I do not know how often I will do these, but will try to keep them semi-regular. Any tips or comments are welcome, feel free to PM or email me on the usual channels.
Anyway, moving on to the first part of the series. To jump right in, I thought I’d discuss blogging. Something that has become a big thing for hobbyists on the net now, whether it is on forums or other sites.
Blogs are a useful tool for the hobbyist of the modern era. They are a place where one can show off their work and seek advice, but are also great for keeping track of tasks, paint jobs, tutorials and other such things we hobby fellows do. Blogs are great place to keep your projects in order; you might not even use it as somewhere to parade your work, but rather as just somewhere to store it. You don’t have to be an amazing modeller; they don’t even have to be about painting and modelling. But it is generally important to have some idea of what you want your blog to be about, it helps draw people who are interested in that to it. That said, a general blog works just as fine – my very own Grumpy Stunty is quite general of my own gaming experiences.
Where to blog?
One question for new hobbyists who come to face when considering a blog, is where should they set up their blog? There is a myriad of locations to start, from a forum your regular visit (such as Libararium-Online, Dakka Dakka, Warseer etc) – this could be done in their painting sections, as often forums now have a specific area for painting blogs (or plogs), or in a specific blogging section of the forum. An alternative is to make one on a dedicated blog site such as blogger or wordpress. These are the main methods used, but there are other options out there.
(N.B. Some of these will apply only to blogger/wordpress)
When you set up a blog, there are a number of things to remember. . One of them is the look. It doesn’t sound important; I mean who cares as long as you like it, right? And that is a fair point really, it is YOUR blog. However, if you want people to view it, then it needs to be user friendly. Having lots of add-ons that distract from the content might put people off. The same applies to the template you use. Try to consider and think of a good looking one, but try to avoid ones with added images in the background – they make it look cluttered. There are loads of templates out there, find the one that suits your blog. And remember, there is nothing wrong with testing them out.
If you are doing it on a forum, consider how long you might use such a blog, how popular it could get and how to make it easy to navigate. Take my own blog as an example. It is nearly three years old, and has nearly nine hundred and fifty posts in it. That is a lot. And so as you can imagine there is a lot of stuff in there, so to make it user friendly I added a contents page (click link to see it). This hold links to the individual posts of my completed projects. This makes it easier for people looking for something on the blog to find it or to just navigate around such a large blog. It is regularly updated with each project, for ease of viewing. Simple touches like this will make your blog a bit more rememberable and make people want to check it for new updates.
Another thing to remember is colours. It’s understandable that you’d like to make your blog stand out among the crowd, and the easiest way to do so - it would seem – is to add colour. This can be fine, but be wary when using colour, font types and styles; as too much can make it look bad. It is important that you make your blog your own, so experiment, but do remember to keep a thought on “How readable is it?”
Everyone loves to be told that their painting/posts are a work of genius. A pure work of art. But that never happens. Sometimes there are no comments. Not one. This can be very disheartening, especially to new bloggers. There are ways of getting people to look at your blog, and hopefully comment, and the simplest way is to comment on other people’s posts. I don’t mean go spam other blogs and telling them to go look at yours, and this is likely to annoy people. Instead, seek to add constructive posts, or keep a link to your blog in your sig/profile. Just make it accessible.
Do not worry if you don’t get comments. Remember, this blog is for you. I regularly don’t get a lot of comments on blogs, so I just look at it like this – “it’s nice to get comments, but meh” and continue to post when I please. It you try and make your posts provocative or outlandish to get attention, and then perhaps blogging isn’t for you.
Once final point I would like to make about commenting is, if you get a comment – reply! It is quite important this. It shows you have interest and interact with others will increase the chances they’ll return and comment again.
This is going to be brief. I just wanted to discuss posting on your blog. To get interest you need to have a good topic, but just as importantly you need to write well. Now, I’m not saying that you need a degree in English Language but watching your grammar and spelling is quite important. I personally have found it off putting when people start to hugely misspell or use “text speak” during a post. It is not difficult to write out full words or run your post through word – or download add-ons for your browser (I have a dictionary for my firefox, along with a spell-checker). Also consider the manner, of which you are writing, make it easy on the eye. Blocks of text is not appealing and people are just as likely, if not more so, to not read it than they are to spend the time reading. Simple uses of paragraphs make a world of difference. Language is also an issue to be aware of. Most forums will have a swear filter on them, designed to filter out swear words – blogs do not have this. You can swear all you want, but bear in mind many find it a disgusting habit; so consider whether you will swear on your blog. Ideally I would suggest not doing it at all.
Another thing to bear in mind is not to feel pressured into posting lots just because there are others out there who do it every day. Every blogger has their own pace, once you find yours stick to it. It is better to post only once or twice a week with some good, solid interesting posts than to do multiple lesser posts. It might be useful to have some saved – either on your hard drive or as a draft post – so that you won’t be too rushed to go and can post at your own speed.
Take time with the images you post. There isn’t much point in putting up something blurry, as you’ll be told it is blurry. There are plenty of tutorials and guides out there on how to take decent photos.
Below are some links you might find useful