Recently, The Well-Red Mage asked a big question and asked his readers to answer it:
What have you learned since your very first blog post?
The Shameful Narcissist already posted a fantastic answer, as did Cary over at Recollections of Play and LightningEllen from LightningEllen’s Release, alongside other wonderful people that I know wrote answers and I forgot to write down who they were so I could link them, but I also wanted to throw my thoughts out there into the interwebs for your enjoyment.
Here’s how to participate, as per The Well-Red Mage’s post:
- Leave a thoughtful and inspiring comment below about what you’ve learned about blogging/writing/marketing/communicating/reviewing/life, complete with a link to your very first blog post and a quote from that post!
- Instead of leaving a comment, the more verbose among you are welcome to write a full blog post on this subject and what you’ve learned since then, in which case you should definitely leave a link below to that new post about your first post!
- Explain briefly why you decided to start blogging and why you picked that certain topic as your first blog post.
After you complete your comment or post, be sure to pass this challenge on to your blogger friends to raise awareness! Leave them this badge to pass it on:
Where I Came From
I started this blog not too long ago, at the end of August 2016. I had just moved home from Miami, where I had been working on getting my master’s degree. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find a job there, and so I returned to my parents’ house broke, unemployed, and sadly with no degree as I still had to finish my thesis. I’ve mentioned before that I really had two topics fully formed in my mind as to what I wanted to write about, and decided to start a whole blog. I figured no one would read it, so it wouldn’t matter if I shut it down after a month. Who, exactly, would want to have intelligent conversations about video games? No one I know in real life (with the exception of BadgersAndBowties) is as interested in video games as I am, after all.
At the end of the day, I had something to say and decided to say it on the internet. The idea of having a blog always interested me, and I figured I’d start one, say some (what I consider) cool things, and then make the rest up as I went along.
Solid business plan, right there.
My very first post is a welcome post, so if you really want to see that, go here. But my first actual post is a short little thing about storytelling in games. It’s not the most in-depth post, and I wish I could find my notes that I used, because there was a lot I didn’t cover and I want to write a follow-up post. At any rate, veryverygaming (followed by Aether) was the first person who left a comment (and a thoughtful one at that!), and so in the wake of his encouraging words I felt the first glimmer that maybe I wouldn’t be whispering into a void, after all.
I grew up in a house where we were certainly allowed to play video games. We were monitored for both time spent playing and for content of games, which is what any responsible parent should do with any entertainment media, but generally we weren’t ever stopped from playing (except when my brother was grounded and we all lost NES privileges…). Not to get super heavy, though, but gaming was seen as somehow “lesser” than anything else we could be doing. If I read a book alone all day, that was fine. If I played a video game alone all day, I was wasting my time and “being a hermit.”
Regardless, I could never shake the feeling that there was something people just weren’t getting about video games. I became obsessed with Metal Gear Solid probably in middle school, and I was fascinated by the drama and intrigue. Playing video games became my favorite hobby, second to reading. I realize now that my enjoyment of both is for similar reasons. So when I had to choose between my two topics of storytelling or choices, I went with the former first, since that is what pulls me in to a game.
What I Learned
Not everything I’ve learned since August has been related to “how to” write a blog, but here are some takeaway lessons I’ve come across, even if their connection to blogging is obscure.
- Education is never wasted::: Whether this is formal education or self-education, the time you spend developing and refining a skill is never a waste of time, even if you aren’t using the skill in a way you originally intended. I was contacted by Paul from NowLoading to write for their site because he was impressed with my writing ability, which is a skill I honed from writing at a graduate-school level. While I have a few clunker articles interspersed here, many of my articles are backed up by research I’ve found and read (even if I didn’t cite it in text… oops I should get better about that), which are skills I’ve learned because of the field I’m in. My education has given AmbiGaming a unique flavor (I flatter myself), and given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Who would have thought I’d use skills from two degrees in music for a video game site?
- Love what you do::: I read a post by Cary when I first started blogging, in which she talked about a friend who asked why she blogs if she doesn’t get large numbers of visitors. Her response was, “For the 30 who care.” She’s right, of course. For me, I started this blog to talk about video games in the way I wanted to talk about video games, and hopefully find a person or two who would have a conversation with me once in a while. At this point in time, I’ve met some wonderful people who I would not hesitate to call friends, I try to do the social media thing, and I have a Patreon site, but at the end of the day, I love my little corner of the internet because I love my corner of the internet. Do I like comments? Yes. Would I love for this to be my job? You bet. But I don’t measure my happiness or my success by my stats.
- Know what it means to be successful::: Yeah, I’d love for this site to make money and for it to become my full-time job. But in all honesty, this blog is already a success in my eyes. I started this blog from nothing. And now it’s something. Okay, I don’t measure success by stats, but I went from “idea in head” to over 280 people who like my thoughts about video games enough to subscribe in some way or another, all in about six months. I didn’t think that was a possibility, and now it’s a reality. That will always be a real thing that happened, no matter what comes next. Bringing an idea to fruition is always something I will count as being successful.
(*edit: another thing I learned is that I apparently can’t count. It’s been nine months, not six. Time sure flies when you’re having fun!*)
- Online communities are just like IRL communities::: A friend of mine has a blog (not about video games) and she was surprised at how many amazing people follow and comment on AmbiGaming. She said she wished people commented and followed her blog, as well. When I asked if she ever comments elsewhere or replies to the comments she does receive, she said no, because she just wants to disseminate information. Being part of a community means being part of a community. If that’s what you want out of blogging, you have to interact with people, otherwise people might “use you” (for the information you post), but you’ll never have the same connections or circle as if you had decided to interact with the people who take the time to try and talk to you.
- It’s possible to disagree online and still be a decent human being::: I don’t think I really need to explain this one, but the fact that it’s something I learned really says something about my expectations of the gaming community on the internet, doesn’t it? I’m so lucky to have met such fantastic people. You don’t always agree with what I have to say, and I’m okay with that, because it means we’re challenging each other’s ideas, not kicking each other in the face (or whatever the internet equivalent of that is). It also means that our conversations can be productive, especially if we’re talking about hot-button social issues, theology, or even classifying villains.
- Starting and running a Let’s Play channel is hard::: Yeah. I learned this. And I learned the crushing disappointment of spending so much time, money, and energy on something, only to walk away from it because I just couldn’t do it anymore. And there was a certain amount of growth that came with that, too, because I had done it, and I can do it again, when the time is right. See point number one.
- Don’t stress about the future::: Part of me toys with the idea of trying to make AmbiGaming a self-sustaining site and grow it to a medium-sized independent gaming site. But then I start to worry about future topics, and what happens if this happens, or what happens if that happens… But you know what? Right now, I’m having fun with the site. Right now, I enjoy sitting down to write. Right now, it’s okay. If you told me in August that I’d last until May and have over 180 WordPress followers, and over 280 followers total, I would have laughed and told you to stop teasing me. So don’t worry. Just love what you’re doing now and tomorrow will still somehow manage to happen.
Well, I’ve gone on long enough, I think. Seven things I’ve learned since starting to blog, and six (*edit: three. Sigh*) months to go until my one-year blogoversary! Maybe this will be revisited in August, who knows?
Anyway, thank you again to The Well-Red Mage for this first of (hopefully) many big questions!
What about you? Feel free to leave a comment about what have you learned since you started blogging, or if you’d like to write your own post, please do so and leave a link in the comments so we can all read what wisdom you have to share!
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
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