Welcome to the inaugural mission of Blog Squadron. It can be hard to get started blogging and to keep it flying right after that. Over the course of the next week, a few awesome Star Wars bloggers and I are going to share some insight into how we got our starts, our inspirations, and our various methods. It's our hope that by doing so we might help existing bloggers to continue to improve their craft and to inspire those who have always wanted to take to the stars of Star Wars blogging but been too afraid to take that first step.
(Or who the heck are all these awesome bloggers?)
Matt Applebee: Far, Far Away Radio.com
Patty Hammond: I currently write for my own EverydayFangirl.com and also for The Future Of The Force, StarWars.com and TheBeardedTrio.com. I have previously wrote for The Cantina Cast and The Detroit News Geek Watch Blog.
Bryan: I’ve posted on a few blogs along the way, but I’m exclusively on hyperspacepodblast.com nowadays.
Johnamarie Macias: TheWookieeGunner.com
What inspired you to blog about Star Wars?
Matt: I originally started blogging because I wanted to share stories about my daughter and how we shared Star Wars together. With that in mind, I went to WordPress and started my own blog with the longest title ever: Star Wars Dads and Daughters. With a name like that… well, you at least knew exactly what you were getting. I’d published four posts for that site when I saw a tweet from Far, Far Away Radio about a blog opening. I almost didn’t apply because I didn’t figure I really had much of a chance considering my very limited experience, but I sent them my writing samples and now I’ve been writing for them for over two years!
Stardust: Two years ago, I was heavily playing a video game, the massively multiplayer RPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I had so many feelings and thoughts about the experience, and how it brought a new level of Star Wars immersion into my life. I wanted to explore the Old Republic galaxy with articles, maybe a little fan fiction, copious screenshots, stuff like that. So I started a little slice of Internet to talk about the game, the movies (this was six months before The Force Awakens released) and the fantastic new canon books that had been coming out. There is so much to say about Star Wars, even if you are a garden variety fan, and not really a writer. I just dove in and wrote about things that interested me. I never felt like I had to publish a certain amount of work, follow a schedule, or please anyone but myself. Nor did I believe I needed to know everything or be “right” about my viewpoints. It was (and is) just about love of the Star Wars world.
Patty: When I first started writing for blogs, I was told by many bloggers and writers that I would have more success writing and about something I love. Therefore, being a fan of Star Wars since 1977, it is easy to come up with topics related to this franchise. I do write about other topics, like anime, classic movies and Sci-Fi Romance, for example, but I always seem to gravitate to writing about Star Wars.
Bryan: After the big buyout, and the “rebirth” of Star Wars (Star Wars is back!), I was reinvigorated as a Star Wars fan and decided to give myself an outlet by starting a blog. Initially, I thought it would only be something I’d do for myself (my first blog was called “Me, Myself & Star Wars”), but it’s turned out to be so much more…
Sophie: When I decided to read all of the Legends books, I realised what a massive endeavour it would be so I wanted a way to remember each of these books and how I felt about them. Thus Outer Rim Reviews was born! I soon found myself also writing my various thoughts and musings on Star Wars in general, which didn’t really fit in with ORR’s vibe. I then spotted the advert for a blogger on farfarawayradio.com and viola!
Johnamarie: I had been microblogging through Tumblr for several years, and one day, I thought about doing something more substantial than a Tumblr blog. I went around looking for other Star Wars fan sites for inspiration, and I came across FANgirl Blog and a handful of others that dedicated themselves to analyzing different aspects of Star Wars. I was motivated to do the same, and the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney prompted me to think about it further, especially since more content was on the way. The idea of starting a Star Wars fan site didn’t come to pass until February 27, 2013. I don’t exactly remember what motivated me to launch my site on that day, but I did it because I wanted a space to share my thoughts about Star Wars. Sure, there were dozens of others doing the exact same thing, but not everyone thinks the same or sees things in a similar way, so I kept that in mind when I finally hit the “publish website” button.
Saf: Like Johna, I started off using Tumblr for microblogging back when I was in university. When I started befriending others in the blogging/podcasting community, I was inspired by their passion for Star Wars and the community itself and wanted to get into proper blogging because I have a lot of opinions about a lot of things. I soon started my own site with the hopes of nurturing my writing skills and gaining experience for bigger things, then began writing for Force Cult and The Wookiee Gunner, and it kind of snowballed from there!
What blogging platform do you use (WordPress, Blogger, etc.) and why did you choose that one?
Matt: I use WordPress for two reasons: my wife originally had a blog when WordPress first started, so I knew a little bit about it, and that’s what Far, Far Away Radio uses. I actually don’t know if it has any features that make it better or worse than any of the other platforms. I actually didn’t even know that there were other blogging platforms!
Stardust: I use WordPress.com and the reason I chose that one is simply that it was one I had heard of and it seemed to be popular, accessible, and easy to understand. I sometimes wish I had gone the WordPress.org route (there is a difference!) for enhanced customizability and add-ons, but overall, I have been happy with the extreme ease of use, especially for a person just starting out, as I was. WordPress also has a community of sorts, and I can easily follow other WP sites of interest and read them all in a viewer, like a newspaper.
Patty: I use WordPress for my personal blog, EverydayFangirl.com and I use Medium for The Future of The Force. I choose WordPress for my personal blog because it was recommended to me by several bloggers and it has an easy to use iPad application that allows to write and post without needing to use my PC unless I choose to for some reason. I also pay for the premium service because I wanted to make sure that I have enough space for my content and it also gives me a URL and a few extra tools that I would not have if I did not pay the yearly subscription.
Bryan: I started out on Blogger and thought it was a pretty good system – that is until I used WordPress for the first time. Blogger hasn’t changed for over two years, and has a mobile app that’s horribly out of date; however, WordPress keeps things up-to-date and is a much more user-friendly system. I would definitely recommend WordPress to anyone thinking of starting a blog.
Sophie: I use WordPress mostly because it had the best Youtube tutorial videos! I had no idea what I was doing, having never blogged or created a website before so I needed all the help I could get. I’m still not brilliant at it and I’m sure it can do a lot more than I realise, but it does what I need it to do and I’m happy with how my blog looks for now!
Johnamarie: I chose WordPress for my site because almost every site I came across during my research was using it. I also have experience with Blogger, but at the end of the day, I’m glad I chose WordPress. I should also add that I use WordPress.com and that I pay for a Premium package. Some people have advised me to switch to WordPress.org, but I’m just one person and I don’t have backend knowledge when it comes to hosting websites in other locations. As a result, I use WordPress.com’s services and they host and maintain the site, while I just concern myself with the content.
Saf: Definitely WordPress, largely because I used blogger when I was younger and absolutely hated it. I saw that a lot of others were on WordPress, and I found it pretty easy to figure out. Over the years, I’ve switched to using WordPress.org and hosting my site myself. The best thing about using WordPress is that all the other sites I write for use it too, so I don’t need to adjust when I change who I’m writing for.
Thank you for joining us for our first mission. If you enjoyed it, there's plenty more where that came from! Join us on Thursday, September 28th for our next mission at Patty Hammond's blog, EverydayFangirl.com!
If you would like to reach out to me, please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments on Twitter at @mapplebee7567 and please use the hashtag #BlogSquadron to follow all the future missions of Blog Squadron all this week!