Ask a Successful Guild Leader
Finding an active guild that matches your personality is no easy task. I joined several before finding my current guild and new group of friends. So many factors are important: number of members, board activity, events and fun features, some guilds even have themes like Harry Potter or Cybunny lovers. But as hard as it is to discover the right fit for you, creating a lasting guild is even harder. So I talked to the leaders of two prominent guilds to get their secrets for success.
In July 2016 six friends formed the family-oriented account improvement guild Astral and it has since grown to more than 50 members. The guild has become known for frequently hosting avatar Simon games on the avatar chat and members report increased motivation to collect avatars, stamps, feed Kadaoties and more.
The Official Obelisk Skirmish Guild has a very straightforward goal: unite members in the regular skirmishes for greater chances of winning. Members can move up ranks by fighting additional battles for their chosen side as they become more skilled warriors.
GENERAL FOUNDING AND RECRUITING
Once you had decided to form a guild how long did it take you to create it – what was your process?
Seventh_Sorrow (Obelisk): I thought about guilds I had been in in the past and decided which features I wanted to include and which features I didn't like. I spent a lot of time on the Neoboards gaining a perspective for what members might be interested in. I knew I wanted to create a guild centered around the Obelisk skirmishes, but I narrowed down my focus based on what I saw on the boards. There seemed to be a need for a Battledome guild that appealed to more casual users and catered to those who wanted to develop their BD abilities, so that's the direction I went in from the start.
Littlemissmaizy_ (Astral): My friend Molly (allorraa) had approached me on July 13th with a desire to create her own guild with a few of our other friends. Right away we started chatting constantly and working on fleshing out the guild. It took us about a day to get the website up and running then we started recruiting! After getting the first few members, the rest was really history! The biggest thing for us is that we wanted to be a whole council with shared duties and responsibilities - a sense that we were all the leader even if the guild hierarchy didn’t allow it.
Allorraa (Astral)The other girls and I were previously in another guild and a situation arose where we decided to leave. We made the initial guild and then made all of our decisions, which took roughly a week. We began with what we wanted to achieve- to create an active family like environment where everyone felt included. Followed by name. I think we actually took a poll in the end and settled on Astral! This was swiftly followed by ranks and what pages we wanted. We also settled on our trial period phase which I think has fundamentally helped the guild.
How did you go about recruiting new members? Did you have any difficulty getting enough members at first?
Seventh_Sorrow (Obelisk): I started by advertising on the Battledome, Guild, and Avatar message boards at first, and gained a handful of new members that way. There was a month or so where it seemed like there wouldn't be enough interest in the guild, but then our new members began recruiting like crazy and there has been a steady increase in membership ever since.
Littlemissmaizy_ (Astral): Recruiting was tough at first, but since all six of us were very excited to get the guild going we pushed through! We gained many members within our first month of opening and 12 of our current members actually joined in the first month Astral was open and have been with us ever since!
EVENTS AND ENCOURAGING ACTIVITY
How often do you hold events? What are some examples of ones you’ve done in the past?
Seventh_Sorrow (Obelisk): Our ranking system is based on how active you are in the skirmish, so our guild activities are often designed to encourage battling. We have 1 NP auctions periodically for our ranked members. It's a great way for people to get their hands on decent weapons at a bargain, and it motivates people to attain higher ranks. In the past we've had giveaways where the prize was a focused assessment on the member's weapon set and pet training.
Littlemissmaizy_ (Astral): We hold account improvement activities every week, but we have had some larger events as well! Some examples of our weekly activities were portfolio week (creating and updating our portfolios), pet training week, toy avatar week (obtaining any avatar dealing with toys), and Neoquest weeks (NQ I and NQ II). We’ve held a few larger events like a Halloween plot, Easter plot, Neopardy (Neopets Jeopardy), Runway Week (pet customs), and Top Chop (a belt inspired gaming challenge). Lastly we do a bi-weekly customization competition. Our larger events tend to be seasonal or any time we get inspired with a new and fun idea!
Stttarlight (Astral): One of my all-time favorites that we did was the Halloween themed plot, we all worked so hard and all the members gained a TON of new avatars – like Carnival of Terror and it made everyone closer, we still have a running joke about the scythe that never restocked in the shop for one of the daily tasks!
Pinky_the_knit_wit (Astral): Astral holds weekly account improvement challenges, and bi-weekly customization challenges. We hold big events probably once a month or once every other. We did a wish week over thanksgiving last year, we’ve done two plots so far, a Halloween one called Masquerade Mischief, and an Easter themed plot called Topsi Turvi Easter Extravaganza. We collaborate on ideas as a council very well. Someone will think of something, and the rest of us will help refine it and make it come to life. Part of the reason our events are successful is we work together well and put in a lot of time together on them. So, I had an idea based off something we did in middle school with recorders, and the rest of council helped me bring it to life, we called it Astral Top Chop. We have many ideas saved and we pick from the list and go from there.
Besides events, do you have other ways of encouraging guild activity? Have you had any periods where it was hard to keep members active?
Littlemissmaizy_ (Astral): This July, to celebrate our first birthday, we held a month full of daily events for members to complete like restocking, kadding, earning trophies, movie nights, avatar Simon nights, and getting to know each other nights! We tend to have a very active guild board with an average of ~500 messages per day. Even though we are active, there still can be lulls at points! We realize that real life can take priority so while some members may fall inactive, the guild as a whole never really suffers!
Pinky_the_knit_wit (Astral): All our activities and events are considered optional. Most weeks we have a good turnout though! I think that allowing members to work on account improvement at their own pace and when they have time helps make them want to participate when they can. We try to make everything as fun and fresh as possible. We change up areas of focus from week to week to appeal to everyone. I think the main thing that helps drive our members to participate is the members themselves. We have a super kind and helpful community that helps push one another to try things we wouldn’t normally do, and offer advice and support to each other. We also do bonding and board activities as well, which helps build that supportive and friendly community! Finals weeks, and holiday breaks are sort of spotty on activity level, but we firmly believe having a posting requirement helps with this. We ask for our members to post once every two weeks’ minimum, and we stick to our sweeping. With a member cap, having a lot of members that are not quite as active can take a toll on the overall board pace. It really depends on what the council of a guild wants activity wise, some guilds just like slow boards. That’s just not us.
GRAPHICS AND PAGES/FEATURES
Did you or one of your co-founders know how to create layouts and graphics initially? If not how did you learn?
Seventh_Sorrow (Obelisk): I had a basic knowledge of coding, but my first layout definitely screamed "amateur!" Fortunately a very savvy coder and graphic designer, Neorazzle, took an early interest in developing the guild. She overhauled the layout and made it look amazing, and spent a lot of time recruiting and holding activities. After a few months, her real life business took off and she had to go on hiatus, but she's a big part of our success. We miss you Razzle! After she left I had to figure it out pretty quickly, but thankfully there are some great guides out there. Moondust_'s guide on ~guildcoding is an excellent resource.
Littlemissmaizy_ (Astral): Molly (allorraa) and I both had a base knowledge of coding and graphics. When I played Neopets as a child, coding was one of the things I loved to do! I had just fallen in love with making buttons and was really excited to start branching out. Our coding in the beginning was very simplistic, and what we didn’t already know, we used guides on Neopets! Our layouts and graphics have vastly improved over the year because I’ve read a lot of guides and practiced, A LOT! I love that Astral has allowed me to grow my graphics abilities and that I have super supportive members that have loved everything that we’ve done since opening. It creates such a welcoming environment when I test out new things that I’m not sure will be successful!
What do you create new pages for and how long does it take you to regularly make new layouts? Do you divide up these responsibilities?
Littlemissmaizy_ (Astral): Once we created our essential pages, we only started creating new ones when new ideas came about! We try and keep a minimal amount of pages, so often times we have more than one thing on a page! For example our member directory also has our member’s galleries and wish lists on the page to cut down the need for having three pages. Since I’ve made so many layouts and we typically keep the same style, it only takes me about an hour at most to create a new layout! We try and change everything every 2-3 months to keep it fresh and in season! When it comes to the creation of layouts, we do not divide up the responsibilities, but each council member has their own page that they are in charge of in terms of content and keeping it updated!
Pinky_the_knit_wit (Astral): Alexis (Littlemissmaizy_) makes most the graphics and layouts for our guild! She’s grown to be quite the graphics maker! I have been following in her foot steps and learning how to help with them. We just introduced badges as a new guild award and she taught me how to make them, and we shared that responsibility. I’ve just recently learned how to make layout graphics so I will be able to help her more with this. Which is helpful because everyone gets busy at times, and then the load doesn’t solely fall on her shoulders! It takes me a lot longer to make them than her, that’s for sure haha. We make new guild layouts and page layouts to match every month or so. We make special layouts for bigger events as well every so often. We offer custom buttons as rewards so I know she makes a handful of those every month as well!
Allorraa (Astral): It took me initially about 2/3 hours for the webbie, portal and guild layouts. The other girls were super helpful with recommended edits and helping with getting it perfect on other screens than my own.
How did you decide on which standard features the guild would have initially?
Stttarlight (Astral): We all had a little knowledge from previous guilds – what works and what doesn’t and what we liked about some and what we didn’t like, it was a pretty easy compromise, I don’t recall any real arguments, I think we were all up to try anything! Since then we’ve gone through trial and error with some activities that weren’t as popular as we had hoped etc.
Hockeydarling14 (Astral): We all talked about what we wanted in a guild and came up with ideas we like and ideas we didn’t like. Overall, there was some debate about what would work best but we always went with what seemed best for the guild overall and I think that’s why Astral turned out so amazing!