Believe it or not, many of the wonderful writers you see every day on the Destructoid front page got their start in our very own Community Blogs. Chris Carter, Kyle MacGregor, Tony Ponce, and many other Dtoid staffers (including yours truly!) can trace our humble beginnings to writing Cblogs for nothing more than our own pleasure and the simple joy provided by the occasional "fap". (Dtoid's version of upvoting.)
You see, unlike a lot of other sites, Destructoid prides itself on our record of promoting writers from within, which is why we strive to give our top Cbloggers all the attention we can. Every month we promote well-written user blogs to the front page, and when it comes time to bring on more staff, those are often the people we hit up first.
So how does it all work? What can you do to start seeing your work rewarded with "the front page treatment"? Here's Mario with some tips for getting started!
*The fortune part is a lie.
TITLES - THE FIRST THING THEY'LL SEE
Perhaps the most important part of your blog is the title. After all, if your title isn't catchy enough to draw in any readers, then what's the point of writing the blog at all?! A good title is something that is a) descriptive, and b) sexy. You shouldn't mislead people by writing something that clearly has nothing to do with your topic, but at the same time, you'll always benefit by drawing people in with a "hook", if appropriate. So instead of, "My thoughts on the Wii U", try something like, "Why I think the Wii U is destined for [success/failure]". They both technically convey the same message (i.e., your thoughts on the Wii U), but one is much more likely to entice people into reading your opinions than the other.
Our Community Blogs allow for 80 characters in the title, which means you can get pretty descriptive. However, it's worth noting that we're only allowed 57 characters for the front page side of things, so assuming your blog does get promoted, your title will have to be edited, so keep that in mind!
IMAGES - USE YOUR HEAD-ER
Adding an appropriate header image to your blog is vital; after all, we can't promote it to the front page without one! A header should be 620 pixels wide by 350 tall, high quality, safe for work, and indicative of the overall theme or topic of your blog. Remember, if you forget to upload your own, I'm going to pick one myself when I promote your blog; the results may frighten you!
It's also important that you upload your images to Destructoid as opposed to an outside service like Photobucket, etc. That way, when you inevitably do spring cleaning a few months down the road and mistakenly delete all your photos ("What do I need these for?"), your Destructoid blogs will remain unaffected.
BODY - TRIM THE FAT
Ah, the meat and potatoes. Unfortunately, just telling you to "write a good blog" isn't entirely helpful, but to get into the real nitty-gritty would require much more space than I currently have. (Thankfully, Andrew Kauz has already written an excellent guide on the subject.) However, I can tell you that the kinds of blogs we promote to the front page normally fall into one of the following categories:
- Anecdotes (how such-and-such game changed your life, etc.)
- Editorials (opinion pieces, industry commentary, etc.)
- Analyses (in-depth looks at what makes a certain game or series great, etc.)
Likewise, we don't typically promote user reviews or news stories (yet), no matter how well-written or informed they may be. That said, the only piece of wisdom I can truly impart to you is to develop a voice and use it. Make your blogs personal, stay on topic, and maintain a consistent theme from intro to closing and you're bound to be rewarded.
FINE-TUNING - GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY
In addition to standard proofreading (spelling, grammar, punctuation -- all the stuff you were supposed to learn in school), keep in mind the following things when writing for a Destructoid audience:
- We italicize the names of games. Super Mario Bros. Halo. Boob Wars: Big Breasts vs. Flat Chests. You get the idea.
- We spell "videogame" as "videogame". Remember how "email" used to be "E-mail" before people realized how ridiculous that was? Yeah, me neither. "Videogame" is the future; get with the program!
- We allow swearing, in moderation. Often times, a well-placed "F bomb" is the only word you can really use to get your point across; however, curse words can just as easily be overused to the point of nonsensical vulgarity. Use your best judgement with this.
Other than that, I recommend you read your blog out loud before pushing the publish button; it's amazing how often you'll "hear" mistakes that you couldn't "see"!
STRUCTURE - LEGS TO STAND ON
"TL;DR." "OMG! WALL OF TEXT!"
If either of these comments have ever been left on one of your blogs, it's because people are having a difficult time reading what you wrote. (And also because they're kind of assholes.) To combat this, remember these simple structural guidelines:
- Use the ENTER key! Seriously, it's there for a reason. Paragraph breaks are your friend.
- Break up your paragraphs with images. A good practice is one image for every three paragraphs of text, and a maximum of five or six images per blog. (Any more than that and it's highly likely that you've gone off-course and are deep into incoherent rambling territory.)
Other than that, strive to make your blog easy on the eyes and you will be rewarded with many more views (and are much more likely to make it to the front page).
And that's about it! (Thanks for the help, Mario!)
If you have any further questions about writing quality blogs, I encourage you to hit me up in the comments section. And if you're feeling inspired, don't waste any more time!