So, you’re a gaming expert looking to make your brand the authority in the gaming space?
Maybe you’re a hungry entrepreneur looking to capitalize on this multi-billion dollar niche?
I don’t blame you. Creating a video game blog is a great idea and even better side hustle.
If we’ve seen anything from COVID, it’s that people are moving online at a record pace. From 2019 to 2020 the video game industry saw a record 9.3% growth. That’s a lot of growth for a “mature” market.
In fact, just in the U.S. there are over 214 million people who actively play one video game.
What does this mean for you?
Don’t get it twisted though. Where there’s opportunity, there’s competition, and the waters in this industry are bloody.
That’s why you’re reading this guide, and why I’m here.
I’ve spent hours on this article to make sure you get the absolute best information about how to start a video game blog. Not only will you start one, but build it so it produces real income for you.
Whether you’re 15 or 65, it’s never too late or too soon to start making extra money talking about something you enjoy.
Keep reading if you’re interested in building and scaling a video game blog. There’s lots of secrets and tips you won’t find anywhere else on the internet.
Step 1: Know Your Exit Plan
Before you start any project you need to know your exit plan.
What does “done” actually look like?
Here are a couple questions you should ask yourself:
- Are you looking to become an authority in a particular video game sub-niche?
- Do you want to keep this blog for life?
- Is this a lifestyle business, where it pays for your lifestyle?
- Are you looking to sell this blog in the future?
You’ll come to realize after asking these questions that you need to know your “Why.”
How exactly do you envision this blog going?
Do you see yourself getting exclusive access to new beta games or consoles? Are you an influencer with raving fans following your guidelines and tips? Maybe you’re just after a little extra coin to help you launch into a totally different venture or project?
It doesn’t matter why you’re building this blog. What matters is having this vision crystal clear in your head.
Here’s a good example: I created a blog in the essential oils niche (back before the Google Medic update came out and ran roughshod over health and wellness blogs). Was I particularly interested and passionate about essential oils? No not really. I knew going in I was creating a blog that I wanted to sell to a Young Living or Doterra authority figure. This helped me prioritize my time to focus on only actions which would move me closer to this goal.
Here’s a great video to help you with finding your why:
Get this figured out before you move forward. It doesn’t need to be set in stone either. You can always pivot and change as you gain more clarity, but it helps to have a good idea of your vision before you start executing on the “what” and “how.”
Step 2: Pick Your Video Game “Sub” Niche
Your niche has already been chosen. You’re building a blog around video games.
Video games is a broad topic filled with many different pockets of people. If you want results quickly (i.e. getting page views and actual money) then you’ll want to dive deeper within your niche into “sub-niche’s.”
There’s just too much content and competition trying to create the next IGN.
Before you start dialing in your sub niche, I wanted to quickly show you a really interesting blog post titled: “1,000 True Fans.”
“To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.
A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. … If you have roughly a thousand of true fans like this (also known as super fans), you can make a living — if you are content to make a living but not a fortune.”
This is the key to creating a successful blog. You can’t be everything to everyone. You need to be willing to draw a circle around you and say: “This is where I stand.”
Here are some of the most popular video game sub niches:
- Gaming news
- Virtual Reality Games
- Vintage Console Repair
- Gaming Genre Reviews (indie, horror, strategy, racing, etc.)
- Gaming gear reviews
- Easter Eggs
- Arcade Games
- Minecraft tutorials
- PC based games
- Console based games
- Game development
- Nintendo only games
- Call of Duty
- Portable gaming consoles
- Kid friendly video games
- Nostalgia games
- Strategy guides
- Gameplay walkthroughs
- Esports drama
I was able to come up with this list after spending 20 minutes researching. If you’re passionate about video games, I’m sure you won’t have a tough time finding a sub-niche.
The important point is to just pick.
If you’re dealing with analysis paralysis (like me!) I recommend you pick 1 niche knowing it won’t be perfect and keep following this guide. I’m going to break down the journey into easy to digest parts!
Once you’ve made a decision, it’s time for the fun part!
Step 3: Research Your Video Game Blog Niche
I debated on adding this portion before giving you the action items for actually building your video game blog.
Because I believe in action and the philosophy of “shipping,” which means you’re responsible for your production.
Without researching your niche (and sub-niche!), you won’t know where to start and you’ll have this live blog without any plan for getting content or traffic.
That’s going to suck. And I would have failed you as a guide.
So, we’re going to do the minimum necessary to help you get your minimum viable product (MVP) launched and live.
Your goal with the research portion is twofold:
- Find competitors
- Find your first 10 pieces of content
Earlier you had to figure out your “why.” Now, we’re going to figure out the “how.”
Do not skip on this portion.
Do the work and you’ll be much happier in the end. I’m going to help you by picking up a video game sub niche, and I’m going to do the research with you to help through the process.
This way there’s no excuses!
Why am I doing competitor research?
Because you need to find others within your niche you can model after. In fact, I would go so far to say your goal is to find a blog within your niche that’s recently been getting a bunch of traffic, and copy their entire go to market strategy.
Obviously don’t create a complete clone of your competitors site. Your goal is to pay attention to their content strategy and keywords they’re targeting.
I loved playing Pokemon when I was a kid. So I’m going to choose this as my sub-niche for a video game blog.
Before you begin with the options you’ll want to create a Google Sheet to track your competitors.
Here’s a quick screenshot of the sheet I created:
Now, there are a couple options for collecting competitors (free & paid). For collecting competitors you’re best to go with the free version. It takes some Google searching but you’ll find at least 10 competitors within the space.
Option A (Free Version) – Good Ol’ Google
You’re first going to Google “top SUB-NICHE blogs”.
Then you’re going to go into each of the search engine results pages (SERP’s) and start adding those blogs into your research dock.
Your document will look like this:
Once that’s done you can go to the next step… Keyword research. However, if you’re interested in getting even better information continue below.
Option B (Paid Version) – ahrefs.com
Just as a forewarning, it’s $99/month if you’re going to use ahrefs. If you’re committed to learning how to blog I would highly recommend it personally. It’s such a fantastic tool and it’s something I use literally everyday.
Here’s how you find competitors within the tool.
First – Google just like we did above “top SUB-NICHE blogs”.
Second – pick just 1 competitor you can find. Preferably the on that looks the nicest or most complete.
In this scenario I’m choosing pokemonfans. You’re then going to plug it into the site explorer tab.
From there you’ll be given a page where you’ll be able to find their competing domains:
You’ll land on a page like this:
This is the gold mine!
You’ll want to keep doing this over and over until you feel you’ve exhausted your competitors. The best part about ahrefs is you’ll get access to A LOT of information you would never have found if you tried just Google.
Here is what my final competitor research sheet looked like:
Your end goal with your competitor research is to find the best competitor with the most keywords related to your niche.
As you can see I was able to find bulbagarden which is a major player within the niche (outside Pokemon themselves).
It would have taken me a long time to find this website by just Google searching. That’s why I prefer ahrefs, because it speeds up your efficiency.
Keyword research is the process of finding actual search terms users are putting into Google when searching. It could be solutions to their problems, answers to their questions, products, media, images, etc.
To get a little meta, it’s what you typed in when you searched: “how to start a video game blog.”
Keyword research is the most important step in finding out the type of content you’ll want to create to help your blog get traffic (and eventually make money!).
There are 2 options for this, just like above. Free and paid.
Personally, the free version sucks. It’s time intensive and it takes a lot of Googling. I’m going to show you the basics so you can get started right now, however I do recommend using a tool like ahrefs, semrush, or even ubersuggest. Either one works for this scenario.
Option A (Free Version) – Leverage Your Competitors
One of the ways to get keywords for writing content is by just going through your competitors blogs and looking at their titles.
Here’s a good example:
As you can see the title tag is “how to get mime jr. in Pokemon Go.” This would be what I would consider a long-tail keyword which is very specific to search intent.
Another quick method for finding the keywords is to look at the permalink text. This will give you an idea of what the blog author wants Google to index you for.
You can just keep doing this through all of your competitors blogs. Then you’ll want to put them into your research document.
Your goal is to find at least 10 keywords to create content for your blog.
Option B (Paid Version) – Ahrefs Keyword Tool
The free way of doing keyword research is only going to take you so far. You’ll have the ability to find your first 10 keywords for content.
You’re going to spend an extreme amount of time scrolling through your competitors blogs to find content. You also won’t have a good grasp of the search volume or difficulty of the keyword.
For keyword research I highly recommend using ahrefs or semrush keyword tools. I’m going to go through the same process to find keywords and it will take me less than 1/10th the time and I guarantee I’ll have a better grasp of the highest quality content to create for the video game blog.
Here’s the process:
Plug in the domain of one of your competitors into ahrefs.
Click on Organic Keywords button.
You’ll now have a complete list of the keywords your competitor is ranking for. This is where you’ll get your start with doing keyword research.
Here’s a quick hack to find high quality keywords for content.
I like to go after phrases with the word “best” in them because it means people are in review mode for their search intent.
You can do this in ahrefs via here:
These keywords I’m pointing at are great!
I’m then going to copy and paste them into my sheet.
After doing a little digging on ahrefs here is the content I found I would want to start going after.
Going a little further. I plugged in my other competitor bulbagarden and I found some fantastic keywords to go after!
I then added the list into my sheet (with the search volume [SV] and keyword difficulty [KD] added).
That then gave me this list of great pieces of content for the blog.
As you can see, that’s over 44,000 searches per month right there with just this content. If you rank number 1 for these terms, you can expect 33% of the traffic to land on your video game blog.
That means you’re looking at about 15,000 people per month coming to your site just for these keywords alone.
That’s more than enough to monetize your site and build a solid side hustle!
The best part?
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more content and keywords you can go after!
Like I mentioned earlier.
Your goal is to find 10 keywords to go after when you’re creating content (when you’re first starting your video game blog).
Once you have 10 keywords in your research doc, it’s time to actually build your blog.
Step 4: Pick A Platform
There are a few things in life you can go cheap on. Your blogging platform is not one of them.
Even if you’re on a budget, you need to be willing to invest in a platform that will scale with you as you grow the video game blog.
There’s a wide variety of free options available. Blogger, Wix, and Squarespace to name a few.
What’s the number 1 reason why you should run for the hills with these free platforms?
You have zero control with your asset by using these services. Also, say goodbye to monetizing your site if you go the cheap route.
Here’s a couple other reasons why you free blogging platforms are a no-no:
- You don’t own your content on their platform.
- Looks unprofessional to Google visitors.
- No monetization ability.
- They can take your website down at any point.
I don’t know about you, but I would be livid if I worked for 6 months on creating high quality content, and got my video game blog ranking and generating traffic, only to have the platform shut me down.
You’re going to end up back on “level 1” having to repeat everything again.
Don’t be that person.
Instead, use WordPress along with (relatively) cheap hosting to start. Also, don’t use the WordPress.com site. Use their WordPress.org which is their backend interface for building your website.
Why you’re going to pick self-hosted WordPress:
- Control. You control basically everything about the site.
- Built for scale. As you build your blog, you’ll have a reliable and stable system growing with you.
- Easy monetization. From affiliate links to adsense, you control your money.
- Highly customizable. There’s thousands of plugins and even more themes available to make your site look clean and professional.
Step 5: Pick A Domain Name
If you’re unfamiliar, a domain name is the text address (URL) you put into your web browser to access a website.
Here’s a quick picture of what a root domain is:
This is where all of your content will live for your video game blog.
Hopefully you noticed something about the domain name. The domain name isn’t actually related to the topic of Pokemon.
I’m bringing this up because you don’t need to get super picky about your domain name. Back in 2015 you got serious credit from Google for having a domain name hyper relevant to your topic.
Google doesn’t care (as much) because it has much better clues for context for understanding the purpose of your blog.
Why am I saying all this?
Because you just need to pick a domain name slightly relevant to your sub-niche and then move on.
There are some key things to pay attention to though:
- Domain names ending in .com are still most trustworthy in consumers eyes, although that’s trending downwards as the internet gets more mature.
- Keep your domain within 2 words. Good example is PokemonParadise.com or Pokemonclub.com. (the shorter the better for domain names)
- Never purchase a domain name. People buy popular domain names and sit on them hoping people will purchase. It’s called squatting and it’s scummy. Just move on to an available one.
- Use a domain name generator like shopify or instant domain name.
- Pick one and move on. When you get big enough and you’re making money from the site you can change it later on.
Here’s a good example of a quick domain name search:
I was able to find pokemonly which is available for only $15.95/yr. That’s a good price for a short domain which is a .com.
It only took me 5 minutes to find this. I’m sure you’ll find something interesting for your video game blog quickly too!
STOP – don’t purchase your domain name until you have a hosting provider in place. Your only goal with this step is to check for availability on the domain name you want to get.
Keep reading below for next steps.
Step 6: Get Hosting
Hosting is where your website files are going to be housed. Basically your domain name tells the internet browser to go to the server location where the files for your website are located.
You need to have hosting in order for your website to be “viewable” to the end user. Hosting is essentially where your website “lives” so to speak.
Personally, there are more hosting companies than grains of sand on the beach. Seriously, if you have an encrypted server you can basically start your own hosting company. I think it’s one of the most competitive spaces on the internet.
I’ve tried everyone you can think of. Godaddy (never, ever again), Bluehost, Namecheap, and many more.
I always find myself coming back to Siteground. I’ve been using them for over 6 years and they’re just the bees knees.
They have the best support for newbies I’ve ever come across. You can ask them literally anything, and they’ll either point you to a great in-depth article about how to solve your problem, or they’ll just do it themselves on your behalf for you.
They’re a little more expensive than their competitors, but the service makes it all worth it. I remember when I was first starting I had no idea how to point DNS records correctly to my new domain. They did it for me, and said; “Thanks for letting me help you.”
That’s some Chick-fil-a level service.
The only other hosting service worthy of a mention is Bluehost. Although I haven’t used them in a while.
Choose either one.
Siteground is typically running some kind of special for new users. For their hosting you can expect to spend about $7-$12/month for a starter plan if you pay for the annual plan.
They also offer a monthly option for $19.99/month.
If you’re serious about running your blog then commit to the whole year. It’s a 1 time expense and if you start generating money in the year you can basically write off the expense as tax deductible. (obviously check with a CPA for this…)
That will be enough for your needs right now.
Once you get the hosting you’ll then be prompted to either attach it to a current domain you own, or to purchase a new domain.
Now is when you’ll want to purchase the new domain.
Once you’ve got everything purchased you need to install wordpress.
There are plenty of tutorials on how to do this. I recommend you use the amazing help function SiteGround offers and type in “install wordpress.”
There you’ll be given a full step by step instruction to do it properly.
You can also give their 24/7 online chat a message for guidance.
Choose A Theme
Once WordPress is installed, now you need to pick a theme for your blog.
The theme is the software helping you present your website to the public. It’s where you can change the look and functionality of your homepage.
Just like hosting companies, there are many theme’s available for you to use, both free and paid.
Free themes are cheap, but you’re limited by so many critical factors it’s not even worth the cost savings. Worst part is as your blog grows you’ll end up needing to purchase the paid version to get the monetization features necessary to make money.
Always remember. If you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product.
You want to look for the following features with a theme:
- Mobile first responsive design – everything is mobile now. You should always build mobile first.
- Easily customizable.
- Good client support or knowledge base.
Personally, I’m a fan of Thrive Themes from Shane Melaugh and Paul McCarthy. It was one of the first WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors for WordPress.
It’s a breeze working with the program for creating websites. You can customize nearly everything, it has lead capture forms, and is very moderately priced for the value they provide. Plus, there’s an in depth knowledge base where you can find an answer to nearly any question you can think of.
It’s your best option long term.
Once you purchase the theme they’ll give you a file and instructions to follow for getting it uploaded and active to your website.
At this point, you’re now technically live. Congratulations!
Now it’s time to get traffic…
Step 7: Create Content For Video Game Blog
Always remember this rule when it comes to blogging.
Content and links.
You’re always building content. You’re always getting links.
If you want to gain traction, that’s how you do it.
Want the good news?
For the content part. We’ve already done the really hard part!
You already have 10 keywords you can create content for as a starting point. You also have the ability to find more content as you continue to grow.
If you’re just starting out, these 10 pieces of content should take you roughly a month to fully write, edit, and publish.
Be warned: you’re at the stage where most blogs go to die a quick death. Why? Because the creator didn’t bother to follow the golden rule.
Here are some best practices when it comes to creating content for your new video game blog:
- Optimize your content around one main keyword (or keyword string). An example from above would be: “Best Eevee Evolution Pokemon Go.” I would create an article focused only on that topic.
- Use this keyword within your first 2 paragraphs to capture the reader’s attention.
- Don’t overuse the keyword in your piece of content
- Keep paragraphs scannable. Short and crisp is best.
- Try to write a minimum of 1500 words per post.
- Update and upgrade your content continuously.
- Use H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags.
- Run your content through Grammarly and Copyscape before publishing.
- Most importantly – write naturally. Not just for SEO.
This is the “content” portion. Now it’s time for the “links” portion.
Step 8: Promote Your Video Game Blog
A lot of experts will tell you to “share on social” and “promote to your friends” after you’ve created your content.
Sure, that’s great and all but it’s not going to help you get to page 1 of Google.
If you want to get there, you need links, and specifically backlinks.
Links are the primary method of navigation within the internet. It’s how you get from one page to another.
Do you remember in school, how for research papers you were required to provide citations of your work?
Google works exactly in this way. They’re constantly searching for indicators that you’re an authority worth listening to. Backlinks are their main measure of this authority.
Frankly speaking, the more backlinks you have (from high quality websites) the easier it is to get your blog to actually receive traffic. Obviously it’s not the only thing important to ranking your website, but it does have a high weightage of importance.
3 main ways of getting backlinks:
- Content Outreach
- Content Syndication
- Guest Posting
Do these 3, and you’ll have a much better chance of ranking your video game blog.
1. Content Outreach
Remember those 10 keywords for content you created? That’s going to be your content outreach.
You’re going to find other people within the industry who are talking about your topic, and you’re going to ask them if they would provide a link to your blog.
You want to find the top people who have a higher authority score than you, and you’re going to email, message them on LinkedIn, or even message their own blog, trying to get a link.
Be warned: this is a tough game to play. Seasoned blog owners know how valuable a backlink is. You need to figure out ways to exchange value with them to earn the chance of getting a backlink.
2. Content Syndication
Similar to content outreach. You’re going to be reaching out via email, LinkedIn, and their website with the goal of getting them to post your content on their website.
In the Pokemon example above. Let’s say I create the most killer guide on Eevee evolution. I’m sure there are broad video game blogs who would love to have this content on their site. They know content can be expensive to create, and if you’re willing to give it away for them to post, they’ll take you up on this offer.
The only thing to make sure is you have internal links within your article before you syndicate it!
3. Guest Posting
This is where you find relevant websites within your niche who accept guest posts for their website.
Like I mentioned earlier. Content is expensive. These blog creators are happy to provide you with a backlink if you give them high quality content in exchange. (Remember the value exchange earlier?).
What you’ll do is write a post which includes a backlink to your site.
Not only will you get that site’s visitors, but it will provide Google with the indication that you’re a serious blogger.
Best Tips For Promoting Your Content (aka: link-building)
- Interlink your article with other relevant articles from your site.
- Use descriptive anchor text for internal links.
- Get backlinks from high quality and relevant sites.
- Keep track of your links
- Get “do follow” links when possible.
- Start building links immediately after you’ve created your 10 pieces of content.
If you have any questions, or want me to do it for you, reach out via email!
Step 9: Monetize Your Blog
Do you smell that?
Smells like money…
That’s probably the whole point of you coming here!
You entire goal with this project is to create a side hustle worthy of continuing and hopefully providing you with enough income to become financially free.
Not sure about you, but I HATE lack of autonomy. I used to go to work because I had to. Because I needed to pay bills due to lack of financial knowledge.
I go to work because I want to. Because I’m interested in the work.
The only way I could get there was by creating side hustles. Hopefully this video game blog can be that vehicle for your freedom too.
Here are the top 3 ways you can monetize your blog:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Advertising (Adsense)
At some point you’ll want to do all three of them (although choose only 1 in the beginning!).
1. Affiliate Marketing
The best way to explain affiliate marketing is like so: you’re a freelance sales person earning a commission for providing expert help.
Companies will pay you to offer them as a recommendation to your fan base. It’s exactly how “influencers” came to be so popular. It’s also why those same influencers people like to make fun of are making $100,000/month.
They’ve built a following and provide excellent recommendations to their audiences.
In the beginning, this needs to be you.
One of the largest affiliate networks around is Amazon Associates. You can basically link your recommendations to Amazon where you’ll get paid when your referrals purchase.
2. Advertising (Adsense)
A lot of bloggers seem to think this is the move early on. Personally, I wouldn’t put Adsense on a website unless it was making at least 100,000 page views per month. In the beginning you’ll get paid pennies for selling your ad space.
It also tends to clog up the feed of your blog and slow down your page speed.
This is more of an advanced monetization strategy.
The holy grail of owning an online business. Creating a product or service and selling it to customers.
This is the most advanced form of monetization because you need to check for market demand before you dump a bunch of money into building a product.
A good idea for starting though is a digital product. Something like a video game walkthrough, or hidden tricks for getting tokens. If you do your research and continue to build your blog, you’ll find ways of monetizing.
Executive Summary: How To Start A Video Game Blog
Hopefully this guide has provided you with clarity about getting started.
If I could leave you with one thing it’s this. Start now.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. I can provide you with the road map to walk, however I can’t do the walking for you.
In the end, if you want to build a sustainable side hustle. One that produces income on a regular basis, than a video game blog is an excellent choice.
Good luck, and leave a comment or email me if you have any questions!