I have been terribly out of the loop in the blogosphere lately, mostly because work (despite working from home) has super ramped up for me lately. When you write for work, and you’re putting all your energies into that, it’s not as easy to scrape off the left-over energy to write for fun.
That has effected my blogging, sadly, and my creative writing lately. I know this won’t last forever, but for the foreseeable future, I’ve only been posting when I find a topic that I can handle in a smaller scope.
But for those creative souls who have a lot more time on their hands lately, there’s a stirring within the blogosphere. Similar to Blaugust (blogging in August), I’d like to introduce Blapril (blogging in April).
How To Get Involved
Check out the official info post here to sign up for the event. Also, take a gander at the overview of the goals, the how-tos, a suggested schedule, and other fun things there.
If you want to jump in and meet other bloggers, bounce ideas for posts, ask questions, or just be social, you can also join the Blaugust Discord.
In the past, I’ve served as a mentor during Blaugust, and I’ve done my best to drop some informational posts during last year’s event. I’m afraid I can’t commit to it this time around – this one sprang up out of the blue (understandably) to encourage folks who are stuck at home to dust off the blog and find a helpful outlet during these times.
I think it’s a great idea, but as I noted, I’m way in over my head with work right now. I just can’t see myself being able to participate in the event in the capacity I’d like to. I’ll be cheering folks on from the sidelines, however, and I encourage anyone who wants to give blogging a try, or has an existing blog, to check this event out!
These were all things that really needed their own space, but they do take away from the time I spend writing this blog. Still, 2019 has seen me keeping consistent goals each month here, as well as discussing my progress in games. Since Shadowbringers launched this year, a good chunk of it has been FFXIV content. But I have a smattering of Switch and Steam gaming in there, too.
I also heavily participated in Blaugust last year, writing a post a day for the whole month of August. While much of this was gaming, it also touched on topics like:
So, as you can see, I also wrote a chunk of posts for the newer blogging crowd I saw pop up during Blaugust this past year.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a log of big plans for this blog going into the 6th year of operation. I’m pretty content with continuing it the way I have – a casual blog where I write when I’m inspired or have something I want to share.
As my interests spread out, that may mean that content here comes and goes a bit, depending on what strikes me as interesting in the gaming/geeking realms. And that’s okay! I think that the reason this blog continues on is because it’s low-pressure and something I view as for fun.
Hopefully, I’ll see you back here next year for lucky number 7!
It’s the final day of August – we all made it through! I did write a summary of Blaugust and how I’ve successfully posted (including this post) every day this month. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to tackle that, but I did!
What else did I do?
FFXIV Goals – My Main
Level Dark Knight (Daily Beast Tribes) ✓
Level Carpenter ✓
Level Trusts (With Bard)
Level Fisher ✓
Gear up with new Tomes ✓
I made excellent progress on my main! I did keep with Beast Tribe quests for my Dark Knight, but doing these every day only got me to level 58 this month. This is fine. I’ll finish this up and start on Gunbreaker next month.
I leveled my Carpenter and Fisher to 80! That means all of my gatherer classes are maxed and I have my first level 80 crafter.
I did manage to buy the two most expensive parts of the new Tome gear for my Red Mage this month – the chest and legs.
However, the one thing I didn’t touch were Trusts. Even though they got a nice experience buff, I just haven’t sat down and worked on leveling my alt jobs yet. I did get my Bard to level 72 through FATEs and other things, but did not use Trusts. This isn’t a huge deal since Yoshi-P confirmed that for any MSQ dungeons going forward, your Trusts would be automatically leveled, even if you don’t level them outside of that.
FFXIV Goals – Amon
Level Miner to 80 ✓
Earn Scrip gear sets for Botanist, Miner and Alchemist ✓
Level Fisher ✓
I didn’t have a ton of goals for Amon this month aside from finishing my gatherer leveling. I did this, and I also geared up a couple of my gatherers, as well as Alchemist. I’ll go back to getting Scrip gear for my other two gatherers next week.
FFXIV Goals – Tai
My goal for Tai this month was to level him to 70 and get him through the Stormblood 4.0 content. While I dragged my heels on it some, I absolutely did get this done! I also just finished his Dragoon job quest last night and got him the level 70 AF armor.
At this point, I just have three dungeons and one trial between Tai and the new expansion. I don’t count all the quests because those are easy to breeze through. I’d love to get him into the First by the end of this month. I’m actually finding Dragoon pretty fun.
I know that tomorrow is technically the last day of August, but I always post my monthly gaming goals outcome on the final day of the month. I’ll be drafting that up to go tomorrow as my last post for Blaugust.
This is mostly a wrap-up post to reflect back on how much blogging I did this month. And I have to say, yes, I did way better than I thought I would. In fact, once tomorrow’s post goes live, I will have officially blogged every single day this month!
Here’s some graphic proof (up to today’s post):
This wasn’t really a difficult experience for me, though I did decide to write several posts on Thurs/Fri so that I could queue them up over the weekends to take a break. I also tended to pick the shorter and easier topics for weekend posts.
Statistics-wise, I actually had less traffic this month than the last two. The reason being, the previous months were fueled by people hyped for the FFXIV expansion. Even this month, none of the posts I actually wrote during Blaugust outdid posts views from my FFXIV topics overall.
But that’s just fine. We had a lot of great discussion about blog/feed readers, valuing content, what motivates us, using Gmail Tasks for lists, WordAds and ad blockers, and that sort of thing. Overall, I hope something I posted this month was of help to someone!
I’ve also met a number of great new folks, read blogs I’ve never seen before, and was happy to see the Discord hopping (even if I tend to be quiet in Discord). I hope folks who started a new blog or just revived an existing one will carry some inspiration into continuing their experiences.
We need more blogs and bloggers. We need more comments and conversation. It’s up to us to keep this alive and kicking. I’m glad to see that Blaugust had some amazing participation this year with lots of new talent. Let’s keep this fun going!
Will you look at that – it’s the final few days of Blaugust! Wow, you’ve almost made it! And this week is Motivation Week. So I thought I’d write a bit about what motivates me.
And… this is a terrible topic. Not because I’m not motivated – I’ve been blogging for many years, but this blog in particular hit the 5 year mark in January. So I’ve been motivated enough to make that happen, even if some months have less posts than others.
But the problem is, I really don’t know what motivates me.
I don’t have a specific reason to blog. I don’t do it to make money, though I did talk about how I did make a bit this year, but hardly enough to cover the cost of the blog hosting. I’m not really a huge presence on Twitter or social media, so it’s not about being well-known or keeping up any net persona.
Really, blogging has just become a part of my gaming experience. Last Blaugust, I wrote a post about always being ready to take screenshots to capture great moments in game. I still play like this. Blogging is a normal extension of the experiences I have in games. I don’t play to blog, but I do enjoy the feeling of sharing moments from gaming in posts.
My in-game friends are quite used to hearing me say “I’m screenshotting this for a blog post.” Sometimes they even tell me when something is going on that should be a blog post. Sometimes they take the screens for me if I’m not there! 🙂
I also keep my blogging very casual. I usually don’t blog on weekends, but I do store up things that happen over weekends for a Monday post. I don’t push myself to have a certain number of posts per week or month. In fact, this WordPress chart will give you an idea of how often I write:
It’s sporadic, and some months I write more than others. But the important thing is that I haven’t stopped blogging, and I really haven’t even considered giving it up. What would I do with all those screenshots I take?
Anyhow, I told you this is a terrible topic, because I really can’t give definitive advice on how to make this work for you. Motivation is very fickle.
Some people need more structure and organization. Some people would feel boxed in and suffocated.
What works for me:
Having the freedom to write about whatever I’m interested in today
Not forcing a posting schedule – I write when I want
Making blogging a natural extension of what I enjoy doing
Not focusing on traffic stats or making money
Writing for myself first and foremost – and if other folks enjoy it, that’s fantastic!
This may not work for you. But if anything here gives you ideas to try, feel free to run with them!
Yesterday I posted about using WordPress.com Reader to keep up with your content. So, what about blogs that aren’t part of WordPress that you’re interested in? That’s where the old fashioned RSS Feed Readers still serve well!
I’ve been using Feed Readers since before the demise of Google Reader, and I still lament the loss. I’m confused as to why they shut it down, but I assume money. Anyhow, it was a huge inconvenience, and it forced me to look for alternatives.
Feedly Pro had been a thing for a while, but I ignored it. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pay for a feed reader. I’ve been using readers for years for free, so that’s just how it goes.
Then, one day last year, I went to add a feed to my Feedly, and got denied. What was this?
I did research and discovered this:
Wait a second. So free accounts can only have 100 sources and 3 feeds? I’m confused by this. What’s a source and how is it different from a feed?
I don’t know, but I did understand one thing…
While they didn’t remove any of the feeds I currently subscribed to, I was faced with the reality that I’d hit a limit and couldn’t add new feeds to my reader. Needless to say, I went reader shopping that day and found an alternative pretty easily.
This one may not work for everyone because the free version is supported by ads. And in order to use the reader, it did keep prompting me to whitelist the reader domain when I visited (YMMV). I know from a past post that a few folks out there feel pretty strongly against this, but I just whitelisted it for the sake of…
150 feeds for the free account.
And to be honest, they offer a $20 yearly package for 500 feeds and no ads, which isn’t terrible. So far, I haven’t had any issue with the 150 feed limit, but I don’t hold on to feeds that go inactive for super long.
BUT, if I were to upgrade, I think I’d fork over the yearly $20 sooner than I would a monthly fee. Yeah, I know above I just said I’m not paying for a reader (and I’m not), but this is the most likely case if I did.
Right now, this is the reader I recommend. There might be other good ones out there – if so, let me know in the comments – but this works for me. If you want to know more about how to set up your feeds in Inoreader, check out their comprehensive help!
I do a lot of praising about Tumblr’s great dashboard because it’s a feature that is at the heart of the blogging environment. The platform does an amazing job at delivering other people’s content to you and encouraging people to share content around and recognize it.
This is an area that WordPress.com as a platform could really improve on. It’s also the reason I choose Tumblr over WordPress when it comes to needing to create blog that’s highly interactive (such as an RP blog). However, that doesn’t mean WordPress doesn’t have tools. In fact, it has a pretty great feature, if you are on WordPress.com, called the Reader.
So, when you click that little Follow button on WordPress blogs, that actually does do something – it adds that blog to your your Followed Sites in the Reader. It creates a flowing dashboard of content for all of the blogs you follow. To access it, just click the Reader button on the top WordPress bar of your blog.
There, you’ll see a bunch of options! View your Favorites, Discover new blog content in the WordPress.com environment, see what you’ve liked before, or check out Tags.
Tags is actually a pretty cool little feature, so let’s take a look at it. Basically, when you click on Tags, you get a list of tags that you’re following.
Not following any tags? Click Add and type a topic you’re interested in. Then, when someone else writes a blog post and tags that post with a tag you’re following, you can see it by clicking that tag name in this list.
It’s pretty darn cool, and a very good reason why you should make sure you’re tagging your content when you write blog posts! Not only does it help you organize your writing, but you never know who might have saved tags you use, and will see your posts because of it.
The great thing is that WordPress has these options in the Reader. The sad thing is that I don’t know that people are aware and using it… at least nothing to the extent that they do in Twitter or Tumblr.
If more bloggers got involved, watched tags, discovered new blogs, and really put the Follow system to use, then WordPress could become much more social.
It really would benefit all bloggers who use the platform. This would lead to creators becoming readers and more exchange of comments and ideas. Other than writing a post about it, and encouraging folks to check it out if they don’t use it already, I’m not sure what else can be said.
Soooo… if you haven’t used WordPress Reader, check it out! It’s really a great snapshot at what other people are doing, and gives you a quick look at all the blogs your Following in one place.
It’s also a part of the WordPress App if you prefer mobile!
Do you guys mind if I get up on a soapbox today and discuss something that’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine? I want to talk about taking pride in what you do, and creating a sense of value around your blog’s content.
But, Wren, I hear you say. I just have this little blog about XYZ. It’s a hobby. I’m not getting paid for it. I don’t even think I’m that great of a writer. What’s the value in it?
Well, I say, value is what you make it.
Even the silliest of memes have value if they achieve their goal – to entertain and make someone laugh. If writing your blog helps you get something off your mind, or records a history of something (even if it’s what you gamed last night) for future reference, then it has some kind of value — even if it’s something written for just your personal benefit.
Trashing Your Content — Why?
I argue that most content has value, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. And it really pains me when I see folks blatantly tear down their work and themselves.
It’s one thing to be uncertain about your writing skill or blogging, and look for feedback or suggestions – that’s not the kind of thing I’m talking about. I mean when someone purposely (jokingly?) slaps a demeaning label on themselves and their work.
Now, this isn’t such big thing that I’ve seen on WordPress/Blogger blogs. I’m not sure why. It may be the nature of the platform tends to attract folks who are intent on creating a blog they feel has worth. But on some of the micro-blogging platforms, especially Tumblr, I see this a lot.
As I wrote in another post, I’m quite active in the Tumblr FFXIV RP community. This generally tends to be teens and young adults, and many of them are quite immersed in this meme lifestyle that has developed on the Net.
Sure, not all content on the Net is high quality. And there is stuff out there posted just to troll or spam. However, I don’t see anything wrong with memes and silly posts. They make people laugh during a bad day at work. They have value.
However, so often I see creators insult themselves, their content, and their RP characters. For absolutely no reason.
I admit that I’m pretty selective who I follow on Tumblr. This is because when you follow someone, all of their posted content filters on your dashboard. So, before I follow a someone back on Tumblr, I always check them out.
It often happens like this:
Email pops up: So-and-So-RP-Blogger has followed you on Tumblr – Oh cool. New follower.
Open email, check out the name and avatar – These look interesting. Let me see what their content is like.
Open Tumblr blog – Immediately see in the description something like: “I am trash, writing a trash blog for a trash character. LOL”
Close Tumblr blog without looking at anything else or following
Why? Why would you say something like this about you and your content – especially as your introduction to other people? That’s like walking up and shaking hands with someone saying, “Hi, my name is Mud. I’m trash. Deal with it.”
It’s the same as labeling something you created as a #shitpost – excuse my French. This is a term used to indicate this content is low quality and has absolutely no worth.
But you know something? People who write things as #shitpost… dang those are often some funny posts! If someone laughs at it – guess what? – it has some value! I have that tag blocked on Tumblr because the term bugs me to no end. It’s a shame folks don’t value their content more and let me see it. Instead, they demean it in a tag.
If You Don’t Value Yourself…
This all boils down to a simple thing – if you don’t value yourself, if you put down yourself and your content (especially in your blog description!), then who will value you?!
You may not be confident in your ability to write. Maybe your blog is new. Maybe your content doesn’t get a lot of likes or comments. Whatever it is that makes you think you and your work has little value.
It’s not true unless you make it true.
When someone sells themselves as “trash” and their posts as #shitposts, it isn’t doing them any favors. This reinforces that kind of thinking for the content creator and everyone around them.
If you feel something really, really truly has no worth, don’t post it. Pretty simple.
If you feel called to post something silly, and you’re tempted to label it in a demeaning way… just don’t put that label on it. You don’t know how it will be received, or whose day you might brighten by giving them a laugh – sometimes things have value to someone else even when we don’t know it. The Net is a big place.
So I guess I just wanted to get that off my chest. I’ve been seeing it often. It makes me a little sad every time.
Even if you’re not sure of your content and work, know that developing a blog is like any other thing. It takes time, and you get better as you go along. Be patient with yourself, love the journey, and value your content.
For better or worse, there’s long-been a movement towards using the quick and easy “Like” or heart button to acknowledge that you’ve seen something someone else has posted. On one hand, it’s nice to at least let someone know you stopped by to read, when you just didn’t have anything else to add to it other than “I agree!” On the other hand, even I fall into the trap of simply Liking something during my busy day.
Whether this is good or bad is a debate for another time. But as far as trends go on the Net, I figured I may as well drop a Like button on my blogs just to offer the option. The way I see it, if someone wasn’t going to comment on something, they won’t – whether or not the Like button is there. At least the Like lets you know they were there, allows you to check out their blog if they have one, and maybe pursue a further connection.
Who knows. That person might just be shy!
While visiting blogs during Blaugust, I notice most WordPress blogs do have the Like button… but a few don’t. So I just wanted to take a moment to talk about how to add Likes and Reblogs to your WordPress blog – both WordPress.com and self-hosted.
Likes and Reblogs at WordPress.com
Log in and:
Click My Sites in the top left corner.
Click Tools > Marketing.
Navigate to the Sharing Button tab.
Under the Reblog & Like section, select which features you want to turn on.
Choose how you want those buttons to appear, then click Save Changes.
I do not have Reblog turned on. This allows anyone on WordPress.com to one-click repost your content. So if that’s not something you want to see, I warn you to take care with this feature.
Some communities, such as Tumblr, thrive on a reblogging feature. In fact, you WANT your stuff reblogged to share it. It’s a totally different environment.
But as far as I’ve ever seen, very few folks who use WordPress want their content straight up copied into another person’s blog. I think it’s just a difference in how blogging is approached, and the type of content shared on the different platforms.
Likes for a Self-Hosted WordPress
To have Likes on a self-hosted WordPress, you must have the Jetpack plugin installed. There’s a lot fewer settings for self-hosted, and no option to Reblog at all, since you aren’t technically hooked into the WordPress.com ecosystem.
To turn Likes on, log in and:
Go to the admin dashboard.
Navigate to Jetpack > Settings.
Click the Sharing tab.
At the bottom of the page, toggle the Like buttons feature on.
And that’s it! Your blog can now swim about in a sea of peer affirmation. Like and enjoy! 😉
Somehow, some way, I the news of WordPress buying out Tumblr this past week completely flew by me (I realized I was not following the Staff Tumblr on my account, for one thing). I didn’t know anything about it until I was surfing my reader for the newest Blaugust posts and saw this one at Unidentified Signal Source – thanks for your write up!
Now, I’m not your typical target audience for Tumblr. I’m older than most of the folks there, and my reasons for having a Tumblr are somewhat differently aligned to those I interact with. But interact is the key word.
I’ve used Tumblr for years. Looking back at my main Tumblr, my very first post was back in May, 2011, when I had no clue what this Tumblr thing was. I just knew my RP friends used it. While this account has gathered some dust lately – I’m not sure what I want to do with it – I’ve always approached it as a micro-blogging anything-goes, free-form creative outlet.
Most recently, I rolled up a Tumblr for my FFXIV role play pursuits. While I prefer the toolset that WordPress gives me for writing a blog post, the truth is, it feels like a more isolated experience. It just does not have the backend for sharing, reblogging and interacting the way that Tumblr does.
When you’re looking to make connections and role play, going where the community is makes all the difference. RP folks choose Tumblr as a platform because it is super easy to post something – click a button and toss up text, image, video, whatever you want. And, the whole ecosystem of Like, Reblog, Follow makes it super interactive.
You might be able to write an RP story on a WordPress, but it sure does feel like you’re posting into the void. I’ve tried it. It didn’t work. I went back to Tumblr.
I’ve had pretty good success on Tumblr. My first RP blog was for GW2, before the game launched. White Charr has been inactive for quite a while, but it still has 1,200 followers. Which, for a Tumblr blog for a specific game, back in that time, was quite a feat for me!
My newest RP blog has been running for a bit over a year now, and it has 760 followers. There’s a good solid number of folks that I write with, interact, reblog, do character memes, and all sorts of fun things that just aren’t possible in the same way on WordPress. My content gets out there, I know when people respond to it, and I see when it gets passed around.
So, all that being said… I’ve been concerned about the direction Tumblr was headed for a good while. When I heard that WordPress bought them, at first I was surprised, but then, I was intrigued and a bit hopeful.
I feel like a combination of Tumblr’s engagement tools and WordPress’ backend power could make the true experience that I want in a blogging platform. I wouldn’t have to go to Tumblr to find the community and interaction while sacrificing all the tools that makes using WordPress awesome.
Will it go that direction? I don’t know. But I’m excited to think that Tumblr, which has been stumbling along financially for a while, has a new extension on life. I’ve always enjoyed WordPress for what it is, and I hope they’ll recognize what makes Tumblr amazing, and press on to make it even better.