Hello everyone and my name is Tim Brannan, some of you might know me from either of my two blogs The Other Side (gaming, horror and geek life) or The Freedom of Nonbelief (atheism, science and human rights). I also am one of a groups of bloggers at Amazon Princess and Red Sonja - She Devil with a Sword. I am guest posting at the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
The Witch. Then something interesting happened. I became part of a community. Sure I had been part of an online community before, via message boards, chat and even going all the way back to BBSes and Telnet. But a blogging community is something a little different. I can say my bits here and then others respond, I respond back and there is the back and forth that is very nice. I then go to other blogs and repeat the process as a responder. Over the years I have integrated nicely into a community of other bloggers in both gaming and atheism. I continually get ideas based one what ever the topic du jour is.
I do not underestimate the value of community here.
That is one of the reasons why I feel the Bloghop or Blogfest is critical part of my blogging experience. For the month of May I am participating in seven different bloghops/blogfests. I am considering adding an eighth.
I enjoy participating in these for a number of reasons.
First off it exposes me to new bloggers. I get to read something new and potentially someone new to follow with each one. For the A to Z challenge I end following a dozen or so new bloggers. Likewise it exposes me to a new audience and potential followers to my blogs. There are a lot of blogs out there. There are even blogs out there that have similar interests to that I never saw before. Joining a Horror-related bloghop, for example, is a good way for me to find people with similar tastes outside my normal circles, but joining a "First Loves" bloghop really gets some diversity for me!
Secondly it stretches me a writer. So with all of these blogs you think I have a lot to talk about. Yet I have to admit that there are some days that I open up Blogger and stare at a blank screen. A good bloghop gives me ideas, and failing that it gives me motivation. One of the more obscure ones I joined was one dedicated to silent film star Mary Pickford. Now you might ask how a game-blog with an emphasis on old-school games and horror can have anything to say about a silent film star, but in truth there was a movie that had a huge influence on my future writing. Being able to share that with my primary audience (my regular readers) and my new audience (people in the blog hop) was great, especially since I needed to write from the point of view to satisfy both.
At this point I do want comment on not alienating your audience. I know there are some people, not a lot, but some, in my regular blogging circles that do not like blogfests, and the A to Z one in particular. I want to be cognizant of this. Not tailoring my involvement to the loudest minority mind you, but what it means to my primary audience. If I were for example were to spend the entire month of June doing nothing but talking about silent movies the people that come to my blog for gaming material will be turned off and leave. I participate in these bloghops/blogfests, but I have to make sure that anything I post would have been something I would have posted anyway.
I enjoyed being in the A to Z blogfest the last three years. Each year I do something a little different. I am thankful to all the mods, helpers and minions that made this years' run so much smoother. A real special thanks goes our to Arlee Bird for driving this Leviathan every year. This year I was more focused and did things that will end up in my next book Eldritch Witchery. Again, stuff I was going to write anyway and share. This time it ended getting more diverse feedback than say if I had done it in June.
In the end I guess these things are what make of them. For me they have been a great experience both as writer who happens to be blogging and as a blogger in a community of bloggers. Now if there was only a central place where all the blogfest and bloghops were advertised that would be great!
Maybe someone else can take that on. I have some posts that are screaming at me to write. ;)
About the Author: Tim Brannan is an author and blogger living in the suburbs of Chicago. He has worked on a number of games including the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, Ghosts of Albion, and The Witch. He is currently working on Eldritch Witchery for Elf Lair Games and Darwin's Guide to Creatures for Battlefield Press for the Gaslight RPG. When not working on game material or blogging he spends time with wife and two sons. During the day he designs curriculum for universities going online. Prior to this he was teaching Statistics at the university.