Starting Your Own Gaming Blog
Starting a gaming blog is one of the best ways to get into the blogging sphere; why? Because there is a constant stream of new games being released, new content to cover and it's one of those areas where you can make your hobby pay. Video Games have stood the test of time; from the first versions of Pong to the next-generation MMORPGs like World Of Warcraft, gaming isn't going away anytime soon. And what's more, is if you're an avid gamer, starting your own blog means you can start to use your own gaming knowledge to help others and potentially start earning a side-income.
This guide will look at how you can start your own gaming blog and what you need to consider before you get started.
- Why You Should Be Blogging About Games
- Setting Up A Gaming Blog
- Monetizing A Gaming Blog
- Can you compete with the likes of IGN/GameSpot?
Why You Should Be Blogging About Games
Many people have started a blog in their lives and after a couple of months or years, they give up and abandon it. I have done exactly the same, including this blog (but luckily came back to it!). One of the reasons we blog is because we want people to see our content; we want feedback and we want to interact with our viewers. You want to see in your analytics that you're gaining traffic each month and you want to see that you're heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, blogging in the beginning is very rough on newbies.
Blogging is all about how you can capture traffic from places like Google, and to a lesser extent, social media. If your content isn't ranking, you're not going to get any views. For new blogs starting out, Google won't consider ranking your articles until your site matures (6 months) and has been around for a while.
There are exceptions to this rule however, such as if you write a completely unique piece of content that no one else is ranking for, you can take that spot. And the good news for you is that the gaming industry is always coming out with new games for you to cover. In fact, there are so many games that many of the big publishers like IGN cannot hire enough writers to cover all the content that people are searching for. They usually prioritise the big games and the smaller games (that still have a stout following) usually get left to other people to cover AKA you!
You can also look at driving Social Media traffic, which doesn't require any kind of site maturity; it relies rather on follows and shares from fellow Social Media users.
Obviously, blogging about games isn't for everyone. It requires a significant amount of time invested to be able to write good content; if you're writing a review on a newly released game, that's some 30+ hours you need to put into the game in order to get a good idea of what the game is about. If you're writing tutorials and guides, you're going to need to spend a significant amount of time playing the game to figure out the best ways to accomplish something. And then there are the games that require you to play them all the time in order to learn all the new mechanics.
But if you're someone who spends a lot of time playing video games, you should consider using your knowledge and passion to build something creative. You don't even have to do it for money or traffic or views; blogging can be a great way to improve your writing skills, learning new technologies (such as programming) and getting into the web design industry. I started my first every website about Final Fantasy (it was terrible and it didn't make any money, and thank god, no one probably saw it!) but I learned so much about websites that I decided to make it my career in the future.
If you love spending time on video games, turning a hobby into something that could potentially make you money is definitely something to consider. You don't have much to lose!
Setting Up A Gaming Blog
To start your own gaming blog, you're going to need to get into the technical side of setting up websites.
A serious gaming blog needs a webhost and a domain name. You can go down the route of setting up a free gaming blog, but usually these have all sorts of limitations on how far you can grow.
A webhost is where your gaming blog resides. It's how you manage your site; you can manage the files for your blog, email accounts, manage traffic, subdomains and all of that other good stuff. I recommend starting out using Bluehost, who are offering a free domain for a year when you signup. Normally a domain name will cost you $10/year, but with Bluehost all you have to pay for is the hosting. They also can setup your site in one go- having your domain and hosting all on the same place means no messing around with complicated stuff like DNS records.
You'll then want to consider your blogging platform. I have built and created my own platform as I'm a PHP programmer, but if I wasn't, I would always choose WordPress as it's the most user-friendly platform out there. It's free to use and has so many options to customise it is a newbie's dream. There are many addons and themes you can add to your WordPress blog that require no technicle knowledge to setup (a simple click will get you started). And if you don't want the hassle of setting up WordPress yourself, luckily Bluehost is a trusted WordPress partner and has a special package for getting you setup with WordPress right out of the gate. This means it's incredibly easy to get started, all you have to worry about is writing your gaming content.
If you want to consider other webhosts and domain registras, then I would definitely recommend getting one that offers cPanel. cPanel is a user-friendly admin panel that allows you to manage your websites; when starting out this is the best tool you can learn to use. Even as an experienced programmer and website designer, cPanel is still one of my favourite tools to use.
Domains is something you really want to consider and give a great deal of though before you get started. A web domain usually has an extension such as .com, .net, .org etc but today you can buy many other ones such as .blog or .online. I still recommend using the original .com domain names but many of the common names (and even uncommon ones) are taken up. A domain name is something which indentifies your gaming blog, so you should really name it somehting that you're going to be happy to use for years. Changing a domain name after building a site around it is extremely difficult and can mean losing tons of traffic and progress.
Once you have your webhost, blogging platform and domain all setup, you can begin writing content. If you have money to invest, hiring writers who also play video games is a great way to invest in blogging.
Monetizing A Gaming Blog
Making money from a gaming blog is pretty simple to setup but difficult to actually make anything decent. Making money from blogging is all about traffic; if you have thousands of views a month then you can easily turn that into a decent side income. If you only have ten to a hundred views a month, you're really going to struggle. But you shouldn't give up; every blog starts out small and it can take them years of producing content before they start to see some of the crazy results you read about.
One of the easiest ways to monetize any gaming blog is through advertisements. All it requires is signing up to an ad service such as Google's Adsense (free) and then place some simple code snippets on your blog pages to display the ads. Then you'll start earning each time someone views your ads or clicks on them. Many bloggers don't like placing lots of adverts on their pages because it can turn the user off; but 9/10 it barely affects visitors. Visitors who are concerned about ads usually install an ad-block service, so they won't see them anyway. You're leaving money on the table by not serving ads.
You can also use some of the better ad networks out there if you have the views. Ezoic will give you better rates than Google, but to join their ad network you need at least 10,000 monthly views. There are other partners too which can offer even higher rates.
There are many affiliate programs on the internet you can use to earn money too. Affiliate programs give you a commission each time you refer users to buy a product; one of the most popular is Amazon Associates program. They recently slashed their rates, so these programs are getting harder and harder to make good money from. But there are other programs out there which can also be used to help earn an income.
With affiliate programs, you want to try and pick ones which relate to gaming. Offering products that are relevant to your users will mean a higher conversion rate.
Some programs to look at are:
Capturing your audience's emails is another way you can boost earnings for your blog. You may have seen it a million times when visiting a blog that they ask you to signup to their newsletter, offering you plenty of goodies in exchange for doing so. They aren't doing anything sinister; usually they will send you emails in the future about offers they are promoting, alongwith other content that might interest you. It's a way of getting return visitors and being able to offer new promotions. These promotions usually give a discount to the audience but also the site owner get's a commission too. It's very similiar to affiliate programs.
If you can offer a newsletter that is relevant to your audience, then it's definitely something to consider. Gaming newsletters can be very useful, especially if you can provide up-to-date news, latest new games and other interesting information for your audience. Even a weekly roundup newsletter of your own blog can be beneficial.
Can you compete with the likes of IGN/GameSpot?
Whilst these two behemoths are in the gaming space, you shouldn't really consider them your competition. IGN covers a massive amount of content, from video to podcasts, to going to conventions and more. They do have a huge team of writers to cover a lot of content and they will mostly only cover the games that are extremely popular, like Fortnite, Call Of Duty etc.
You can definitely compete with any site but you will have to have exceptional content or unique content that IGN/GameSpot haven't touched yet. The best way to do this is be aware of the latest games and prepare yourself to make sure you get the best content out first. As your site grows, you'll slowly start being able to get more and more traffic to your articles. I recommend focusing on games that are under the radar compared to the AAA blockbuster titles that IGN covers.
And at the end of the day; you don't have to be like IGN or GameSpot or any other gaming blog out there. You can come up with your own unique twist to gaming blogging that attracts a different audience. Examples including focusing on specific types of games like MMORPGs, Mobile or ESport games and then expand as you grow.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments about starting your own gaming blog; I'm happy to answer them all!