Tomorrow is the final day of 2020. It’s time for taking stock, looking back over our achievements and being proud of the fact that we made it through such a strange year. It’s also the perfect opportunity to consider where we want to go in the future.

I decided to publish a proper end-of-year review for the first time in December 2019. It was something I was initially nervous about because I’ve never really taken resolutions and goals for the blog that seriously, but then I realised: sharing this information wouldn’t only help me grow as a blogger, it might be useful to others out this too. Now I’m back with the 2020 edition to look over the past 12 months so let’s find out how Later Levels did and think about how this could potentially shape the site in 2021.

2020 overview

  • WordPress:   1,667
  • Twitter:   627
  • Facebook:   92
  • Instagram:   236
  • Twitch:   200
  • Posts:

  • Total published:   221 posts
  • Most popular:   The Longing: knowing Shade
  • Most liked:   Blogging awards: breaking the chain
  • Most discussed:   Keeping my blogging to myself
  • My favourite:   Never growing up: too old for gaming?
  • Traffic:

  • Views:   33,075
  • Visitors:   18,958
  • Likes:   4,682
  • Comments:   2,298
  • Best day:   06:00 on Mondays
  • Achievements:

  • Raised £600 for SpecialEffect as part of GameBlast20
  • Participated in game-swaps with several blogger-friends
  • Hosted The Great Blog Crawl with Ellen from Ace Asunder
  • Mentioned during a SpecialEffect stream
  • Made more good friends through both WordPress and Twitch
  • Games played:

  • Played:   85 games
  • Completed:   56 games
  • Demos played:   42 demos
  • Previewed and reviewed:   39 games
  • Kickstarted:   10 games
  • Games of note:

  • Favourite played:   The Painscreek Killings
  • Favourite of 2020:   The Longing
  • Least favourite:   Thomas Was Alone
  • Favourite Kickstarter:   Chinatown Detective Agency
  • Most looking forward to:   Book of Travels
  • 2020 charts: blog

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    Views, visitors, likes and comments

    Although the average views per month has increased every year since Later Levels started in December 2017, a strange trend occurred in 2020: the number of views and unique visitors increased substantially since June. I believe I know the reason for this however and give an explanation in one of the sections below. The statistics might look good but the data is so skewed that it’s hard to get a true picture of how well the blog performed this year, because I can’t tell how many of these hits are from ‘true’ readers.

    The only thing I can say for certain is that the number of comments left on posts is dropping and COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the blogging community. At the start of the lockdown period in March, we saw an increase in the number of people turning to blogging and video games to fill their hours; then many moved over to more interactive platforms such as Twitch and podcasting as they sought social interactions; and now people are taking time out for themselves as they become digitally-drained as a result of lockdown-lifestyle.

    I understand this very well, having felt a similar way back in June after organisers of many of the annual expos decided to take their events online rather than completely cancel. In July I made the decision to take a break and I stopped spending so much of my life online. The hours I now devote to reading blog posts and commenting on them has reduced as a result; and as I’ve written before, how can you expect anyone to leave messages on your articles if you’re not doing the same in return?

    Best days and times

    Like 2019, the best time of the week for Later Levels visits remains on Monday morning – although the time has changed from 06:00 to 07:00 in the past year. The blog parties still seem to be a driver for this as they take place at the start of the week and these posts always receive the highest number of likes and comments. In an attempt not to skew the data any more than it already is (see above), I’ve removed these events from the overview table given at the start of this review.

    Saturday, 29 March 2019 is still the day that had the best views ever and I’m still unable to work out why. No posts were published on this date and, although there were a few big blogging events on the site that month, they all occurred well before or after. The best I’ve been able to come up with looking at the WordPress statistics is that a particular visitor from the UK checked out an awful lot of posts on that day – although I’m unable to say who this was and what they were looking for.

    Popular posts

    The most popular post during 2020 by far was The Longing: knowing Shade. Now why on earth would an article about a small indie game that really won’t be to everybody’s tastes have done so well? I think have the answer. In digging through the WordPress Stats and Insights, I was able to discover that a link had been placed on a somewhat dodgy-looking website where you can apparently find places to download the game for free. Sorry to anybody who found the post this way: you’re not getting any pirated freebies here.

    The next most popular posts were Twitch tips: advice for new streamers and Good games for non-gamers. As mentioned above, many people have turned to streaming during the COVID-19 lockdown and are looking for guidance on getting started; and non-gamers have been searching out new pastimes to fill the additional free hours. I’m sad to report once again that there were no rude search terms for this year – and I have no idea how 53 people managed to find the blog after entering ‘amazon’ into Google.

    Friends and commenters

    The WordPress statistics show an average of 10 comments and 21 likes were left for each post published during 2020. The lovely people mentioned in the tweet opposite deserve a round of applause: between them, they left a total of 221 comments so we clearly had a lot to talk about. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes and Nathan from Gaming Omnivore through their streams after our game-swaps; and Ellen from Ace Asunder has become a good friend this year thanks to a shared love of cats and memes.

    It’s hard to predict how the blogging landscape may change in 2021 because so much is unknown. I’m hoping we’ll start to see a return of the community aspect and more collaborations over the coming year but perhaps that’s a little too much to ask for, considering everything else happening in the world right now. The silver-lining of 2020 has been the bloggers whom I’ve had a chance to know better and being able to support each other through these tough times.

    2020 charts: Twitch

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    Streaming statistics

    New for 2020, I’ve added statistics for the Later Levels’ Twitch channel into the review post as we started streaming consistently this year. This began when we decided to attempt the 50-day challenge for GameBlast20 throughout January and February: a stream of at least an hour each day for that period rounded off with a 24-hour marathon. Although it took a whole lot of effort and sore thumbs, we managed to raise awareness and funds for SpecialEffect and made us realise how much we enjoyed playing games on Twitch.

    There’s an obvious dip in the figures for June and this correlates with my decision to take a break. As a result of the lockdown, I felt as though I’d been living too much of my life online – work, socialising and entertainment – and needed to step away for a while. This resulted in me writing a short series of posts about our experiences with streaming in July and, as mentioned above, one of them turned out to be the second most viewed article during 2020.

    We’ve decided to stick to a streaming schedule going forward because it feels like the best way to keep ourselves motivated. But this comes with a caveat: since the summer, we’ve agreed to give ourselves the space to be able to pull out of a scheduled stream if something arises or we’re just not feeling it. Streaming should be fun and it won’t be that for us if we start treating it like a job; statistics don’t mean anything if you’re not enjoying yourself, raising awareness for a worthy cause and spending time with friends.

    So there you have it: a round-up of Later Levels’ performance over the last 12 months. But what does this mean for 2021? Come back on Friday for a post sharing my blogging goals for the coming year and in the meantime, have a very happy New Year’s Eve tomorrow.

    We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
    Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
    (*Not guaranteed.)

    Save point: a review of 2020

    18 thoughts on “Save point: a review of 2020

    1. 🤔gotta love a good forensic deep dive of the figures. I’ll raise my hand as having a first read at 6am, usually when I wake up for work and have a SM catch up. Not sure it would distort the data to that extent lol must be other early birds 🤷🏼‍♂️


      • The 2020 figures are all over the place and it’s interesting how the lockdown has changed our blogging behaviours. This time last year, I made some predictions about what would happen – but I’ve got absolutely no idea what 2021 is going to be like. Let’s see what conversation we have at 06:00 on the first Monday of next year… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ve had a few visitors from Google this year with Amazon as the search term. I still wonder how far they had to dive into the search results to find me! I really want to try it but I also don’t think I could manage it.

      You look like you had a very successful year with blogging and streaming even with the possibly 2020 digitally drained visitors. That term makes a lot of sense to me when it comes to blog writing and commenting.


      • I scanned through the first ten pages of search results for ‘amazon’ in Google but couldn’t see any links to blogs at all. I found an article online that mentioned it could be something to do with using a plugin that has embedded ads in it, but I’ve paid for ads to be removed from the site and only use the standard WordPress ones. So I’m a bit confused… 🤔

        The biggest success of the year has been getting to know everyone in the streaming group better. It’s been fun hanging out on Twitch, and kind of feels like we’re all playing games together.


        • Hmm that’s quite strange! Maybe it is just the mysterious ways of WordPress 🤔

          That is definitely what I love about joining in peoples chat whilst they stream. It just feels like a game night with friends. Obviously part of that is having the best people come along and the community is amazing for that!


          • Yeah, we’ve definitely made a good bunch of friends over the past nine months. Here’s to that continuing in the years ahead. 😀


    3. Over 200 posts this year! That’s crazy awesome. I wish I could have that output. Maybe it’s time to review my resolutions for 2021, lol. Thanks for sharing and the inspiration!


      • Some of these posts were very short though so I probably haven’t been as productive as it seems ha ha! The coronavirus has had an impact on the gaming industry, with many releases being delayed and events being cancelled, so there’s a risk of fewer posts in 2021 if it feels as though there’s less to write about.


    4. It sounds as though Amazon needs to watch out, Later Levels is coming for their SEO XD It is awesome that your posts on games people did not know about before do so well; you’re actively bringing new games to the spotlight! Finally, you wisely point out that trend of returning to blogging, then going to video, and then feeling burnout from it all. I guess the main target now is to make sure we can continue being productive whilst ensuring we have a healthy balance; sometimes it is scary when you suddenly realise how long you have been in front of a computer screen aha! have an amazing New Years 🙂


      • I think I’d be worried if someone showed me how many hours I’d sat in front of a screen since the lockdown started in March!

        Stepping away from everything for a while this summer was the best thing I could have done. It seemed wrong at first because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and it felt as though I was letting myself down in some way, but it was just what I needed. It’s important to take time off for yourself so you can breathe and refocus – and everyone here in the blogging circle was so supportive. There’s always someone ready to listen if you need advice.

        Have a good New Years too, and may 2021 be full of great video games! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    5. I always avoid looking at metrics, they make me anxious 😭 but your review of 2020 was incredibly thorough! I am hoping a return to normalcy, but I believe the problems that have been building up over the past few years and that exploded in this will carry over into 2021. Still, let’s make life better, little by little. Happy New Year to you both and Zelda!


      • Happy New Year to you too, friend! We’ve missed you and it’s lovely seeing you around again.

        I think it would be foolish to go into 2021 thinking everything is immediately going to be an improvement, because things are changing so rapidly and so much is unknown. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make things better and be there for one another. Thank you for bringing your positivity to everyone through your words, artwork and jokes on Twitch. 😊❤️

        Liked by 1 person

    6. Interesting to see The Longing did so well for you. I did a review and even non-gamers were piling in to comment on its concept. Seems to have hit a nerve, that one! Happy New Year, also!


      • Huh… maybe some of those stats were from real readers rather than people looking for a free download then ha ha! Happy New Year to you too, may it be full of Marmite and cheese tea. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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