03/04/2020

#Blapril And Blogging

It's that time of the year again... Blaugust! No, wait, wrong month... but apparently we're having it in April this year because lots of people are stuck at home and blogging is a nice, indoorsy hobby to keep you busy during times like these. Thus, say hello to Blapril. (Personally I would have gone for Blopril since I don't like the association with "bla", but it is what it is.)


I won't rehash what dozens of other bloggers have already said about the event and simply quote my own super-short summary of it from last year: It's a community event for content creators (not just bloggers anymore), encouraging them to be loud and proud of what they do, so that people can share ideas, give each other encouragement, find new audiences and expand their own horizons. Most of the participants focus on talking about gaming, but there are no real limits on the subject matter. If that sounds at all interesting to you, you can find out more here.

I myself have signed up for the community and networking aspect of it, but as a regular reader you shouldn't really notice anything different on here.

Tangentially related, I got tagged for one of those chain letter-like things that we used to call "memes" back in the day before the word changed to mean something else. I'm not usually a huge fan of these, especially when they consist of nothing but "answer these ten completely random questions", but at least this one is related to blogging so I thought I might as well fit it in here.

The rules of this so-called "Blogger Recognition Award" (which doesn't actually involve any awards) are as follows:
  • Thank the wonderful person who nominated you and leave a link back to their blog(s).
  • Explain your blog’s origin story or its history.
  • Hand out two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  • Nominate other bloggers and hook us up with links to their blogs.
First off, the wonderful person who tagged me is Telwyn of the GamingSF blog. I've enjoyed reading his blog for a long time as we seem to have similar tastes when it comes to using our blogs as gaming diaries and reflecting on game design. He plays a lot of different MMORPGs, but unlike some he doesn't always jump into the newest hotness but rather maintains a fairly large stable of games that he revisits every so often. I find that quite interesting as it means he plays on at least a medium progression level in all of his games, which is not a play style I see get coverage on a lot of blogs. Also, luckily for me it so happens that all three MMORPGs that I'm active in are part of his stable as well. If you're looking for reading material about a specific game, he has handy category links on his sidebar. Since this blog is about SWTOR, I guess I might as well include a link to his SWTOR category.

As for this blog's history, from what I can remember I've enjoyed writing pretty much ever since I learned how to do it, but that may be going back a bit far. I started my first digital diary around twenty years ago (oof) and when I really got into World of Warcraft I created a blog just for writing about that. When SWTOR became my main game instead, it made sense to me to give that game its own blog, and here we still are eight years later.

Since I've been dealing with FAQs at work today, I'm going to put my advice to new bloggers into a similar Q&A format:

How do I know if I'm cut out to be a blogger/content creator?

Because you like creating content or just talking about things. Or maybe you don't even like talking very much because you're kind of shy, but you're still bursting with things you want to express. Blogging would be great for you in that case!

How do I get started though?

There are plenty of free tools to build your own website or just publish your writings on someone else's domain these days, so just make an account somewhere and start writing. You can always sort out details such as prettying up the layout later.

Any suggestions what to write about? And how often?

Generally speaking you can write about anything, but I do suggest picking a general niche. Many bloggers will tell you not to limit yourself too much and just write about whatever, but personally I find that more stifling than liberating, because to me the freedom to write about anything is too much of a blank canvas. If you have at least a general direction, such as "what have I been playing lately", it's much easier to come up with an answer to the question of what to write about.

Similarly, I agree with Telwyn's advice that it can be good to set yourself at least a vague schedule, such as planning to post twice a week. Again, obviously blogging is meant to be a fun hobby, not a job, but having that sort of structure can help you pace your ideas instead of burning all your fuel in three days and then being out of ideas for the next month. (Also, readers generally appreciate regular updates too.)

How do I get other people to read my stuff?

You can use social media like Twitter to promote your writings, but I've found that - especially if you also want to benefit of the community aspect of content creation - the best way to disseminate your writing is to interact with other content creators, which in the case of blogging means leaving meaningful comments on their blogs and linking to them if they've inspired you/you enjoy their work. People do click on those links and before you know it someone goes "have you seen this cool new blog over there yet" and suddenly you've got readers of your own.

What do I do if I run out of ideas?

Come up with some new ones! There are always things to talk about, even if your blog has as narrow a focus as this one (it doesn't get much more specific than writing hundreds of blog posts about a single computer game). I did write a more long-form post about this a few years ago, which you can find here.

Finally, the tagging of other bloggers! I'll pick both SWTOR and general MMO bloggers for this. Don't feel pressured to join in if you don't really fancy it; it's just supposed to be a bit of fun.

3 comments :

  1. To the next 8 years, then!
    https://media.giphy.com/media/yziuK6WtDFMly/giphy.gif

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  2. Thanks for the thoughtful words on my blog :-)

    On a random note I notice that I can comment here with Name/URL as I normally would, but on your Neverwinter blog it only lets me use my Google account - are they set-up differently?

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    Replies
    1. Hm, I had indeed never enabled anonymous commenting on my Neverwinter blog - that wasn't a conscious choice though, so I've changed it now. :)

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