The Newbie Blogger Initiative (NBI) is the spark that led me to create this blog. Without it, I’d probably have been thinking the same thoughts that I now write here, but not putting them out there for people to read and discuss.
The NBI formally ran for the month of October, and comes to an end today, so now seems a good time to reflect on it. (I say “formally” because the NBI Forum will remain up, and I hope and believe the community that the NBI gave rise to will continue and grow.)
How the NBI Inspired Me
I’ve dabbled with blogging about various topics before, but it’s a long time since I had an active blog about anything. From time to time I thought about starting a blog about this or that, but it stayed as just a thought. And it never occurred to me to blog about games at all, even though I’ve been playing an MMO pretty extensively for a couple of years, and was a regular reader of at least a few game related blogs.
How did the NBI change all that? A few ways…
- I was very impressed with the quality of the blogs I came across via the NBI, both the established “sponsor” blogs and the “newbie” ones. Here were a bunch of people who were interested in the same things as me, who had things to say that were worth reading, and seemed fun to hang out with.
- There was good advice that helped with many of the decisions I’d have to make when starting. (Pen name or not? How often to write? How broad or narrow to make the blog? etc)
- There was the prospect of at least a few people discovering the blog and reading it! It’s pretty discouraging when you take the trouble to write something and no-one even seems to see it, let alone respond to it. Normally it takes time to build a readership, but the early days are exactly when you need some encouragement and feedback. Without that, it’s hard to tell if there is any point in carrying on, whether you are doing something that will turn out to be very worthwhile eventually or you are doing something so wrong and hopeless that it’ll never have readers.
- There was a time limit! The NBI was going to last a month only, and as anyone from psychologists studying procrastination to marketers planning a sales promotion will tell you, there’s not much like a limited window of opportunity to get people off their backsides and actually take action.
That’s what tipped me into starting a blog.
The NBI in Practice
So how did the NBI work out for me in practice? All good, with some surprises…
- I wrote two posts before making my blog public. Thanks to links appearing on sponsor blogs, within a day I had a decent number of visitors, and some fascinating conversations going in comments.
- Thanks to the advice of the veterans I kept to a comfortable pace for me, without feeling obligated to post more often. In fact I actively refrained from posting more, so as not to set unrealistic expectations, either for myself or for readers!
- An unexpected benefit was that I found myself commenting on other people’s blogs much more than I used to, and feeling much more like a recognized member of the community. It feels like I’m on the way to making some new friends.
- I came to realize that sometimes a comment on someone else’s post is as good or even a better way of adding your two cents worth on a given topic than writing a full post. There’s a lot of smart people out there thinking the same thoughts as I do, and there’s no need to go over the same ground which they’ve covered so well. Maybe I should figure out ways to show my comments elsewhere in this blog somehow. And find a good way to highlight other people’s posts when they say the things I’ve been thinking. Probably there are ways to do these things with widgets, reblogging, Twitter and such.
- At the moment I have a lot more ideas for posts than I have time to write them. But following the advice, I am keeping a list of the ideas so I can use them in the future.
The NBI has been a success for me. It’s led me to actually start a blog for one thing, which is no small feat on its part! I also feel I’ve become a part of the game blogging community, and that I’ve set out on a path that is both enjoyable and sustainable.
Thanks to everyone that helped make the NBI what it is!
Thanks to Justin Olivetti for coming up with a fantastic idea and running the first initiative, and to Roger Edwards for reviving it in 2013. Many thanks to all the sponsors for their advice, encouragement and help. And last, but not least, thanks to my fellow NBI newbies for their fine blogs, and for creating a welcoming and fun community that makes blogging a pleasure.
Sometime I will write a post about my favorite NBI-spawned sites. In the meantime, thanks again, and I’ll see you in comment threads here and all over the web!