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How to Succeed in the Video Game Blog Niche

This guest post is by David Edwards of A Sitting Duck.

Candy

A screenshot from my game, Candy

This year was a land mark year for A Sitting Duck. What started as a blog and creative community has evolved into a limited company that is on track to publish a multi-platform game very soon.

As John mentioned yesterday, gaming is a large and growing niche, with a massive, very passionate audience. It’s a great space to operate in as a blogger, and a business person.

Top tips for succeeding in the video game niche

Over the last four years I’ve moved from illustrations to animations, and now to interactive gaming. I guess as a blogger/publisher the focus for me has always been to build engaging, free content which then makes it much easier to sell services and products.

Here are my tips to build a successful blog in the video game niche.

  • Start with big games: It’s really important if you want search engine traffic that you write reviews on (or otherwise cover) the big games up front. Sure, the big blogs in the niche will cover them, and they’ll probably get first position in the search results. But often, you can get hits from angles they didn’t cover, like “ How To Pass Level 50 On Angry Birds”.
  • Use big pictures and tweet them: By adding the picture from your latest blog post to Twitter, you’ll get instant attention—and the chance to suggest that there are more to look at over on your blog.
  • Embed game trailers from YouTube and describe what happens on the video: This is such an easy thing to do, and it’s sure to get you extra traffic that the video producers will miss out on, because they’re busy working on more videos!.
  • Make your own videos: It’s no surprise that top video game blog IGN Entertainment  has produced thousands of videos: it works! Video gamers want to see how the game plays, and without actually playing it, a video is the closest they’ll get to the experience. Your best bet is to have a look around for a high-quality capture to stream, and save footage from the XBOX, Playstation, Wii and so on.

Trends do change with blogging, but from what I’ve seen in the video games market, the current popular formula is: upload a video to YouTube, produce a short post blog with extra images, tweet, and find another game to repeat the process with!

Monetization

The Candy Menu

The Candy menu

When it comes to making money, development companies like Thegamebakers.com use a blog to capture a free audience to save money on banner advertising, and sell their own games.

Large video game blogs sell ad space, from a bespoke full skin (like Pocket Gamer), where they fully re-brand the home page to promote the sponsor’s game, to the regular box ads at a more reasonable price.

Monetization gets interesting when you look at the smaller blogs in this space (avergaing 5,000 – 50,000 hits a month). These guys usually go for the approach of selling paid reviews, where developers pay, say, $300 to look at your game and write a positive or neutral review of it (it’s never bad—hence the fee!).

If you did ten or more reviews a month, it would start to work out as a full-time salary. Pocketfullofapps.com is a great example of this approach in action, and that blog’s founder is looking to expand quickly over the coming year.

What are you waiting for?

Overall I’d say you should start off by building up your volume of blog posts and video catalog, as this market is very much focused on quantity rather than quality, thoughtful stuff.

Then, once you have that base, work with other active blogs on videos, get them in on the commentary, and you’ll have the kind of banter that really brings in the video views (thousands, and in some cases millions!).

David Edwards is the founder of http://www.asittingduck.com and produces animations over at www.youtube.com/asittingducktv.

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Comments

  1. I actually follow two blogs in this niche.

    One uses video games as a way to talk about writing, along with reviewing them. Another is about the actual process of creating an indie.

  2. gary stone says:

    great post really informative many thnaks

  3. Ben Troy says:

    using youtube to promote is one of the best traffic driving method for media niche.

  4. Warren says:

    Hey David, another great tool would be to do video walk through type vids. I remember (back in the day) looking through those to get past certain sticking points in games.

  5. keymakrtr says:

    “These guys usually go for the approach of selling paid reviews, where developers pay, say, $300 to look at your game and write a positive or neutral review of it (it’s never bad—hence the fee!).”

    Remind me to never bother reading a game review from you…

    Seriously though, this is borderline bribery. I don’t plan on ever getting paid to write game reviews (my blog covers free to play mmos, and is still incredibly young). If I ever was, though, I would make it incredibly clear that just because they are paying me, they do not get to influence my opinions on their game.

    If game devs want a reliably positive review of their game, they should make a blog themselves.

    • Dave says:

      Completely agree.

      This weekends posts and the recent SEO type posts (specifically buying expired domain names) have been advocating some very dubious techniques.

      Darren, I honestly have no idea whether you read the comments section, or indeed whether your that bothered about problogger anymore, but I honestly think you have let yourself and your readers down with the quality of your guest posters as of late.

      I don’t want to sound like a troll, but your letting the ball drop mate.

      • keymakrtr says:

        I’ve only been reading ProBlogger for a bit, so I can’t comment so much on that.

        Here some of my tips from my…uh…limited experience w/ videogame blogging (again, I help run MMOAuthority, a f2p mmo blog). A lot of this will be specificly geared towards MMO (Mass Multiplayer Online) game blogging, so hopefully it will apply to what everyone else here wants.

        Niche:

        Videogame blogging is a niche of itself, but I feel like its a good idea to sometimes pick a sub niche to blog about, weither its a specific genre or a specific game.

        There are blogs specificaly about World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Lord of the Rings Online. If you want to blog about it, go for it! Don’t try to force yourself into a niche just because you think its hot or profitable right now, just go for what you enjoy.

        Blogging style/presentation

        Blogging in general can come in so many forms, so it’s no suprize videogame blogging can do the same.You can blog with plain text, youtube videos, podcasts, even streaming (you stream your gamplay live through the internet to your viewers so they can watch while you chat with them/give advice/etc.)

        It’s the same with what information you choose to give to your viewers. Some people blog to give advice about the game, or just put up stories about their characters and adventures. The way you blog is completely up to you.

        For example, heres two sites that I consider blogs. Extra Creditz at Penny Arcade: http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/show/extra-credits and Zero Punctuation at The Escapist: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation .
        Both use weekly video posts in roughly the same way: Speaker talks over the whole video while cartoony style still images are shown. However, the information they present is completely different.

        Extra Creditz talks about the gaming industry in general, trends they see in gaming, and just talk about generally awesome stuff.

        Zero Puncation, on the other hand, is a fantastic game reviewer who picks appart just about every game he reviews.

        Again, the way you blog is completely up to you.

        As for monetization, I can’t really comment much on that, as I have no intention of making money from my blog. I’ll only plea that you don’t sell people the power to change your opinions. This is a surefire way to make your viewers (as well as some game companies!) distrust and dislike you.

        Anyway, sorry for any typos/general silliness in this, I wrote it up rather quickly…

    • Eric says:

      I want to add my agreement here as well. I was hoping to get some ideas I could use on my site. However, the advice here is unethical in my opinion. As a gamer, guaranteeing a review won’t be bad because it was paid for invalidates the entire review. Why would I want to damage my reputation like that?

    • Pete Morris says:

      Actually, a lot of mainstream video game magazines (and blogs) accept pre-release copies of games on the contractual agreement that they won’t give it a negative review.

      I’m not arguing that this is moral or correct, but I feel accepting paid reviews on a one-man blog has a much better chance of remaining objective. You could easily only accept paid reviews for games that you know are good, and that you’re happy to recommend.

      That said, I do agree that it’s walking a shady line, and I wouldn’t engage in this practice myself either.

      To comply with FTC regulations, you’d need to prominently display the fact that your were paid for this “review” as the FTC considers this marketing, not journalism. Complying with that means that you’re going to lose credibility in the eyes of your audience, and quite rightly in my opinion.

  6. there are too many Video Games ,how did your blog success?

  7. Like most blogs – you need to cover things people are searching if you want them to read the other content you’re really passionate about. Example: I cover apple products at Blorge.com. While I would love to write about certain apps or company news, I have to write about the “iPhone 5″ to get people to come to the site because it’s a hot keyword right now.

    Comes with the business. Thanks for the post.

    Andrew

  8. Thanks so much for featuring us and the website in this fantastic article! PocketFullofApps is open to any requests, questions, and other inquiries. You can see more info on our contact page (http://pocketfullofapps.com/contact) or tweet us your question on Twitter (@pocketfullofapp).

    ~ Aaron Whitfield from PocketFullOfApps

  9. What a fantastic idea. I never even considered this as a niche. Of course, I don’t play video games. It astounds me the opportunities that are out there for people. It’s a matter of starting with what you’re passionate about and going from there.

    Thanks for sharing how to monetize this niche as well, because that would be my 2nd question. Outside of linking to Amazon, what else could you do?

    Great post.

    Kimberly

  10. DylanC says:

    Very good tips in a very specific niche. The monetization techniques are definitely an eye-opener.

  11. arcadejam says:

    This is very good post, but if you are promoting your own website in the blog for your visots to play games how do you earn money because advertising other game website will mean you will lose players for your own games on your gaming website?

  12. Myself I use youtube for my game niche and I have to say it works great ! thanks for the tips :)

  13. Halo 4 says:

    I am trying to promote video game website right now, i will try those tips thank you

  14. John Asher says:

    I work at a technology summer camp called iD Tech Camps (www.internaldrive.com), and we’ve had great success using a software called Macromedia Fusion. We’ve used it for years to teach kids how to make their own video games.

  15. Great advise the games industry is developing and growing each day.

  16. flydrs says:

    These are some very helpful tips. It’s encouraging to see others not only acting in a similar fashion, but carving out a successful niche. Game on!

  17. John G says:

    Thanks a lot these are very useful tips. I just started mine today and hope I can really be popular like you. thanks Darren for the info.