Monday, May 16, 2016

Blogging Advice From the Tavern Keeper - A Good Blog Builds a Community, a Great Blog Keeps It

Yesterday, I offered some small amount of blogging advice to a blogger that was seeking commentary on his new gaming blog. Since then, I've also received an inquiry on the idea of doing an irregular series of posts with blogging advice. Now, I often say that I don't know how The Tavern has gotten as successful as it has, but that isn't exactly true. For The Tavern, it's all about "building a community", because that makes your blog more than just another website, it brings a sense of life to it. It can make a virtual location on the web seem nearly real to both your readers and you, the blogger.

Now of course, the question becomes: "How do you build that community?" That's not an easy question to answer. It's an answer with many parts, and not all answers will apply to all blogs and bloggers and not all answers are equal in importance. Here are some of the answers (I suspect there will be more, either added by me later as I think on the topic more or by members of this very community who may have different insight into the process):

1 - Focus on your passion, especially in the beginning. When I first started The Tavern, my posts were all over the place. RPGs, OSR, electronic reading devices, gaming programs and various assorted crap - I was everywhere and no where and it showed. Once I focused on RPGs (the OSR in particular and certainly not only) I started to get my voice. Once you have your voice, you can expand your focus a bit.

2 - Finding your blogging voice. For some this is a persona unique to the online environment. For others, it is the same persona as they have in real life. For me, what you see at The Tavern, warts and all, that's me. Insights into my life, my (now retired from) occupation and other assorted crap - it's all legit. Now, look at the RPG Pundit and his online persona. I can guarantee it's an over the top caricature of the real person behind it, but it's consistent and recognizable. For your readers to connect to you, there has to be a "you" to connect to.

3 - Consistency in posting. Once a week, twice a week, daily, multiple times a day, whatever it is, find a schedule that not only works for you but that your readers will be able to recognize. I generally post multiple times a day and at least once a day (i think I missed one day of posting in the last 4 years or so). I am the exception to the rule. Very few bloggers can maintain my pace, and I have no idea how I did while working a full time job plus overtime I suggest posting at least once a week, as anything less it's hard to build a sense of community around.

4 - Engage the gaming community. Comment on blog posts, G+ posts, Facebook posts, forum posts and the like. Not simply a throw away comment, but add to the conversation. To build a community you need to be a part of a larger community. If posting at a forum, include a link to your blog in your signature.

5 - Remember, it's the long tail. You don't build a community overnight. I didn't, but then again, I didn't even realize I was building a community until I had one, and I am forever grateful to those that have joined me. Like many things, it's those that wait that reap the rewards. Be patient. My first true Tavern post was May 31st, 2009. We're coming up on 7 years.

6 - Do it. You will only get better at writing by writing. You will only get better at blogging by blogging. Don't do it for the wads of cash - there are none. Don't do it for the fame - any you may find is narrow, focused and fleeting. Do it because you enjoy it. In the end, that enjoyment will carry over to your readers.

K, all for now. I'll be in bed mostly today, as my stomach and bowels are an issue along with the joy that all entails...


  1. While I enjoy my wads of cash, I'll let you pretend that they don't exist in point 6.

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  3. Thanks for this, Erik. As someone who is on the cusp of starting his own blog, this is sound advice.

    As someone whose family (save the teenager) just got over a stomach virus last week, I feel your pain. I imagine you are thankful you do not have two mortars disguised as 3- and 1-year olds running around your own abode. :) I hope you feel better soon!

    Happy gaming,

  4. Thanx for the further advice and second plug!!!!!!!!

  5. The advice is definitely appreciated!

  6. He hits the nail on the head with "do it." A perfect plan tomorrow is nowhere near as good as an okay plan implemented right now.

    From my lessons-learned, I would add a couple things:

    If you're starting a new blog or community, you may be tempted to run around trying to figure out clever ways of driving traffic. The best way is to just produce new content. No "one weird trick," just good content, posted frequently. Nothing builds a following like people knowing that when they head your way, you'll have something new and interesting for them to read.

    Don't look--in whatever platform you're using--at your metrics every day. Never might be even better. It takes time to build a following. Obsessing over stats, at least at first, will only depress you, and eat time you could be using writing new content.

    The best writing is rewriting. Edit! Don't think "I'm posting"; think "I'm publishing a post." It's presumptuous that we think people should come over and spend time reading what we write--make it worthwhile.


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