Should I Start a Gaming Blog? Kickstart your blog with these steps
If you’ve found this article you’re probably asking yourself “Should I start a gaming blog?” If you are, you’ve come to the right place.
Throughout this post I’ll discuss my experiences of running a gaming blog over the past year, my recommendations for starting a gaming blog and I’ll provide you with an answer to that very question. It’s also a good time to note, this article will focus on a Video Game Review blog, although the content applies to all gaming blogs.
Why start a Gaming Blog? My experiences
In 2018 I asked myself exactly the same question: “Should I start a gaming blog?” I’d recently moved to a new city to start a new job in the Public Sector. And with my new job came a surpsring amount of benefits. For one, I had more free time and even more days off if I worked overtime. But when clocking in my hours and taking days off, I was bored. Everyone I knew was at work, I was living by myself and I needed a new challenge. And that’s where a gaming blog came in. I’ve always been passionate about video games and I wanted to do something with that passion. It would make me very happy if people were willing to listen or read about my opinions on the latest games.
I’m sure you’re similar. You’ve played video games throughout most of your life and you’d consider gaming a passion. You might be unhappy with your job, looking to meet new gamers through blogging, or simply searching for a new and creative hobby. For whatever reason, blogging about video games can be one of the most rewarding hobbies out there.
Starting a Gaming Blog – The First Steps
The first step in starting a gaming blog is through a lot of planning and research. Start by researching other successful blogs noting down any names you like and the style of their content. For example, there are many blogs out there in the gaming blog niche, but perhaps only a couple that focus on one sub-niche like, for example, one game. Deciding the content of your gaming blog is the most important thing as your content needs to stand out.
Before launching your gaming blog, you’ll need to decide the following 5 items:
1. The name of your gaming blog
Undertake market research and think of a unique and memorable name. If it’s gaming related that’s even better (more on this later).
2. The content for your gaming blog
Are you going to start a video game review blog? A gaming news blog? Or focus solely on one game you love? It’s wise to decide on a sub-niche, like Xbox, Playstation, PC, Switch, or as just mentioned one game. It helps you stand out and will focus your content to a specific audience.
3. Website Hosting
Once you’ve got a name and concept you need somewhere to host your gaming blog on the internet. That’s where hosting comes in.
Hosting is important as it controls the speed of your blog/website. This is important (amongst other things) for your ranking on search engines like Google. If you’re looking to start the blog as a hobby then there are budget options from sites like BlueHost or SiteGround. But if you’re looking to take your blog more seriously you’ll need faster loading times.
I’d recommend a budget option to get off the ground as you’ll need a lot of blog posts before search engines start taking your blog seriously. When you start getting hits through search engines I’d upgrade to a faster host and give your site the boost it needs. For faster hosting be expected to pay £25 a month as a minimum, whereas budget hosting is around £8 per month.
There are different options to choose from with most hosting providers offering a range of budget and premium options. (Make sure you shop around!)
4. Social Media
If you’ve got a name for your blog, quickly snatch up the social media handles before they’re gone. You should also decide which social media to focus on. Twitter and Facebook are great for blogging as you can provide a direct link to your blog. On Instagram people have to access your blog through your bio which adds unnecessary clicks.
I personally love Instagram as I like sharing/editing screenshots, but I’ve only seen moderate visits to my blog there compared to Twitter or Facebook. If you can’t decide just use all three! (Or even two out of three).
5. Wix Vs WordPress
Are you going to use Wix or WordPress to power your site? (More on this later, but I’d recommend WordPress.)
So, you’ve completed all of your initial research. Now, it’s time to decide a name for your brand new gaming blog.
Picking a name for your Gaming Blog – Harder than it sounds…
The process of finding a name for your new gaming blog can be one of the biggest barriers to entry. You want a name that stands out, is memorable and related to something gaming. The problem is, most of the great names are already taken. (I must have thought of around fifty names for my blog before one stook.)
Here are a handful of the better ones as examples:
-GameSpa (games are relaxing like a Spa… lol)
-Jack in the Xbox (My name is Jack and I focus on Xbox reviews. Good right? But it was already taken.)
-GameExpedition (I like hiking. Well, I’ve been on a few hikes and it sounds good on my CV)
-Game IQ (Analytical style reviews)
-Aesku Leikur (It means childhood gamer in Icelandic – trying to copy Kotaku who merge two Japanese words together)
-Game Notes (Maybe a title, maybe notes for a game I was playing)
-InControl (InControl of a game and InControl of my life. Pretty deep, I know. Already taken)
While these names aren’t great, I used this brainstorming process to find a final name. I took the premise of In Control which had two meanings and thought of “Twin Sticks”. Twin Sticks refers to the twin analogue sticks on a gamepad and also twin drum sticks as I’ve played drums since I was thirteen years old. Music and gaming are my two favourite hobbies and with that Twin Sticks was born.
(In hindsight perhaps I jumped the gun as Twin Sticks is a nickname in the US for two gear sticks in a vehicle, like a big lorry. But hey, I’m fine if a handful of American truckers accidentally find my blog…)
So, you’ve settled on a name, now it’s time to start writing your first piece of content.
Writing a Video Game Review for the First time – Where to start?
It comes without saying, but the first place to start when reviewing a video game is to sit down, play the game and take lots of notes and screenshots. Don’t worry about the structure of your notes, just jot or type anything that comes to mind that you like or dislike about the game. I’d also recommend taking as many screenshots as possible as you’ll never know what images you’ll need for the final review. For example, you may need a screenshot of the games user interface if you’re discussing accessibility. Or even a screenshot of a particular level if one stood out to you. In reality you’ll only need 4 or 5 images for a 2,000 word review.
With the game complete and with all of your notes, it’s now time to sit down and start writing your first video game review. Sure, it can be challenging at first (I’m sure you have experienced blank page syndrome first hand), but if you spend time planning your review you’ll be absolutely fine. (Don’t worry at this stage if your review isn’t perfect – my early reviews were pretty bad!) I woud start your planning process by thinking about four or five aspects of the game you’d like to discuss.
On the most simplistic level this may include:
- World Design
- Conclusion/Verdict/Final Thoughts etc.
Although very simple, this structure helped me get off the mark for my early reviews. Having a concrete structure like this also helps you to organise your notes within these sections. From there you can build upon them. For example in the Story section of my first ever Red Dead Redemption 2 review, I wanted to discuss how Arthur Morgan had similarities to Walter White. Using this one point I discussed the personality traits of other characters, like how Dutch changes over the course of the game. Like I did, you’ll likely have a few key points to discuss within each section and everything else will naturally form around them.
Once the first draft is complete it’s time to begin editing your first video game review. When editing, you have to be brutally honest and decide what stays and what goes. Basically, if a section doesn’t help the piece as a whole, or you notice you’ve gone off course in your discussion, it’s time to start cutting.
One piece of advice that helped me was (paraphrased from a very old IGN article):
“You’re only as good as your next line”
Simply, each line needs to be of high quality and flow together to keep people reading. It’s harsh, but true.
Writing a Video Game Review for the First time – Writing style
Everyone has a different writing style with no style better than another. As long as it’s easy to read, each line flows into the next and you back up all your points clearly and concisely, then there’s nothing to worry about.
Personally, I enjoy using humour in my reviews. It makes the article more fun to write and I prefer reading/watching other reviews that use humour. Using humour to make a point will also stay in a reader’s mind for a lot longer. But if that’s not your thing that’s totally fine. Insightful and thought provoking reviews that examine games in interesting ways are also great. Do whatever works for you.
Check out my recent Streets of Rage 4 Review for an example of a humourous and insightful video game review.
And that’s really all there is to it. Your first couple of reviews might be difficult to read, may wander off track at times, but that’s not a big issue. With every new review you write, you’ll get better and better. All you have to do is stick at it and don’t give up.
Setting up a gaming blog – WordPress Vs. Wix
If you’re considering setting up a gaming blog, the first thing you’ll likely read is WordPress. WordPress is an extremely powerful tool for building websites which many bloggers swear by. However, it’s also difficult to use with a steep learning curve. There are many tutorials online to get set up, but early on this can seem overwhelming if you don’t have technical knowledge. (Which most people don’t, including myself).
Wix on the other hand is a user friendly visual website builder. It’s accessible and you can create a good looking website within a few hours. I used Wix to get my blog set up and found it pretty painless. However, after a few months I started to see two big limitations with Wix: loading speeds and lack of control.
It took a long time for my articles to load which didn’t create a good user experience. Plus for articles on mobile, the text size was huge. Even though my website looked great, Wix wasn’t good for blogging.
(In defence of Wix they were developing better options for blogging and an option to alter text size on blog posts for mobile when I left.)
Eventually I moved to WordPress and even though it took me a whole weekend to get set up, the initial frustration was completely worth it. WordPress simply has features that are pro-blogging like share buttons, amazing layout options and a huge network of bloggers to interact with. I would fully recommend WordPress over Wix if you want to start a gaming blog.To help getting started with WordPress I used the following tutorial and the free Astra Theme.
Should I Start a Gaming Blog?
If you’re looking to start a gaming blog purely as a hobby, then yes, I would fully recommend it. Not only is writing video game reviews extremely enjoyable, but it’s amazing how many people you’ll meet along the way. Now more than ever, I am talking about video games with old friends and even new ones I’ve made through blogging. It has been so rewarding discussing games with other passionate gamers and I can’t believe it took me this long to take the plunge. It makes all of the hard work completely worth it.
However, if you want to earn decent money from your future gaming blog, then my answer comes with a caveat. Yes, you should start a gaming blog, but be aware of the amount of work that comes with it. For one, you have to constantly produce content which means you’re always working on something. If you love gaming then this isn’t a problem, but it can become tiring.
There are also so many technical aspects to running a website. For example, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and the complex network of technicalities associated with it. This is especially frustrating (and very time consuming) if, like me, you have no technical knowledge of designing a website. There are non-technical tutorials online, but there is only so far you can go with basic knowledge. If you’re up for a challenge and want to learn new skills, then this is also not a problem.
Now, I think it’s about time to finally answer the overarching question “Should I Start a Gaming Blog?” Yes. Absolutely, if you’re passionate about video games and want to meet like minded gamers. In my opinion seeing your blog grow and meeting other passionate gamers is one of the most rewarding hobbies you can have.
But if you’re looking for a way to earn a living, make sure you enter blogging with a pinch of salt. It is possible, but it takes a lot of work, likely over many years. Years that will be utterly frustrating at times, but in the end, years that will be some of the most enjoyable you will ever have. I’m so glad I started a gaming blog and I know you will feel the same.
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