Blogger Recognition: laughs, limits and lessons

Every blogger has a different reason for beginning to write. For some, it’s an outlet for the creative words inside of them; while for others, it’s wanting to meet and interact with people who have similar interests. And for I know one person who got drunk on a Friday night, then woke up on the Saturday morning with a new blog and an incoherent first post.

Whatever your starting point, blogging can be thoroughly rewarding and have so many positive effects. And the WordPress community is a great one to be a part of: everyone here is so friendly and supportive. The lovely Charlie from charliechatters very kindly nominated Later Levels for a Blogger Recognition Award last month and I couldn’t be more flattered, so this post is dedicated to her.

As part of the award, nominees are required to share the story of why they started their blog as well as provide some advice for new bloggers. Here goes…

A long journey

On a weekend back in February 2013, I happened to come across a book entitled 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. I mentioned this to a couple of friends the following day after work and boom: the idea for our first blog was formed. We decided to attempt to play all the titles listed within those 960 pages and post our thoughts on them on our own little corner of the internet.

Meltdown, bar, pub, chairs, drinks

We gradually got a bit of a following and over time began chatting to a fellow blogger named Ben. It turned out he worked in a nearby area so what better excuse to meet up for a drink? We hit it off like a house on fire as soon as he stepped through the doors of Meltdown and over several pints and conversations about video games, it became obvious this was going to be a beautiful relationship. Our team of three grew to four.

The first few years of that first blog were good and I had experiences I’ll never forget. I met Ragnar Tørnquist and Martin Bruusgaard, developers I admire very much, and was invited to go to the pub with them. We interviewed Barry Meade about The Room series and he made us feel very welcome. And we struck up relationships with awesome people such as the Flix Interactive and White Paper Games teams, and it’s lovely to still see them now when I go to expos.

Unfortunately though things didn’t work out in the long-run. I’m not afraid to admit that although adult responsibilities and busy lives had something to do with it, the main problem was our attitude – both to the blog and to each other. As our popularity grew we became cocky and over-ambitious, and certain people in the team were unfairly left picking up most of the work. That’s why Ben and I finally decided to call it a day in March last year.

Rezzed, expo, event, video games, Martin Bruusgaard, Kim, Ragnar Tornquist

Obviously we didn’t stop blogging completely! After taking a break from writing, we started Later Levels and came back stronger than ever at the end of December 2016. We changed both our mindsets and the focus for our writing; and right now I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had blogging. It can be hard trying to fit it all in with hectic jobs and busy families but I wouldn’t want to change it for the world.

I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of a few amazing people. Ben may not have has much time to write as he once did, but he’s still around and gives great advice when you need someone to listen. My other-half does so much from me: he talks about ideas for articles, proof-reads my work, and even dresses up when he really doesn’t want to. My stepson Ethan is a constant source of laughter and inspiration for new posts.

And then of course, there are you guys. I can’t thank you enough.

Keep learning

I mentioned above that first blog didn’t last partly due to our attitudes. You know what they say about pride coming before a fall? That’s absolutely true: if you start thinking you’re better than everyone else and don’t need any support, you will fail. One of the most important bits of advice I can give is that community and collaboration are key to this blogging malarkey – and building relationships with other writers is one of the most rewarding things you can do (lesson one).

Rezzed, video games, gaming, expo, Little Nightmares, Kim

Keeping the community-vibe going, be aware there’s a way to voice your opinion and still treat others with different views with respect. There’s always a new controversy going but that doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to be dragged into it and down with all the vitriol surrounding it. Write about the things which are important to you and be honest but, putting it bluntly: don’t be a dick (lesson two).

Focusing more on gaming blogs now, here’s a practical tip: don’t feel as if you can’t cover an event just because you don’t have the correctly-coloured wristband on your hand. Over the years I’ve learnt that press passes aren’t required to get the most out of an expo. Professionalism works better than any pass you can get hold of and attending as a regular ticket-holder can give you a better insight into what the event is all about (lesson three).

As your popularity as a gaming blogger grows, developers will take notice and there’s a good chance you’ll be added to a press mailing list. This means you’ll start to receive requests for reviews but be aware: free keys come with certain obligations. If you’re not willing to put in the time and effort, or don’t want to feel obligated to play a video game you’re not enjoying, the best thing to do is not accept them (lesson four).

Rezzed, video games, gaming, expo, Little Nightmares, Kim

Following on from the above, the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn in my years of blogging is that you should play for playing’s sake. When you write because you need something to post rather than because you have something to say, blogging changes from a hobby into a chore; and when you pick up a video game because you feel you have to, you forget about the joy that comes from simply playing (lesson five).

And the final piece of advice I can give you? Keep learning. Being a blogger gives you the opportunity to meet so many different and wonderful people, and you can learn something new from each and every one of them. The world of blogging is an incredible place and we all have something unique to bring to it.

30 thoughts on “Blogger Recognition: laughs, limits and lessons

  1. Love the perspective. I’ve been following the journey for a while now and it is very refreshing to hear it from your point of view. Thank you for all the great advise and positivity.

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  2. Looking forward to a TLJ convo w/ you even more now XD Definitely glad you guys are around and so community focused. I was unsure (and still am a lot of days) whether WP was a place for my game ramblings; but, the community’s been really supportive, and I look forward to growing w/ it~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blogging seems to be one of those things that you always feel you’re not doing right, even if you’ve been doing it for years! Some days I feel confident, and then on others I question every single thing I do or write in connection with the site.

      It’s definitely an ongoing learning curve. But the community is a great one and it makes all the hard work and doubt worthwhile – I’ve met some really lovely people this year!

      We need to schedule that conversation in very soon ha ha ha! And it’s a good excuse to play TLJ from the beginning again…

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        1. I decided to dip back into The Elder Scrolls Online… which was a silly idea, because now I’m addicted all over again…

          What are you playing? 🙂

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          1. Isn’t that the nature of Elder Scrolls? “Manteca: I’ll Never go Back to Skyrim” XD What got you back into it right now? New mods or content?

            I’m trying to get over a Dark Souls kick; and, I’m cajoling other people into playing Evil Within 2, so I can cower behind a pillow like the complete chicken I am but still get all the story~ Flattered you asked!

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            1. Tell me about it: I’m so bad at horror games. But I really like the storylines so I usually get my other-half to play so I can watch. 😉

              There’s just something about the onset of winter that makes me want to pick up something with a bit of fantasy, and TESO seems to be fitting the bill at the moment. Someone pointed out recently that it could have something to do with all the snowy backdrops and log-fires in the taverns… they might be right.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post and congratulations! It’s great to read someone’s story and their insight on blogging as we all have different styles and views!

    -Luna 🙂

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  4. I seriously love this. You guys do some of my favourite stuff on the internet, and the fact that you’re such cool people doing it for such cool reasons makes it even more awesome!

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    1. That’s so kind Chris, thank you very much! And thank you for letting me steal your music ha ha ha!!

      Hope we’re still on for that To The Moon / Finding Paradise collaboration at some point soon. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! The most surprising thing I’ve discovered about this whole blogging thing, genuinely, is how great the WordPress community is. I had no idea so many people were already writing about video games, to such a high quality. It’s almost distracting from writing because there is so much great stuff to read!

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    1. I’ve been so tied up at work recently (busiest months of the year in the business), that I’ve fallen a bit behind with my reading and I’ve got a ton of catching up to do. The thing is though, reading everybody else’s posts usually inspires me to come up with more ideas for my own! 😉

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      1. Yes it’s like a never ending cycle haha.

        I’ve got a post in the works based on a ~20 year old magazine clipping I found, so inspiration really can come from the most unexpected places!

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      2. I’m also way behind on reading, but I do love your ideas here.

        One thing I would definitely add too as advice for bloggers is not following and going to blogs just to see if you can get them to follow you back.

        Had a comment today from somebody who obviously didn’t read the post I had written (on my latest post, so it will be easy to spot 🙂 ).

        If you’re going to follow blogs and try to become part of the community, truly take part in it. Don’t try to dip in and draw people to you just by leaving comments and leaving (as much as we bloggers do like comments, they should be relevant ones).

        I mean, he did follow my blog, but if you’re not going to really read the posts, why bother?

        I am going to have to go through my reader and start catching up!

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        1. I saw that comment last night when I read your post!

          You offer great advice above. Blogging is all about conversation and if you’re not going to participate in it or get to know the community, then what’s the point? Sure, you might get a few follow-backs that; but you’ll never find followers who are truly supportive or actually take the time to read your words.

          For some reason, I’ve had a spate of health-and-beauty bloggers follow recently. Looking at their own blogs, they don’t appear to have an interest in video games (not that I’m saying in any way that they can’t!) and don’t take part in conservation. There’ll hopefully be a post coming about it next month!

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            1. I’m thinking it has something to do with the way the WordPress reader searches work… I published a post a while back that talked about a few BioShock-inspired items we’d purchased as part of home improvements. Several interior designers then starting following, and they clearly hadn’t taken the time to read either the article or the ‘About’ page!

              I’m not entirely sure why health-and-beauty bloggers have started to take an interest, but I’m guessing I’ve thrown a random word into a post somewhere…

              The other thing I’ve noticed recently is bloggers who follow and then drop you a few days later if you don’t follow back. It’s really bad form!

              Liked by 1 person

              1. That is hilarious about the interior designers.

                And the following and then dropping if you don’t follow back is straight out of Twitter! That’s another aspect I really don’t like.

                Oh well. Hopefully your and health and beauty bloggers will be inspired by something else you post and stick around. 🙂

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  6. good insight to your blogs history and some sound advise. The thought of collaborations is really exciting here. People are open to doing so much, the skies the limit with this community.

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    1. There’s been a lot of interesting collaborations going on over the past few months! After the Blogger Blitz on Adventure Rules, I have no idea what to expect next. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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