How to promote your blog

Space Marine dreadnought crushed by Eldar titan
Make sure your voice isn't crushed by the big sites

With all the changes to the FTW in the past couple months, I thought it might do some good to have Adam from the Space Wolves blog talk about tabletop wargame blogging and how best to promote yourself to your potential readers.

With that, I'll turn it over to Adam.

We've seen the blogosphere grow dramatically in the past few years. But now that there are so many blogs out there, how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you get the most followers? And more importantly, how do you do a better job than the bigger blogs? How do you even become one of the Big Blogs in the first place?

All shall be revealed...

One Man and His Blog
Why did you set up your blog in the first place? Everyone has their reasons. But generally, blog types vary from small hobby blogs to comprehensive resources for specific armies, or games as a whole. Or in the case of FTW, it's a jumping off point into the best of the blogosphere.

So if you're thinking about starting a blog, it's a good idea to plan what you're going to put into it and most importantly, what you want to get out of it. However, the grander your schemes, the more work will be required.

Having seen my Space Wolves resource, my friend Marc has started up Grey Knights of Titan, which he intends to become the same kind of comprehensive resource for the Grey Knights army.

He kind of missed the boat on this one, while I knew Space Wolves would be coming out and started the blog 6 months in advance. So he has some competition. However, he's going to great lengths to deliver varied and high quality content that's better than his competitors.

Which brings us nicely on to...

What Makes You So Special?
So what makes your blog so much better than all the others out there? Perhaps you're the best painter on the planet. Maybe the greatest conversion creator. Maybe you know the game inside and out and aren't ashamed to share your coarse opinion on the matter.

Point is, there's a place in the blogosphere for you so long as you can flaunt your talents and focus on what your readers want.

Tone Of Voice and Content are the two most important tools at your disposal.

Not only are you writing for yourself, but you're also writing for your audience. And often your audience will reflect the kind of person that you are, because they feel an affinity with what you say and how you say it.

Content is King! It's a popular saying among SEOs and web marketing people. Good quality content brings in links, followers and traffic. Obviously you have to do a little PR, like mentioning it on blogs, forums, etc. But if you can produce a well written, well laid out article that's backed up with fantastic photos (preferably of your own armies), then you're on to a winner.

But instead of battling with other blogs to be the #1 Grey Knights resource, for example, it's always best to create something new and boldly go where no blogger has gone before.

I mean, you wouldn't want to create a competitor to Bell Of Lost Souls would you?

Hard work aside, they've had numerous years to grow. It'd be like starting up a corner store and declaring you're going to be the next Walmart -and steal the market from them at the same time. It just ain't gonna happen.

So look out for those opportunities. Setting up shop first can give you a massive advantage if you've got your heart set on becoming one of the bigger blogs.

And now for a quick case study...

2 Years of Space Wolves
I'm still amazed how 2 years of blogging has flown past. But what's more interesting is the progression of traffic to the Space Wolves blog throughout those 2 years.

The greatest irony is how the quality of articles produced in the 1st year were the success to increasing traffic in the 2nd year. So getting off to a good start is clearly very important.

As you can see from the Google Analytics graph below, the site's traffic ebs and flows, but follows general trends.

On September 7th in 2009, the blog ranked 1st in Google for "Space Wolves" just as the Space Wolves rumours had started flying thick and fast. This resulted in a sudden spike in traffic, which died down a few days later. But some people stuck around and kept on reading.

By January 2010 I'd started churning out structured content to a plan, which resulted in a lot more Google search traffic and increasing appearances on people's blogrolls.

In November 2010 I made a few YouTube videos.

The Wolf & Sister comic now goes live every Wednesday. You can clearly see these spikes in traffic.

Currently the Space Wolves blog appears on most blogrolls and ranks in the top 3 in Google for pretty much every Space Wolves related search. So how do I keep increasing my traffic and getting people to follow the blog?

If there's one thing that really bugs me about so many blogs (not just in wargaming), it's how you're often stuck with the latest 3 blog posts and can't easily delve deeper into the site.

Whether you're a hobby blogger or building a full on resource, tags/labels and categories are incredibly important to help people find what they're looking for.

Besides, if your website is useful, easy to use and full of accessible information, then who wouldn't want to follow you?

I'm not going to use my blog as an example of usability perfection, because that would just be arrogant. However, I have received emails from people asking me to write particular articles which are already on the site. So perhaps my usability could do with improving? Or these people are just blind?

Either way, it's something to address. I may produce a video tutorial on how to find stuff using the top bar and side bar navigation.

And on that final note, we'll round up.

So think about what you want to do before you do it.
Make sure your blog name is relevant to what you're focusing on.
Create great content that's well written and well laid out with (your own) photos.
Set up Google Analytics to track events and see what earns you more traffic.
Make sure it's easy to find stuff on your blog with tags/labels and categories.

Best of luck and happy blogging!

There are some great points here folks, take them heart. While most of us do this for "fun," it can't hurt to go a bit deeper and really look at what you are trying to do with your site and for the community overall.
I know I struggle with all of these very topics. Thanks Adam!

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
10 things you can do to improve your blog

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Great article! I find this one particularly timely since I just began my blog at the end of April.

  2. Wonderful article, and posted at a wonderful time for me and, I hope, many others.

    Thank you for the post.

  3. Not bad, but you forgot to mention recipes. Anyone knows a rock-solid gaming blog needs to have posts with recipes.

    And maybe some on gardening.


  4. Mik: And pets too... a picture of your pet always helps.

  5. I started my blog for my own entertainment and as a sort of history I could look back on. It continually surprises me that anyone reads it. I appreciate all the folks who do... but it still surprises me!

  6. One key to getting more readers is frequent updates. Keeping yourself at the top of the blogrolls is how you get exposure. Almost all of the largest blogs out there post several times a day. FTW is an exception because it's quality over quantity.

  7. As "The Inner Geek" I'm surprised that some people are following my blog. I don't mind not being the best blog you've ever seen. I just want to share my little things with anyone who wish, and I'm trying to post once a week, so I'll see you on Sunday morning.

    Great post

  8. Some things I'll add are about the structure of posts:

    Naming is important - if you want people to visit a post be clear in the title what it is. It also helps Google searches.

    The first few lines of the body are often frequently displayed (see this blog for an example), so a good opening line or comment can invite interest.

    Similarly many blogs display a picture, usually the first picture of a post (blogger doesn't diplay wordpress or hotlinked pics though). Putting something there will get more interest.
    Naming pictures helps too (ie Space Marine mk4 rather than DSC003).
    With my Phantom Titan painting post I put a finished picture first rather than the chronologicaly first one to maximise viewer interest.
    Similarly my pilot painting post procured perusal by sticking a picture of a (relevant) pretty girl up there.

    I get huge traffic from Google - almost 2000 hits a month - for a relatively quiet/small blog. Most of this is from search strings on Imperial Armour (due to my reviews), or Horus Heresy, due to pictures embeded in my review of the FF boadrgame.

    Taking my Imperial Armour 10 review as an example, in the title I was very clear what it was about, using full words to maximise search hits. The first line also contains the common abbreviation of 'IA10' for the same reason.
    The pictures all have the 'Badab' or the Chapter / Character name in the filename.

    I also linked back to my previous review of IA9, and have an 'IA review' tag.

    I don't know about now but earlier in the year just putting "Imperial Armour 10" turned up my blog as the #1 hit. At one point I was getting over five hundred hits a day just from Google, so it is an invaluable tool.

    My somewhat esoteric image links at the top of my site have mouseover alt-text explaining what they are (fancy tag-links), and I recently moved my archive and tags up higher on the sidebar. I've noticed since then in analytics a greater amount of serches through the tags.

    One other thing I do is always reply to comments made, even if it's just a "nice job!", or "good work". I will admit I have missed some, but the auto-notify is often erratic.

    Commenting on other blogs will get people looking back at yours, provided you give interesting advice.
    If all else fails work in references (and links) back to your own articles when relevant - see this post for examples ;).

  9. I would like to think that I'm doing quite well.

    I've been blogging 2 weeks and have 29 followers and 2500 site visits.

    I could be wrong in thinking that's not good, but I'm proud of it =]

    Still really helpful, and as some people have said just the right time.

  10. Great article.
    I started my hobby blog mostly so I could keep track of how I paint things.

    I've been keeping track of my painting recipes and formulas.

    I've also written a couple of quickie tutorials so that I wouldn't forget what steps I took and in what order so that I could go back in the future and emulate or redo them if need be.

    This works well for me as I tend to paint in spurts and sometimes get halfway done with a unit before I can get back to them a month or more later.

    Nothing worse than forgetting how you did stuff and now half the unit (or more) looks out of place.

  11. It's time consuming (But I like doing it anyway) but I have found most of my referrals have come from commenting on other peoples work.

    Like others, if I see someone comment that I don't know I will usually click their profile, go over to their blog and see what they have. I usually then say something good about something I like and 'follow' them.

    I guess it works in the same way. I think also entering competitions, writing tutorials and trying to make peoples weekly 'top 10's' also generates a bit of interest.

    My Red Scorpions blog has done well out of this since I started it but my second blog, First Blood, the more generalised one and the one that I have added friends into is not getting so much play. Can't figure out why as I think personally my work improves each time and the diversity of my friends work adds a lot of value and content but maybe it is too general now.

    I might have also been riding the coat tails of the Badab releases a bit with my RS blog as well.

    Another top post Ron/Adam, will have to see what I can work on!


  12. Great article and it really got me thinking about the purpose for my blog and how I'm going to refine that idea and make it worthwhile.. made me think about my writing style and really just about how I want to promote and get my blog out there, and add to the hobby community since I've gotten so much out of it.


  13. Geek: If that's what you started it for, it's perfectly fine if that's what you keep it for.

    Not everyone wants to be the next big thing, some folks just want to share what they have in the hobby. Sometimes those are the "best" blogs out there.

    Faolain: Thanks, but I think both are needed. I like to think quality is better than quantity, but they both have their merits depending on what you're trying to do.

    Cylde: It's perfectly fine to post once a week, as long as you are giving your readers your best, it will come through in your posts.

    Gotthammer: All good points... but I'd caution folks in getting wrapped up in the art of blogging vs. simply sharing the hobby. Again, it comes down to what you want to do with your own site and what you consider to be the benchmarks of success.

    theHman: I can't tell you how many times I've gone back through FTW looking for stuff I did before so I could reproduce it again.

    Red: It can become very time consuming to the point where you are no longer putting out good content but instead trying to promote yourself... and then you find your site suffering from lack of content since you've been so busy with all the other aspects.

    It's a balance that each of us have to find with our own sites and what we're trying to do with them. I struggle with it almost daily and have to remind myself of the focus of my site.

    Tim Toolen: The best thing you can do is develop a goal for your site and work towards that. Whatever it may be. Staying focused if you don't have a goal in mind in near impossible.

  14. Ron, I sent you an email asking to be part of your blog netowrk.

    I just started it, last week (literally bought the domain on Friday). One of the things I think I have going for me is that I managed to get the permission of like a dozen or so artists to post their art on my blog, so I have some really kick-ass art to show off.

    I'm still messing around pretty massively with themes (wordpress): I want something dark red and grey, and with good gallery/slide-show options/widgets to display the art.

    For now, I'm trying to make sure I post once a day, just to get the content volume up. (which means I've posted twice, 3rd post will be today).

    Really just writing what my heart tells me, which mostly means hardcore tactics and rules discussions, mostly focused around GK and a little bit of Tau, though there'll be some hobby stuff and tactics for other armies, too.

    Oh, and Shameless plug, if you don't mind: new blog is

  15. But what makes your blog so special when everyone else is writing about the same topics?

  16. I started my blog because I wanted people to be able to find stuff about the hobby that I hadn't been able to find myself when starting out. Things like basic revies of units in different codices, tactical advice, etc.

    Sure, every now and then you find something like the Space Wolves blog (which I enjoy greatly), but I was surprised at some of the things I couldn't find easily. Things that I thought everyone would be discussing.

    So, I made my blog to be a source for basic info and just the stuff that I'm discovering myself. I'm currently going through the Black Templar codex, and I'm amazed at some of the stuff we all miss in these old codices. Or just stuff that you can't find easily. So even though I am far from where I want to get, I hope I can shed some light on the obscure, forgotten, discredited, and just plain missed stuff in 40k.

    And oddly enough, one of my blog posts from march that I wrote in a hurry and just because I was excited about it is the #1 google hit for Tau rumors.

  17. great article- i just started a cooking blog and this was very helpful so thanks!

  18. Jess: You're welcome. I guess the points here apply to all blogs regardless of what the topic is.

    Good luck!

  19. What about SEO? Did that make a lot of different too?

  20. Ana: To be honest, I don't think it's something many bloggers at this level really worry about. It's more about sharing the hobby for most folks and things like SEO can kill the fun of simply sharing the hobby by posting a few pics and your thoughts.

  21. Thanks for the insights! Have just started a miniatures/rpg blog and found this thread with Google--and so far it's the most relevant hit I've found. I'm interested in what the next steps are... so you have a focused, well organized blog you're happy with. How do you get the word out? Announce on forums... ask to be added to blog rolls... trust google and fate? Cheers!

  22. Spooktalker: Yes.
    It's not so much announcing it on forums as it is getting/staying involved on them and participating in discussions there. I participate on the three major 40k forums and only post when I have something to offer in the thread. Sometimes it's an opinion or a thought and sometimes it's a link to my blog itself. The idea with forums is to help in the discussion and not just use it as an advertisement for your new blog. People frown on that.

    You can join blog rolls and groups to get your site out there as well and start commenting on other blogs too. People see the comments and some may head over to your blog to see who you are.

    Google will help once you get some content out there and you are connected with other folks. Then you'll start showing up there.

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