This post is part of the Newbie Blogger Initiative. I’m not asking this question to discourage you but it’s a question you should be asking yourself: What is your motivation for blogging? I’m not going to give you a ton of advice here but before you start your blog-project, this is something that you probably should think about (because, let’s face it, we usually don’t really like getting enthusiastic about a project just to realise it’s not as great as we thought it was…)
If you just want to write for yourself and don’t care whether you have any readers at all, then this question is probably moot. But do you want to write because you love writing? Or because you love gaming? Or because you want to become “famous” in your game’s community/the blogosphere? Or because you want to earn a lot of money with ads on your blog?
If you want to build a readership, you have to give them a reason to come back. This means that you probably won’t be able to write a post once a month and then see your blog grow to have hundreds of loyal and dedicated readers. On the other hand, you’re not required to write one blog post a day either. But if your motivation for writing is that you love writing, it will be a lot easier because you do what you love. Either way, if you don’t think you can devote much time, then have a look around and watch out for websites that work with several authors. For Guild Wars 2, there’s Talk Tyria, for example, where you can apply and if you’re accepted, you are one of several people writing there. So you do not need to write that often because you work together with others. If you’re new to blogging, there’ll also be helping hands available (well, I can’t speak for every fan site but I know that the people at Talk Tyria or GuildMag, to throw in another example, are really friendly and helpful!). Or maybe you’ve got a friend or significant other, etc. who helps (like I have with bookahnerk. He may not be the person writing lots of blog posts – on the contrary… ^^ – but he always listens to my ideas and gives me feedback, reads through my posts and helps me out when I’m stuck). So, whether you have a co-author or just somebody giving you advice, a second person isn’t a bad idea either!
So you’ve got the time and you love writing – and you also want to earn money through advertising. Nothing wrong per se. Just keep in mind that people coming to your blog want to read your blog and your entries (ideally). Don’t make your blog look obnoxious by adding huge ads (blinking banners, anyone? ^^) or a ton of advertising links. Readers don’t like the feeling of just being “another person bringing you money”. You want them to read what you’ve got to say, so make them feel welcome and comfortable! On top of that, if you add ads, make sure your readers know at any time which part of your blog is actual content and which part is an ad. Do not make entries that are ads but look like they’re usual entries. This could give you a bad reputation pretty fast. Don’t forget: Readers who feel comfortable and like what they see will probably tell their friends about your blog! And people feeling comfortable enough to comment may also encourage others to comment (you know how it is… nobody wants to be the first? Well, apart from the “first!”-sayers but who wants those? ^^).
The problem I see with having ads and wanting to earn money is that sooner or later, you may feel inclined to look at your blog thinking: “How can I maximise the money I make with it?” and your goal will be to increase hits instead of just wanting to write about something you’re passionate about. Of course, this doesn’t have to be but I’ve seen blogs where I got that feeling and I didn’t go back there again.
Another word of caution: You’re monetizing by using somebody else’s IP if you write about games (and maybe show off screenshots, etc.). Usually, gaming companies don’t have a problem with it but it may be a grey area that you’re entering here. I have to think of the lawsuit against Warhammer Alliance by Games Workshop. Sure, they’re a fan site and not a blog. But they were sued because of ads after they had apparently even been promoted by Games Workshop a few years earlier (this information is based on what I read on the WH Alliance forums. I couldn’t find any recent information about this – if anybody has news, I’d appreciate hearing about this!).
As you may know, we decided against ads. But it’s up to you. Think about why you want to write and if ads/monetizing would get in the way of your hobby/passion. We’ve made the experience that writing simply because we love doing it, is the best (for us!). I’ve spent most of my last vacation writing about the Guild Wars 2 EUFanDay instead of relaxing, sleeping in, doing nothing, watching lame shows on TV,… ;) But I had fun! All in all, I’m pretty happy with where I am now and I’d enjoy writing even if I had only two readers (you may know who you are because you’re the ones commenting most often here…). Also, I really enjoy getting to know other players through blogging and eventually meeting them in RL (like I did in Brighton). This is why I blog and this is why I love doing it. And this is why I write blog posts even though I’m tired from work. It’s FUN. Whatever you do and for whatever reason you decide to blog, remember to have fun!