Here’s this week’s instalment of Blogger Behind the Blog where I interview a blogger all about their reasons for blogging and what it means to them. This week I’m joined by Gareth from 16-Bit Dad.
Here’s Gareth with more about his blogging life:
Where did your blog name come from?
Funnily enough, 16-Bit Dad went through a number of different names before I settled on this one. The reason I eventually came to settle on 16-Bit Dad is because it mixed the two aspects of my blog perfectly; retro gaming and parenting. The parenting bit is pretty obvious, but 16-bit refers to the 16-bit era of gaming; namely, the Sega MegaDrive and Super Nintendo era.
When did you start your blog and why?
I originally started my blog as a marketing blog, so that I could help other people better understand SEO and Digital Marketing, as I do that as a day job. However, I very quickly realised that I didn’t enjoy writing about it, even though I really enjoyed blogging. So, in order to continue something that I love, I went back to the drawing board. Then I realised that, as a new Dad (at the time) I was learning so much that other new or soon-to-be Dads would find useful.
That led me to want to share what I’ve learnt so that other Dads can be better prepared for life as a parent. Eventually, I added my love for retro gaming into the mix as a way to share honest reviews and information about gaming that isn’t plagued by politics and ad revenue that force false scores.
What did you do before you blogged?
Funnily enough, as I work in SEO (and have done for over a decade), I’ve actually been blogging for businesses for many years – most of my adult life, in fact. So I guess, the true answer to that question is that I was going to school…
What was your first post?
Looking back at it now, my first post was horrible… It is really short and I’m not happy with the writing of it in the slightest. The post was a Digital Marketing article discussing changes that Google had made to the Keyword Planner tool, which you can see here.
It doesn’t include any headers or page structure in it, either… Even I have to say that I’ve come a very long way since then.
What inspires you to blog?
I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but if we are being honest, it would be my daughter. She’s just so fun and entertaining that she inspired me to start my blog as it is now… Since then, the blog has evolved but my inspiration hasn’t.
She even shows an interest in gaming already (and she’s only just turning 3), so part of me hopes that she can enjoy the gaming content I make as well.
What post has had the best response, which post are you most proud of and which post did you enjoy writing the most?
The post with the best response has to be a tutorial post I published about the Divi theme for WordPress. It is almost two years old now, but still gets about 30 views per day and ranks second place in Google, right behind the Divi developer’s website.
The post that I’m most proud of, on the other hand, is relatively new. You see, I am doing a monthly series of posts called “History Of”, with each one focusing on a different part of the gaming industry. My History of Final Fantasy post is one of the most in-depth posts I’ve written. In fact, it weighs in at a crazy 6,000+ words!
When it comes to the post I enjoyed writing the most, it would have to be my You Know You’re A Dad When post. It was a more light-hearted look at parenting and how life changes.
Have any of your posts not had the response that you expected?
Oddly enough, that would also by my History of Final Fantasy post. Considering the game series has a huge following (in the millions), I would have expected it to get more views and engagement that it did. Instead, it gets a few views each day, but nothing ground breaking at all.
Where do you see your blog in a year’s time?
As I won the UK Blog Award for Digital & Tech Blogger this year, I’d like to see 16-Bit Dad grow to new heights, reaching more people and getting a bit of a following. I’ve just branched out to weekly retro gaming videos as well, and I’m hoping to start a podcast with some blogging friends soon as well.
What is your favourite thing about blogging?
I’ve always loved writing and, honestly, I’m quite the opinionated man… So being able to combine them both whilst giving people content to enjoy is probably the biggest highlight of blogging.
…and your least favourite?
That would be the view that many people have of bloggers. In fact, I have clients at work who openly mock the idea of blogging and it is rather difficult to educate them. I think the blogging community deserves and needs more respect.
What’s the best blog post you have ever read?
Oh, now that is a tough one! I’ve read so many great posts over the years that choosing just one best is really hard. But I think it would have to go to Dad Blog UK’s post back in March 2018 about Dads finally getting recognition as parents. It really struck a chord with me.
What blog do you love to read and why?
I actually read quite a lot of them… But my top two blogs that I read would be Dad Blog UK and The Well Red Mage. Dad Blog UK is such a great blog for parents, covering some really great topics from the point of view of a Dad of three. The Well Red Mage, on the other hand, offers up long-form gaming posts that are incredibly in-depth and detailed.
Do you do anything differently now to when you started blogging?
I think the thing that has changed the most would be my writing style. Everyone has their own style, but mine has evolved to be more journalistic in detail but more personal and honest to myself in tone. This, in my opinion, makes my content much better as it portrays me as a person, rather than just sounding like a heavily edited robot.
Is blogging what you expected it to be?
It is so much more than I expected. When I first got started, I thought I’d just be throwing words out and hardly anyone would care. I was very wrong. To begin with, there is a lot of work that goes into blogging that people don’t seem to realise.
For example, I have a full time day job and my daughter to look after, yet I still manage to (and need to) spend about 20 hours per week on my blog. However, the reward of meeting other bloggers and fans outweighs the amount of work needed.
What’s been your favourite blog collaboration to date?
That would have been either be working with Brazen on a review of their gaming chair, or Venom UK on a review of their Arcade Fight Stick for the PC, PS3 and PS4. Both turned out to be amazing pieces of kit that I still use almost daily. However, I have since managed to do a collaboration of sorts with Hiroki Kikuta (the director of my all-time favourite game) where he took the time to answer a bunch of questions for me about Koudelka, my aforementioned favourite game. Koudelka released almost 20 years ago, so I am still overjoyed that he was willing to work with me on the post.
Are there any brands you would love to work with, why?
Sticking with the gaming side of things, I would love to work with Retro-Bit. They make modern consoles that play original cartridge games from multiple old consoles. This would be amazing for me as I think they are a huge part of keeping these old games alive.
Have you had any blogging fails so far?
The biggest blogging fail I’ve had is definitely the original, marketing-only iteration of my blog. It was so dull to write for that I nearly gave up entirely. So yeah, that is definitely the biggest fail… Thankfully, I stuck with it after a re-focus and rebrand.
What is your biggest blogging hope, dream or ambition?
To put it simply, I’d love to start earning enough money from my blog or Patreon that I could quit my day job, go full time on 16-Bit Dad, and spend more time with my daughter. At the moment, I have a 1.5 hour commute each way for work, so being able to drop all that and spend that time with my daughter would be incredible.
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
When I’m not blogging, I’m spending time with my wife and daughter, playing games or preparing things for all of the new content that I’m working on…
and lastly, tell us all a random fact about yourself
I have one PlayStation 1 game on my shelf that was never released here in the UK, which I imported years ago for about £90 – it is so rare to find, even in the States, that it is currently worth £900.