In this post, we focus on the act of blogging itself. Specifically, I will speak to what I put into each and every post on Must Contain Minis. This article is intended for those interested in Blogging themselves or those that want a look behind the scenes at Must Contain Minis.
In terms of time, I put roughly two to six hours goes into each post. This figure does not include my researching products, playing games, taking pictures or promoting my content.
When I started Must Contain Minis, I spent much less time writing posts. In fact, I spent roughly 30 minutes per post created. That is a large difference from the two to six hours per post that I spend on my articles today. Why is there this difference? Well, I spend more time post-processing images, focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and most of my posts now are longer than they were in the past.
At this point in time, I have been writing articles on Must Contain Minis for over a year-and-a-half. Through an Electronic Writing Course from the early 2000’s, my own web research, and trial and error, I have learned what works for my site.
In this post, I will share what elements best serve the articles on Must Contain Minis. Below is my list of what goes into writing a blog post for a gaming website ranked in what I would consider as importance.
I hope that this list will help aspiring bloggers and be of interest to other readers in general.
I write about what I enjoy. I believe that this passion and enthusiasm shows through in my writing and hopefully better engages my readers.One of the key reasons that I started Must Contain Minis is to show people that there are other fine game companies out there besides GW. Many of my friends feel that these other games can be somewhat obscure and I aim to bring awareness to these other gaming options.
As a result, I am fairly enthusiastic about most of the products about which I write. My reviews tend to be my most popular posts, but I also write other content
My passion is the main reason that I keep up with the Battle Reports. My Reviews are actually almost twice as popular as my Battle Reports and the Battle Reports take almost twice as long to write as the reviews. I could easily turn Must Contain Minis into a Reviews only website. In terms of reach, profit and efficiency of time, I would be better off not writing the Battle Reports, but there is something about writing Battle Reports that I intrinsically enjoy.Also, my goal of Must Contain Minis was always to make it a Review and Battle Report website as those are the sorts of materials that I consulted often myself before buying into a game. In a way, it is my way in giving back to the gaming community.
For those planning to start a blog, be sure that you choose something you enjoy as the topic of your site. If you don’t, writing content will quickly become an unsatisfying obligation for you to keep your Blog running.
2. Images Reign Supreme
People are visual creatures and having good and original pictures helps draw them to the website.
Websites such as Facebook, Reddit, and even the Mobile Browser that comes with Blogger all use the first image from your site / post as the “promotional image” to help draw people to your site. Because these sites draw on your first image, it is important that you choose a strong image to lead each and every post.
This need to lead with a compelling image encourages me to place titles on the first image of a post and to use an action shot as the first image of my Battle Reports.
This in turn can, in turn, influences my writing style as I discuss and foreshadow what the image depicts right off the top of the post. Below are two quick samples of starting images from some Battle Reports.
|Above is an opening image from one of my Frostgrave Battle Reports. Notice that I have a title superimposed over the picture and the image starts the post with the miniatures in action.|
|This image is from before I started putting titles on all of my opening images. It is another example of starting a Battle Report with a picture of the game already in play.|
You will also notice that I place a logo on every picture. The reason for this is that I found other people using my images on Social Media (Twitter specifically) without acknowledging or referring back to Must Contain Minis.
Finding other people using my images without linking back to my site made me feel like my hard work was being stolen. To combat this, I added the logo so that if people use my pictures elsewhere and forget to link back to my site, at least people will see that the picture is from Must Contain Minis (and hopefully they will visit the website in the future).
To clear the record, I don’t mind people sharing my images – I just want recognition and at least a link back to my site so that people can read the article that the pictures are from.
Now… In terms of working with images for my posts, I probably do not follow the most effective work procedure.
Generally, I will have 30 to 120 images per post and edit them all using a free program called GIMP. When I edit the pictures, I optimize the colours, reduce the picture size to save space, and brand every image. Once done the above process, I start writing the article and insert the pictures as I write.
Obviously, I would save time if I better filtered my pictures before I start writing (and thereby reduce the number of files that I post-process). Sadly, I feel that my writing is a more organic if I don’t limit what pictures I can draw upon while I blog so I follow this more work intensive procedure.
For aspiring Bloggers, I recommend that you reduce the size of your pictures to save space from the start. If you are on Blogger, the size of the pictures will effect how long it takes for your site to load. If you are on WordPress, it will still influence your speed but you could also be paying to store those images on your host’s servers. I also recommend that you start branding your pictures early on your site as it is a horrible feeling when you first discover other people using your images without acknowledging that the images are from your website.
3. Story Telling and Good Writing
One of the things that I learned from my University Course on Electronic Publishing is that people online expect shorter paragraphs than they would from a print medium. As an online publisher, you will receive better readership if you adhere to that expectation.
You also have to develop your own style and approach to blogging. My style is to focus on stories. There are plenty of Blogs out there that focus on small details and giving readers a play-by-play of what happened in their games. Rather than providing a play-by-play, I try to focus on the salient points that would entertain my readers.
Why? Because people enjoy stories. Stories help readers connect to what you write. That is why my Battle Reports focus on the story that unfolds during a game and why my Reviews focus on what the product is and my experiences with that product. My goal is to entertain while shinning a spotlight onto some really cool products.
Also, by focusing on the stories, the posts widen their appeal. Someone that does not play Bolt Action can read my Bolt Action Battle Reports because they don’t need to know the rules of the game to appreciate the story that was told on the tabletop. Likewise, hopefully my reviews are appealing enough to reach broad audience.
While telling stories is important, if I don’t have decent images to go with the post, the post doesn’t get written.
Another interesting thing about my writing style is that I don’t generally do outlines before I write my article. Instead, I know that topic that I want to write about, have the key points I want to cover fresh in my head, and a library of pictures to draw upon that have already been post-processed to the level that I desire.
When I write, it just flows. For me, the story telling comes organically.
As far as advice for new bloggers, use an outline if it helps. They are a useful tool for organizing your thoughts and in providing a framework for your posts. Also, be sure to develop your own style rather than copying others. If you like to do tutorials, provide help for tournament players, or to score and rank your reviews, than a step-by-step (or play-by-play) style may be for you. For me though, it is about the stories that happen on the tabletop.
4. Editing and Proof Reading
Being a good writer is one thing, but a good blog needs to be polished. To get that polish, edit and proofread your work.
I edit through all of my pieces at least once and proof-read the articles at least twice before they are published. I read them yet another time after they are published in case I missed something and need to make a quick change (that is one of the advantages of electronic publications over print). 🙂
With the longer pieces that I write of late, the editing process can take longer than writing the actual article.
My advice here is quick and simple. Proofread and edit your work. If you are uncomfortable doing this, have a friend or relative do it for you.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A lot of time goes into optimizing my posts for image searches. What exactly does that entail? Well, I mostly focus on my pictures. I give them all relevant file names, Title Text, ALT Text and captions. The ALT Text helps describe the pictures to Search Engines while the file names and other text should help with the relevancy of the file to said search. I try to keep the text of these items unique.
It is a lot of work and doing this for every picture takes time (especially when you might have 12 to 30 pictures in a post).
Outside of optimizing my pictures, I don’t do a lot for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The rules change and what works now may not work in the future. That said, I am sure that Blogger (the platform this Blog is ran on) helps with SEO in several ways behind the scenes.
For those starting out, I recommend that you just write the content that you want to write and eventually your site will be found on Google. If you want to bother with Key Words and other strategies to get people to your site, more power to you. There is certainly nothing wrong with that.
I chose to optimize the images for SEO because people are visual creatures. Taking it a step further would be a good thing, but I already spend enough time on my posts. 🙂
6. Treat your Blog as a Business
Earlier, I wrote a Blog article about monetizing a Gaming Blog. Why would I want to monetize Must Contain Minis? It is because I want to treat the site as a business.
There are a number of advantages to treating a blog as a business.
The first is that if the site generates revenue, it gives you the resources to keep the site going. If you are on WordPress and have half-decent traffic, your host provider could easily be costing you $10 to $15 a month. My thought is that the Blog should be able to at least sustain itself. Of course, the dream is to have your site sustain you, and my hope is that Must Contain Minis can help pay for my paints and supplies for miniatures.
|Just a quick title slate for my post about monetizing this blog.|
The next reason is that in treating it as a business, there is more motivation to post to the site consistently. It is very easy to say “I don’t feel like writing” and then your two to three posts a week quickly becomes one to four a month. If you want to draw in more readers and grow, then publishing often is important – especially when you are just starting out.
I also find it easier to approach brands as I have a business mind-set when I discuss my website.
While I choose to treat my website as a business, there is also nothing wrong with treating your blog as a hobby. It all depends on what you want in exchange for your time and effort. If you are happy just doing posts, then, by all means, do so.
How to treat your site is a decision that you will have to make on your own. If you plan to work with brands though, I suggest you approach it like a business.
7. Promote, Promote, Promote
Once a post is published, I promote it as much as I can. I currently use Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, and The Miniatures Page to draw people over to my Blog. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it as those sites help boost the reach of my site.
I can honestly tell you that I often spend more time promoting a post than I actually spend in writing the post and do not count that time towards the hours I spend writing Blog posts.
I should also look into doing some guest posts for other sites with links back go my site to help promote my site in general. So far, I have not done any guest posts but I hear that they can be effective.
If you write your own Blog, don’t be shy about promoting your site. It is the best way to get readers over to your site when you are just starting out. Only recently has my daily Google traffic surpassed what came in from my links in various Facebook Groups.
Wrapping it Up…
Counting image processing, writing, SEO, proofreading and editing, I spend roughly two to six hours of writing per post on this site. On top of that, I spend extra time researching for the posts, playing the games, taking photos and promoting the site. In short, a lot of effort goes into Must Contain Minis that I hope my readers appreciate. Judging by my numbers though, all of this hard work pays off.
For those that want to follow in my footsteps, it takes time and patience to get a Blog to generate an audience. Also, writing a good post takes a more effort than just typing for 10 to 20 minutes and hitting that publish button. That is where I started, but all of these tips that I picked up have made for a much better site.
Hopefully my outline of what I put in a Blog Post will help you out with your own website.
For those that don’t have their own Blog, hopefully you at least found this article interesting.
Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!
Help Support Must Contain Minis
Remember that Must Contain Minis has Sales Affiliate Relationships with Amazon, RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, and the Wargame Vault. If you visit one of the sites from the links above and make a purchase, a portion of the sales goes to supporting Must Contain Minis at no extra cost to you.
We also take in products for review. If you have a product that you think would fits the site and you would like to see it on Must Contain Minis, get in touch with me and perhaps we can work something out. You can email us at… firstname.lastname@example.org.