Here’s a question for bloggers: what would you do if you were no longer able to write about the current subject for your site? Would you take the decision to start again by finding a new topic of interest and, if so, what would you then cover?
This was the conundrum posed to the nominees for a Mystery Blogger Award by The Night Owl from The Late Night Session back in April. I’ve found it one of the most interesting and hardest questions to respond to so far because, since Later Levels started over three years ago, I’ve hardly ever deviated from the subject of video games. Occasionally I’ve posted something about blogging itself and have also written a couple of posts for other blogs about different areas, but I return to gaming consistently.
Perhaps I could write about escape rooms instead? As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve grown to love them since trying my first in January 2019 and I managed to complete seven in total last year. It’s certainly a subject I’d be excited about covering but I’m not sure how sustainable it would be for me personally: my other-half and I have now completed most of the rooms in Essex which interest us, so we need to start going further afield. Blogging content would therefore be limited to where and when we were able to travel.
How about other types of games instead then? My enjoyment of escape rooms has encouraged me to try a few treasure hunts, jigsaw puzzles and online detective experiences over the past six months, and this has been particularly convenient throughout the UK lockdown since March. It doesn’t feel like a good enough answer to The Night Owl’s question though. It’s a subject that’s still very close to gaming and one I touch upon sometimes now, so maybe I should be thinking of a completely unrelated topic.
So what about cooking? You can usually find me in the kitchen when I’m not playing video games; and thanks to some helpful advice from Teri-Mae from Sheikah Plate, I recently started making bread by hand once a week after we were unable to find any in the supermarket during a shopping trip. The thing is though, I’m just not that creative when it comes to recipes. I’m more likely to follow someone else’s and tweak it slightly to my family’s tastes, rather than create an entirely new one from scratch for an audience.
The truth is that I can only ever see myself blogging about video games now. Both hobbies have become so entwined since 2016 that I’m not sure one would exist without the other any longer. If I didn’t have a channel to share my thoughts about the games I’m playing, it would feel as though something was missing; and if I blogged about a different subject, I don’t think I’d get as much enjoyment out of it because I wouldn’t be a part of the gaming community here at WordPress.
Being so narrow in the topic for your blog isn’t necessarily the best way to go though if you’re looking to increase your views and followers. Many professional and casual sites I follow have moved away from video games only in recent years and now cover board games, films and books too. Logic says that the more subjects you write about, the wider your audience will be and surely that can only be a good thing when it comes to attracting readers and generating revenue.
But there’s also an argument for sticking to one topic. I remember reading something about the same time as setting up Later Levels, which recommended writing about a single area only so you could position yourself in the community as an ‘authority blogger’ – someone who’s considered an specialist on their subject and whom others turn to for support or recommendations. If you’re continually expanding your number of topics, how can you hope to become an expert in any of them?
What I’ve come to realise over the years though is this: all that blogging advice you find online is an utter load of rubbish (I’m being very careful not to swear here). You’re better off totally ignoring it and simply focusing on having fun with your site. Write about things you’re genuinely interested in, because you’re the one putting in the effort and that will happen far more easily if you’re enthusiastic about doing it. You’ll also notice the side-effect of creating content that others enjoy as much as you do.
That’s why you’ll find me sticking to video games. I’m grateful to The Night Owl and the Mystery Blogger Award nomination for giving me the opportunity to think about a different future for Later Levels; and I might write about something else occasionally, as well as start posting more bread photographs on Instagram. But gaming is what I’m interested in and excited about, and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather blog about – or another community I’d rather be a part of.