• How to Start and Grow Gaming Blog Banner

    So you’re thinking about starting your own video game blog? Lucky for you, we’ve been in your shoes and have some advice to set you up for success!

    Now that we’ve made the list of top 200 sites for video game news, I figured it was time to break down exactly how we got here. This guide will detail the steps you need to start and grow your own video game blog.

    How to Start and Grow a Gaming Blog

    • Start With the Why
    • Develop a Value Prop
    • Decide Your Focus
    • Do Some Research
    • Choose a Platform
    • Create Your Brand
    • Select a Web Host
    • Figure out Your Site Layout
    • Write Your First Post
    • Get Comfortable with Social Media
    • Set up Analytics
    • Establish a Cadence
    • Build Your Tribe
    • Monetizing Your Blog
    • Continue Growth Mode

    Start With the Why

    As fun as it sounds, growing a video game blog is a lot of work. Before you take the plunge, make sure you’re clear about why you want to start the blog.

    • Is this more of a personal diary of your thoughts that will primarily be for your eyes only?
    • Do you want to share things within your friend group?
    • Is your goal to monetize your site (much more on this later)?

    Depending on your ‘why’, there may be better alternatives to reach your end goal. For example, if you just want to chat about video games with people, you may be better off joining a Discord channel – check out our Average Gamer server here to join an incredible gamer community!

    If you’re convinced that building a gaming blog aligns with your core objectives, then keep reading!

    Develop a Value Prop

    At the time of writing, there are about 2 billion websites, 400 million of which are actually active. Thousands of new websites are created every day!

    With so much content on the interwebz, and with people having a painfully short attention span, you need to have a unique value prop that encourages people to visit your site. Think of what makes you uniquely situated to become an authority on the information that you write about.

    Do you have experience as a level designer? Have you been collecting retro games for the last several decades? Were you part of the original development team on a game console? Did you reach the highest level of achievement within a specific game?

    For us, we watch dozens of hours of professional gameplay every week, evaluate the detailed specifics of game mechanics, and share insights with the gaming community to boil down this information to easy to understand, bite-sized nuggets of tips and tricks. We also reimagine classic games with a modern twist and layout the framework for sequels to modern games.

    Ultimately, you’ll be competing with the heavy-hitters like IGN, Kotaku, and Gamespot to attract eyeballs to your site. You need to understand how your experience and passion can hook a potential reader with a pithy headline.

    Decide Your Focus

    There are many directions you can go in terms of the topics of your blog posts. Generally speaking, the more broad your focus, the larger the potential audience. However, the wider you go with your content, the more likely it is that you’ll face intense competition from larger sites.

    Conversely, if your posts are highly focused on a particular video game, your addressable market will be smaller. In this hyper-focused scenario, you will likely have fewer competitors that are in the space.

    Rather than settling on either side of this spectrum, you may opt to focus somewhere between the extremes. For example, you may start a blog on third-person shooters, real-time strategy games, or board games.

    Regardless of what you choose, it should be clear to your audience the type of content they can expect to see on your site. People like consistency and clarity.

    Do Some Research

    Once you’ve figured out your unique value prop and focus of your site, you should do your fair share of googling to see what’s already available. Search for blogs that are already creating content similar to what you expect to create.

    Looking at the competitive landscape will show you:

    1. How many sites you’ll need to compete with (how many different blogs show up in the first few pages of Google search)
    2. How large the biggest players are (posting schedule, followers, how recently were they created)
    3. Where there are gaps in content (what aren’t people writing about within your genre – more on this later)

    You should spend at least a couple of hours looking at who your competitors are and what they’ve been doing. This will give you an idea of what types of content your potential readers enjoy and may highlight the existing gaps in content (more on this later).

    Choose a Platform

    There are generally two ways to get your blogging site onto the interwebz: using a hosted platform or self-hosting. There are pros and cons to both, and your choice will depend on a few key factors.

    Hosted platforms can typically be used for free, meaning you can start a blog with exactly $0. You can use a site like Wix or GoDaddy that have easy-to-use templates for quick website creation.

    The main drawback to using a hosted platform is that you lose some level of control over your site, hence the free price tag. Your site’s URL will include the hostname and you are limited in terms of your customization options. It can also be tough to transition your site from a hosted platform if you want to move later.

    Self-hosted platforms, on the other hand, will usually cost a few bucks a month, in addition to having to purchase a domain name. With this option, you have full control over your website experience.

    You get what you pay for, and if your goal is to make money with your blog then I highly recommend using a self-hosted platform. WordPress is one of the highest-rated self-hosted platforms in terms of functionality, but there’s definitely a learning curve that might scare some folks away.

    Create Your Brand

    Brand building happens over time, but you’ll want to start thinking about this early. It starts with your name and extends to your tagline, value prop, and the voice of your blog.

    When picking a name, you will likely want to have some uniqueness while being intuitive. As a gaming blog, you don’t want to be super extract with a name like Excelsior. Instead, go with a play on the words “gamer” or incorporate the name of the game which will be featured on your blog.

    Simultaneously, you need to consider how you want readers to feel when they think of your brand. Write down 3-5 adjectives that represent your site. Maybe you are the funny, sarcastic, calming blog. Perhaps your brand is straightforward, informative, and succinct.

    Finally, jot down some taglines that fit your name, associated adjectives, and value prop for readers. This is a great way to reinforce what your site stands for and enable a new visitor to quickly understand what they’ll get from your gaming blog.

    Whatever your brand association, you’ll only be able to control part of your site’s brand. The other part of your brand will be the perceived image that your readers have after interacting with the content on your gaming blog.

    Select a Web Host

    Now that you’ve got a name, it’s time to obtain a relevant URL. Web hosts make your site available for browsing and have a large impact on important performance metrics of your site. You want something with high reliability, fast speeds, and good security to build the base of your gaming blog.

    If you go the WordPress route, Bluehost and HostGator are great options. They start at about $3/month, have a money-back guarantee (think ‘trial period’), and integrate seamlessly with WordPress.

    Figure out Your Site Layout

    It’s important that you have an idea of how you want your gaming blog to look. Make a rough sketch on a sheet of paper with the basics, including your homepage and blog post page.

    Next, think about what secondary pages you want on your site. For us, we knew there would be an ‘about us’ section and a place to shop (more on making money through your gaming blog later). There are also some good plugins on WordPress to easily integrate a YouTube playlist into your site.

    If you’re design-minded, try some free logo creators to produce your first banner and logo. Here are some of my favorite creative tools for this: Canva for banners and social media images, Hatchful or DesignEvo for logo design, Unsplash for stock images.

    Ultimately, you want to have intuitive navigation through your site, an attractive layout that engages the reader, and easy access to your blog posts. You’ll likely change up your layout a few times over the course of your blog, so feel free to start with a template or free theme that does the job in the beginning.

    Write Your First Post

    Finally to the fun part!

    Remember your ‘why’ from the top of the article? This is where the decision to monetize will have a major impact on how you write.

    If you choose to just write for fun, go ahead and write whatever you like! There aren’t any real restrictions or limitations here, but you should at least not be purposefully offensive. In this writing-for-fun scenario, you’ll treat your gaming blog as a creative outlet to talk about whatever matters to you!

    If you’re like us and are looking to make some money from your gaming blog, the rules are different. Instead of writing for yourself, you’ll need to write for other people.

    Assuming you don’t want to spend money on ads, search engine optimization, or SEO, will be your best friend. That means having people come to your site organically through using search engines like Google.

    There are a handful of big-name gaming blogs out there – IGN, Gamespot, Polygon – and they will consistently show up at the top of the list for search queries like reviews, previews, and rumors. They have huge teams of people and you’ll want to see what they aren’t covering to increase your odds at appearing at the top of the search.

    This can mean writing about lesser-known titles or talking about a very granular piece of a popular title (ie. Rocket League Quick Chat).

    Alternatively, if you’ve done your research and found that top reviews, guides, or rumor posts just aren’t that great, write something better! Google rewards writers for creating unique content that keeps readers on your site. If you’re lucky enough to be the first result returned in a query, Google will even include a short snippet from your post, increasing the chances that a potential reader visits your site!

    We’ve been able to take the top spot for queries like ‘are capture cards worth it’ and ‘rogue company beginner’s guide’ by producing well-written content that answers the search question effectively and in an easy to read manner.

    Speaking of being easy to read, your article should have a Flesch reading score of at least 60. This is a measure of how easy it is for an outsider to understand your article.

    A score of 60 suggests that someone entering high school should be able to easily understand your article. You can use a WordPress plugin like Yoast SEO to get this score or drop your content into a native site like Readability Formulas.

    Here are some tips for achieving a high Flesch score:

    • Use short sentences
    • Use plain language – don’t try to complicate things with fancier words than necessary
    • Don’t use jargon or slang terms
    • Use transition words (alternatively, therefore, finally, etc.)
    • Speak in the active voice – “Mario collected all the coins” (active) vs “The coins were collected by Mario” (passive)
    • Use subheadings to break up sections that are longer than 300 words
    • Switch up the starting word in your sentences. You don’t want to start more than two sentences in a row with the same word

    If your article has a low Flesch score, chances are high that your readers won’t be able to fully understand your message, and won’t bother reading the entire article. This is a bad signal for Google and will prevent your post from being displayed on the first page of the search results.

    I find it most helpful to write the subheadings for my post before building out the meat of the article. This way, I can make sure there is a coherent story and that my article can be understood by just skimming through the page.

    As with any good movie, you want your post to have a solid opening, middle, and end. Tell your readers what they can expect to learn from the post, clearly teach or inform them of that thing, then summarize what you just told them.

    Get Comfortable with Social Media

    The large majority of your early blog views will come from friends and family. You can signup for a mail list service like Mailchimp to automatically send out your posts or just e-mail the article manually yourself.

    Beyond your inner circle of supporters, social media channels will be the best way to attract an early crowd. You’ll want to figure out where your potential readers spend their social media time. Is there a strong following on Twitter? Is there plenty of activity on Reddit?

    Look at all the major outlets to see where your crowd is talking the most. That’s where you want to be!

    For us, we were able to build a strong following and decent engagement on Instagram and Facebook. These outlets allowed us to post visual content that was informative, entertaining and promoted our blog.

    The best way to grow a community on your social channels is to have genuine conversations with people. Respond to other people’s questions. Share content that you find interesting. Follow folks who have similar interests.

    Please note that building a social following could be a full-time job in itself! I recommend choosing one, at most two, outlets to focus on. Create a legit profile, search for people in your niche, and start the process of building your following.

    Early on, don’t be afraid to ask people for feedback on your website and specific posts. You’ll likely run into some trolls, but the gaming community can also be surprisingly supportive when a fellow gamer asks for help.

    Set up Analytics

    I’m a nerd. This helps when talking about analytics, but I know not everyone out there is as excited about numbers as I am. No worries, there’s really only a few stats that you should keep track of regularly.

    To start, you’ll want to set up Google Analytics for your gaming blog. Setup is a breeze, and Google walks you through the entire thing as long as you have a Google account.

    Once Google has verified that you own your gaming blog URL, you can start to dive into the data. Total views and sessions are nice and all, but here are the real stars of the blog analytics world:

    • Pages per session – tells you whether visitors are coming to your site and checking out more than one article. This number will start at 1.0 and continue to increase as you put our more great content!
    • Average session duration – a good indicator of whether readers are getting value out of your site. Look at this on a post-level and take note of what kind of material is generating the highest session duration.
    • Bounce rate – a ‘bounce’ is a single-page session on your site. This number will be fairly high for gaming blogs (ie. 80%+) since many users will come for information on a specific game before leaving. Your bounce rate should decrease as you produce more articles that are related to each other so you can begin recommending additional articles to your users.
    • Acquisition channels – as mentioned earlier, you’ll want the majority of your site traffic to be organic, followed by direct (people going straight to your site using the site URL) and social (from social media sites) visits. Specifically, you’ll want to keep an eye on whether your organic traffic is growing and how the above data points look for users who are acquired organically.

    Beyond these four, there are tons of other numbers that aren’t really relevant in the early days. Check these analytics at least once a month to get an idea of how readers are reacting to your content.

    Establish a Cadence

    People are creatures of habit. They want to know that their favorite show is going to be on every week at the same time. The same concept holds true for growing your gaming blog.

    Having a regular posting schedule will let your readers build behavior around checking your site regularly. It’s also important to convince search engines, like Google, that your website is legitimate.

    You should aim to post at least once a week to start, and move up to two and three times per week when you have time. Quality is more important than quantity, but you also need to keep in mind that the big guys are publishing dozens of articles per day!

    Your gaming blog should have a good mix of short posts and long-form articles. This means having some very thorough posts that have greater than 2,000 words and some quick, small articles in the 500-1,000 word range.

    Lastly, having a regular posting schedule means you can advertise openly on your social media profile. Adding something like “weekly PS4 news” can convey a short value prop to potential new readers.

    Build Your Tribe

    One great way to gain early traction is by building a community of folks who share similar interests. Here are three ways to achieve this:

    Collaborate

    If you’ve got friends in the gaming world, see if one of them wants to team up for a collab! You can write an article about their stream/podcast/blog/etc. and, in return, they can shout you out to their followers.

    This type of collaboration is great for both sides, but will of course benefit you more than the other side when you’re just starting off. When you start to grow your own following, make sure to reciprocate by bringing attention to the great work of your friends!

    If you don’t know anyone who’s already in the biz, feel free to tap into the Average Gamer community!

    Otherwise, you can search through social media channels for small content creators. Enter ‘gaming’ or the specific title of a video game in the search bar of your favorite social site, and check for people in the 100-5k followers range. Follow a few accounts, like any relevant posts, join in on the conversation, then reach out about a potential collab.

    This method usually doesn’t have a high response rate, but you can get a great boost if someone agrees to a collaboration.

    Join groups

    Facebook is probably the best place to find a group to join. You’ll find a FB group for basically every topic possible and most are public, so you can join instantly.

    If nothing turns up in the search, don’t be afraid to start your own group! As a group originator, you can set the tone of the group and drive traffic directly to your site as your community grows.

    Once you’re in a group, take part in conversations as much as possible. The more people see your name on posts, the more you will be viewed as an authority, as long as you’re providing informative and/or entertaining commentary.

    Literally Build a Tribe

    Tailwind Tribes has been a spectacular growth tool for our Pinterest account. This platform lets you join relevant ‘tribes’ and post content to be redistributed among the community’s following.

    Share your posts to the tribe, repost other peoples’ work, and watch as your views and following grows. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it really does open the door to a bigger audience right off the bat. I will say that this isn’t a fast process, but all it takes is a couple of reposts that are shared by the right people to put your article in front of tens of thousands of potential viewers.

    Tailwind also works for IG, so make sure to sign up for an account!

    Monetizing Your Blog

    If you’ve made it this far, you should be set up well to begin your money-making journey. There are many ways to monetize your blog, so pick and choose the ones that make the most sense for you:

    • Google Adsense – You’ve seen Google Adsense on many websites and this is one of the most straightforward ways to make money on your gaming blog. Simply put, you grant access to Google to show relevant ads to your viewers on your site. There’s a decent level of customization here, allowing you to choose which place you show ads and what ad types are off-limits. While this is an easy route, it can also lessen the user experience if they come to your website and end up seeing advertisements for other brands. Many readers will be used to Google Adsense on other sites though, as long as the ads aren’t overwhelming.
    • Printify – Sell custom merch like t-shirts, mugs, and phone cases that are made to order. This means you don’t need to store any inventory and you only pay for materials that get purchased. You can import designs and easily drop them onto merchandise of your choice. The downside of this is that you can expect shipping times of at least a week. This might upset some customers in the age of Amazon next day shipping, but as long as you are upfront about your delivery times, you should be ok.
    • Shopify – This is a great platform to build out an online store to sell your merch. There are plenty of templates to build your store and many plugins to help customize the look.
    • Streaming – Isn’t it the dream to get paid to play video games? While it’s easy to start streaming, it’s a long process of building a following and consistently streaming your gameplay. Additionally, you’ll need to be comfortable on camera interacting with your chat while playing. I don’t say all this to discourage you, but I do want to be upfront about how much time and effort it takes to get to a point of making money from your streams. I recently was able to monetize my Facebook gaming channel and I know plenty of people who earned affiliate status on Twitch. Talk to me if you’d like any pointers!
    • Sponsored posts – If you become an authority on a specific topic or grow a large enough topic, brands can start reaching out to you to write a sponsored post. Make sure that the articles you write are about products and services that are relevant to your audience. There are also sites like Senzei where you can sign up, fill in your profile, and take incoming requests from potential streamers.

    While monetization might be one of your goals, it’s difficult to make it to this part without enjoying the journey. Write down which monetization channels are most attractive to you and jot down a general timeline of when you’d like to start implementing your money-making strategies.

    Continue Growth Mode

    From here, it’s about doing a lot of testing and doubling down on the things that are most successful.

    Monitor which posts perform the best (views, shares, average duration), put time into growing your social media following, and celebrate the small victories. It’s important that you keep yourself motivated throughout the process, but also don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up for a week or two.

    Here are some bonus tips for speeding up your growth:

    • Have guest posts from people who match the tone and brand of your site
    • Invest in yourself! Take free courses on SEO, branding, and writing
    • Test out some google or FB ads with a very small budget to get feedback more quickly
    • Attend conferences (virtual, for now) for gaming to stay up to date and connect with more people
    • Create YouTube videos of your gameplay

    The more you can put out engaging content, the higher your page authority will rise, and the more frequently people will find your page organically!

    Summarizing How to Start and Grow a Gaming Blog

    Starting a video game blog is pretty straightforward. Growing a successful gaming blog takes a lot more work.

    Here’s a recap of our strategy to work our way onto the list of top 200 video game blogs:

    • Start with the why – understand what’s really driving you to start a video game blog
    • Develop a value prop – what is your unique appeal that will attract random strangers to come read your content
    • Decide your focus – pick a niche that you know well and can write a lot of content about
    • Do some research – look at your competitors to understand the landscape of your potential audience
    • Choose a platform – select a website builder that matches your style and needs
    • Create your brand – design a logo, think about your values, decide how you want viewers to talk about your site
    • Select a web host – you’ll need a hosting platform that fits your budget
    • Figure out your site layout – what you want your menu, banner, and articles to look like
    • Write your first post – this will probably be a subject that you’ve been thinking about a lot recently
    • Get comfortable with social media – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will be some of your greatest growth tools
    • Set up analytics – hook up Google Analytics to your site
    • Establish a cadence – figure out how frequently you want to post
    • Build your tribe – expand your reach by joining groups of like-minded folks
    • Monetizing your blog – many options to choose from; pick the ones you’re most comfortable with
    • Continue growth mode – consistency, tenacity, and creativity will get you far

    If you ever get stuck, feel free to reach out! We’re happy to provide feedback and assist the community. I hope your gaming blog blossoms and we are able to collaborate in the future!

    [“source=buildthecloud”]

    Categories: Gaming

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