Show Your Game: Your Blog

Your Home Page - Your Blog - Your Wiki - Your Lens - All That Jazz - A Few Dollars More

Do You Need A Blog?

The easy answer is "yes".  Setting up a blog is easy to do, and convenient for other people to read, so if you're undecided regarding whether or not to create a blog, then don't let any perception of difficulty trip you up.  The actual act of doing so is as easy as setting up your web page, so the real question is whether or not you want one.

The decision should depend upon how often you want to write about your game.   A cynic once described a blog as a web page that doesn't have an 'under construction' icon, and there's more than a little truth to that.  If your webpage says everything you feel needs to be said about your game, then a blog is just going to be a distraction.  If, on the other hand, you have more to say than you can easily compact onto a single page, or you want to have a place to showcase new ideas as you have them, then a blog is going to be right up your alley.

Another question to ask is how interested you are in talking with the people who find your game and are interested in it.  If you have nothing but a web page, then you might include an email link, but people are hesitant to use those. They're firing off out into the nether, and they have no idea if you're maybe a crazy person.  In contrast, a blog is a certain type of conversation. It gives you an avenue for talking about your game, but it also gives people with an interest in the game a chance to talk to you (and to get a sense of who you are).  If this is a conversation you want to have, then a blog may be just what you want.

(There's another option, and that is you have no idea what a blog actually is.  If so, there are other people who have answered the question better than I can, so I'll direct you to them.)

However, it's not all puppies and rainbows.  A blog is a commitment. 

I can't stress this strongly enough.  If someone comes to your blog and sees that it has not been updated recently, their first assumption is going to be that your game is dead. Readers are quick to assume that your project has failed, and you must take steps to avoid giving that impression.  The blog is going to benefit more from consistency than anything else, so be prepared to write regularly.  If you have 10 things ready to go, don't release them all at once, because I promise you there will come a time when you'll have have writers block so severe that you'll be tempted to post a LOLcat, and no one deserves that.  This, more than anything, is the issue you're going to need to wrap your head around - if you don't like to feel that you should be writing, then a blog is just going to leave you frustrated

The bottom line is this: blogs are cool, and there's a certain cachet in having a blog, but don't do it unless you genuinely want to.

How To Set Up Your Blog

Like web hosting, there are numerous free options for posting your own blog, and a number of them are very good indeed.  Among the options there are a few standouts, and while I'll be sticking with the Google family and talking about Blogger, if you are curious about your options, you might enjoy wordpress or tumblr.

Start out by going to  Blogger, and see if you can the same blog name as your web page.  If you picked a reasonably distinctive name, it shouldn't be a problem.  Enter the name, prove you're a human being, then just pick a layout.  I won't say which one to go with, but if you go for one with really garish colors, make sure that's what you really want.  You want people to notice what you have to say, not your color scheme.  You'll open up into a form that lets you enter your first blog entry.  If you'd like to post something about who you are and why you're doing this, you can, but it's ok to wait til later too. For the moment, let's just look at the other settings.

Hopefully you've got a distinctive image you can add to the sidebar - when in doubt go with the cover of your book - with a few clicks.  From your blog, click on the "Customize" link in the upper right. This will take you to a control panel with three tabs, Posting, Settings and Layout.  Start with the layout tab, and  you'll get a little mockup of your page, which you'll find you can  edit and drag the boxes around.  "Add New Element" lets you add pictures and other things.    Use it to add your picture, then feel free to play around with it a bit, and you may find some options you like, but try not to overwhelm the site with fiddly bits.

One important thing to add is a section of links to other resources you find  useful. One should go back to your game's homepage, but this is also an excellent opportunity for you to showcase your interests and influences - if there's a game company or blog that you particularly dig, give it a nod in the links. 

Once You're Ready

Figure out your schedule, and stick to it.  It sounds easy, but like any project, it's more work than it looks like.  More than anything, you'll want to be realistic about your schedule.  You will probably be pretty excited when you set up your blog, and the temptation will be make a very aggressive schedule, like 'I'll post every day!' and that's an invitation to disaster. If you fail to hit that mark, you're more likely to let the whole thing slide.  Really think about how often you really want to sit down and write, and when your schedule will really let you have the time.  If you can post every day, then more power to you, but it might be more reasonable to shoot for once or twice a week.

Even if you're only posting once a month, post on the first of the month and make it clear that it's your monthly post.  That way if someone new comes to it they think "Oh, ok, that's the post for this month" not "Oh, no posts for almost a month. I guess no one cares anymore."

Using The Blog

Your blog is a showcase, a place for feedback, the seed to create a community.  That's pretty powerful, but it's got one other use: your blog is your best tool for getting the kind of attention you want.  You do this by giving that attention to other people.

Reciprocity is a potent tool in any community.  If you want your game to be reviewed, for example, you might find it worthwhile to write reviews of other games.  When you find a cool game, mention it in your blog.  When you have an idea bout someone else's game, go ahead an mention it.  This is the sort of thing that can draw traffic to your blog, and create interest in your game and, eventually,  get you the same sort of attention. 

All the things you want to see happen to you? You need to do them.