Newbie Blogger Initiative – WoW blogging guide and how to reuse old posts

For those of you who haven’t spotted it, theres a thing going on on the internets called the Newbie Blogger Initiative and I’ve decided to take part, but in the slackiest way EVER.  A long time ago I wrote these two guides.  I think a third part is still bumping around my draft list somewhere.  But what I’m doing is linking them here so new bloggers can see and read them.  This is a great type of posting – reusing old posts 😉

WoW Blogging Part 1: Getting Started

WoW Blogging Part 2: The Early Days

Where Morrighan confesses her new identity

Until last week I was Morrighan.  But now, now I’m Akandra.

Yes I’ve changed my main!

Back to where I began
It was with mixed feelings that I made this change.  A healer was more useful to the guild and the objections I had to playing my priest in Wrath were gone.  I played Akandra in both Vanilla and The Burning Crusade.  I think I was a good healer in TBC.  But when Wrath was announced I was decidedly unhappy with the changes to Holy.  Or should I say the lack of changes.  So I switched to Morrighan to try something new.  I did try to play Akandra again in Wrath, but I never really had the reaction times for Wrath healing.  I hated it.  Cataclysm added changes to Holy and made healing less about spamming one button and more about making the right choices again.  So I’m back on Akandra seeing how it goes.

Mains vs Alts
Always in WoW before I’ve had one ‘main’ and some alts.  The main has always taken priority for me.  But for the first time I am now split.  Morrighan is still important to me as a character.  I still enjoy playing her – in fact I like the new dps rotation and pull good dps from it.  The last time I raided Baradin Hold on Morrighan I was second on the meters with no other raid gear at all (I know BH is easy for dps, so the values don’t matter, but its equally easy for all dps so its good for comparison).  I will continue to want to play Morrighan and want to collect achievements on her.  Likewise I now find a whole backlog of achievements Akandra needs.

What does that mean for the blog?
Well as I still enjoy ret I will continue to write about it.  But I will write about holy priests too most likely.  I suspect I will draw up another gear list for holy, but I will keep the ret list going.  I’ve been fairly quiet recently.  Partly I’ve been trying to turbo gear Akandra, and partly I’ve been working on an achievements project for the blog that should start soon.  The other good news is that I’m raiding again, so the raid guides will make a return.  That will probably happen over the next couple of weeks when I’ve seen most bosses a couple of times.  The achievements project should appear shortly after I manage to replace those ilevel 318 wrists I seem to be stuck with!  Unless of course I have to go and fight some trolls soon in which case I will focus on updating the gear list.

Cataclysm and the slacking blogger

I know, I know, I slack at posting.  In my defense I’ve been very busy.  Levelling, gearing, having a baby, you know the kind of thing.

So how ’bout that expansion?
Generally Cataclysm gets a big thumbs up from me.  I enjoyed levelling – the quests in Cataclysm are very good.  Good stories, funny cut scenes, very little pointless running around.  Its definitely a win.  I can’t recommend enough that people do the Harrison Jones quests at least once!  The dungeons and heroics are more challenging, which is good.  The only down side is that with a newborn, I can only do guild runs and even then I sometimes have to bail as Cataclysm heroics take a long time.

I love the changes to healing and have been healing on my priest, Akandra.  Akandra is my original character and I expect to be doing a lot more with her this expansion (mainly because we lack healers and ranged dps in Dreamstate at the moment – any healers or ranged looking for a new home are welcome to apply.  Dreamstate is a 10 man raiding guild, raiding Thursday, Sunday and Tuesday from 2000-2300 server time on the Darksorrow-EU server.  In the mean time I thought I’d get Akandra up and running to offer some flexibility to the guild.

Erm … gear list?
Its top of my to do list.  Be aware theres a major change to Mastery in 4.0.6 and I won’t post any summary posts until after the patch hits.

Things to do in Cataclysm if you can’t raid
Unfortunately, raiding is a bit of a challenge for me at the moment.  So I decided to set myself some targets for things to do that don’t require me to be available for a long period of time.  I feel its unfair for me to raid when I might leave everyone waiting for me because the baby needs me.  I have done some heroics with my guild, who are understanding of the position new parents are in.  The community Dreamstate has is great – I can’t imagine every guild being as understanding.

So my (current) targets are:

  • Morrighan’s achievement fest.  I have over 8000 achievement points and I would love to get to 9000.  I’m working mostly on the  Professions achievements at the moment – I still have a lot of fishing and archaeology achievements left.  Then I intend to work on some reputations.  I can also do all the Azeroth quests for yet more achievements.  Those related to raiding and dungeons can wait.
  • Get Morrighan specced for PvP and find an arena team for 3v3 (this has always been my preferred bracket – I’d try the others but I find 2v2 lacks depth and 5v5 is way to complex to arrange).  And do some rated battlegrounds, which I rather like the sound of.  If I can fit that in around the baby.
  • Get Akandra raid ready as Shadow and Holy.  If I heal, I’d rather heal on my priest.
  • Get one of each class to level 85!  Thats a big achievement to work on.  I had 5 classes at level 80 – paladin, priest, death knight, druid and shaman.   That leaves 7 classes that I need to work on.
  • Keep up with the holiday achievements on my alts for that free 310% riding speed.  I started this with Brewfest and on four alts – I dropped one of those when I was just too busy but Akandra, Arianrhodd and Enalla are still keeping up.  Love is In the Air is next, and this is definitely the most challenging one!  Especially on Arianrhodd who is only level 82 and in a very small guild on another server.

Its a very different game when you aren’t raiding, but I still find I have loads to do.  I have a post about that in draft.

And the future of the blog
I have some projects I’d like to work on:

  • Get the gear list up.
  • Do the gear list summary posts (after 4.0.6).
  • Update the blogroll and links.
  • Post more often!
  • What you won’t get in a hurry are the short raid guides.  I’ve tried to never post a raid guide to a raid I’ve not at least attempted.  As I’m not raiding, I can’t meet that quickly.  I will post them as I can.
  • I do have another project in mind to do with achievements.  We’ll see how that goes.

WoW Blogging part 2: the early days

In part 1 I told you the basics – how to get set up and write your first post.  Now I’m going to tell you how to keep going through the difficult early phase where that reader counter stays at 0 and your struggling to figure out what, how and when to write.

Ignore your own tagline
In the early stages just write about what inspires you.  You set up the blog for a reason, but don’t worry if you suddenly think, ‘oh I could do this instead’.  My blog changed a lot within the first few posts.  Things changed for me and I decided to do something else with the blog to fulfil a different creative desire.  This is harder to do later, but before anyone finds your blog you are pretty much writing because you want to.  This is your practice blogging.

Finding your voice
This is what you should spend your early blog posts doing.  Craft things.  Decide what you like and what you don’t like.

What do I mean by voice?  Whatever your blog is doing (giving information, telling stories) you need to develop a style in which you do it.  For example, some blogs are quite academic.  Tobold, Larisa and World of Matticus are good examples of the academic voice.  They bring in psychology and economics, they write quite formally.  Thats not to say its dull or dry, just that it adheres to a strong structure, formal English and factual information.  Some of my posts are also in this vein (i.e. this one).  Others are very humourous i.e World of Snarkcraft, Mortigan the Lock, I Like Bubbles, Death Goddess.  Others have a style all of their own i.e. Big Bear Butts infamous bear walls – great lengths of text that can be about all kinds of randomness.

You aren’t limited to one voice!  But you need to think about consistency.  For example, I try to write in a formalish style with a kind of dry humour.  Sometimes theres more humour, sometimes less depending on what I am writing about.  Every so often I want to rant.  I’ve taken to marking my sarcastic rants up as political broadcasts by the Plebs for Epics party.  The break is made distinctive, kept separate from the other posts, and tagged.  I even posted the first of these as a guest on another blog.  I just felt that the first of these posts I wrote was quite extreme and someone expecting my normal posts would be a bug confused!!!

Writing for yourself
This has to be an exercise you enjoy.  Because especially at first, no one will be reading what you write.  Start off by filling out the blog with a few posts on topics you want to write about.  Once you go looking for readers, its better to have a few posts for them to read.  If I came to a new blog and found it only had one post and was waiting for people to read that, I’d probably pass over it pretty fast because there wouldn’t be enough material for me to make a decision on whether I liked it or not.

Whatever blogging schedule you intend to write to, its best if you start up immediately with that so you can get into the swing of it and see how it works for you.  If you intend to post every Wednesday, do so regardless of whether people are reading or not.  That way you learn if Wednesdays are bad once the football season starts, or other issues that might affect your schedule.  If like me, your posting is more random, just make sure you set aside some time each week to at least draft some posts.

Finding readers
As I said in the first part of this guide, I am assuming you want people to read your blog.  Theres a few very simple things you can do to get started here.

Phase 1: Tags
Tags are very important.  I seem to have found a lot of readers through searches and I think that was to do with tags.  Heres my tip – you can never have enough tags.  For example, every post I have is tagged World of Warcraft.  That might seem obvious, but when people are plugging things into a search engine, they might use that as a limiting factor.  So tag it.  Which leads into how you should approach tags overall.  Tags are search engine terms.  They are not merely a way to organise your blog – they are a way for others to find it.  So tag with ever term you think might be used as a search term by someone looking for the information your blog contains.

Phase 2: The Blog Lists
You can self-link your blog in several places, declaring who you are for all the WoW Blogosphere to see.  A couple of key resources for WoW Bloggers are:

Blog Azeroth
This is a great WoW blogging community site where you can chat to other bloggers and introduce yourself and get feedback on your blog.

Twisted Nether Wiki’s Big List of Blogs
This is just what it says on the tin – request a link here to get your blog out there.  In the early days of Caer Morrighan, this was my major source of readers.

Phase 3: Commentary
The other major route to being discovered is to comment on other blogs.  Reading other blogs will help you to be a better blogger.  I set up my Google Reader on my iphone and have a massive list of blogs I read.  If I want to comment, I email myself the post to remind me, and to give me a chance to think about my response.  A response can be anything from ‘Thats hilarious’ to a rebuttal, to a story, to whatever!  It should be what you think and feel when you read the post.

Respond in particular to posts that allow you to exemplify some of what your blog is about.  Also, make sure you respond to blogs that are related to yours by subject area or tone.  That sounds very cynical I know, but it will attract readers.  It actually doesn’t work out to be cynical, because the blogs in related subject areas are the ones you will want information from anyway and the blogs with a similar tone are the ones you will likely enjoy reading!

WoW blogging part 1: getting started

Now I’ve not really been blogging long enough to write a guide to blogging.  But what I will do is write some advice that I wish I’d had when I started.  Specifically, about how to get started.

I’m going to assume one thing here.  That you want people to read your blog.  Thats not true of everyone I know.  For some people blogging is a personal exercise.  But for me – if I didn’t want people to read my blogs I wouldn’t be here in a public arena.  That being said, I’m also going to assume that high reader numbers are not your only goal.  Theres a balance to be had between writing for your own enjoyment and writing for a readership.  The best blogs have both in mind.

Choosing a host
There’s lots of site out there that will host your blog for free.  Theres others that will charge you.  And yet a third group that offer both.  You could analyse the features they give you.  You could consider your long term plans for your blog.  Want to know how I picked WordPress?

Well all my favourite blogs (aesthetically and organisationally) used it.  Plus I knew it had both a free option and a self-hosting option.  I figured I’d start free and see where things went.

There’s no right or wrong answer here – as long as you have a reason for the software you choose, then its fine.  My only recommendation is that you start with a free, largely premade blog.  Firstly, it won’t tie you in to a lot of money if you decide you don’t want to keep it up.  Secondly, you can always move it later!  When you know what features you want.

Coming up with a name
This is the hardest part I think.  It may be your far better at naming things than me.

Again, I drew inspiration from the blogs I liked reading.  There seem to be three types of name.

  1. Something surrounding a character name.  I went for this option.  On the plus side: name recognition.  On the down side: if you think you might change your main, you’re in trouble.  Other examples are World of Matticus, Lenaile’s Voice, Lady Jess, Honors Code.
  2. A clever play on words that relate to the subject you want to write about.  In the first instance you need to stick quite heavily to this or it just confuses people.  Examples might be Paladin Schamaldin, Big Hit Box, The Stoppable Force
  3. For the really imaginative, there are other names out there.  Some are WoW related.  Some aren’t.  I’m thinking about blogs like Big Bear Butt, Cold Comfort.

Don’t get hung up on naming it.  If you can’t think of anything at all, just call it Morrighan’s Blog (with your name instead of mine).  Once you start writing, you’ll find it easier to come up with a name.  This is something you’ll want to do early though, to establish name recognition.

I thought I was going to write more about women playing WoW to start with.  When I realised my blog was going in more of a ret pala direction, I changed the name.  My character is called Morrighan, who is the Celtic goddess of battle and death.  So I chose to name the blog Caer Morrighan.  Caer means citadel or castle in Celtic languages.  This seemed to tie in nicely with the Morrighan and with the idea of this being my home on the internet.

Writing a tag line
This was an exercise in the ‘28 days to a better blog’ challenge that was going on about the time I was starting.  I found it helped me.  Basically – try to write what your blog is about in just one or two sentences.  Some premade blogs even have a place for you to put it.  This will be something that constantly evolves, so go back and reconsider if you feel you’ve made a change in direction.  But at first it will help give you some direction.

Appearance, layout, etc.
I would leave this quite simple to start with.  Once you get going you will have a better understanding of what you might want to have on your site.  I just picked a template I liked and added a header image.

I prefer simple colour schemes and a white background on which to read.  Choose something you like but remember a few things.  Red/green and blue/blue colour blindness are common enough you should avoid them.  Don’t choose a font that is decorative and therefore hard to read – stick with simple fonts.  These things increase the readability of your blog.  Remember this is about what you write, not your colour scheme.

Writing the first post
This is very difficult.  Again, try not to get too hung up over it.  It might be an idea to just make it a basic introduction.  Who are you?  Why are you blogging?  What are you going to blog about?  What inspired you to start a blog?  As a reader I prefer these to people who jump right in.  Avoid  your first post being a QQ post or a negative post, unless you have a fairly distinctive voice.  You want to encourage readers, not whine.  I remember reading one first post on a blog where the writer said his class couldn’t dps very well.  This, from my point of view, was both negative (he’s not going to tell me anything useful since he’s starting from a point of failure) and untrue (I think the class can dps very well and I’ve seen the raid parses to prove it).

In the second part I’ll tell you how to develop your blogging so that your blog has a voice, a pattern and continuous flow of posts

Fires, Dreams and Nightmares

Its been a busy couple of days. The gear list posts are coming. In the mean time if you take a look at the gear list you will see I have already added some more items.

A Beacon Fire
As any blog reader cannot fail to have noticed, there is a new ‘thing’ in the blogging community – the blogging guild Single Abstract Noun run by Tamarind of Righteous Orbs. Its based on the Argent Dawn-EU server which is an RP server. I’ve got a few very low level alts kicking around on there. And now I have another one – Morrighann the Blood Elf Paladin. I’ll link her once shes high enough to even appear on the armory! From my brief time there last night it seems a very nice community. My time there is going to be a bit limited as I try to juggle it with work, life, Dreamstate and blogging, but I do want to make the effort to go over there. I think everyone has ‘the blogger they most want to meet’ over there too. For me its Larisa from the Pink Pigtail Inn who encouraged me to rant more early in my blogging days.

Nightmares
Tamarind has been through an experience recently I can sympathize with, which is being forced out of his guild due to his blog. I’ve been there. I blogged about something that I had found particularly offensive in the guild, and which the officers had failed to deal with. And that saw me kicked from the guild. I had never made my blog a secret, and I had blogged about similar things before. But this was just a step too far for the guild. (Don’t go looking for this post btw – I took it down after the server troll found it).  I’ve not really blogged or talked about this since, and I’m not sure I will more than this because I know my old guild is going through some tough times right now.

Tamarind said something that made me realize how unhappy I was in my previous guild. He talks about how his blog has/had become the reason he plays. The gaming supported the blogging rather than being a side interest. In my last days in my old guild the blog definitely meant more to me than playing the game. My unhappiness with some of the people, with the guild management, etc. had made the game a place where I was unhappy and my blog was an escape from that, back to the times when I enjoyed the game.

Now I might regret that more if it wasn’t for what happened afterwards. Some friends of mine, also unhappy with the direction the old guild was taking, formed Dreamstate. Dreamstate is a totally different place to be. Its friendly and fun. It’s a completely different experience to be in a guild like this. I have now reached the point where I play the game because I enjoy it again. I still enjoy blogging, but I also love raiding again.  The game, for me, is very much a social thing.

Dreams
On another note, last night we made our GM’s dreams come true. Or at least ended one of his nightmares! We downed Firefighter in Ulduar 10. We had been working on this a while back, but setting up the new guild got in the way. Last night we went back and down he went. Dreamstate now has several Algalon keys and will be taking out the last achievements needed for our Rusted Proto-Drakes (I Love the Smell of Saronite in the Morning, One Light in the Darkness).

Our last attempts on Firefighter had been so close. They literally gave our GM nightmares. Everyone was so glad when it went down last night. It was relatively easy – we do over gear the fight somewhat. This let us deal with the tricky stage 3 by zerging the head. I was on the adds (the only melee with one tank). The second tank and one ranged dealt with the bomb bots. Everyone else nuked the head.

I enjoy doing things like this, as they allow the two raid teams to come together and we had people from both teams and the Casual Raider rank (who aren’t assigned to a team as these are generally people who can’t raid as often). Thanks to all who came, especially the one member who didn’t really want to raid that night and came to help us out.

Caer Morrighan in 2010

Well it seems things might get back onto a more even keel for me soon.  I’m hoping that this weekend I won’t have to work, and the second raid group in Dreamstate is ready to run independently just as soon as the MT/Raid Leader repairs the router his dogs ate …

So with a bit of luck I’ll have some more time to focus on the blog again.  Heres what I want to do over the next few months:

  1. Keep the Raid Crib Sheet series up to date.  The lack of  a Plagueworks crib sheet at the moment is due to the lack of a Plagueworks clear.  I’m working on it.
  2. I’ll finish the gear list for 3.3.  This is my first priority now.  I have all the information – I just need time to sit and type it all up.
  3. Finish off some old posts and get them up – I have a few things I’ve been working on that just kinda slipped over Christmas.  I have a series of posts about starting a WoW blog thats fairly close to being ready.
  4. Go self hosting!  This is main because I’d like to be able to access some of the extra features like embedded videos, plug ins, etc.  I know I can pay to extend this site a bit, but I want a few things and so I’m just going to go the whole hog and self host.  With a bit of luck I can then generate the gear list in a different format and make it MUCH quicker.
  5. I’m going to try and convince some people to write some posts for me.

What else would readers like to see?  What do you need to know about ret palas?  Or raiding?  Or other subjects?

Dreamstate and too much work

So its been a while since I posted.  I have some stuff in the works but I’ve been majorly busy at work the last few weeks and that won’t end a while, which is putting a dent in the time and energy I have for blogging.  I hope to be posting more often soon, but for now its going to be a bit patchy.

Also, I’m now a brand new guild called Dreamstate.  Its got some very nice and very skilled players in it.  We’re just looking for a couple more people who want to run 10 man hard modes.  Preferably a resto shaman and a priest.  Its a friendly guild full of nice people and we have quite a bit of hard mode experience including several with TotGC 10 already under their belt.  We’re on the Darksorrow EU server.

Link love and Morrighan’s top tip of the week

It seems I’ve had some link love recently. WoW.com posted a link to How to wipe in Trial of the Grand Crusader so welcome to all the new readers who clicked through there. Plus Big Bear Butt said nice things about me, which is always nice. Its great when the bloggers you read turn out to read your blog too.

Now my turn to spread the link love around. You might have noticed I’ve added a few bloggers to my blogroll over the past few weeks:

Morrighan’s top tip of the week
This one is good for this week only.  The Pilgrim’s Bounty event is a great chance to level cooking on your alts!  The mats cost next to nothing, the various capitals are all easily accessible these days and unlike the big professions, the cooking has no level limits.  By that I mean that for enchanting, tailoring, etc. your character must be a certain level before they can progress the trade – you can’t have a level 1 with 400 enchanting.  The same is not true for cooking.  You should easily reach 300 cooking on your low level alts saving yourself a great deal of time and energy later so level up your favourites and don’t think about cooking again until Outland.

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