Sunday, November 09, 2008

On Blogging, Part II

See Part I.

Traffic

First, make sure you are measuring traffic. You can get free tools from Sitemeter or Google Analytics.

The best source of traffic are the blogrolls of other sites. First, link to other similar sites in your own blogroll. Click those links occasionally (don't spam clicks, but click the link once in a while). That causes your blog to show up in the other person's referral logs, and they'll often check the link out of curiosity. Don't only link to established blogs, link to a few of the newer upcoming blogs that you read. They'll be very grateful for the link, and more likely to link back to you.

The established blogs tend to have larger blogrolls, and are less likely to want to have to fiddle with it. In particular, it's very annoying to link to someone, and then have them stop posting a little while later. I personally don't really like linking to people who haven't been posting for a few months. Again, content is king. The more you post, the more you seem established and worth linking to.

As you write more, the more likely the search engines will start to pick you up. After a while, search engines (specifically Google) becomes a good source of traffic.

Put your blog into your signature on forums. It's an easy way to generate a bit of traffic. I still get hits from years-old posts on the WoW forums. As well, most other blogs have a field for you to enter your website when making a comment. Fill out fields like that. However, don't be obnoxious and constantly reference your blog in comments on other blogs. Just make a worthwhile comment, and if the people are interested, they will check out your blog.

Traffic builds up slowly and steadily, I find. If you write steadily, traffic will build steadily. Oddly enough, a direct link from large sites such as WoWInsider doesn't really help your traffic. WoWInsider shows up as a massive spike, and it's quite thrilling. But almost always, traffic falls from that spike back to the same level as before. The spikes are noticeable, but don't really make a difference in the long run.

So that's my advice for building traffic. Write steadily. Link to other bloggers, both big and small. Put a link to your site in your signatures. Don't worry about traffic. Write steadily for yourself, and people will come.

Advertising

I don't really know a lot about advertising. The problem with WoW advertising is that the real money comes from gold sellers. If you get Google Adwords or similar, it's a fair bit of work to filter out the gold sellers, and whatever is left doesn't really earn you much money.

I think I had Adwords for 3 months once, and I made a grand total of $5. Given the amount of time I spent blacklisting gold sellers, it really wasn't worth it, and I dropped Adwords.

Honestly, I have no clue how to make money from a WoW blog. My advice would be not to bother. I'm pretty sure a shift at McDonald's would be better value for time.

Comments

Comments can be very weird sometimes. You'll craft something that you think is utterly brilliant, and no one will say anything. They won't even tell you that you are wrong. Yet a throwaway post can generate great discussion. It's odd and hard to predict.

I recommend that you never "ask" for comments in your post. Let your post stand on it's own. It's something I've noticed, but it seems like if the post invites comments, fewer people actually comment. It's not 100%, sometimes people do respond to posts, but it's very hit and miss. Plus, I think it looks a bit sad, if you ask what readers think but there are zero comments. Write as if you don't expect comments, and it is more likely you will get some.

The only surefire way of generating comments is to insult PvP from a raiding perspective, or insult raiding from a PvP perspective. That will almost always generate a firestorm.

As to the rules for comments, I try to make it as easy as possible to comment. I don't require people to log in, or type in a captcha. Every barrier you put up makes people less likely to comment. The easier you make it for people to comment, the more likely they will comment.

Of course, you're probably worried about comment spam if you leave comments wide open. For some reason, Blogger doesn't actually get a lot of spam. I'm not really sure why, but it's another advantage to using Blogger. Occasionally, one specific spammer will pop up and start spamming. What I do then is to turn on Comment Moderation until the spammer goes away. Always have Comment Notification up so you get email when people comment. Sometimes you will get spam and normal comments on really old posts. Blogger now allows you to enable Comment Moderation for older posts, and it's been a big help.

I don't really get very much spam, and what I do get I just manually delete. Captchas and other anti-spam mechanics cut down on spam, but they also cut down on normal comments.

The final topic regarding comments is censoring/deleting comments. My advice is to just delete comments that are insulting or pointless. Try to delete such that people see "This post has been deleted by a blog administrator" or similar message. People tend to follow the social norms already established on the blog. If everyone else is insulting or trolling, then they will insult and troll, push the boundaries a little bit more. Step on it early, delete the first offenders aggressively, and it will keep your blog from becoming like the official WoW forums. Of course, it is important to differentiate between honest dissent, and people being stupid. But in general, people who are worth listening to can phrase their disagreement in an appropriate manner.

Freedom of Speech doesn't mean that you have to put up with jackasses on your own site. They can always make their own blog.

Conclusions

That's pretty much all I wanted to write about. My advice boils down to keep things simple. Write steadily, and write for yourself.

9 comments:

gnomeaggedon.net said...

I think one of the challenges for generating comments is being either:
a) wrong
b) offensive/challenging towards a particular audience, or
c) being incomplete.

A perfect post wont generate comment if people feel there is nothing to add.

An incomplete/incorrect post, begs correction

Great posts BTW!

Zandilar said...

For some reason Blogger is not happy with my Live Journal ID, so I'll post this manually...

These two posts have been very timely for me. I just decided to participate in NaBloPoMo, and as such had dusted off my old Live Journal.

Useful information, thanks! :)

Larísa said...

About commenting: it's easy for a new blogger to get disappointed when some posts end up with 0 comments. But the number of comments rarely reflects how appreciated the post is, just as Gnome says. You should never ever judge your accomplishment in the light of the number of comments.

Another thing about comments: I think it's very nice when bloggers somehow respond to the comments.
You don't have to write a personal reply to every single comment, but it gives a sense of presense and interation if you write some sort of replies or reflections about the comments regularly. I think the readers are more likely to comment if they know they're read and that they can expect some kind of attention.

Galoheart said...

Being a blogger and a reader as well of many blogs I find that being controversial in either view or opinion on the subject tend to generate allot of comments and allot of heat as well. Obviously everyone has a opinion of some sort and easier to way in for or against the subject whatever it may be. Other topics generate comments though less but seem more by the regular blog readers.

Like others have said in the beginning don't worry about comments much. It's just good to blog for yourself whether you get comments or not. Comments will come in time or when those that lurk reading in the shadows feel like finally revealing they read there and wish to comment. Just keep blogging or posting without worrying about it.

If your starting to blog and worrying about comments you will be greatly dissapointed before you get established and just used to blogging without worrying if anyone comment or not. I never blog for any comments but if I get comments the feedback is helpfull and encouraging.

Blogging takes lots of work and generating traffic or content. And average post for me usually took at least a hour of my time or WoW time minimum. Longer post sometime took 2-3 hours just to think and write and constantly rewrite. So it takes work, much more than a reader realize. It's your content though. Over time it all get index in a seach engine search especially if it's information post about something usefull.

Agree on the comment moderation though. On my blog I read every post as well and I get them being mobile. I sometime blog mobile and tag it as such as the post is short. But also as result I get gold seller spams being mobile in email notifications and I can easily and quickly remove them just as fast to keep my blog clean of them. More traffic you generate the easier gold sellers will find you as well.

As for traffic I also help to put key words in your post or spell it out so it can be found in a google search in reference to a particular search related to a topic. That helps much.

I often can tell who my regular readers are by their comments. Often if they leave a trackback link, I'll often click on it and if it's a blog I'll probably read it. If it's good I'll often bookmark it and read it or add it to my blog roll to read and follow. I personally read every blog in my blog roll, some blogs I follow more often than others as well for reading priorty. But my blog links are not really for my readers, it's for me to easily reach the ones I read. The side benefit is that other readers can find them and hopefully enjoy them as well and generate traffic there.

Overall great topic as well.

Stoico said...

Nice reading in the last 2 post's. I myself have rather reasonly started to write on my own blog.
I use it more to just get my thoughts out about what I do and what I experience in wow.
Traffic and comments, is more or a second thing to me. Which I guess that, that it is for most bloggers.
Larisa, key words, good hint. Im not to good at making those, but as you say, thats problaly one of the stronger things to add, besides strong content ofc... :)

Keep the blogs rolling... :)

Artery said...

Thanks Rohan!

When Ardent Defender decided to call it quits, I realized 2 things.
1. Damn, that sucks, and
2. Maybe I should try to help fill that void.

Then your posts about blogging rolled around. It was fate.

Thanks for the inspiration, I doubt that I would have done anything about realization #2 without your timely posts about creating a blog.

Fish said...

I rarely if ever get comments, the ones I do sort of validated my blogging existance. I did like installing the traffic monitor, lets me see how many people actually viewed the blog.

A side note, do you get random "wow power leveling" comments? I got a couple and deleted them, didnt know if more established blogs had a problem with them. . .

Galoheart said...

@ Fish

I get gold spammers every now and then leaving comments. Like Rohan said they come in waves every so often. Like right now before the expansion bloggers comments are getting bombarded with stealth spamming and fake comments by spammers.

When anyone leave comments on my blog anywhere I know, even if it's a really old post. I'll know. When it's a spammer I'll know and I can remove those unwanted comments very fast from anywhere.

Hana said...

Very nice post, Rohan. When I started I realized I couldn't do just a druid blog or just a paladin blog, so I'm blogging both. It's a little unconventional, but at the end of the day I'm doing it for me and I realize I couldn't focus on only one of the two.

I can definitely vouch for the majority of traffic coming from another blog too. I've gotten a few visitors for my druid posts via Google, but the vast majority of my traffic actually comes from BoK. So thank you for that. :)