New game studios pop up all the time and they’re always looking to collab with bloggers & game journalists. Gaming blogs are great because they offer news coverage, game reviews, and press.
Thankfully it’s also easier than ever to launch your own gaming blog from scratch. But this can be a daunting task if you have no idea where to start.
In this guide I’ll walk you through a complete step-by-step guide for launching your own gaming blog. Every step is laid out with plenty of screenshots so anybody should be able to follow along with ease.
Create A Gaming Blog: An Overview
This process can be confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing. My hope is to break it down into bite-size chunks so that anyone can follow along.
First let’s take a peek at the major steps in this guide and what you’ll need to launch a gaming blog. Here’s a breakdown:
- Register a domain name + hosting account
- Install WordPress
- Customize your new blog
- Install a gaming blog theme
- Add some vital WordPress plugins
The first two steps are the most technical and they’re also the reason most people shy away.
But if you really want to get into gaming journalism then launching your own blog is the fastest way to get started. You can make a name for yourself and even network with others in the industry to make connections in game studios around the world.
All you need to do is get a site online and start building content. Easier said than done, but this guide should make it a bit easier to do.
If you follow along and have some patience you can start a successful gaming blog. Anybody could do this. The problem is that very few try.
Step 1: Domain & Hosting
The first step is to think of a name for your blog. This will be your domain name and it’s how readers access your blog online.
For example, the Destructoid blog owns destructoid.com which is their domain name.
You’ll want to find something similar. Ideally a .com name that’s short and sweet. It doesn’t even have to mention gaming. It can just be a branded word or phrase, sorta like this site you’re on is named WhatPixel.
Take down a few different ideas to try because sometimes your first choice will already be taken. But don’t worry too much about this stage. A great domain is something you like and there’s still plenty of stuff out there to pick.
Most domain registration sites require you to pay for a domain separate from hosting. But with BlueHos you get a free domain when you sign up for a hosting account.
It’s an awesome deal and this is why I always recommend BlueHost for new bloggers.
To get started visit the signup page and click “get started now”.
The basic plan comes with a free domain and 5 free e-mail addresses.
It’s also the cheapest plan which is great for a beginner. So click “select” under the basic plan.
On the next screen enter your domain name into the box on the left under “new domain”.
Typically I recommend that new bloggers stick with a .com because it’s the most common choice. But gaming fans are generally more tech savvy people so most won’t care if you use a .net or .co domain.
Once you find a domain that’s available you’ll be directed to the final signup page.
This is where you’ll put in all your contact details & payment info. But underneath the “package information” box you will want to change a few settings.
First uncheck all of the boxes except domain privacy. This checkbox keeps your information hidden from ICANN which is the central domain clearinghouse. Basically this hides your contact info and uses BlueHost’s contact details instead.
You might also want to change the account plan from 36 months to 12 months. It’ll be a higher monthly price but overall you’re paying less, not to mention a 3 year commitment is a long time.
Once you’ve filled out everything click submit. If all looks good your order should be placed and you’ll get an e-mail from BlueHost with login details.
Now you can log into your control panel to install a fresh WordPress site for your new blog.
Step 2: Setting Up WordPress
The e-mail from BlueHost should direct you to a login page, but if not just visit the BlueHost website and click “login” at the top.
If it’s your first time logging into your account you may be asked to create a new password. This should only happen once and when complete you’ll be directed to your control panel.
Here you’ll find a few boxes with blue borders that have small square icons inside. Scroll down to the fourth box labeled “website” and find the WordPress icon with the text “install wordpress”.
This is a neat one-click installer that creates a new WordPress website from scratch without any technical mumbo-jumbo.
Once you click the icon it’ll take you to a page with some extra services that you don’t need. At the top you’ll see the text “do it yourself” along with a big green install button. Click that to get started.
On the next page you’ll need to select which domain you want to use. Since you just got a new free domain that should be the only option.
But in the dropdown menu you can select between the www and non-www prefix.
The only difference between the two is how they look. But BlueHost asks you to choose one for consistency’s sake.
Pick whichever one you like best and click the green “check domain” button.
It’ll take a few seconds to load and finally you’ll get to the last step. Click the box titled “show advanced options”.
This expands to show three input fields for the site title, admin username and password.
Your website title is the name of your new gaming blog. It’ll appear on the front page of your site and in your WP dashboard. Enter whatever name you’re using, and remember you can always change this later.
The admin username is more permanent because you can’t ever change this. Make sure it’s a username you’ll remember because it’s necessary to log into your WordPress admin panel.
You can always change the password at a later date but try to pick something you’ll remember.
Once you’re done check the terms & conditions box and click “install now”.
It’ll take a few minutes to complete and once it’s done you can visit your site directly by typing your domain into your web browser.
You should see a brand new WordPress install with the default theme. Looks pretty boring right?
It definitely needs a custom touch. But the good news is you finally have your gaming blog online!
Once you log in you should see something like this.
You now have a brand new domain, web hosting account, and a fresh WordPress blog installed. This is awesome but we’re not done yet.
Let’s dive into some of the settings and look for a custom theme as well.
Step 3: Customizing WordPress
Most of the default settings work great without any changes. But there are a couple things you’ll want to update after installing your new gaming blog.
Click the “settings” link near the bottom of the left-hand menu.
On this page you’ll see your site name and tagline. You should change the tagline to whatever you want or delete it to leave it blank.
This tagline appears on your homepage’s title so if you don’t want a tagline it’s best to delete this.
Now go back to the settings link menu and click “permalinks”.
On this page you can change how your link URLs are structured. By default WordPress uses an ugly page ID for each URL. This is probably the absolute worst choice because it provides no SEO value and the URL doesn’t give a clue as to what the content is about.
I prefer the “Post name” option near the bottom. It’s very simple and keeps all your URLs as short as possible.
But if you want your gaming blong to be more news-oriented you might try going with one of the date-based URLs.
These are great if you want posts to include a month or year. But if you’re writing evergreen content then dates aren’t necessary.
As long as you pick any permalink style other than “Plain” you’ll be good.
These are the only two vital settings that need to be edited on a new blog. However feel free to dig into all the settings pages and see if you want to change anything else.
Step 4: Picking A Theme
Your gaming blog needs a kick ass theme to help it stand out from the thousands of other blogs online.
Thankfully there’s a seemingly endless supply of awesome themes to pick from. The biggest factor is deciding whether you want a free theme or a paid theme.
Whenever I launch a new site I always prefer a cheap-ish premium theme. The premium themes at ThemeForest are the best since they come from hundreds of different developers and you have a wide diverse library to pick from.
Check out their gaming magazine themes to see what I mean.
Most of these themes come with multiple homepage designs and built-in review functionality.
But you can recreate something similar using a free review plugin with a free theme. It’s just more work to create it yourself rather than get a premium theme.
Although you can find some nice free magazine themes in the WordPress theme directory.
Ultimately the choice is yours. You can always start free and upgrade to premium later. And any theme you choose will be better than the default.
Here’s a small list of the best gaming blog themes both free and premium.
Best Free Themes:
- SKT Magazine
- Clean Magazine
- Responsive Magazine
Best Premium Themes:
- DW Gamez
- The Review
Free themes are a bit easier to install because they’re hosted by WordPress. However both free & premium themes can be installed right from the admin panel.
Head back into your gaming blog wp-admin and click the “Appearance” link in the menu.
Now look near the top of the page and you’ll see a small “add new” link. Click this to install a new theme.
For this demo I’ll choose the responsive magazine from my list above.
On the install page you’ll see a bunch of free featured themes. But in the top-right corner there’s a small search bar. Note this search bar only works for free themes hosted by WordPress.
You can type the name of the theme you want into the search bar and it should come up. Then you just hover the theme and click the blue “install” button.
Once it’s done installing you can click “activate” to make the theme active.
If you’re working with a premium theme you’ll need to do things a bit differently. Go back to the Appearance page and click the “add new” link at the top.
Instead of searching on the themes page you should click the button at the top labeled “upload theme”.
This displays a small upload panel where you can upload a .zip file with the theme’s contents.
All ThemeForest themes are downloaded as .zip files so you can just upload them directly to your blog. This isn’t much different than the free theme but you’ll have to make sure the .zip file installs properly.
Installed themes are always saved on your site so you can try out a few different themes and switch if needed.
If you click the “Appearance” link you’ll see a list of all your available themes.
The active one should have a black border with a blue button labeled “customize”. You can click this button to tinker with your theme’s settings.
Each theme has its own settings and some offer more customizations than others.
But every theme will let you change certain details like the sidebar widgets and top navigation links.
I can’t cover all of this stuff because it’s different for every theme. But toy around with the appearance menu and be willing to change settings to see what happens. The “widgets” and “menu” links are both invaluable for making quick changes to your blog’s design.
One more thing to know about your theme is the use of featured images.
These make your blog look more like a magazine where every post on the homepage has its own image next to the headline. You’ll have to upload a featured image manually to have this appear on the site.
You do this from the “feature image” box found on the post page.
But each theme uses different dimensions for featured images so they might look different if you switch themes. This is why I prefer to get an awesome theme right away so that I don’t have to change it later.
Whenever you create your first few posts try uploading a featured image. When you publish the post you should see the featured image live on the homepage.
Here’s an example I did using the clean magazine theme.
WordPress will automatically crop featured images to make them fit the required sizes. The more you learn about your theme’s featured image sizes the easier it’ll be to upload awesome images that fit each post.
Your blog is still very new and you don’t have to worry about visitors seeing your content right now.
Spend a bit of time publishing dummy posts. Add images and tinker with the different settings in the “new post” window. This is a great way to practice using WordPress and to familiarize yourself with your theme.
You can always delete these dummy posts later so there’s no harm in a little testing.
Step 5: Recommended Plugins
Plugins add functionality into WordPress that you don’t get with a theme.
You may have noticed that BlueHost installs some default plugins into WordPress. Most of these are useless and they just bloat up your interface.
Let’s look at how to remove these plugins and how to install a few useful ones instead.
Click the “Plugins” link in the admin menu. This will bring up the plugins page with the currently installed plugins.
You should deactivate and delete all of them except for Akismet. This is a free anti-spam plugin developed by WordPress and it helps keep your posts free of spammy comments.
None of the others are really useful or necessary for your site.
But there are some others that I recommend for every new blog. They’re totally free and super easy to setup.
To install a new plugin click on the plugins page and look near the top for the “add new” link.
This works just like the themes directory where you can search for plugins by name and install them with one click.
I’ll get you started with three of my top recommendations.
W3 Total Cache
The first plugin you’ll need is a caching plugin. This will automatically create local copies of your pages so they load faster and cut down on server resources.
You don’t need to know all the technicalities of caching. Just understand that it’ll improve your blog’s performance.
My favorite choice is W3 Total Cache because it comes with so many features by default. It works for both small and large websites and it’ll start caching the moment you activate it.
If you prefer an alternative you can try WP Super Cache which is maintained by the WordPress team.
Both will automatically cache all your pages so they’re both incredible choices.
Just make sure that you only run one caching plugin at a time. These can both be installed together but they shouldn’t both be active together.
One caching plugin is all you need to reap the benefits of a lightning fast gaming blog.
Next is the superpowered Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin configures a bunch of crucial SEO settings for your blog and handles a lot of automated tasks like meta descriptions and title tags.
You can install this by searching for ‘yoast seo’ in the add plugins page.
Once activated Yoast will automatically take over your SEO needs. Everything Yoast does ultimately helps your posts appear more user-friendly and easier to rank in Google.
This is a big plugin and it comes with its own settings panel. It also has panels added to each post page where you can manually edit the title and meta description.
But one thing I hate about Yoast is the bloat it adds to the post page.
If you want Yoast’s features without all the admin panel bloat you can install SO Hide SEO Bloat. This is another free plugin to help WordPress users clean up their admin panel after installing Yoast.
You certainly don’t need this cleanup plugin, but it can help if you feel a little crowded.
Either way Yoast is absolutely the best SEO plugin for WordPress and it’s a must-have for any blog. If you have time skim through the Yoast settings and make any adjustments that you see fit.
Contact Form 7
Every blog should have a contact page. This lets readers, sponsors, and basically anyone reach out and get in touch with you.
As a gaming blogger you’ll want to keep your inbox open for potential partnerships with other bloggers, game companies, or social influencers in the gaming world. A contact page is a staple and with WordPress it’s incredibly simple to add a contact form to your site.
I recommend Contact Form 7 but many people also like FS Contact Form. Both are completely free and excellent choices for your blog.
You can install both from the plugin “add new” page and they both have their own settings page.
To install the contact form you just copy/paste a small code onto your contact page.
Here’s a screenshot from the Contact Form 7 dashboard menu.
You’ll notice a block with the shortcode snippet right on the settings page. Copy this small code into your contact page and voila! You’ll have a fancy new contact form ready and waiting.
Both plugins are fantastic choices and you cannot go wrong either way.
This extra 4th plugin isn’t mandatory but I wanted to throw it in for anyone that may want to review games on their blog.
There are dozens of review posts online and video games are hot items to review. Your reviews need to stand out and you can do this with some type of rating system.
Out of the many plugins to choose I think WP Review is the easiest. It has many different review features so you can rate games based on graphics, music, controls, or whatever features you want.
It’s also optimized for Google Rich Snippets so your reviews will show a star rating in Google.
If you want a simpler review plugin you could also try Author hReview. This doesn’t have star ratings for multiple features but it does have a single review box and the rich snippets feature.
Either of these plugins can work great for gaming reviews.
Many premium themes come bundled with review features but almost none of the free themes do. So if you’re using a free theme then WP Review can be an excellent solution to make your game reviews easier to read and Google-friendly.
Other than these 4 plugins I can’t think of any others tailored for a gaming blog. But that shouldn’t discourage you from looking.
If you ever want some extra functionality on your blog check the plugins directory and do a search for whatever you need.
There are thousands of free plugins out there and you’re likely to find something that can help.
Video Game Blogging Tips
At this point you should have a domain, web hosting, plus a WordPress blog running a custom theme and configured with a few plugins.
All that’s left is to start blogging and to build your brand. This is where elbow grease and determination pays off, but you’ll need a content direction first.
What exactly should you be doing as a gaming blogger?
There are dozens of strategies to follow but the one tenet of a successful blog is to stand out and be unique. Maybe you have a fun colloquial style of writing that draws in readers. Or maybe you can break news faster and cover more obscure gaming topics.
Whatever you write about should offer value and ideally focus on gaming from a new perspective.
You could cover the entire world of modern gaming or zoom into one area like MMO’s or classic retro gaming.
As an example check out the search results for game collecting blog. The top result is a subreddit followed by a free Blogspot blog.
It would be very simple to create a much better game collector’s blog if you wrote better content, branded your domain, and covered as many topics as possible. The blog could even be monetized through affiliate programs promoting retro gaming collectables. And this is just one idea!
It may seem like all the best gaming blog ideas have been taken but you just need to really look.
Blog posts can be structured in any style but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Gaming news
- Gaming reviews
- Opinion pieces
- Hacks, tips, tricks/walkthroughs
- Interviews with industry leaders
- Cool gaming stuff(fan artwork, Kickstarters, comic con outfits, etc.)
When it comes to writing content you want to be consistent. Aim to publish on a schedule whether that’s once a month, once a week, or once a day. Consistency is key.
It’s also a good idea to write longer posts ranging from 1000-2000 words because these typically rank higher in Google.
To keep visitors reading you should also develop a style of writing that’s inviting and even playful. You’re not covering news of a massacre or bank robbery so you can loosen up with your writing and have some fun.
The best articles use short paragraphs with plenty of images.
Shorter paragraphs make it easier to skim which is typically how people read. Notice most of my paragraphs here only have 2-3 sentences max.
Images are nice because visuals draw the eye more than words.
You can take screenshots of games yourself or grab them from others(with permission).
There’s an endless supply of gaming resources online if you know where to look or who to contact.
Marketing & Networking
The world of blogging may seem huge but it’s really a small industry. And just like every industry there’s something to be said about who you know.
Networking online doesn’t require the same attitude of in-person networking. And since most bloggers connect via the Internet it’s a lot easier for new gaming bloggers to reach out and meet others in the field.
But you shouldn’t just randomly e-mail bloggers asking to be their friend. There is a method to this madness and it can be summed up with two words: add value.