Being a part of the online D&D community

I’ve been writing about D&D since April 2010, and I’m quite happy with my blog. Not a ton of people read it, but some do, and that’s enough for me. I blog for myself, not to please others, and when I look back at what I’ve written and ahead at what I’m planning to write, I feel proud.

However, I’m starting to become more aware of the broader RPG community online… and the fact that I’m not really a part of it. At GenCon this year I wanted to meet several of the people whose D&D blogs I read or whose podcasts I listen to, and I was happy to meet them. It was clear, though, that none of them had the foggiest clue who I was after I introduced myself.

Now, if I were talking about meeting celebrities in film or music or something like that, I would expect that the people whose work I follow wouldn’t know who I was. But in the RPG blogging community, well, we’re a smaller group. I thought of myself as being part of that community, but I later realized that I’m on the outside fringes.

It’s a bit of a strange feeling. The feeling is magnified now that I’m on Twitter (OnlineDM1, in case you were wondering). I see conversations go back and forth among RPG bloggers, and I occasionally toss in a comment here or there, but I realize that I’m an outsider in that community.

Ultimately, if I want to be a part of this community, it’s up to me. I’ve reached out to a fellow blogger whose work I admire to help out with an adventure he’s writing. I think that’s the kind of thing I need to do if I’m going to be anything other than a fringe member of the community. I need to make myself available to help others. People don’t notice me just because I write and am on the RPG Bloggers Network and the RPG Blog Alliance. To be a part of the community, I need to offer something to that community. They’re not going to just invite me in.

I guess my goal is to look back on this post a year from now and laugh. “It’s so funny to read how I used to feel like an outsider in the RPG blogging community! Ah, how times have changed.” Making that happen is up to me. I’m always open to advice, though!

21 thoughts on “Being a part of the online D&D community

  1. Hi OnlineDM. I’ve seen your tweets, and I think i’ve replied to them a few times. Breaking into the online blogging community is a difficult thing to acheive, and indeed, I did an experiment earlier in the year where I created a new persona and posted about 50 pieces of content in 2 weeks to see if I could get noticed. The outcome of it was that to be considered part of the community, you have to be active on blogs, twitters, forums, and ideally guest post in other locations, building up relationships with other bloggers.
    Stick with it, some of us know you’re out there!

    • Thanks, Adam! Wow, 50 pieces of content in two weeks. That’s… a lot!

      I hadn’t thought about guest posting in other locations. I honestly don’t know how that works. I assume that I would need to be invited by another blogger to write a post for their site, correct? I’d be happy to do it, but I’ve never been asked.

      I’m active here and on EN World. I comment on other blogs – though perhaps I should do that more often. As for Twitter, well, I chime in when I have something to add to the discussion. Maybe I just need to be bolder about that sort of thing!

      I appreciate the positive words very much. Thank you.

  2. In my experience as a blogger, I find your game of choice seems to have as much to do with your exposure as anything else. I have found that the “old-school” gamers seem to really embrace blogging more than Pathfinder or 4e players do. I suspect this is because they don’t have the online fora of the publisher’s websites on which to express their opinions. If you aren’t heavy in the OSR, it’s hard to get noticed in the blogosphere. You may have more success with social media, but for me personally, I’m just not into it.

    • Interesting. Yes, I see what you mean – there definitely seems to be a very active blogging community among the OSR folks. Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about those games, so I really can’t contribute.

      There definitely is a 4e blogging community (and 4e is mainly what I blog about), but the folks in that community generally don’t know that I exist. Shrug. I guess I’ll have to see what I can do to change that!

  3. It’s a strange scene, the social networking thing in general, not just this particular niche of it.

    To get noticed, you need to talk to a lot of people, not just follow blogs/twitter feeds/FB updates etc.

    You need to leave comments on their feeds, send messages, @soandso and things like that. Only by making yourself heard enough will people start to recognize you.

    Personally, I found the whole thing a bit shallow as a real-life connection, it’s unlikely you’ll make any true friends, but it’s still a great way to share ideas and information.

  4. I guess I’m not very skilled at social networking, and I’m probably okay with that in the end. Still, I’m interested in making a little more effort on my end to see what the effect is. Part of the problem is that a lot of the connections seem to be on Twitter, and I’ve only recently joined.

  5. I think one of the most important things is to not think about it, and it’ll just build up over time, because at the end…content is king and having a niche is very important.

    I’ll give you an example, you’ve got yourself a site here that I find myself coming to more and more lately because you’ve got Maptool macros, and I’ve recently started using Maptool. So when I think of searching for macros, your site is at the top of my list to mine through. If you’ve got them, great, if not, I’ll go somewhere else, but I at least checked your site first. So if someone were to ask me about Maptool macros, I’d send them here first, and so on….

    When I started with my blog back in 08, I was simply going to talk about my experiences as a new DM, and hope to pass that on to other new DM’s like me. That was my niche. Slyflourish.com’s niche was to build the better DM through monster optimizations and tips for table management. He’s had a niche he’s barely strayed from, (even on twitter he rarely breaks character).

    So I guess if you’re looking for advice, I’ll give you my two cents: keep at it, be active in the community, stick with your brand (OnlineDM) and concentrate on a niche. The DM who runs games online, talks about it and gives advice on doing it is a good niche to have.

    Sorry for the ramble, hope this helps. :)

  6. I know what you mean, buddy. The trick really is being active and taking part in the conversations going on. With 4E, especially, it might help to get involved in the WotC forums and put a link to your blog in your signature. I’m not as active there as I’d like to be, but it’s worth a shot.

  7. Hmmm , is it possible to feel like an outsider among nerds? Yes, it is. I am part time gamer, but that is my choice. The advice about niche marketing, like map tools, is spot on. I am a blogger and only now after three years do I have an “online presence” among my community. I had to work at it then and I still have to work at it. I have the Orville Redenbacher (the pop corn guy) mentality, “do one thing and do it better than anyone else.” That is not to say you cannot major in one thing and minor in three, but you can’t major in everything. I think you have to choose a major and stick with it. Good luck with it and don’t get down. We all feel like outsiders, sometimes :)

    • Very interesting – and thanks for posting! I don’t often see non-RPG bloggers post on my blog, but I agree that having your niche (whether for RPGs, ministry, or anything else) is probably the key to having a successful blog.

      Of course, I don’t even know what success means here! I think I’m just hoping to feel like part of the community, but that means I need to become “known” and that is probably best done by focusing on my niche. Good advice.

      • I think you answered your won question: What does a successful Blog, RPG or otherwise, look like. Don’t let others, the community, define it for you. The crowd is always fickle. Once you decide the ending, you work your way towards it.; much like an adventure :)

        I do mostly short war game skirmishes these days. I play a game called Song of Blades and Heroes, from Italy from ganeshagames.net. I like the map tools. Keep up the good work.

  8. Hey OnlineDM, I really wouldn’t worry too much about it, as what you have put out has already been helpful to a lot of people. But the idea of helping out people on their blog and commenting on their blogs is a great one. I know I love getting comments on my blog, and I’m sure most other bloggers are the same way.

    Anyways, keep up the good work!

    • Thanks! I have to say, the supportive comments I’ve gotten on this post have opened my eyes to the fact that maybe I’m more a part of the community than I realized. We just tend to be a quiet community most of the time. :-)

  9. Your Gencon seminar coverage was among the best I read. Just keep putting yourself out there like the other commenters have said. If I manage to make it to Gencon next year I would be glad to shake hands.

    • Thanks – I’m glad you found the coverage to be useful! That was definitely the high point of my blog’s popularity; I got around 1,500 hits per day that weekend when I normally get between 200 and 400.

  10. I agree with NewbieDM, stick to one thing. Be an expert at something, the guy everyone goes to for answers on a subject and you will be where you want to be in no time at all. I say this tongue and cheek because I don’t really have any one thing I’m good at other than being loud.

    T.

    • Hey, being loud is a thing for sure.

      Sadly, I don’t think I’ll ever be the go-to guy for MapTool questions (the people who actively write the software and the in-depth frameworks for it are the ones to go to), but I’m a good person to talk to about actually running games online (especially for 4e). Of course, I’ve been blogging a lot lately about my other gaming stuff, such as running at conventions, running for family, writing my own adventures…

      If I linger in obscurity for lack of a single shtick, I can learn to live with that. But hey, I’ve got the great Thadeous Cooper commenting on my blog now, so I must be doing something right. :-)

  11. This was so darn good. An article always resonates when the comments are just as good as the original writings. A tip of the helm to you both. Never worry about the numbers though – that will ruin the fun of it. I also read the follow-ups on this and heard the DMRT discussion on it…darn interesting.

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