I guess twitter is dying. Maybe? I have seen a lot of people post “good bye” tweets that are basically “I am done here! Follow me on Instagram, Mastodon, and Tumblr where I will now be posting” These goodbye tweets remind me of the inscriptions we leave in the back on your yearbooks on the last day of school: “It was great sitting next to you in Spanish class, have a great summer K.I.T.”

As fun as those “goodbye twitter” posts are, I am a bit sad that I haven’t seen anyone say “Am no longer posting to twitter and going to start a blog!”

This is a shame!

I know blogging sounds dated and it isn’t what the “cool kids” are doing but the “cool kids” don’t know what they are missing. Most people write one blog after their game launches with a list of lessons they learned and never write again.

Blogging will not do that much for increasing the performance of your game’s sales. It is mostly to improve your career and your clout among fellow game developers. Writing one article at a regular cadence is secretly one of the best things you can do for your career in the gaming industry.

Here are 5 reasons why you should start a blog instead of wasting more time on some other social media site that will some day break your heart.

#1 Blogs last forever

Tweeting is like writing in the sand moments before a wave crashes in front of it. A typical tweet is only read or interacted with for a few hours before it disappears into the abyss. I have had a couple semi-viral tweets and even they barely last longer than a weekend.

When you blog the posts live forever.

I checked my blog stats from last week. My 5th most read post last week was Most Popular Genres  on Steam 2022. I wrote that way back in March of this year. From May until November you can see that it regularly gets read about 50 times a day. Sometimes spiking up to 346. I am not doing anything to promote it, that just happens.

#2 Blogs have more gravitas

Anyone can fire off a tweet with a half-assed opinion but it can take a couple hours to write out a well researched blog post. 

When you are done with a blog post, people really respect the work. As a direct result of posts, clients have hired me, I have been invited to give talks, and introduced to really great people. 

When everyone else is posting on social media, writing a long-form blog makes you stand out as someone who has a longer term viewpoint, or is more of an expert. It is weird, but it is true. 

So yes blogging takes longer but, not that much longer if you think about how many hours you spent tweeting.

#3 It forces you to do your homework

If you are trying to learn a new skill, write a blog post about it. The process of constructing your argument or documenting a step by step procedure forces you to go off and collect data or find the answer. Sometimes I feel bad spending hours collecting data that will be used in only one graph in the middle of one post. But then I realize that nobody else knows what I just researched and that I am literally discovering something new. I feel better about the time spent.

If you don’t know how to do something, write a blog post about it. 

#4 It is an excuse to talk to people you admire

Getting interviewed by a writer is very flattering. Just about everyone likes it and very few people will turn down the opportunity to be interviewed. So if you have always wanted to talk to a games-industry-famous person all you have to say is “Hey I am working on an article about X, you are very knowledgeable about X, would you be willing to answer a few questions for my blog?”

I have been doing this for almost 5 years and nobody has ever said no. Sometimes they just don’t respond, but they aren’t mean about it. It works, people like the attention. 

Just think about how different this is from social media. You can’t say, “Hey I am about to @ you on twitter. Would you mind if I just start hurling opinions at you?” They would probably just ignore you because you are a “rando” who is “sliding into DMs”

Again, blogging is great.

#5 You aren’t working for a tech billionaire

I have written about this in my other post Don’t Build Your Castle in Other People’s Kingdoms but when you try to build a following on social media, you are giving away your labor to create content for and to promote the platform of some software billionaire. When you post a blog on your domain (not Medium or some other platform) you are building something for yourself. 

I know it is tempting to give up Twitter and start something different like a YouTube channel or streaming on Twitch, but you are going right back to building a platform for a big company instead of investing in yourself.

#6 You own it and nobody can take it from you

If it turns out your web server hosting service turns toxic, or raises your prices, you can just move your domain to a new host and none of your readers need to change their behavior. They don’t have to learn how to use Mastodon, or go sign up for cohost or something. They just keep going to your domain. They won’t even know it happened! It is great!

I am not in the right place in my career yet to blog

I know how you feel. Imposter syndrome, don’t want to call attention to yourself, it is beneath you? Everyone at every stage of their career can benefit from regular blogging:

  • If you are working on your first game it is a great way to research and document what you have learned. Even if you released your first game and you got barely 10 wishlists, the work of reviewing your metrics and seeing where things fell short is a good practice. Plus, I would read anyone’s deconstruction of how their launch went and I know lots of other indies would too.
  • If you have released a few games but you are not a full time indie yet, you should write a blog. Building up a body of thoughtful writing increases your clout in the industry. It makes you appear more of a thought leader. This is a great lead-in to getting a spot speaking at GDC. In your GDC application you can say “I run the XYZ blog where I write about ABC topic so I would be a great pick to speak about ABC topic.”
  • If you are an established developer in the games industry you should blog. It is a cushion against the risks of being laid off or having a career change. If (heaven forbid) you get laid off and need income quick, having a blog is a great way to pivot to freelancing. Your regular readers will be your first customers. Those readers are people looking for answers to the problems you are writing about. It is always good to have a backup plan.
  • If you are a long-time, successful developer with hit games and years in the industry, blogging is a great way to give back to the community that put you where you are now. You are lowering a ladder to help the next generation get over the wall.

But I have impostor syndrome and can’t post like that

There is actually 1 weird trick to getting over this…

A lot of people feel weird about blogging because it sounds like they are giving advice and elevating themselves as an expert.

So here is the trick flip the angle of every blog post so you are saying “This is how I did X” or “Here are the steps I used to solve problem Y.” You are never saying “This is the ONLY way to do it and only I have the answer and everyone else is wrong.” Nope, you are just being helpful.

It is much easier to write when you are just documenting a process. Plus you are proving you are not an impostor.

How to get started

Pick a very specific sub-topic and stick to it for 1 year

Don’t just blog about “games” or “coding.” Instead look for something that you know so much about that you could give a 10 minute talk without notes. Or look for a topic that you see everyone gets consistently wrong. Then write about that one sub sub topic from every conceivable angle.

When I started my blog I knew a lot about email marketing and I saw everyone in indie games was doing it wrong. I didn’t start a “marketing blog” I started one about the funnel and email marketing. I just kept writing about it for weeks. As time went on I expanded what I wrote about as I learned more and because I built a reputation and people were sharing interesting things with me.

Here are some quick ideas that could easily turn into dozens of posts that could last a year or more before you need to expand to a new topic. I broke each idea into different roles you might have

  • Coders – How you used a specific data structure or programming paradigm. Explore the downsides and upsides of it. Provide code examples.
  • Coders – Explain how various games implement shaders and mistakes things people make with them.
  • Coders – Do performance tests for various IDEs and game engines under various conditions.
  • Coders – Provide code for game mechanics in popular games and write up how you coded it and what decisions you made behind them.
  • Artists– Show how to draw things using your very specific art style
  • Artists – Document how you setup your workstation / environment / tools / pipeline.
  • Game design – deconstruct gameplay loops for popular, interesting, or important games. Explore why they work or they don’t
  • Games writing – Analyze game stories and talk about what each does well or doesnt. 
  • Games writing –  Publish a short story once a month.
  • Marketing – Track steam / switch / console sales every week and analyze market trends
  • Marketing – Interview developers of popular games 

Additional tips

  • Start small and each post should be on one micro topic. Set a goal of posts that are 1000 words long. If your post gets longer than that, split it into 2 or more separate posts.
  • Set a timer and write for 1 hour a day. Maybe it is your lunch break at work. Maybe it is the hour you wake up before your partner does. Just set aside a time.
  • If you are leaving Twitter, say good bye and link to your new blog.
  • Start with a goal to write one blog a month. Also set a specific day to publish such as first Monday of every month or the 15th of every month. Whatever it is, hold yourself to it. Don’t just say “I am going to write more.” Specific dates pressures you to do it.
  • Don’t worry about what your blog theme looks like or what tech you use. It doesn’t matter.
  • In fact, I recommend for a quick start, just to sign up for Substack. I think they are a great way to get started without much fuss. AND YES, I know Substack is owned by some tech billionaire but you are more insulated here because it is email based. Email subscribers can be exported to another platform later. You can also download archives of your old posts. I just think Substack has the lowest barrier to entry.
  • Stick with it for 1 year. When I started I blogged every other week and it took me a year before people started regularly replying to me or linking or referencing my blog. When you first start you are seen as just sharing this experience. After 10 posts you are seen as an expert. So just set a goal to write 12 posts. That seems manageable right?
  • If it goes well you can add more posts to your cadence. I blogged every other week at first. But I saw real growth when I blogged every week.

So I hope with the reckoning of Twitter inspires you to try something new and try blogging. I know it isn’t the “hip” thing all the kids are doing these days but just because something isn’t “the new thing” that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. Blogging is quietly very very effective. Start small but consistently. You wont see immediate

Need inspiration?

Here are some blogs / newsletters that are doing this very effectively. Notice there aren’t that many out there. If you are looking to stand out, there is so much opportunity here:

Sand writing photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash