Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Art of Blogging: Starting a Website

Whoever said blogging was easy never tried it for his or herself. I'll be the first to tell you, it take some magic to make it happen - that and a number of good friends behind you to catch you when you fall. Yes, when, not if. When it comes to running a site, I'm definitely not the best. I don't even pretend to be proficient at it. But I figured there might be some interest in following me down the ever-changing path that is blogging.

An Ongoing Circus Act

Juggling. Ever tried juggling? Literally OR metaphorically? Some people are wired to do ten things at once. Sure, I can manage that every once in a while with a few select things. But when it comes to blogging, writing and piecing together posts, it takes my full attention.

There are a number of things you get to do - promotion, contests, updates, etc. Or for some people, there are a number of things you have to do. Which raises the question - what do I do for inspiration when blogging? Where do my ideas come from? How do I go about putting posts together?

This was my original blog design - very dark, with subtle items in the background. It had a header with my characters and later incorporated those rounded corners into the boxers below. It was the fact that they would not round in Internet Explorer that original sparked my interest in designing something entirely new, but that's a story for another time.

I ask myself these same questions about certain other people and groups - and so, I figured at least a few readers would be interested in my blogging journey... yep, we'll call it that.

A New Post Series

The plan is for this to be a new series of posts. Unlike Concept101, it won't have a specific day or time frame in which it appears. Instead, I'll fill you in on my blogging adventures with a new post here and there. You'll know that it's an Art of Blogging (AoB) post when you see the collection of characters up top.

As I recount my numerous tales, I'll incorporate my blogging principles in as well. My first is this - it really doesn't matter why you start a blog or website. Because when you do, one of two things happens. If you aren't in blogging for the right reasons, it may seem like a chore and eventually, you won't be as interested in it as you used to.

On the other hand, if you truly love blogging, either because you adored the idea from the start or because of a realization somewhere in between, you continue. You enjoy it. That's part of the reason why you blog.

These are five of my old headers that went with my old design above. The interesting part - I used them all at once. It was a rotating header - it changed on each refresh.

In the Beginning

When I started blogging, I wasn't all that great. I had a basic layout. I called my first post "Starting a Blog" and wrote approximately four paragraphs with an image in desperate need of cropping. For lack of a better idea, I simply called the website "Swordroll's Blog" with the intent of changing it later. Needless to say, it stuck.

When I started, though, I began with an interesting statement that's still true today:
... I need someone to tell my stories to, vent when I'm angry, share uncovered conspiracies (oops, wasn't supposed to mention that one yet), and to tell anything else that needs told around the spiral. You might ask, what is this blog called? would be pretty scary, would it not? I considered "Travels In The Spiral," but have only debated myself on the name since.
Ironically, you're now AT on Swordroll's Blog and I'm continuing that original intent today. Where there is a lack of fairness, I do not stand idly by and watch. Where there is something new to be covered, I try my best to cover it. And when something just needs to be said, anyone who knows me knows that I'll be the one to say it.

There is much conformism here. And so I warn you - allow morals and logic to lead the way. Do not accept something as true simply because it is forced upon you as being so. Do not be on the sidelines where there is something to be posted. And so begins my long and perilous journey of surprise regulations, hard work, life skills, and people and situations that you couldn't pay Hollywood to write up. And to think, the decision to try a family game five years ago would forever shape me as a person. And so it begins.


  1. Well... look at you now, your Mr. Hollywood, and it is harder for me, you don't know what goes behind the scenes on my blogs, or in my notebook (said to much), trying to find people that will want to blog with you (yeah, that's right, I have been thinking that and it has happened once already; thank you Destiny), finding someone to actual design the blog, etc and then the whole point at running two blogs. Look at 101 Adventures, it has been dead all summer this year (2013) because I was on my Pirate101 blog (Savvy swashbucklers) blogging about Marleybone, Aquila, theories, now look at it, it is dead also, and thus why I need to combine blogs (again, for the 100th time) again, it is just a mess for me.

    1. Your issues are not unique. If I've not had them myself, I've had others talk to me about them. Hopefully I can talk a bit about how I've dealt with some of those obstacles. ;)

  2. Idk it is never too hard to start a blog. Art isn't a very important part unless you are an artist. It more often than not entertains the visiter, but if your blog is full of boring posts it won't make up for it. A blog is about the content in writing, not the artwork behind it.

    1. When I talk about the art of blogging, I am referring not to the art IN blogging, but blogging AS an art.

      Content in writing is only one piece of a bigger picture and it alone will never get you anywhere. And, by extension, you can certainly go places without it.

  3. Question. What program did you use to make the doodle?

    1. Hey, Cody! Looks like there is sufficient interest in those doodles that I'll have to cover them sometime!

      I started using GIMP, which is a free download, and using a mousepad to draw them. Just about anything would work better than that, so I'm sure it's possible for anyone. Up top, my Death wizard, SorceressMiklai, and Catbeard were all done in GIMP.

      Then I started and am using Adobe Illustrator, which is a lot easier. Not only does it allow me to control the fidelity and smoothness or lines, but I can also edit individual lines and points without ever creating new layers. Some of my GIMP files would be 100+ layers of color and drawing. The two pirate characters were done in Illustrator.

    2. Thank you so much :) I always try to create a doodle of my wizard which is quite similar to your death wizard but had a patterned elegant hat. I am gonna try the programs :)

    3. How exactly do you draw them, and what's a mousepad?

    4. I'm not sure what you're asking. I simply use the brush or blob tool in AI and create lines that look exactly like those in the original drawings. When I say mousepad I am simply referring to the mouse on a laptop. It'd probably be a lot easier with a real mouse or with a tablet, but fidelity and smoothness options account for that.

    5. I mean that if I try to draw something it comes out all jagged and un-human. :(

    6. What you will want to do is zoom in and attempt to keep a steady mouse. Some imperfections and off edges are okay - that's part of the style. Don't draw too long of lines at one time, take it in steps. If you're using a program that lets you change brush fidelity and smoothness, take advantage of that. If not, do the best you can. I did the Death character above without those tools in GIMP, so it can definitely be done.


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