The Wolf on Blog Management (50th SnW Post)

Larping blog management1

Dear fellow readers, we interrupt your regular 5×5 Monday to bring you a special look into the mind of the wolf behind the skirt! If you’re looking for other, real 5×5 posts, get your fill here.

Thus it came to pass that fifty posts ago the Skirts’n’Wolves blog… err… came to pass. In a manner of speaking. A couple of things in the universe conspired for the blog to get this far, and I felt the urge to share some of them with you, not necessarily in the order of importance. (I was lucky to have them all.)

The idea

Let me just say that when I started the blog, I had no idea it will be a (mostly) larping blog, but still I kept the ’cause even furry animals have style, its original tagline. Prior to starting the blog, I’ve spent a couple of years learning blog theory as a random hobby, and I’ve taken one thing especially to heart – how are you going to put you in the blog? That’s the idea behind all the werewolf things, random bursts of shipping (not that I can help it) and constant nagging about being careful with emotionally deeper roleplaying. It’s all stuff I believe in and stuff which makes me happy – and I saw no point whatsoever in pretending to be, well, something I’m really not. (All in all, you’re stuck with werewolves. For good.)

Later, when I’d already realized that larping is the sole subject (apart from library life, but that’s another story) which could keep me writing on a regular basis, I deliberately decided to stick to general topics, avoid larp reviews and write about stuff I had trouble finding online resources on (with the exception of Nordiclarp.org and a couple of Scandinavian larpers’ sites in English). Everyone’s version of larp is different (as I elaborated most recently here), and I wanted to add easily accessible info about mine.

Larping blog management - Inspiration

The inspiration

I’ve been reading blogs most of my life, but some of them left a blazing trail.

The visual and intellectual stimulation of one Ms. Dorothy Snarker‘s blog has been a valuable companion for the last couple of years. I’m a firm believer in learning from the best – and I’m sure I couldn’t write the way I now do were it not for her incredible wit.

Mentioning Zen Habits in terms of blog inspiration may be water under the bridge, but when I visited the blog last week, and scrolled down a post or two, I realized I’ve inadvertently copied its posting format. Short, bulleted for the sake of scrollability and straight to the point – well, I can certainly say it pays off for readers and writers alike.

One of the reasons I put skirts in the blog title (and in my life in general) was the wonderful Already Pretty style blog. Well, style is a broad term, when it comes to this one. Living your life to the full in technicolor might be closer to the truth. Whatever your definition would be, I love the blog and go back to it every time I get stuck in monochrome.

It would’ve all stayed nice and fine and quiet for me were it not, frankly, for the SPI blog and podcast, by Pat Flynn. Not because I make money off the blog, nor do I plan to in the forseeable future (the only ones who profit from the advertisements you occasionally see in the posts are the people behind WordPress, whose free hosting I use) – but because the shit is real and unbelievably motivating. I used to get thrilled about the prospect of managing a site of my own just by listening to the episodes while commuting and waiting for random stuff in everyday life. Well… having a blog of my own didn’t stop me from listening on. I love learning – especially about stuff which challenges me. Blogging is still a challenge – which is probably one of the reasons I do it in the first place.

Larping blog management

The drive

Prior to 2014, I’ve never once been able to hold a steady writing schedule (and I’ve been into writing since the summer of 1995).  Sure, I’ve done NaNoWriMo for several years in a row (also co-MLed once for Europe::Croatia), but that’s burst writing (50k of words in 17 days, my first year), not sticking to it. After all, I always was a sprinter.

At the beginning of 2014, I’ve simultaneously started the SnW blog and my library life weekly column (the other story – available in Croatian only, here). Although I have been known to miss a week or two at the blog, I’ve so far missed only one Monday of the column, which is… it makes me sometimes wonder if an alien hijacked my mind and turned me into a responsible adult. (Highly unlikely – the adult, not the alien part.) Not to mention that you can try to learn the craft of writing for decades and never truly understand it – until you start publishing regularly.

Apart from some things which got their own paragraphs, below, I think the “add your voice to the crowd” part was the most motivational for me – that, and my co-alpha’s support. I’m not really sure what I’ve done to earn the latter, but as for the former – I say what I wanna say, when I wanna say it, and with random wolfy comments on the side. I make stuff up as I go along – and I love it. I’m another female voice in the online+writing+larp equation, and each and every one of us counts.

Larping blog management

The feedback

Although we’ve had our differences, if the co-alpha doesn’t like a post, it’s (probably) shit, and it pays off to have someone who watches what you do – and truly cares, pushing you forward. Not to mention that we’ve played all the same larps, and she also helps with wording, sometimes, when I can’t really figure out how to write about a specific experience. She probably deserves a separate “thank you” post, but let’s just say – it wouldn’t have been possible without her.

It’s also been incredibly humbling to have a couple of die-hard fans – of which I can so far count at least four (the co-alpha included). You know who you are – if not, count how many times you’ve visited just to be disappointed I haven’t uploaded anything new and then decided to read some of the old stuff, anyway. You make this blog, this writing gig I’ve designed for myself, maintainable in my crazy living. Nothing would be possible without someone actually telling the author, often enough, that the topics are interesting and the layout cute, that the newbie advice is helpful and that the cutthroat rants get to the point. (Thank you.)

Regarding stats, the blog’s already doing better than my wildest dreams (which is probably a lot less than you’d imagine – luckily, I’ve read enough about writing to know stats add up and how to measure results after just a couple of months with next to no promotion whatsoever). Couple of months back I’ve started “collecting countries” – every time a visitor from a new country appears on my stats map, I cheer like I’ve gotten a present. Sometimes I can guess how they came to the blog (like with my first Australian visitors, thanks to a share by a friend with a ton of Aussie contacts), but sometimes I’m like – the what larp forum shared my post? (Squeee!) Either way, it’s like I’m eight again, and every new visit is a clap to the performer at the school show. I love it.

Thank you!

The importance of newbies

Since the beginning of the blog, I’ve seen two of my friends join larping for the first time, and at least another one get seriously into it. Some of the most popular stuff I’ve written so far is newbie stuff (this post apparently never ceases to amaze people) or tutorial-like stuff, and I can only be grateful that I deeply enjoy writing it.

On the other hand, getting my friends ready for their first game – and reading about larping is another thing similar to dancing about architecture – kept making me more aware of questions new players have, which in turn helped me approach larping from a totally different angle. I sure hope to continue using that source of inspiration, for writing and living alike.

Larping blog management

The current state of things

Suffering from my lovely eye inflammation for nearly 6 months and simultaneously transferring to another department at work taught me a lesson in not making promises I won’t be able to keep (which was true for the posting schedule, more often than not). Still, for the next couple of months, I will do my best (it’s not a promise, it’s not a promise…!) to try and publish one post per week and continue with my personal favourites in the form of monthly Full Moon Specials and Five by Five first Mondays. (They also seem to be quite popular, and I enjoy writing them both – screw brevity.)

And if I happen to invent a new articles series (and an accompanying ebook), come Fall, along with running a larp and two new projects at work, well… (I may or may not already have a couple of things outlined already. Luckily, life and larp get in the way of honest hyperproductivity.)

The goals of writing this blog are quite simple – never stop learning, never stop teaching, never stop doing my best damn job at saying what I mean. All of our voices count. Why not have some fun along the way?

Thanks for reading.

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