Hey, adventurers! I hope you all had an excellent weekend and are ready for the first week of May!
“Uh, Ian, is something a little different here?” Yeah, yeah, we’ll get to that!
I had a pretty busy weekend myself – between traveling, visiting family, shopping in preparation for an upcoming wedding, taking care of some blog stuff, and teaching not one but two classes at my church this Sunday, I barely had the opportunity to breathe! What free time I did have I tried to spend watching the Gamely Giving Gameblast ’17 stream in support of the charity Special Effect. At the time I’m posting this the stream will be in its final hours, so it’s hard for me to say for certain if their fundraising goal was ultimately met. But I had a blast watching the stream and getting to talk with some of my fellow game bloggers – Gamely Giving does more than just stream once a year, so go check them out!
April was another great month here on the blog. Once again there’s been positive growth in terms of views, but more impressive in April was the drastic increase in followers. Specifically, the WordPress follower count increased this month by a whopping 25%! So there are very likely a lot of new adventurers reading this post right now! If you joined us in the month of April for the first time, thank you so much for deciding to be an adventurer. I hope you continue to enjoy my content in the month of May and that you’ll feel free to jump in and interact in the comments and on social media.
Probably the biggest thing that happened here on the blog in April was the Charming and Open event. I mentioned off-handedly in my April update that I was thinking of maybe doing some kind of interactive event – and you guys called me out on it! I actually had to think of something! What I came up with was this idea to have you ask me questions and I would ask questions back, giving fellow bloggers the opportunity to get content ideas and also to get some mild exposure on another blog. So many of you participated that I actually had to cut off questions, which was not something that I anticipated happening. Some of you have expressed either in the comments of posts or on social media that you really enjoyed the event and the posts that came out of it. And while I certainly appreciate the thought, the very nature of the Charming and Open event is that it goes both ways – it wouldn’t have been a success without you, adventurers! As a thank-you to everyone who participated, you are now credited on my newly-created Amazing Adventurers page, and anyone visiting the page has quick access to a link to your blog. Whether you participated by asking a question or just by reading, I encourage you to check out that page and to go visit all of the bloggers linked there!
Last night before I wrote this post, I did some other general editing around the blog. I made a number of changes, and I want to address the thought process behind my decisions.
Adventure Rules has a new URL! My original lousy URL was honestly driving me a little crazy. When I originally chose Adventure Rules as the name of the blog, I didn’t really check around to see if I was the only person using that name. But as I added more and more social media sites, I started to realize something – NO ONE had taken Adventure Rules yet! Completely on accident, I chose a pretty solid name as far as branding and expanding my blog identity. I was able to get Adventure Rules on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Twitch, Google+; I may not use all of those platforms right now, but I’ve got ambition, folks! The day may come when I am able to blog full-time and have access to the technology to do things like vlog and stream. If it ever happens, I’m ready. The thing is, because I didn’t plan that out in advance (and partly because I was using a pre-existing WordPress account from my old blog), the URL of the actual blog was still ianshepard.wordpress.com. Ugh!
As a result of that, I decided to finally break down and get myself a nice .blog domain for the site. So welcome, adventurers, to adventurerules.blog! I really like this change because it’s WAY easier to remember a URL that actually matches the name of the website. I also like that this process allows me to remove advertisements. I honestly have no idea what kind of ads were playing on my blog, but I had no control over them and I don’t want my name attached to just anything. This way, you all don’t have to deal with ads and I can sleep a little easier knowing that the only lousy content my name is attached to are my blog posts! 😉
On the right side of the page here you should be able to see a sidebar that has an archive of my posts and then the different categories that I typically post in. These categories act as useful shortcuts to related posts, allowing you to quickly access all posts focused on a specific subject (such as guides for a certain game, reviews, etc). The change that I made was to add one category and remove two others. The category I added was for the Charming and Open event, allowing you to find the masterpost for that as well as any answers posted to the questions that were asked. The categories I took away, well, they had one thing in common: they were both fanfiction.
If you’ve been here a REALLY long time, you probably remember that fanfiction was something I did infrequently here on the blog. The thought process behind that was “hey, I need to practice writing stories so I can be a novelist someday, and fanfiction has a pre-made audience so maybe people will read it and help me get better!” As I’ve continued to grow as a writer and to expand my thoughts about what it means to write on a professional level, I decided to do away with fanfiction writing. I also made this decision simply because I HATED writing those pieces. Even the ones I thought turned out well were a serious chore.
Still, I had two completed fics on my blog and thought “why not leave them in the categories so people can read them?” But here’s the thing: the categories on the sidebar give new readers ideas about what this blog is focused on. If all my categories were about puppies, kittens, and hamsters, you’d think this was a pet blog, right? Having fanfics in the categories of my blog gives an impression that fanfiction is still a focus here, and it isn’t. I have nothing against it, and I respect people who can buckle down and write long-form fiction like that. But it isn’t a reflection of what Adventure Rules is any more than puppies and kittens are, so I need to make sure my categories show that.
THE BLOG GOALS
My goals page has pretty much been the same since the beginning of 2017, and the time really has come to update the thing. I more than met most of the original goals I set. I’m posting way more often than once a week, doing much better at reading posts by other bloggers and following new people – so now I need to work on bettering myself in other ways. Not just reading, but commenting. Not just writing more, but writing better. Those are the sorts of things I am going to be working on now.
TUMBLR IS GONE
You may have noticed that I no longer have a social media link to the Adventure Rules Tumblr page. That’s because the Adventure Rules Tumblr page doesn’t exist anymore. The website was honestly not a good fit for my blog. Because my posts showed up as external links, they weren’t being read. Most of my likes and reblogs there were just likes and reblogs on stuff I reblogged from other people. I rarely got on, and when I did I wasted time moreso than engaged in strategic promotion of Adventure Rules. My followers there weren’t active followers in the sense that they didn’t actually read my blog posts. So rather than continue and artificially buff my numbers with a dead page, I decided to be rid of it.
As I’ve gotten better and better at being consistent with my posting schedule, I’ve been working on sneaking in a third post each week. And throughout the months of March and April, I’ve been pretty regular when it comes to hitting the number three. So I am announcing officially today the transition from a two post a week schedule to three. That’s right, adventurers, I am committing to having three posts on this blog every single week! With the new frequency I am also announcing a new schedule: Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Weekends tend not to be popular viewing days for local viewers – I get plenty of search engine hits for guides and stuff, but Saturday in particular is pretty terrible when it comes to anyone actually seeing the post. So I’ll stick to weekdays for the time being!
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
“Ian, you still haven’t talked about the clearly most obvious change here.” You’re right, we probably ought to touch on that.
If you’re new here, what you don’t know is that between my last post and this one I completely changed the theme of my blog. New layout, new colors, the whole nine. I did this because I recently noticed something when looking through posts on my blog – the original theme was really aggravating for anything other than reading the most recent post. Go into a category to find all of the posts there, and you have to scroll through each one at full length to move down the list. Go to the home page to see what’s been going on that week, and it’s the same thing – every painstaking word in each post. It was the exact opposite of user friendly and made looking for posts more than a day old a serious pain in the rear. Additionally, the whole setup lacked color and looked kind of archaic. Originally due to the gaming theme I wanted to go for sort of a retro feel, but I don’t blog about retro games and I felt like the site needed a more modern look to be more engaging.
The new setup is intended to streamline your Adventure Rules experience, making it more attractive and more accessible. You can now see multiple posts at a time when looking at the home page or looking at a category. Categories and archives are now a nice drop-down box on the main page, but still in a convenient sidebar format when you’re reading a post. The overall look of the grid layout is a bit more modern than the old theme, and there’s more color so hopefully everything is a bit more visually striking than it used to be as well. Aesthetics are important when it comes to keeping attention and looking professional, and I hope the new look here is pleasing to the eye. Let me know if you notice any odd foibles and I’ll try to fix ’em up.
There you have it, adventurers, all the recent updates to the site and the reasons behind them! I want to thank you all again for all of your support throughout the month of April. I’m excited for what the month of May will bring to the blog, and I hope the changes I’ve been making will enhance the quality of your experience here on Adventure Rules! Thanks for reading!