FacesOfBel_720

Blaugust Prep Week

Welcome to Blaugust!!!

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This week begins what I am referring to as “Prep Week” the idea is to start things a little early and give time for folks in the community to give advice on how exactly to get started.  This might be technical advice in how to get that blog up and running, or more soft skills sort of advise like how to find your niche.  The whole idea being that we can help prepare bloggers to be ready to hit the ground running as soon as August 1st rolls around.  I have to say this initiative has already out lived any expectations that I might have had for it…  and up until today we had yet to actually start properly.

After allowing Blaugust to fall by the wayside I was not really sure what sort of response I would get from the community.  The truth is that last year of Blaugust was fairly anemic as well with me not doing much support of my own thing.  I was not sure if people still cared or still wanted to band together into a larger gathering of minds…  but the answer is apparently yes.  As of posting this the official spreadsheet where I am keeping track of participants has 54 blogs signed up.  It is my hope as the first Blaugust posts start rolling in that the number is going to keep incrementing upwards.

FacesOfBel_720

At this point I have been plugging away at this nonsense for going on nine years… which to some makes me a veteran and to the eldest of our number…  a babe in the woods.  One of the things you are going to see with my blog is a lot of artwork by the amazing Ammo, and back at the seven year mark I commissioned her to do the above image of a bunch of my “Belghasts” from different games.  On the far side you have my Human Warrior in World of Warcraft, moving right my Blades/Shotgun character in The Secret World, next on the bottom my Bahmi Warrior from Rift and stacked on top of him my Exo Titan from Destiny, beside that my Imperial Dragon Knight from Elder Scrolls Online, and finally my Lalafell Warrior in Final Fantasy XIV aka Lalabel.  I’ve played a lot of characters over the years but none of them have been named “Aggronaut” which to some extent means that I failed at least a little bit in naming this blog, since I have been referred to as “Mr Aggronaut” more times than I can count when this blog is quoted.

The name of your blog is probably the single most important thing that you need to stick the landing on, because it becomes increasingly difficult to change once your site gets out in circulation.  I named this blog Tales of the Aggronaut because at the time my intent was for it to be a very niche blog…  World of Warcraft Warrior Tanking and Raiding blog.  The name Aggronaut being a play on Argonaut…  or in my mind one who navigates the Aggro… aka the number one role a tank performs in a party.  I am not sure however if anyone actually picked up on that, and instead expected a way more aggressive and angry blogging style than I have.  I wonder how many people I have turned off completely with them thinking the experience they would be getting was a rant blog.  In fact what I consider to be “me ranting” is apparently super tame in the global internet sense so I have a very ill fitting name for myself.

To make matters worse I carried this sin forward when we started our podcast…  not really knowing what to call it and instead just referring to it as AggroChat until it stuck.  Again there is the problem that if you hear a name like that, you expect it to be an aggressive podcast which it very much is not.  In fact there has been a few times when people have commented upon how very rarely do we actually say anything resembling a curse word.  Generally speaking “bullshit” is the worst thing we say and even then its only when describing some particularly egregious stuff and not actually that common place.  Basically all I am trying to say here is that I failed miserably in properly branding my blog and that you should probably not follow my example.  The cuter and more precious the name… the more likely its meaning is going to be completely lost on the bulk of your readership…  at least until someone points it out to them.

What’s In A Name

So ultimately what is the ideal name for a blog you might ask?  The truth is I don’t have a perfect answer because it is going to vary wildly between people.  In my experience the best blogs have short catchy names, that vaguely remind you of something…  but are also not so specific that they cannot be super malleable if the writer needs or wants to shift subjects.  The majority of us are going to be writing gaming blogs, and there will be an extreme tendency for us to name them based on some bit of a game we love…  or at least a gaming concept.  This can be a double edged sword but I thought I would spend some time picking on names of my fellow bloggers.  In truth I am not going to be saying anything bad, just talking about decisions that were made.

  • Levelcapped.com – This is the site that Scopique runs and I have to say I am super jealous of the title and domain associated with it.  Capping your level is a fairly generic construct at this point, but it is also universally understood especially now that even first person shooters generally have some sort of a leveling mechanic with its requisite end game.  It conveys a notion without limiting options for taking the blog in different directions.  He could for example decide to reboot it completely away from gaming and turn it into a personal blog in his quest to “level up” or something of the sort.
  • MMOQuests.com – This one is easy to pick on given that Stargrace no longer blogs using it and has instead adopted nomadicgamerseh.com as her new home.  First off… it is a great name…  if all you want to do is write about MMO Quests for the rest of your blogging career.  I have to feel like this is probably exactly why she made the jump to a more general blog title… in fact she says as much in a post.
  • Bio Break – I have always loved the title of this blog even though for years I rammed the two words together and Syp can be mildly particular about doing that.  The need to take a bio break… whatever that means to you and walk away from the screen is something universal in gaming be in an MMO where the verbiage was popularized or in a console game when you just need to hit pause and do something else for a moment.  Every game groks this concept and as a result it is insanely sticky branding and has the benefit of rolling off the tongue well.
  • Blessing of Kings – I’ve read this blog since my first days in the World of Warcraft blogging community and love it.  However the name is very specific to that game and will never really be seen as anything else than a World of Warcraft blog, and more particularly a Paladin blog.   Now I don’t think Rohan has any intent to blog about anything else, but I am just pointing out that the blog is pointed into a very specific corner and doesn’t have much of a way out of it.
  • Inventory Full – Another great blog that I read almost daily and another great title that is instantly relate-able to anyone who looks at it and has ever played a game with an inventory management system.  While very much an “MMO Blog” it doesn’t have to be by the title and scope.  It could in theory shift to be any sort of gaming blog or even a personal blog talking about a busy life where it feels like your “inventory” is always full.
  • MMO Gamer Chick – An amazing blog that has sadly gone silent over the years apart from re-syndicating the Battle Bards podcast.  The name tells you a very specific story that you should expect MMO Gaming Posts from a female perspective, and it is that first part that once again limits the longevity of options for the blog.  In the crush of the 2000s… MMO Gaming was the new hotness that we never thought would go into repose…  but alas the age exciting new MMOs has eclipsed making a title like this rough to keep interested in as a writer.
  • DragonChasers.com – Again another excellent title that works in a bunch of different ways.  You could take it literally and interpret as a raiding blog where the person talks about taking down bosses or “slaying internet dragons” in common parlance.  You could also interpret as a metaphor or any number of topics that are difficult to tackle, or simply turn it into a more personal blog.  The name gives you enough room to shift it as your own interests have shifted.

Ultimately I gave myself a short enough name that I have been able to change things up as needed and folks don’t generally remember the actual name of the blog, they just remember Aggronaut.com.  I am saying all of this because if you stick with this for any length of time, your interests are going to shift.  I started my life as a World of Warcraft Tanking and Raiding blog… and shifted into a Raiding and Guild Management blog, then eventually into a more general World of Warcraft blog.

From there I moved into Rift and lost most of my readers over night when I made the change, because being part of a very specific community often means the folks who are reading you…  are only interested in that very specific community.  Sure I got an influx of new readers from the Rift community, but it was a pretty traumatic shift for me personally to go through.  From there I shifted into a general MMO blog and now when the whole “blogging every day” thing happened shifted into a blog about me and my adventures both in game and in the real world with zero pretense of trying to have a higher purpose.

Effectively Tales of the Aggronaut has become an extremely obtusely named personal blog when something like Belghast.com that I do in fact own probably would have been better to use.  However at this point it feels like it is too late in the game to make a major shift like that given the search engine traction that I have after blogging for going on ten years with the same website.  So again I go back to the statement I made at the beginning of this lengthy diatribe…  your name is quite possibly the most decision you can make when it comes to a blog and it will for good or bad ultimately dictate what sort of blog it becomes.

6 thoughts on “Blaugust Prep Week

  1. +1 to leaving it at least a little open and not putting yourself in a niche – at least if you are more of the rambling, not ultra-focused type and either don’t plan to or already know you won’t be writing on the same narrow topic for years. I’m really glad I kicked my short-lived WoW Rogue blog in 2007 and restarted quite more general a bit later.

  2. My blog’s name has changed many times, but I landed on Me vs. Myself and I because it’s just me writing and fighting my inner wants and finicky nature over and over again through the years. It’s also open ended enough to write about whatever I want so it works. It’s also a play on “me, myself and I” which has been used through pop culture plenty and is easy to remember, so there’s that.

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