. Hopefully you've found something useful in it all.

      Delete
  3. Nice read mate.. lots of good advice here, and honestly I believe I will be coming back to this article quite often. I guess you can say that this will be a high yield article over time..

    Now to go back on the data I have, and see how it looks and see what changes I can make to my own.

    Challenge is still out there though.. 1 million hits, and 1000 followers.. all within the first 24 months.. I know you can do it ;)

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    1. 1 million hits in 24 months is a big ask according to my stats. As is getting to 1000 followers, and I'm honestly not too sure I can be bothered trying to get 'there' tbh. It's a goal, and I'll monitor it as you set it as a challenge but there's not way I'm going to bust a gut trying to get to that sort of size. If it happens it happens!!! :P

      If you ever want any specific advice you can always just email me.

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  4. I found this article helpful and interesting, I never write these kind of deep analysis pieces on my blog, but that speaks a bit to my personality. I've always fancied myself as mini painter and my blog only exists as a place for me to show off the things that I paint. I just lack author stamina, if writing were running I'm a sprinter.

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    1. That's exactly the point. If this sort of article isn't your thing, just don't bother. I'd rather read articles that were a clear product of the author than the author trying to be somebody else. That's fake and people can spot fake and faux a mile off!!! I stumbled across your Blog the other day and honestly I really like what you do. Do what comes natural to you is the best advice in that article I think.

      Delete
  5. I can't emphasize the "Develop a voice, personality and identity" part enough. I created a blog last year to post about nerd related stuff, but wanted to avoid doing what similar blogs usually do - i.e. regurgitate the same movie trailers and pictures that everyone else and their mother have already posted. Well, guess what I ended up doing? Yeah, I started doing that very thing after a while. Once I realized that, I put the blog on hiatus until I could figure out what to do with it.

    It's impossible to be totally unique, but you should strive to establish noticeable differences between your blog and all the others.

    One of the reasons why I like reading wargaming blogs (even though I've never partaken in the sport) is because they are so different from each other. I mean, you have dozens of blogs that focus on medieval, fantasy, WWII, or scifi wargaming, but each is different enough that they don't run together.

    Finally, make sure you actually have something to blog about. I cannot count the number of personal and political blogs that I've created and deleted after running out of either things to post about or just interest.

    Nice blog post, by the way, FG.

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    1. All of the above gets a thumbs up from me Jason. You are absolutely right in everything you say.

      As to wargames Blogs being different, many are. But I do despair of just how many remain stubbornly similar to each other and just re-post news release stuff off of news sites without doing anything different.

      Trust me if it has been on TTGN we've seen it. Don't just post ic of new mini's tell me what you think of them!!! Shesh!!! :P

      As for not having trued wargaming... dude we need to rectify this ASAP. We need details, where do you live and what games interest you. We need to get you an intro game into the greatest hobby ever.

      Cheers for the compliment too! :)

      Delete
  6. What an arrogant, self righteous ass hat!!1! :P

    Only messing mate, that was a really good read, not the sort of article I was expecting to see but I enjoyed reading it and I feel like I've learnt a lot from it.

    I think one of the parts that stood out for me was "Don't be afraid to let who you are, the way you speak and anything else about you shine through"; from my perspective, I think that one of the reasons that I enjoy looking over your blog is the fact that you've achieved this and it means that your readers can relate to you.

    In terms of a routine, I can see that it's probably best for bloggers to work to some sort of regime but I actually like the fact that the appearance of articles is somewhat random; I keep checking back for new articles and comments on some of the articles that spark a bit of debate and I think knowing when something new's due would probably reduce the amount of times I check in (although saying that I have admit that I do find myself looking forward to Sunday's posts... sad sort that I am...).

    One other thing that I thought of after reading about your love of statistics again is that given that I check your blog quite regularly sometimes it's at home, sometimes it's at work and sometimes it's on my phone so statistically I don't know if people that visit like this look like several different people.

    And finally, good on Mrs Farringdon and Miss Pompfrey; this is what teachers should be doing!

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    1. Oh shut it you!!! :P Ass hat indeed!!! ;)

      Hmmm... I hadn't consider that possible side effect of regular scheduled posting. I don't think I'll ever go down the route of being 100% scheduled, but right now I am looking at adding maybe two other weekly articles. Like I have with the Sunday Sermons. It'll be interesting to monitor there impact when they're running

      I'll always want to drop different articles on you because lets face it, the hobby is far too interesting to let routine get in the way of cool new stuff!!! As for the voice thing, it's really, really important. the Blogs and Bloggers I go back too time and time again are the ones who clearly put a lot of themselves into their posts.

      As to the teachers... I also remember the ones who told me I'd never get to university, that I'd never amount to much because I was stupid. I once had a teacher explain to the rest of the class that I was a moron for spelling something wrong... only for one of the girls to point out in the class that I'd actually spelled the word right and he'd just misunderstood what I was trying to say. The upshot? We both got detention!!! I remember the bad too... but I'd rather remember the good. Mrs Farringdon and Miss Pompfrey have played a very big part in making me who I am today. I'd hope that would make them proud.

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  7. I haven't had time to digest this full post, but I definitely intend to (asap!). Even without having done so yet, I can tell it's packed with awesome advice. I'm in a bit of a crummy spot with my blog right now - I use Jigsy, which I find has really nice and easy "drag and drop" updating/formatting tools and in particular makes it easy to do the multiple Galleries I like to do with all my painted minis.

    The problem is, I then miss out on all the great Google tools and analytics, and that's a major bummer. I want to switch to Blogger for that reason, but a) it means somehow migrating all my content, domain AND all my readers, and b) as far as I can tell, Blogger doesn't seem to have very strong gallery tools. I could be wrong about that.

    All that said, one thing that might be cool is if you did little critiques for various hobby bloggers (if they are cool with it?). I'd love that kind of feedback.

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    1. You can use Google analytics on any website at all. Same with Statcounter. If you need to contact me to find out more just email me:

      TheFrontlineGamerBlog@Gmail.com

      As to Bloggers gallery tools... it's something I'm looking into actually as you can get at the HTML behind Blogger and the templates so you should theoretically be able to do a fair degree with it. I'm hoping to sex up the look of this Blog a little bit over the next few months or so and maybe change it's layout before I start on my second year of Blogging.

      As to critiquing other peoples Blogs... hmmm... not too sure I'd be comfortable with it if I'm honest with you. I have an inbuilt thing about judging others. I guess I could do it like a review, but I'd only do it via email. I would never post a critique or a review of a Blog up on my own Blog. I'd like to keep it private, but if somebody asked me what I thought and what I'd change I'd always do my best to help.

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  8. Well this might be contender for FG blog post of the year ! - has he peaked early the pundits say? Well the house has laid odds and I am a betting man that no the best is still to come but this was an extraordinary piece.

    The trouble is...I am awful at taking advice truly awful.

    However I will book mark this and refer back later!

    I think at this time in my blog life cycle the best advise for me is to know why I am writing. And for me with a busy home life and friends all abroad currently it is all about remaining engaged.

    Good tips about networks though I do need to do more of that - and a blog roll. Damn I am going to have to look under the hood aren't I?

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    1. Everyone said I'd peaked with my Imperium as metaphor Blog!!!

      I can take advice, I've never had a problem taking advice and learning from others. It's bloody help I struggle with, when people try to 'help' me I've always felt like it's a judgement on my ability and that people are saying I can't do something. Given how defensive I became over my dyslexia I really struggle to accept help.

      And yes you are going to have to look under the hood!!! If you need any help you know where I am. :)

      Delete
  9. I have just recently picked up on your Blog and I wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this particular post - very informative and more importantly interesting.

    Thanks for all the tints and tips.

    Tony

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    1. Hey I'm glad you've found it informative and interesting, and I'm glad you have found my Blog. :)

      Delete
  10. Eris on a wombat, that's a lot of words.

    First thing: thanks for the shout-out! I'm not sure what on Earth you've learned from me but whatever it was, I'm glad to have been of service.

    Second thing: I have to admit, I very seldom have a buffer of entries pre-written, and I don't re-draft more than once (to catch obvious errors of judgement, terrible phrasing or formatting errors). I do spend a lot of time writing the things in the first place though.

    Third thing: I had a blog roll once but it got too, too long and laggy. I can't give the attention to everyone without deforming the page, and I refuse to single out a few people off the reading list as 'more deserving' than others. That's why I started doing the Read and Respond things, so I can at least direct some attention toward other people that way...

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    1. No there are plenty of peeps who have had issues with Blog rolls recently!!! :P

      I think for me I need to do two. I have no problem with cramming loads into the Blogger gadget as it seems to cope with it surprisingly well so far.

      As for having a backlog of Blogs ready. Each to their own but I've found it a really useful thing to have built up. You've met me in person, can you honestly see me doing Blogging by the seat of my pants? I'm precise, methodical and nothing I do hasn't been planned meticulously. A friend of mine once joked that even my spontaneity was scheduled. lol. Screw you Tom!!! Yeah that was planned too. :(

      As to the help. When I first started asking for feedback on posts, many moons ago now it seems, you were one of the few who gave me feedback. SO I've always appreciated it, plus I enjoy reading your stuff and your Blog is one of the ones I 'bounce' off if you will.

      Delete
    2. I can't see you doing anything by the seat of your kecks, except possibly sitting down. And even then, you'd have evaluated the resilience, proximity and long-term comfort factor of the chairs. I'll surprise you one day though.

      Did I do that? It sounds like the sort of thing I would do, so colour me convinced.

      Delete
    3. Yeah... I'm a very methodical individual. I know how I work best, I'm always willing to try new approaches and stuff as I'm an experimenter at heart, BUT you know damn well I'll have done my background checks, research and asked for two references!!! :P

      ... it's just who I am.

      Delete
  11. When I started my blog, it was more at the pushing of a co-worker that said I could do well. problem I knew right away was that I simply didn't bandwagon enough to be a 'top dog' in terms of hits. I do what I do, and if people are interested, they'll find it. At least that is how I also look at things.

    As such I always move in a very specific pattern of Game A > Game B > Game C, but you won't really find me saying anything about a previous system simply because I don't focus on multiple systems. I don't talk about GW releases often (every now and then I'll comment if something is particular hideous or awesome) since I don't play either of their main systems, and now that I know my wife can't stand WarmaHordes, I don't bother writing about that since I simply don't play it any longer.

    For me blogging is more of a way I can just get a archive of my thoughts and activities rather then trying to get followers. As I said before, if people are interested they'll find the blog, if not then it really isn't a huge loss for me.

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    1. I have to be honest and say I have a fair degree of sympathy with this comment. I too believe as I said in the article, that as long as you're being true to yourself and who you are, your Blog will have an audience. Sometimes though you have to put yourself out there tofind them because often it's diffecult to find gems. I'm still going through all of my followers trying to read up on their Blogs. Honestly... there's a lot of good stuff out there that sadly gets passed by. That's a real shame and I feel frustrated on peoples behalf!!! :)

      However, what you've just done is define why you Blog, and what you consider your own success criteria to be. To me it sounds like you're bang on course with what you want to be doing. That's all any of us should really expect of what we do. If other people like it then fanbloodytastic in my book. :)

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    2. "I simply didn't bandwagon enough to be a 'top dog' in terms of hits. I do what I do, and if people are interested, they'll find it."

      Amen. I think that's the founding principle of GAME OVER, to be honest. When there's a wall of Necron Codex reviews on somebody's blogroll, I'll still be talking about building a better AD&D world, or whatever else has fallen through my brain-pocket this week.

      Delete
    3. I am still waiting for your review of White Dwarf Presents: Chaos Dwarfs in that case Von ; )

      Delete
    4. @Von, yeah I have a good chuckle when I see Blog rolls fill up with identikit new Codex reviews. I find it even funnier that they normally go live in the day the damn thing is out and therefore they CAN'T have reviewed the damn things properly. But hey if that's your thing, more power to you. I can't remember what Blog it was now but on the day the Blog rolls were swamped with Necron Codex Blogs I remember seeing an article on 'revisiting Mordheim' that shone out like the brightest star to me... bloody brilliant read and I wonder whether they got more hits because they simply stood out in a crowd of steely grey and neon green? I'd like to think so.

      @Minitrol, consider that request seconded!!!

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    5. I second what Von said...although it pains me to do so, curse his beard.

      Delete
    6. I'd third it, but the bugger says so much you never know quite what one is thirding!!! :P

      Still love you Von!!! ;)

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  12. I just want to thank you for putting an article like this together. I have a Gaming Blog in the works as well and it was interesting to see someone else's thought process about running one. I look forward to see any other articles about the subject (maybe the Reviews one you mention).

    Either way, as a new(ish) follower I might take you up on the advice offer =)

    --WarLokk

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    1. Yeah I think I'll be doing the article on how I approach reviews in the next few weeks. I have a decent skeleton to the article but I need to sit down and decide how I want to flesh it out. If you think my advice would be helpful then please ask. I'll always try my best.

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  13. I sure wish da kittehs did moar posts 'round 'ere...
    ;)

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    1. Teh kittehs will b doin moar pawsts dunt yu worrie!!!

      Get off the bloody keyboard cat!!!

      Sorry that was Macca. He's been planning some moar, I me more Macavity presents articles. I might let him loose once a month if he behaves.

      Delete
  14. This is an excellent post. I was reading it and thinking "This is spectacular advice! Maybe I should start a blog. I could blog about the various games I purchase, and reports of gaming sessions. Perhaps throw in some historical background where relevant, as I do love history..."

    Then I came to my senses and remembered how I loathe writing and how incredibly long it takes me to write out even a few paragraphs. But still, a very nice article, and I'm sure many will find it helpful.

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    1. Actually that's also another very valid point. Blogging is a lot of work, despite what people say about it all being just good fun. It takes effort, and it just simply won't be for everyone. Don't start or if you're not sure about doing it!!! :)

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    2. Amen to that. Content is sometimes hard to come by. I don't know how you constantly roll out these huge posts!

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    3. Honestly DoK? I'm full of shit!!! Or that's what my friends would say. :P My brain runs at a 1000mph all the time. In a day I often have hundreds of ideas and I carry a note book with me and jot them down. Not always about the Blog of course. Some will get discarded but many of them will get crystalised into firm articles or tasks. I also have an amazing amount of energy and can just brain dump my ideas in a constant stream of never ending crap. I then go back and edit it all. I suppose a lot of what I do is very much down to me as a person, I'm pretty sure most people don't 'work' like me. When I was a line manager first time around I struggled to understand why others didn't do things my way... took me a while to figure out I was a freak of nature and accept my colleagues for what they did and what they contributed to the whole.

      Delete
  15. Excellent article, you have enlightened me some things i was doing the right way, and some other things i do really bad. Focusing on quality and feedback from readers is one thing that i also think is important.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    Cheers! :)

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    1. Hey I'm a strong believer in the fact that there's more than one way to skin a cat. For me this approach works. I can't see me ever doing things differently because it's just how my brain is set up. I have to do things this way. However, if my hints and tips can help others then that's great.

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  16. my number one take away point from all this is that I have been neglecting more than few of the tech and layout aspects of my own blog. A little bit on the ol' HoP as well if we're honest. Might be time to reinstate the flames!

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    1. Flames are always EPIC WIN!!!

      I vote for HoP Flames of fury. *sage nod*

      Delete
  17. Very informative article, this. You've inspired me to have a bit of a fiddle with my blog. Although I learned a few minutes ago that it shows up differently on different PCs. I changed some stuff before I went to bed on my primitive upstairs doodah, and when I just had a look, I couldn't read a thing. :-D Problem solved now, though!

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    1. Don't fiddle too much, you might crash the Internets!!! :P

      Delete
  18. Cheers buddy, for living with Dyslexia, you've learned how to cope with and surpass the hurdles placed before you quite well. Your articles are well thought out and excellent food for thought.

    Really it's a model to me, of what I hope to achieve with my own writings when I'm to the point that I could publish it to a blog. Normally I'm not a prolific writer though, so I need to make sure the things I write about are what I'm passionate about. I'm hoping though this desire and necessity correlate and assist my efforts. It's always a joy though to talk with others, such as yourself, and read what other blogs have posted as well as it allows some excellent discussion points and opinions to sprout up when traveling between articles and authors.

    I feel experience is by far the most valuable thing that can be shared in any community. For being the same decaying organic matter, every person still offers a unique experience to a particular event, whether they know it at the moment or not. In my job field of electrical maintenance and repair, I have found it to be actually quite fascinating how much I can learn about the machines I'm working on, from people who only work their equipment day to day! Regardless of how many times I've read a manual or studied a diagram, the best training and preparations I've had to approach an issue has been passed on to me by someone else's experiences.

    Preparation though, is huge for me. I have never been able to jump feet first into anything if I have not had the chance to study the inner workings first. I feel that by putting forth the effort to plan my advancement into new territory, that ultimately I become more attached and focused on the undertaking, whatever it may be. I am dedicated to wargaming because I have put forth my time, money and attention into the hobby. I am dedicated to the continuation and improvement of the wargaming community because I both enjoy giving to, and learning from community members. It's a great joy to spend an afternoon with people you've not met but once or twice, but still roll dice and game like you've been chums since the younger years.

    I am both excited and anxious to throw my two cents into the greater part of the community on the internet. I hope though with the advice I've recieved, the styles I've read, and the time I'll spend with my lot cast out among the others that I'll improve my own views of the hobby, my writing abilities, and the excellent community that I've become a part of.

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    1. As another new blogger Wobbey drop me a line when you're ready to post for me that first comment was magic.

      If you with anything like the comment above it will be awesomesauce.

      (man crush FG)

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    2. @Wobby, trust me living with 4 huge cats is far harder than living with Dyslexia!!!

      As I said to you in that email, I'm looking forward to seeing what you produce.

      Delete
  19. I used to Blog all the time, not about anything in particular just about life and funny stuff that would happen on a day to day basis.
    However, life started to get me down at the time and I just couldn't fill a post with anything other than negativity. So I stopped and deleted all the content, my Blog is still there, it’s just a blank slate at the moment.

    Things are a hell of a lot better than they used to be and I have been toying with taking up the Blogging Mantle again for a while, just didn't know where / how / why / if to re-start it. I think this article may have given me the push that I need to actually get my ass in gear and start doing something that I really enjoyed again.

    Just wanted to say thanks, not just for a good read, but for that little push as well ^^

    -Voidsign-

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    1. Hey I'm glad I've been able to give you the motivation to go out and do something you love again. I'm going to class that as a win! :)

      Delete
  20. This was a really good read and will take a while to digest fully, but you've given me a few ideas on how too add a bit of polish that my blog's been lacking.

    Thank's

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    1. Glad it has been of some service then!!! :)

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  21. Awesome post! It's really hard to pick up on some of the thigns you mentioned without proper direction or diligent research.

    Do you really have a 10 post buffer? That's intense!

    What you didn't touch on, but I would like to hear more about is how you got so heavy into product reviews? I would like to get into that more, but I'm not really sure how to. Do you just contact vendors and tell them how awesome you are?

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    1. Erm... my 10 post buffer currently stands at 14 posts complete and a further 39 started and mapped out. Don't look at me like I'm a freak!!!!

      lol

      I couldn't really go into too much more detail on the points given it was already such a mammoth Blog. If anyone wants to pick my brains further on certain topics I can clarify certain things.

      As for the reviewing thing, honestly a number of companies got in touch with me and asked if I want to review stuff after my reviews became popular, and I just said yeah sure just as long as you don't expect me to be nice just because it's free!!!

      And I also contact a lot of companies and people I know in various other companies and just ask what's going on. I don't really have a designated way of handling it if I'm honest, it's just sort of happened.

      My Blog has sort of got a rep now as a pretty good review site. So right now I'm just accepting things for review if people want me to review them and that seems to breed even more reviews and it just because self perpetual.

      My advice for getting into reviews therefore is just get darn good at writing them and companies will want you to review their stuff, because most companies have confidence in their products. They expect good reviews. Plus with me even when I pick up on faults I say how I'd prefer things to be and thus help them to improve what they make, or so many companies have told me!!! :)

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    2. That's an excellent breakdown. Thanks for the pointers!

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    3. np if you need any further details just email me at:

      TheFrontlineGamerBlog@gmail.com

      I'll always try my best to answer questions as quickly as I can. Although recently a lot of emails have been getting caught in the spam filter that shouldn't.

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  22. I have always been very envious and inspired when anyone is able to put clear thoughts on a page, and I have found yours to always be that way. After realizing your dyslexia I am doubly impressed. Being dyslexic as well I find it very difficult to express my thought through writing do to the time it takes to edit and trying to make sure everything makes since. Personally any time I am tired, distracted, or under pressure my writing goes to hell (fourth attempt at this post and only one unrecognized word and a dozen misspellings better than normal for 11pm). When you type your articles d you beat away at a keyboard or do you use one of the voice recognition software systems like Dragon

    Please keep it up

    By the way how is that last goal going?

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    1. I use a keyboard. I guess part of writing the Blog for me is to try and teach myself how to get better at writing and typing. I use Firefox as my browser, which has an in-built spell-check facility so that helps. However, like you when I rush or don't pay attention everything goes to hell in a hand basket!!! lol. I've been told that the Dragon voice recognition software is really, really good so maybe I should just accept the help that technology can provide me, but I'm determined (or stubborn) about proving the fact that I'm dyslexic won't hold me back!

      As to my last goal... not managed it yet. lol. I goal back through myposts with help and find mistakes every time. I'm sure I'll never get there, but it's something worth striving for I believe. :)

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  23. Great article! I recently also put up my first blog, regarding tabletopgames and miniatures in general. Theres quite a few good pointers in this post to give me some ideas. Thx. :)

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    1. Read. Liked. Followed! :)

      Glad I could give you some good pointers. If you ever need any advice please feel free to ask me. It might be crap advice, but I'm more than willing to give it! :P

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  24. Well thanks for writing that, your writing reminds me a bit of mine when I get too self indulgent. Obviously you're happy with your blog and have had some success in the niche you've targeted but I'm not so sure you're following all the "best practices" out there, so it is a bit interesting. All the pictures of the cats, the pink/purple background, the white on dark grey text, a lot of this stuff doesn't seem to aide people in reading your blog. Even on my laptop most of the screen is background, not content.

    I know this is a free blogging service and you don't have total control, but I think your color scheme/brand may ultimately be counter productive. Over a decade ago I was a professional software developer and I built lots of websites and web applications and I got tired of always having to use a light colored background with dark text. So I deliberately didn't when I built http://nurgle.muschamp.ca

    Then when I sent the website to the folks on the 40K mailing list, the older guys especially complained that it was hard to read, so I implemented a style switcher, but I'm not sure how many people use it. I used to look at Google results a lot and try to have the #1 site for Nurgle, but then this little website came out called Wikiapedia and I decided that defeating them wasn't really worth the effort. There is also a porn website with Nurgle in the title, that no longer appears in my Google results, but still exists and shows up in results in some newer trendy search engines. That pisses me off.

    I have a lot of stuff I should be doing, not reading or writing about a hobby I don't have much time for anymore, but I'm easily distracted and I too believe in writing about your passions and writing when you have impetus. I want to link to this post even write a rebuttal, but the post is too damn long, so I'll just attach a link for now.

    http://blog.muschamp.ca/2012/01/27/what-is-really-important-when-self-publishing-online/

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    1. Well as somebody who is dyslexic and scotopic sensitive to be precise I can tell you that your choice of colour for text on http://nurgle.muschamp.ca is appalling. lol. Dark sage green on black is actually one of the most common clashes actually. Most people have difficulty with reading green text in some form.
      Just a fact.

      I'm not really too bothered about being the number 1 at anything. As long as the people who read my Blog enjoy it and get something out of it that's fine by me. Being number one means people are always taking pot shots at you any way. I''ll stick with what I'm doing right now as it seems to be working. If it stops working I might mix things up a bit, but only if I want too.

      As to best practice? I've often found it's just copying something that works and justifying why it's 'best practice'. As a systems analyst I often chuckle at best practice guidelines from a few years within in statutory compliance and policy and procedure implementation. Today's best practice is tomorrow's worst practice. People and organisations need to find their own way, because no two people or businesses are the same. You can learn from others just don't ape them is my motto. Hence me repeatedly making the point that this works for me, but might not work for others.

      The issue with background being too big is odd. I have a hell of a lot of old and new hardware kicking around and it displays fine on most of them. I do however have very little control over the Blogger templates, so there is very little I can do about that. Cheers for posting though.

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  25. Excellent! I just added LinkWithin and will grab the statistic stuff to "look under the hood" next. Your article is just what I needed. Thank you! Now if I can just find my voice!

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    1. Well I'm glad you've found this post useful. As for finding your voice, it's what comes out naturally and all you need to do is find a way of capturing how you speak into written form. If you ever want any specific help and you think I'm the person to get it off of, please feel free to email me:

      TheFrontlineGamerBlog@Gmail.com

      Cheers

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  26. Great post. I am going to think your ideas over in the next few days. I was wondering how to get that link within widget so thanks for that.
    Cheers

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    1. Well I'm glad I could help Kiwi. Let me know if there's anything else you need help with. You can email me:

      TheFrontlineGamerBlog@Gmail.com

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