There are certain industries where content creators and content consumers do not enjoy a mutual relationship. The gaming industry is not one of them. In fact, it’s the interactions and exchange of opinions, ideas and experience between game developers and gamers that have made this industry what it is today.
For an indie game developer there’s no better place to tell your story than your dev blog. With powerful content management systems like Wordpress, you can start writing your first blog in a matter of minutes. What can be tough, though, is how to build your very first audience, then scale and engage them for conversion into happy buyers.
To conquer this challenge means achieving the growth you deserve. So let’s parse out the information you need to make it happen by answering a few simple, yet important, questions.
How do I build blog content that converts?
Developer blogs are an excellent way to update your users on how your game is taking shape and what they should expect next. It’s also a great way for them to connect with your indie team on a personal level. The objective here is to build an email list, so you have a big database of gamers waiting for your game to launch.
As far as content creation is concerned, it doesn't have to be technical updates all the time. Your users will be more involved with your blog if they think you are just like them. The key is to appear very accessible.
Some of your blog posts can be for gaming media, some for your players, and some just to show you're having fun doing what you love. This mixture of dev blog content topics can be easily planned, once you know for whom you are producing the content.
If you have a forum where users are generating content, such as suggestions or questions, make sure the most popular topics get highlighted on your dev blog.
To offer more visibility to your community content with social media, check out this free guide.
But don’t drown yourself with blog writing. Instead of writing 10-12 mediocre dev blogs per month, focus on writing 1 big, valuable article every week. Programming articles, beginner tutorials, and case studies using your own game are great ways to build substantive organic traffic, and they’re terrific for republishing.
What are the benefits of republishing to scale my content?
Many indie developers set up great dev blogs with well-planned content, yet they are unable to build a significant audience. Why? Because they fail to scale their content's influence beyond their main blog.
Gamers today have a plethora of communities to choose from, and nurturing a community that stands out takes a significant amount of time and patience. So to scale your community faster, you need to leverage on other existing communities by republishing your content.
Republished content allows you to add info or author bio about your game at the beginning or end of your post, as well as annotations or references to your blog. A typical example of this is something like 'This dev blog was originally published on [your site]’. Such connections drive traffic from the already popular community to your dev blog or website.
But take note: not all post topics will do well when republishing. Some of the more “fun” posts you wrote for your own dev blog readers won't work when you republish them on other blogs, whereas tutorials or case studies that showcase your game can be magic for attracting new followers.
Where should I republish and how can I engage their readers?
Scaling to reach more audience depends on the genre of your game and the popular communities around them. Whatever your audience may be, here are some of the universal communities whose audience can be harnessed for your own good.
This is one of the most popular game databases on the internet. IndieDB does not only store all relevant information about your game, but it also lets other developers take advantage of the content republishing. This is a great opportunity to republish your best content, technical changes and updates to your game. At the same time, you’ll start building a small community on IndieDB.
What’s more, most gaming journalists and bloggers will refer to IndieDB for authentic information about your game. So be sure you have no holes of missing information on your game’s IndieDB page. Publicize every possible bit of information that the media might need, along with contact and social information to make the most out of this platform.
In the several years that I've been reading this blog, the most interesting posts I deeply connected with are from game developers. But this is a discerning crowd; the content must be valuable to fellow game developers. Case studies or tutorials using your game as an example work the best on Gamasutra.
Although the community here is mostly comprised of game developers and marketers, fortunately most of them are gamers as well. Fellow devs love to share content all over their own social media, so if you pick up on this quickly by making it worth their while, they can act as small-scale influencers for all of your dev blog content.
This is another great place to read expert content about game development, and it’s a great place to republish some of your valuable dev blog articles for the community.
But since every developer and their uncle wants to write blogs on this site, the competition can be a bit fierce. Therefore, for maximum effectiveness, only publish your best articles here to get the most readers in the shortest amount of time.
From the sea of gaming communities around the globe, reddit.com/r/gamedev is one of the most highly active. Here you can obtain immediate feedback from other developers on your game, or anything related to your game. Posts made to this community can build instant readership for your articles, particularly if they are insightful and valuable. You should also build your own little subreddit here, and link all of your dev blogs and fun GIFs. If you play your cards right, some of these readers will become your blog subscribers.
The rules here on Reddit are a little different from those on other websites, so make sure you read all the community guidelines before you start publishing content.
Beyond the few listed above, there are several distinct communities like TouchArcade forum. Mostly for iOS game developers, this is a community in which you can build a following by communicating with players and fellow developers.
I've seen a lot of dev blogs start out strong, just to die a slow death. But if you can manage to steadily build, scale and engage even a small number of followers or audience through your dev blog, it will translate into a big community for your latest game and all of your games to come.