We recently passed 1,800 published blog posts on Room Escape Artist, written over a bit more than 6 years. During this time, I’ve given a lot of advice to folks who want to blog about escape rooms.
Here are my top dos & don’ts of getting started.
1 – Start
Do start producing.
Don’t wait. Even if you don’t have a place to publish the posts yet. Get in the habit of producing content regularly. It’s easy to stay in “planning mode” forever, so don’t let yourself into that endless cycle; just dive in.
2 – Tech & Infrastructure
Don’t get bogged down in custom tech.
I strongly recommend using a hosted solution from WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, or some other similar low-cost, low-effort provider. We use WordPress.com’s business plan. We started with a less expensive plan.
Whether or not you have a background building websites, I still recommend the lightest solution possible because you don’t want to spend your time maintaining your website.
Since day one we’ve had a “content first” approach. It’s tough to produce content when you’re spending all of your time maintaining your tech.
The result of our decision is that we have a ton of content that we’re incredibly proud of, but from a tech standpoint, our infrastructure has never been exactly where we wanted it. We continue to improve it.
All of that said, I wouldn’t have done it differently if I were starting over.
I’ve seen a ton of heavily customized websites with next to no content come and go… and that’s confounding.
3 – Motivation
Do it because you love these games and/ or the community.
If you don’t love playing escape rooms, thinking about them, and analyzing them… then you’re not going to have the fire to keep your site rolling. You need that intrinsic motivation because the early days of writing a blog are lonely. Sometimes you’re writing for almost no one, so you have to be writing for yourself.
There’s an old joke among those of us who have been producing content about escape rooms since the early days of 2014 and 2015. The joke is: “I started my blog for the money.”
You’re not going to get rich or famous from producing escape room content.
4 – Consistency Feeds Growth
Don’t be erratic if you want to grow.
We publish at 10:01AM Eastern every single day (and sometimes publish a bonus post at a different palindromic time in the afternoon). Back in the early days we used to publish 3 times per week, and in the extra early days it was once per week.
Consistency and stability – at whatever pace – feeds readers and attracts new ones. Consistency is really hard.
5 – Pacing
Do it at your own pace.
Contradicting myself… I really respect bloggers like Randy Hum from Escape Rumors and Alejandro Osorio & Stefan Bauer from Two Bears Life. They don’t publish tons of stuff, but what they do produce is well crafted and has a clear perspective. You don’t have to write a lot to add value to the community.
I am so happy that we have people like them adding to our community and whether they are consistent or not, it’s a better community because they are part of it.
6 – Intention
Don’t do this just to get free games.
If you’re thinking about blogging to offset the expense of your escape room habit, just get a side job. I’m serious. The bloggers who are just in it to get free games rarely last. If they do, their content is usually weak in quality.
Also, don’t review if all you want is for owners to like you; do something else. The reviewers who clearly just want to be liked can’t be honest even if they are knowledgeable.
7 – Perspective
Cultivate your own perspective and let it evolve. The longer you do this, the more you’ll realize how little you knew when you started. Don’t resist that change; it’s growth. You’ll look back on some of your old pieces and realize that you were off. It’s part of the journey.
8 – Regionality
Don’t believe that you’ve seen everything.
Be aware of the fact that escape room trends are regional. If you’ve only seen games from a single region or two, that’s cool. Regional blogs are amazingly helpful to the community. Just remember that your worldview might get rocked if you visit a new place. Don’t let that rattle you.
9 – Adjacent Spaces
Do keep learning.
Whether it’s tabletop games, video games, immersive theatre, puzzle hunts, augmented reality games, improv comedy, set design, electronics, fabrication, or anything else really… there is an endless opportunity to learn new things that relate to the way that escape games are designed and played.
That’s my favorite part about all of this. I’m fueled by curiosity. I love that no matter how much I learn, there will always be something more to learn.
10 – Community
Do disagree without being disagreeable.
We’re not all going to like and dislike the same stuff. That’s cool. Embrace the fact that perspective on experience is subjective… and be kind to those who see things differently.
The moment that you feel that your way of seeing an experience is the only way of seeing an experience, you eliminate the possibility of discussion and learning. The beauty of this community is in learning from one another and seeing things through the eyes of others.