Two types of guilds in WoW are having the most difficulty right now: 25-man raiding guilds and new guilds of every sort. For officers, competing against established, max-level guilds can be incredibly daunting. Success in this game is never a sure thing. However, you can take steps to help your guild to survive and grow.
1. Establish your credentials.
You are the face of this new enterprise. Asking players to give up all their shiny perks is a big deal these days -- bigger, honestly, than I ever thought it would be. Luring people away from that into your brand new organization all hinges on their confidence in you and the other officers. They can't just assume you have a plan and the background to pull it off. They have to know.
You wouldn't buy a car designed by a guy who never learned how to drive. Likewise, players aren't going to join your guild if it's clear to them that you don't have the appropriate level of experience.
That level is different depending on what sort of guild you're creating. If it's a raiding guild or a PvP guild, you should know how to do those things at a competent or above-average level. Confidence in you will inspire confidence in the guild, but the reverse is also true. If players see you as a weak or uninformed player, they may bail on the guild at the first sign of trouble.
Social guilds don't require the same set of skills. Your best credentials are your experience with MMOs. That way, players know that you have experience dealing with different personalities in an online world, where it's often very different than real life.
Leadership in any setting can inspire confidence in you as a guild leader or officer. This experience can come from sources you might not immediately think of, such as teaching a class or raising children. My first leadership experiences came from serving as a senior patrol leader in the Boy Scouts.
2. Don't focus only on recruitment.
It doesn't do any good to add new players if you can't keep the ones you have. A revolving door roster doesn't get you anywhere. Recruiting is important in the early going, of course, but so is retention.
Don't spend all of your time recruiting. Make sure that there are enough guild events and activities that the players you already have are satisfied.
The first time someone gquits because there isn't enough going on, everyone else is going to start thinking about it, too.
3. Don't lower your standards for guild experience or achievements.
In the beginning, it can be incredibly frustrating to see the slow pace of your guild's leveling. You'll be tempted to bring in anyone with a pulse just to increase the rate. This is a mistake.
Recruiting carelessly by inviting anyone who's interested can backfire on you badly. When you bring one person into the guild who causes problems or annoys people, you could lose 10 as a result.
Of course, you can't always know ahead of time when a recruit is going to stir up trouble. That brings me to the next point.
4. Settle drama quickly and decisively.
New guilds, particularly in this era of perks, are incredibly fragile. Any negative situation that arises in the early stages of a guild can destroy it.
You may question when it's appropriate for you to get involved. Down the road, after the guild has grown larger and more confident, you will have the luxury of letting people settle their own differences when possible. At this point, however, you can't afford that.
Don't be afraid to ask someone to leave the guild or even gkick them if you feel like it's best for the organization as a whole. Yes, that will mean slower leveling, but you'll risk a lot more than that if you keep them around.
5. Empower your entire guild to help you recruit.
By this, I don't mean give every guild rank the power to invite. Rather, encourage members to talk to players on the server and elsewhere about joining. In WoW today, you need all hands on deck.
Too often, the average guild member sees recruiting as a job for the officers. They feel like it's not their place to do so, that they're stepping on the officers' toes. Make sure they know that it's not just OK to help with recruiting -- it is, in fact, essential.
I would actually argue that it can be more effective for nonofficers to talk to players about the guild. Players will think, "Hey, this player is just a regular guild member, but she's willing to spend time talking to me about it. She must really like this guild."
6. Use the Raid Finder to your advantage.
If your goal is to become a raiding guild, you may not have the critical mass you need to raid as a guild right away. The Raid Finder is perfect for your situation.
However, don't let your guild members settle for a typical Raid Finder experience. Get a Vent server to allow ease of communication among your members. Don't share it with the rest of the raid if you don't want to. The point of it in this case isn't to coordinate the raid but to let your members get to know each other better.
This way, you can turn what is often viewed as an anti-social experience into just the opposite. Voice communication helps people to grow closer and feel more like a community. Sure, you're depending on other players to progress through the instance. As long as your guildmates are all there with you, however, the experience will feel more like a guild activity.
If there's someone in the raid that you're targeting as a recruit, privately invite them into your Vent server. You'll get a great sense of whether they'll fit into your guild.
Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.