So, with Introductions out of the way, let’s get into the nitty gritty of starting a guild.

When I first started the guild, I was on my own. I had done some reading on creating a successful guild, but I was really trying to build up a raiding guild from scratch. I had no friends who were going to take the plunge with me, and I literally had noone but myself in the guild on day one. My guild now (less than a year later) successfully raids 25-man content 3 nights a week (2nd Alliance guild on the realm in terms of progression), and has over 200 members (across just under 100 individual accounts). So, how did I go from having literally noone, to building a successful raiding core?

Well, as will become apparent, it was not easy, but I’m going to kick things off with a few thoughts about one of the most important aspects of a budding guild; the website.

Guild website

Your website is arguably your most important tool when starting a guild. It is the public facing part of your guild. It’s the place you send people who are interested in your guild. It should be the hub of everything that a potential member could ever want to know about your guild. Some ideas/thoughts about the guild website, in no particular order:

  • If you have the expertise, get a proper domain name and hosting. Don’t go the route of free packaged guild hosting such as GuildLaunch, unless you truly have no other option. They are ad-laden, restricting in terms of features and layout customisation, and (perhaps most importantly) look far less professional than a custom domain. Image is everything. Buy a domain, buy some hosting, and get a slick design happening.
  • What is your website there to achieve? Apart from providing discussion forums for your raiders, the primary purpose of a guild website is usually to open up recruitment options. Prominently display the classes you’re looking for, keep them updated, and make it easy to apply. I cannot stress this enough. Every hurdle you add for potential applicants is a potential applicant that you lose. What if that was your next star tank that you just lost?
    • Put apply links in your header, in your guild blurb, underneath your recruitment classes, basically anywhere someone might be looking for it. Make it clear.
    • Don’t force people to sign up to a forum to apply. If possible, create a custom page with a bunch of questions to fill out. In my guild’s case, we use guest posting in a special public forum, which does the job, but we need to filter out a lot of spam.
    • Browse to your website, and try to be in the mindset of a potential applicant that was just given your guild domain name. Is it easy to find the link to apply? Is it clear what classes you’re looking for? When you click apply, is the actual process to apply clear and simple? Are you asked for too much information? Too little?
  • Think about URLs. A lot of this advice is technical, but again, it’s about looking professional and making it easy for potential applicants. In my case, I have set up two URLs; /apply redirects to the applications forum, and /charter shows our guild charter. These are easy and memorable links to share with people; a lot better than e.g. /forums/viewforum.php?f=7, and more professional than “go to our website and click apply”. Image is everything.
  • Include detailed and archived guild progression, including hard modes. Even if it’s a shortened version on the homepage, with a link to view more detailed progression. Progression is something that high quality applicants will be looking for. Additionally, if you have time, generate screenshots of recent kills for your home page, and post them as “news”.
  • You want to create a “home” and a hub of discussion for your guild members. I’d say that a forum is pretty essential. Keep the number of forums low (e.g. Member Discussion, Off Topic, Healer/Tank/DPS Discussion) to keep the posting dense. This gives the appearance of more active forums, and encourages more people to post. Create threads about anything and everything… Instance strats, upcoming patch changes, screenshots, new member introductions, loot rules, guild rules, bank rules, pictures of your cat, etc etc. You want 75%+ of your raiding core checking your forum every day, as this is an important outlet for dispensing information and keeping your raiders in the loop. The only way you will achieve this is if the forum is a genuinely interesting place to hang out, with a lot of good discussion taking place.

If there’s one thing you take from this post, let it be this: Image is everything – and first impressions last. That little mantra will help out your early weeks and months immensely. Strive to have the image of a stable professional guild in everything you do, and make sure you avoid being that annoying, spammy, desperate guild that everyone loves to hate. This mantra will also become part of your regular guild affairs too; you should never tolerate drama in a public arena, and make it clear such drama is not tolerated. Such things are not good for image. More on this at a later date.