This year, the Girly Geek Blog is turning 3. It’s a little surreal to think about—and even more surreal when I realize how much I’ve learned in that time.
And since my whole goal for this year is to open the doors for the world to pick my brain about blogging, I figured it’s a great time to share those lessons, many of which I didn’t even realize I’d learned until I wrote this out.
So today, for any of you who have thought about starting your own gaming blog, here are the habits (and in a few cases, lessons) I swear by for my own blogging!
Those of you who’ve been around the Girly Geek Blog for a while know that just about every time I put off coming up with ideas for blog posts, I end up absolutely stuck for ideas for blog posts.
It’s a nasty and predictable cycle that I can almost always pre-empt just by having a few ideas written down on a forgotten sticky note somewhere. Nowadays, I can most of the time, but last year was definitely a learning curve for me in terms of preparation.
So a word to the wise blogger: Always be prepared with a few ideas!
But also be flexible.
I don’t mean this to contradict my previous point—but there will always be times in online publishing where things don’t go as planned, and you have to wing it.
You know, things like a computer eating the draft you worked on for hours, or you don’t get time to work on something, or you were hoping to pick up a new game to test for a review but for whatever reason you couldn’t.
And if you’re anything like me, these times will stress you out a bit.
My best advice in situations like this: Stay flexible, keep your cool, and if you have to, see if there’s something else on your list you can write up quickly. Or, if you absolutely have to, put off your post a day or two until you can write it up! No one is keeping track of your posting schedule except you.
Be authentic in your work.
To be entirely honest, I feel like the word authentic has just become a buzzword that a lot of us associate with Instagram. It doesn’t have much of its own meaning anymore.
But I do love what the word authentic stands for, and until I find a suitable replacement for it, I will suffer its existence in my writing.
Being authentic in your work simply means that no matter what you do, you’re representing yourself as honestly and truthfully as you can, so people can experience the real you. It’s intimidating at first, but it’s so much easier for you—and so much more relatable for the people that read your blog.
Keep up with trends.
Most blogs have a modicum of social media presence, because that’s one of the best ways to grow independently for free in today’s online world.
The defining factor behind social media’s success—and the reason why it’s so fickle at times—is because it relies really heavily on trends. Keeping up with what’s popular on your chosen online platform and finding ways to go with the trends (or, you know, start them) can help your blog grow, and shows people you know how to have a little fun.
This is one of my weakest points, personally. I love keeping up with trends, because I know how important they are, but I’m terrible at finding ways to fit them into what I do.
Case in point, you have no idea how long I’ve wanted to come up with an IGTV channel.
This is a little open-ended, because bloggers in general always encounter a lot of things to experiment with. Their writing style, their subject matter, the types of content they use…you get the idea.
But one of the hardest lessons to learn (and I know this from experience) is that just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean you always should.
People like seeing different things, so if there’s something you really want to try out—like making your first YouTube video, or even just a new style of photography—your blog is a good testing ground.
Pro tip: Don’t ever feel like you have to apologize for experimenting, either! After all, it’s your blog.
Keep up with other gamers and bloggers.
The beauty of modern blogging is how incredibly interactive it is. You don’t just create a website and post about your day; you join a vibrant community full of like-minded people who want to build a genuine connection with you.
It’s supremely easy to feel like you don’t have time to build and maintain those relationships, though—especially if you’re balancing your blog with a job.
My advice is to carve out a few times throughout your day where you can dedicate yourself to interacting with others—I like to make time over my lunch break at work, and right when I get home after work.
Read others’ content.
As a veteran of technology journalism and marketing, I learned long ago that I like to have all my facts before I start writing something, because the worst thing ever is when you find a rather important fact late in the writing process and have to start over.
Part of this self-preparation cycle is that I rarely take on an opinion of something—let alone post it publicly—without carefully researching both sides.
One of my favourite ways to do this research?
Reading reviews that others have written.
This can give you perspectives you hadn’t considered before, and citing those reviews that resonated with you and informed your own writing on your blog gives you extra credibility in your content.
Practice your writing.
I’ll admit, this one regularly falls off the radar for me, because in any context of my life where I’ve needed to write, I’ve been constantly writing. So for me, practicing my writing happens without even thinking about it.
As with any creative skill, though, writing needs you to practice regularly for it to bestow its wondrous fluidity upon your brain. It’s a good habit to keep your writing consistent, help you speed up the whole writing process, and also my favourite way to combat writer’s block.
I try to make sure I write at least a paragraph or two every day.
Find ways to challenge your creative brain.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like my brain turned to mush and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t force it to write anything good.
It’s frustrating, and it happens way too much for serious content creators and bloggers because sometimes you get trapped on what I like to call the Hamster Wheel of Content Creation—an endless cycle where you run yourself ragged without ever knowing until it’s too late.
Honestly, it’s something I wish I didn’t get frustrated over, because it’s so easy to deal with.
The best way to un-mush your brain when you can’t even get it to do your writing practice is to give it something new to do—something that isn’t a rinse-repeat of what you did last week or the week before or the week before or…well, you get it.
For that, I like to find little word games or writing prompts to inspire me. Trying a new challenge or even introducing a rhetorical device that you have to incorporate into your normal writing gives your brain something new to do, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly it works.
Don’t spread yourself too thin.
This is a two-fold habit.
First, it’s about keeping your focus on a relatively narrow niche subject.
Staying focused—instead of talking about literally every game you’ve played ever—means you’re more likely to attract people who like the same things to your blog. Which then equals repeat readership, the lifeblood of every blog.
Second, it’s about keeping your focus on a few social media platforms to match.
Limiting yourself to one or two platforms—instead of posting on every network ever—means you don’t, say, run out of steam after two Facebook posts and then never go back to it, leaving the speckling of fans you’d gathered in the lurch.
I always say it’s better to do one or two things incredibly well than it is to do all the things half-heartedly.
And most importantly…make time for gaming!
I know I’ve posted about this in the past, but that really only shows how important it is for every blogger—new or otherwise—to know. There will always come a time when you have to decide between writing about a game and actually playing it.
It always disappoints me when I have to make this kind of decision, because as a former journalist, I can get pretty obsessive over making sure I have all the facts before I write. So that’s when it’s good to take a step back, be flexible, and take the time to do a piece you’re proud of!
Besides, sometimes playing a game instead of working is what your brain really needs.