Advice for the Aspiring Role-Playing Blogger

I started blogging about role-playing games as an adjunct feature to a game scheduling site I was building. The game scheduler was a total failure, but I enjoyed the blogging so much I kept it up. I RPG Blogging Advicehave been at it now for 18 months and have no plans to stop.  I now am arrogant confident enough to believe I know what I am doing and that I should share my hard-won wisdom with those that might consider RPG blogging.

First, a hard dose of reality. Blog for love of the game, not money. You will not make significant money blogging about RPGs. Period.   Oh, you might make some money every month, perhaps  enough to cover hosting fees or pay for a trip to a convention once a year if you save all your earnings, but you will not make a living at it. There are simply not enough people interested in the hobby to  generate enough traffic. If you want to make money blogging pick a topic that appeals to teenage girls. Now there is a money-making demographic!  If you are still interested even though there is little money in the hobby, read on for some more useful advice.

Do not quit! I will repeat that again, DO NOT QUIT. I promise you the first six months are likely to be the most disheartening months of your life.  Traffic is very low for new blogs, sometimes zero!  Even if you write the greatest content in the universe, no one will find you.

You must take action or you will languish in the depths of the internet for all time. It is critical that you network with other bloggers and grovel for some incoming links or a place on their blogroll.  Other RPG bloggers are a great source of interested readers. Post in forums with your blog in your signature line, but do not spam forums. That does not build traffic, only ill-will from the gaming community. Organic traffic from search engines is unlikely until you build up some incoming links and have enough keywords on your site to appear at the top of the search results. It will come, but it takes time. Search-engine optimization is outside the scope of this article, but a little research into the area is sure to help you build up traffic.

Join as soon as possible. It is a great way to market your site and network with other bloggers.

Be original. Far too much of the blogosphere is an “echo chamber” reposting content or linking to other blogs, but generating very little original content. It does not matter what you write about as long as it is original. Original content also has more “Google mojo” and tends to land you higher up the search results, so there is an incentive to be creative.

Do not try to use your blogging might as a way to score free game stuff from companies. I assure you that so many flaky  “fly-by-night” blogs or “review sites” have approached game companies that they are quite selective about which bloggers get the free games for reviews.  Just focus on creating great content and building traffic. Once you have an established reputation, then game swag will flow your way. Game companies want their products mentioned on respected blogs and that respect is what you should seek, not free games.

Be ethical. Never “blog for pay” or do a review on a “comped” game unless you disclose the transaction. This is both for moral reasons and the likelihood that the “Federal Trade Commission”  will require bloggers to disclose these financial arrangements in the near future.  Also, if you are posting about a product and the company buys ad space on your site, a disclaimer is also in order.

This is my personal pet peeve, glowing product reviews on blogs for a product when the product’s  ads are plastered all over the site. It destroys credibility.

Contact game authors and publishers! Far too many bloggers talk about a product, but never bother to actually do research or interviews. I promise there is no game author or publisher that will not consider a polite request for additional information or an interview about their game.  They want to talk about their products, often it is their “baby” and they are justifiably proud of their efforts. Some of my most popular posts were interviews about new or upcoming games.

I think that is enough to get you started, if there is enough interest I might do another post in the series. Feel free to drop me a comment if you have any questions or are considering taking the plunge.

Trask, The Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.

10 thoughts on “Advice for the Aspiring Role-Playing Blogger

  • June 14, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    The thought that someone would blog in this industry or just about ANY field and expect to earn money from it boggles my mind.

  • June 15, 2009 at 12:16 am

    You would be amazed. When I mention my blogging habit to non-bloggers it is not uncommon for them to mention making a living at it. As I said, it is a reality check for those with poor information.


  • June 15, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Great points Trask. I would also add that new bloggers should set realistic goals. Goal setting is essential for anything you are going to commit to; and if you are putting your name out there on a blog… achievable goals will help you stay motivated. What’s a good goal for a new RPG blogger? Post one article per week that is at least 1000 words in length and that was inspired from another blogger’s writing. The links will get you trackback traffic, and the content will get people to stay and likely subscribe. Rule #1 for Blogging in any genre: Content is king. Rule #2: Network, Network, Network.

  • June 14, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Very good. I wish I had been able to read this back when I was a brand new blogger. Thanks!

  • June 15, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Very well written and I must agree with Dyson: Blogging with the idea of getting paid for it is insane. Blogs are opinions, and opinions are like buttholes….everyone has them, most of them stink.

    I just got into the RPG bloggins scene and while, yes, I do hope to possibly build up a decent reader base for when the day finally arrives I might actually try to self-publish something for chump change….I’ve decided to tackle it with one thing in mind:

    The absolute, pure love of the hobby. Maybe not love, but insane passion. Don’t do it for the profits, do it because you need an outlet for something you thrive about.

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  • June 15, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Very, very good advice.

    I’m not surprised that non-bloggers might automatically associate blogging with income. The only bloggers they’re likely to have heard about are the vanishingly few who’ve made it big; it’s a bit like the (equally common) assumption that if you can string two paragraphs together, then you’re well on your way to becoming the next Stephen King.

    If it was easy to make money from blogging, then everyone would; the mere fact that almost nobody personally knows a filthy-rich blogging mogul is a good indicator that it isn’t, in the main, a lucrative profession. Which makes passion all that much more important.

  • June 15, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I do disagree on your stance about review copies. I recommend reading this:
    that puts it better than I could.
    Additionally, with GoogleAds and similar (I’m in an ad network that controls the purchase of ads, not me personally) it’s difficult to predict what ads you’ll see on my site next to a review, so I can’t really put a disclaimer that they’ve bought ad space… because I couldn’t really tell you. And since it’s a level detached anyway, it seems kind of redundant.

  • June 15, 2009 at 10:30 am

    @Dave–The post your link to actually specifies “elite” reviewers as being above the need for these “disclosures” about where they got the item to review. I do not feel that I reached that level of respect yet and it certainly does not apply to a rookie blogger.

    As for the ads, yes ad networks do make it difficult to discern when someone has paid advertising from a vendor or it is coming from the network. However, those ads tend to be post-specific and when they always pop-up regardless of the post your reading, it is pretty clear they are “private” advertising sales.


  • June 15, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I’d like to build on Jonothan’s (The Core Mechanic) comment above. I think it’s important to pick a publishing schedule that’s realistic and stick to it. Don’t commit to publishing 4 times a week if you don’t think you can keep up that kind of output. Once or twice a week is plenty. Most blogs start strong and then after a couple of months they run out of stuff to say and they fizzle. If you can’t generate content at a regular pace you’re only going to upset your regular readers and possibly loose them. Pick your topics carefully and make sure you’re not just rehashing what’s already out there.

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