Going Off Topic With Blogs

In this article I waffle on about going off topic.

In this article I waffle on about going off topic.

In order to help man the fort whilst he’s away at Slayage (I’m not jealous… nope, not one bit…), I wrote a guest post for Professor Beej which he published today. The article is a departure from my usual sexually repressed MMORPG related posts and is a review of a Japanese book I’d just finished called “Out”. Although I love MMOs, I have to admit that it was refreshing to take a break and write about something on a totally different subject. It’s not often that I get to opportunity to stretch my literary muscles and explore an unfamiliar genre, something which no doubt other bloggers feel the same desire to do on occasion too.

Covering lots of topics is hard for bloggers because often they pick the subject their most passionate about and then slowly build a readership based on that. Sudden changes in direction though can often leave the reader scratching their head wondering what the heck the author is on about. They want to read posts on material that the blog is meant to be about, not unrelated wafflings from an author who’s desperate to express himself. If they sign up to the KFC blog, they expect articles about finger lickin’ good chicken and not bizarre recipes for vegan meals coming out of the blue. It’s inappropriate and totally understandable. I read Gizmodo for the tech articles (and admittedly to see if their journalist is going to jail for buying that stolen iPhone), not to get tips on flower arranging.

From a blogger’s perspective however it’s tough to keep writing about the same subject day in and day out and often the appeal of writing about something totally different is very strong. Some bloggers even eventually run out of steam on their chosen subject and shut shop completely and start a new blog on their new topic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that and, in fact, I think it’s a testament to how blogging is more than just throwaway opinions but rather an art form in itself.

Fortunately for me I’ve been blogging about MMORPGs for over a year and a half and have never had any desire to stop yet. Luckily MMOs are a genre that constantly seem to surprise us, always creating interesting moments to keep us fueled and inspired. I’ve even got my own little notebook full of post ideas that will keep me going for some time so I’m not worried about running out of steam anytime soon. I am glad though I kept my blog focus relatively wide, picking the entire MMO genre to cover instead of a single game because I’m pretty sure, no matter what I was playing, I would’ve tired of it by now and be yearning to try something else.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this small interlude and if do you fancy something different then you can read my full review of Out over at Beej’s site here. Go for the reviews, stay for his tremendous hatred of the Twilight saga.

-Gordon

P.S. I really want to eat waffles now…

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16 Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    My blogging history (there are overlaps):

    Hockey blog (2 years)
    Political blog (3 years)
    WoW Blog (3 years)
    Gaming Blog (1 year)

    And now:
    Everything blog (who knows)

    Each switch has decimated my readership, but whatever…. I write primarily for myself and I’m just grateful when other people decide to follow what I have to say, and leave me feedback.

    What I *CAN* say is that it is immensely liberating to not feel like I always have to be on topic now…. what a freaking relief!

    • Gordon says:

      Although I do feel urges to write non-MMO posts (and do every so often) I think I actually like having a topic to focus my mind on. I think if I just had an open ended blog, I wouldn’t know what to write about!

  2. Stabs says:

    So, Gordon, what exactly is on topic for this blog? I come here hoping to read more about your steamy Mexican mistress.

    I suppose thinking about it it’s about flying spitfires. Which means you have yet to write an on topic post…..

  3. Wow, this is a really timely post. After recently changing up the layout, and even the url, of my site, I’ve started contemplating branching out to other subjects. I mean, discussing other videogames seems like a pretty safe bet, but I also thought I might discuss sci-fi books and comics I’d recently finished.

    All of the possible topics seem sufficiently nerdy, and I’ll probably go through with it, but I was hesitant about putting my readers through that.

    • Andrew says:

      You’ll lose some readers, but if it’s stuff that YOU want to write about, then do it!

      The endless chase for higher readership is a big problem with blogs – it leads to blogger burnout, and a tendency towards provocative articles instead of insightful articles.

      • I think I have like ten readers anyways, so it’s really not such a big deal. The people whose blogs I read most, and who read mine the most, often do ‘off-topic’ posts as well.

        Thanks for being a sounding board, internet person!

      • Tesh says:

        *chuckle*

        I don’t think I have a topic. I’ve certainly blogged about MMOs and game design a lot, but that’s just where my mind is. I’ve rambled about other things as the whim strikes. It’s interesting seeing which posts get more hits; the “off-topic” ones not about MMOs or even games sometimes are more popular. My brief review of the Avatar movie still gets more hits than I think it warrants. (Purely a function of the movie’s popularity, but not something I was angling for.)

        It doesn’t change what I write, though. The only thing I’ve avoided somewhat is politics, but even there, sometimes I’ll throw a little something out into the wild. Heaven knows there’s enough to rant about… but I like to keep contention down if possible.

  4. Klepsacovic says:

    For years I avoided this blog because aviation isn’t really my favorite subject.

    @Adventurer Historian: I imagine you can avoid driving people away, and even get more, if you have a similar tone and stick to generally geeky stuff. I doubt gamers are going to be suddenly scared off by a bit of sci-fi or fantasy book review. Or comics.

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