Seven Years

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Interesting Journey

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It feels so immensely strange to be sitting down to write this post.  As of this morning it marks the seventh year of Tales of the Aggronaut.  I am not exactly sure why but seven years seems like a significantly more auspicious number than five or six or even eight.  Culturally we place a strange importance on the number seven as either lucky or magical, and I have to admit that I fall for this same trap myself.  As a web developer by trade, I started this blog with a purpose and had all of the trappings of a proper website.  One of those is of course Google Analytics integration, and I spent some time this morning going over the numbers before sitting down to write this post.  In the Seven years I have published 1260 posts, and they have been read a grand total of 235,304 times at the moment of pulling the stats.  Over the course of this blogs lifespan I’ve had 110,359 unique readers from 182 countries, and roughly 40% of them are return readers.  What I found shocking was that there are a little over 4000 of you out there that have read my blog more than 200 times.  As far as my readers go it seems that the bulk from from the United States as one would expect, but the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Australia also make up large chunks and round out the top five countries with France coming in a not too distant sixth.  The web developer in me was also curious to find out that the vast majority of my readers are using Google Chrome (go them!) with the next highest batch using Firefox (also good choice)…  and then unfortunately a large block are still using Internet Explorer and I was shocked that it actually beat out Safari.

The thing is…  these numbers are utterly meaningless because at the end of the day it still very much feels like I am a little kid pretending to make a newspaper or sitting in a cardboard box pretending to tell the news.  Every day I get up and make my post, and mentally I feel like I am talking to myself.  I have a hard time reconciling that there are people out there reading each and every day without fail.  I know there are mentally, because when I am late getting a post up… folks will come out of the woodwork to check on me.  However emotionally I cannot quite comprehend that I have people that are that interested in the boring things that I do each and every day.  I am not a terribly interesting person, and most of my life is spent going to work, trying to be a good husband, juggling family and friends… and attempting to get in as much game time as humanly possible.  The truth is I share a lot of my life with you my readers, and if I didn’t feel like I was talking to myself…  I am not sure if I would have the courage to say some of the things I have said.  I’ve shared my high points and my low points… and attempted to be honest with my struggles and frustrations.  The result has been more support from my friends and readers than I ever thought possible.  When am feeling down, you all reach out to me and lift me back up… and in truth you are a huge part of why I keep going each and every morning.

Evolution of the Aggronaut

I still look back on the early days of this blog and wonder what exactly caused me to start it in the first place.  I guess in truth I was always a blogger, I just didn’t realize it.  I was one of those folks that haunted game forums, and was prone to writing huge wall of text posts about this subject or that.  As to what prompted me to make the switch from forum goer to blogger, that one is a bit harder to nail down.  I know I was ultimately prompted to start thinking about it by WoW Insider and their focus on a single blog called The Wordy Warrior.  Since I was a Warrior trying to lead a raid, I felt a certain kinship with this blogger and that lead me to start my own “warrior blog”.  Aggronaut itself has gone through so many changes over the years.  It was originally a Warrior Tanking blog, and then shifted to a general warrior blog… to a raid leadership blog…  to a general World of Warcraft blog…  to a Rift blog…  until finally it was rebooted in its current form which is MY blog.  For so long I kept trying to make it into something more than just an open discussion I was having with my readers about whatever happened to be on my mind.  I was told that in order to be “successful” you had to find a niche and then exploit the shit out of that niche… and that never really did feel amazing.  The end result after all of this back and forth is that Tales of the Aggronaut is a blog about me and whatever the hell I happen to be doing.  If you are going to read me for long at all, you have to be interested in me as a person because I am not always going to be all that interesting.

The strangest thing to get used to over these years is that once you have made a post it often times develops a life of its own.  There have been many times I have written something and then someone came along behind me and got some other meaning from my post that I never intended or even thought about.  Sometimes this is good… and other times it just serves as fodder for someone else’s rant blog.  The one harsh reality is that the posts that become popular, are never the ones you actually thought were worth reading.  Looking back through my analytics…  here are the top five posts in the seven years of Aggronaut.  At least one of them completely makes me cringe these days.

Of those the only one I am actually proud of in any fashion is my GroupCraft series of posts.  The Keyboard Turning one I am actually actively embarrassed by largely because I don’t even recognize the “me” that wrote that post because I guess I have mellowed out significantly since I first started this blog.  However I feel like it would be dishonest to remove posts from the annals of time, so I leave them…  even the ones that make me cringe.  If nothing else this blog charts my evolution as a player and a decent human being.  However I admit that a lot of that evolution didn’t really start until I began my mad mission of blogging every single day.  In a few weeks it will mark the third anniversary of blogging every single day, and it is funny how I have gone from being one of the least prolific bloggers to being among the most.  In the first four years of my blog I made 148 posts…  in the last three years I made 1112 posts, so a huge difference.

Faces of Bel

Like I said in the start of this very long and probably self aggrandizing post…  seven feels like a special number.  For years I have joked that I really only play one character, and then try and recreate that character in every single game that I play.  I’ve even posted pictures of my various characters to drill home that point.  This got me thinking, and since I am really good friends with the amazing artist @Ammosart I decided I would try and commission her to create a special graphic to commemorate this occasion.  The idea was to have an image that showed off several of the “Faces of Bel” and I have to say I was completely blown away when I saw the end result.  She went above and beyond anything I could have hoped for, and now I will have to be tempted to have her create something for every anniversary…  if I can afford that.  I absolutely wanted this on a shirt, so at my suggestion she has throw it up on her t-shirt store.  I wanted every last penny of the proceeds to go to her, so instead of me creating a “Tales of the Aggronaut” store this seemed like the better option.  For I believe the first 72 hours it is only $14 and then after that they go up to the normal price of $20 and $22 for bigger sizes.  Once I finish writing this post I plan on ordering one for myself because I am so floored at just how well this turned out.  I am super thankful to have awesome friends like Ammo, that I can pester to do little side projects like this.

I feel like I need to wrap things up, because this post has gone on quite a bit longer than I thought it would.  I am very thankful to have all of you out there reading my words, and without you I am not sure I would have the strength to get up every single morning and commit text to page before I have finished my cup of coffee.  Through this blog and the awesome community of folks that I have met through the various social media accounts connected to it… I have forged a family that I will take with me for the rest of my life.  It doesn’t matter if we have only interacted one time…  you’ve left an impression on me and given me the will to keep going.  Sure there are mornings where I question myself why the hell I keep doing this, but all of you out there that ping me over twitter or slack or countess other methods…  give me that drive to keep moving forward.  I realize this post has sounded a little bit like a farewell at times, and I haven’t meant it to.  Seven is a magical and special number, but so is Thirteen…  so as I top the hill of this goal I set my sights on the next one.  Thank you for joining me in this journey, and hopefully we will have a lot more of them before I decide to call it quits.  Also side note… please take some time to tell @Ammosart just how damned amazing this image is!  I’ve had it for about a month now… and it has been pure hell to keep it under wraps because from the moment I got it I wanted to share it with the world!