Bloggers: To thine own self be true

Bloggers: To thine own self be true

Kitty On Crutches

During the past week, I’ve had the fortune to spend a lot of time in-world and that’s enabled me to connect with my peers in the SL Blogger Support group. I’m speaking as a blogger who does actually need support, but not for the reasons you may think!

A few weeks ago at a weekend conference organised by my RL employers I managed to tumble on the dance-floor and hurt myself. Fortunately, the night wasn’t spoiled by my ridiculous manoeuvres, but I was conscious as the event progressed into the small hours that my foot hurt, a helluva lot. Cue a lot of limping and ridicule in my direction from colleagues in the office on Monday (to be frank I was just grateful that they weren’t laughing at me because I’d done something utterly ridiculous whilst totally inebriated!*) but as the week wore on my foot swelled to such an extent that I couldn’t put my shoe on (so I was hopping around the office in a ‘Hello Kitty’ slipper, much to everyone’s amusement) and worse still, it was turning an interesting shade of purple

I managed to keep going until Wednesday when I could take the discomfort no more. I decided to approach my GP, who packed me off to A&E which frankly annoyed me. I’d hurt myself in the early hours of Sunday morning, surely this didn’t necessitate an A&E visit? Besides, I was convinced it was nothing more than a bad sprain. I just needed some advice on how to manage my pain and how long it would take me to recover.  I felt guilty for wasting precious NHS resources. I was hastily dispatched to X-Ray and it was there that we discovered this:


Not only have I fractured my ankle, but I’ve also torn every ligament at the bottom of my tibia and fibula. Even the consultant who saw me said it was a bad injury, a phrase he repeated multiple times during discussion much to my increasing alarm! So while I’ve been signed off work and have been resting my leg (I’m in one of those massive boots, it’s very clunky but I can take it off to get in the shower. I was initially in pot and it was a nightmare for the 48 hours that I wore it!) I’ve been working on refreshing Kittywitchin, and also just taking some time to enjoy Second Life. (Thank the Gods for Second Life, I would have been bored to tears otherwise!)

So back to the topic at hand; something I’ve enjoyed immensely while I’ve been off work is the discussions in the SL Blogger Support group, and the posts on the accompanying blog. We have had some really illuminating conversations about blogging, and it has been such a pleasure to be chatting to so many respected fellow bloggers such as the indomitable Ms. Canary Beck, who has just published an absolutely fabulous blog post about blogging quantity vs. quality. Have you seen it? If not, I urge you to go and have a read, it’s an absolute corker. In fact it’s so good that it’s clearly hit a nerve and has triggered a real outpouring from the Second Life blogger community in response.  It seems  from the comments that the blogging landscape has really changed and has become a chore rather than the  pleasure that it should be, and it would appear that it’s not just isolated individuals who are reporting this, and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you on this subject.

There are absolutely zillions of Second Life blogs to read on the internet now, but there weren’t when I began my blogging adventure.  When I first started writing about Second Life there were about twenty or so blogs that were dedicated to virtual fashion. The years have passed and now blogs about Second Life are ten-a-penny, but Kittywitchin’ is still here (and still counts!) Why is this blog still going strong?  I think it’s due to the fact that I enjoy writing about the metaverse and because I take the time to actually write (usually) in-depth articles about the items that choose to feature on these pages.

If blogging is to be successful it needs to be done right, and it’s my firm belief that a photograph and a list of credits can only tell you so much about a jumper, or a skybox, or a location in-world.  You need some descriptive text to flesh-out the elements that went into the design or place, and some words to describe how they made the avatar feel.  For me that’s fundamentally important in my blogging because Second Life is all about the experience and I think that everything you do in-world should evoke an emotion or a sensation,  and above everything else fire up your imagination. As the slogan goes, ‘Your world, your imagination’ and that’s so crucial to the whole enterprise, and oft over-looked.

So what is happening to Bloggers to make them feel so overwhelmed? I think it’s the realisation that there’s a lot more to a blog than just a few paragraphs of text and a hastily taken photograph.  Blogging is actually quite hard work, and if you have a lot of readers to entertain and a vast pool of creators who supply you with content it can become one hell of a responsibility.  This is where the trouble is starting; people are stretching themselves too thin, and it would seem that the demands of certain creators are proving too much. But why is this happening, and how can we stop it?

It’s simple really: don’t take on too many responsibilities and group memberships when you start to blog. Start SLOWLY and don’t rush! 

The message of Canary’s article is to concentrate on quality content, rather than the volume of posts, and I urge you to do just that for your own sanity if nothing else! (Join SL BLOGGER SUPPORT and ask for help as you find your feet, we’ll be only too happy to support you!)

There’s no hard and fast rule book on blogging. My approach will differ from many others, but it works for me and that’s important. It’s always been my practice where Kittywitchin’ is concerned that I don’t regularly approach content creators for review copies, preferring to purchase them if I can.  If I can’t then I may just use a demo item on the page if I’m desperate to write about it.  This means I can write what I like, when I like and how I like with no demands on my time other than the ones I’m setting myself.  It’s fairer too; by purchasing something the money is going straight to the creator for the work that they have done.

Nine out of ten posts that you read on Kittywitchin’ stem from this model, and that’s why I don’t have as much content on here as other Bloggers, because I just cannot afford to buy all those wonderful new releases! (And you thought I was just being lazy, huh?)

If Blogger applications are invited (by certain creators/events ) I  will and frequently do apply but only if I know that I will have the time to produce content and crucially if the subject matter appeals to me.  For example, I’ve just applied (and been accepted) for an event in August that I am really looking forward to, but I’ve only done that because I know that my schedule that month is pretty clear in BOTH lives for me.  Despite my spending a ridiculous amount of time in-world, I do have a real life and that should always take priority.

I am lucky though to receive regular items from a very small number of creators whose work I admire immensely (less than five actually) and I feel that writing about their work is my way of giving something back to them and hopefully encourages people to check out their releases (and buy them).   However, if I didn’t think something they provided would work on the blog then I wouldn’t feature it (and I would, of course, tell them).

Above all else I’m always conscious that my integrity as a blogger is tantamount to the success of this blog and I will never compromise my personal, honest opinion. (Which is what you’re reading here!)

This blog comes from the heart. I genuinely do love living my Second Life; and like most bloggers I’ve realised that blogging does provide perks. Because of this blog  I’ve been gifted a myriad of opportunities that I would never have: I’ve been interviewed on Radio 4’s flagship show ‘Woman’s Hour’ by Jenni Murray about Second Life, as well as being featured on local radio too. It’s enabled me to work with names like Draxtor Despres and gained me virtual employment at ‘The Avastar’.

But the point I’m trying to make here is that all this came about because one day I decided to start a blog.  I never started it with the intention of using it as a vehicle to acquire content without the cost or gain popularity with virtual peers. Now, I’m not saying that is the reason why other people start blogs too BUT we do have to face the fact that a lot of the reason for some Bloggers feeling overwhelmed is because of the choices they’ve made.

Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing but if part of being in a Blogger group means a certain number of posts then you must write that number of posts. It’s simple manners. And if for whatever reason you can’t then you let the creator know, or you leave.  I’ve actually done that before; I was in a Blogger group that I really enjoyed BUT found myself at a time in my life where I didn’t feel I could do the releases justice on these pages, so I left.  No harm done and I’m sure someone fabulous filled my space and is providing the exposure that the creator required. It works both ways; you’re providing free advertising so the creator needs to be accommodating to your needs too and if they can’t be then give them a wide berth! At the very least you should ask the following three questions:

  • What is the MINIMUM amount of posts featuring your work that you will expect to see on my blog?
  • What influence do you intend to have upon the posts that I produce that feature your content? (For example, do you want to vet them before they’re published on my pages?)
  • If something happens in RL that will impact upon my ability to produce a post, how will you react to this?

..and if the answers you receive don’t fill you with confidence then just walk away.  If they’re expecting you to fill out an application to blog for them with all your details, then it won’t hurt to ask them a few questions too, huh? You’ll be saving yourself a lot of heartache and stress that you really shouldn’t be experiencing in the long term. The whole point of blogging is that it’s fun, when it stops being that then there’s a problem. 

There are of course other positives to consider, and they’re not just free content. By building a successful relationship with content creators then you will find that your network and peer groups will increase in size too, along with your reputation too but ONLY if you want it to, that’s the key.    Make everything on your terms, work hard and you will be rewarded, I assure you of that, but those rewards don’t necessarily come in the shape of fat-packs or blog hits. Something that I think Shaedyn is coming to terms with, and more power to her for doing so.

Now if you’ll excuse me a lie-down on my RL couch with my poor ankle beckons…