Monday 27 January 2014

Blogger meets Bloggers ~ The Torch: Entertainment Guide

I had started working for The Torch: Entertainment Guide in November, 2013. Since then I wanted to write about them. Although, one can read about them in the About us category; still it will be great to know them from a whole new angle well.

Kennie Morrison and Chris Carlsson are the owners of "The Torch". Its been three years since they have been together. The site has got over 3 million hits. Lets read their success story and their experience.

Debby: Welcome to 4m my Eyes!

Debby: How have you both been and how has The Torch been?

Chris Carlsson: We have been doing great, both on and off the Torch. In the last few months The Torch has grown surprisingly. Thanks to better views, we have been able to expand our sections and get more people to help us out. 6 months ago we were 2, now we are 11 people working with The Torch. We could not have been here without every single one of them, because we are both getting busy with other things as well right now.

Debby: The Torch: Entertainment Guide started around 3 years back. What were the motivation behind it?

Chris Carlsson: It was something we talked about the day we met, actually. We were both rather new to Second Life and this was right when Linden Lab started to phase out the help centres you would normally land in. Both of us learned quickly, but noticed that a lot of other people weren't as tech savy and had a hard time, so we decided to help out the way we could; By starting a blog with helpful tips, not only on how to do stuff but also where you could go as a newcomer in Second Life.
We decided on Internet because that gave poeple the resources they needed in a tool they already knew how to use. If they have Second Life, we knew they would at least know how to navigate a website, it's not as obvious to use a HUD or something similar in Second Life.

Debby: When and how did a blog become an online magazine?

Chris Carlsson: After a few months we realized we were writing a lot more about places and items than actual guides, so we decided to revamp the site a bit. We changed name from Izzie Morgan's SL Survival Guide to The Torch: Second Life Guide and made it more magazine-like. The actual step into a magazine wasn't an active part on our side, it just grew into it. We got some friends to help out, some guest writers or models or whatever we needed and continued online because it meant we could cut a lot of costs and a lot of time on design.

Kennie Morrison: Adding something. We realized that we wanted to write about something more than Second Life. We started IMA MAG which stood for INdie Music Army Magazine. When we started that, people kept sending in their eps and demos for us to review, and we realized that the Torch got the views and IMA Mag got the content, so we merged the two and made it The Torch:Entertainment Guide Magazine.

Debby: What are the most memorable achievements over the past 3 years?

Kennie Morrison: 
  • IMA Mag becoming the Torch. 
  • Covering the London Second Life Fashion Week. 
  • Getting our partnership with Audio Nation.
  • One of our writers being referenced on Wikipedia and being of Wikipedia as a publication.
  • Getting to interview big gaming names and big names in the publishing industry.

Chris Carlson: I'd say the three landmark moments in the past 3 years are very hard to define. We've been through so much and done so many things, met so many wonderful people. If I had to pick my 3 favourites, I'd say us getting contacted by Audio Nation Radio for our first partnership, about a year ago, ranks quite high. The other two were actually from within a few months from now, when we managed to get many more people helping out and at the same time broke 1 million views within a single year. I am pretty sure I'm forgetting a lot now, but that's the 3 landmarks I remember best.

Debby: You recently participated in the #ukba14, Tell us how has been the experience since then?

Chris Carlson: The voting closed just 18 hours ago, so we haven't had any chance to see any results yet. It has been an exciting month to say the least. Even if we don't get shortlisted, we've seen a lot of support, much of it from unexpected sources. We rarely see any participation from the readers, so watching how even friends of readers have shared the link has been really thrilling.

Debby: I know you both are shy unless its the Valentines Day, how did you meet? 

Kennie Morrison: I was doing an Essay on the Virtual world of Second Life and Journalism, and I thought i'd check it out. Downloading started and I was looking around the places that were mentioned in my notes. I went to a place called the Shelter and got help, there was a guy there in a metal clown outfit and he said he was from Sweden. So I sent him an instant message and asked him honestly are there black people in Sweden.

Chris Carlsson: I had read a bit about Second Life a few years earlier and was kinda stuck in a dead-beat job, so I decided to check it out, just as an escape. I read that a lot of people actually making a job out of Second Life and I really didn't want to keep working at that place. Shortly after I joined, a series of accidents occurred at the work place and I decided it wasn't healthy to stay, so I quit anyway. That's when I met this girl in Second Life who just came up to me, IM'd me and asked if there are any black people in Sweden. I laughed so hard and told her a bit about the country and before I knew it, we stood there dancing, talking about everything between the heavens and earth.

Debby:  That's so cute :-) and when did it you think of taking it to real?

Chris Carlsson: I think that happened gradually. It took a year, almost to the day, before we even met in real life, but around March I got myself a webcam and we both got Skype and started talking face to face. It's kinda hard to tell when the line between business associates and couple really got erased, it went so gradually. That's why we usually say our anniversary is on New Years, because that's the first time we really talked.

Kennie Morrison: For me the SL relationship started on New Years 2010
The Real Life relationship didn't start until Christmas 2011.

Debby: And this time you had the RFL event same time.

Chris Carlsson: Yes, but we usually don't say it's "The Torch" that has the RFL events, since we're working together with the wonderful people at Virtual Ryukyu and have a lot of people outside The Torch helping out as well. This time was one of the few when that side of Team Dragon Flame wasn't on, for understandable reasons

Debby: Tell us some interesting facts about each member of your crew?

Kennie Morrison: Will Morris is someone I knew in real life for like 8 years. Tom and I went to university together and took some of the same classes. Bain and Panza are RFL buddies, Kevin has some weird taste in music but we like him because he's quiet and his tastes are interesting. Josh knows Will from university as well. We just met Toxic and haven't gotten to know her yet but she's studying something like Bio-engineering Science or something like that which just blew our minds when we found out and Debby Well.. Debby thinks everything is amazing and that's what we need in the torch, someone who is wide eyed and isn't bothered by all the crap that can happen

Chris Carlsson (smiles) Bain and Panza are both into Relay For Life and does a lot for them. Bain is not only part of RFL in SL, but is a chair in RFL of InWorldz and a local Canadian team. Bain has a LOT of contacts and makes friends instantly. Wil and Tom are very into games, but have two very distinctive tastes, which makes them perfect polar points. Josh and Kevin both have really interesting ways of writing and never fail to amaze me. We've only known Toxic for a short time, but she has already come with some interesting ideas. Debby is everywhere at once and have helped us a great deal, in all aspects of The Torch.
On top of that we have had a lot of other people working with us, but not as part of The Torch per say. Jessii has been an invaluable asset and I believe she helped us grow a lot when we were still a tiny blog. I frankly don't believe we would be anywhere near here without any of them. And now I probably missed half of everyone.

Kennie Morrison: Cottie Bree, Bri, Wolly Pat, Eletra Roger Rock Sven

Chris Carlsson: All of them are both great friends and great to work with, even though we haven't really worked with them for almost 2 years... The memories are still there though.

Debby: Where do you both see yourself three years from now? 

Kennie Morrison: Going to Conventions, getting our You Tube Channel Up and Running. Getting invites to Book Events and still doing Stuff in Second Life.

Chris Carlsson: I see us working as hard as ever on The Torch, but possibly from an office, or at least a home office. We would also have the ability to work on The Torch full time, and so would everyone who works with us, going to conventions all around the world and possibly even interviewing some of the big names out there in a proper interview environment. For some reason, I also see a company resort, possibly in London or maybe even on the Canary Islands.

Kennie Morrison (is like O.o) too far

Chris Carlsson: Not at all! I'd say that too far is when we have more than we know what to do with. Until then, I'll plan to do things with the resources we don't yet have. (Smiles)

Debby: Are there any upcoming plans that you would like to give us a hint?

Kennie Morrison: RFL 2014 is coming up in March and that is going to be a heavy day for everyone involved. We are going to start doing The Torch Guiding light hunts again some time in the Summer.

Chris Carlsson: We also have a major change we want to do this year: We want to move to our own servers. That would allow us to design the site a bit better and possibly even give the community a better place to voice their opinion.
There are still some details to iron out, both about the technical aspects and the financial bit, but we're hoping to have it done before the end of this year.

Debby: What would you like to say to your partners and readers?

Chris Carlsson: We would not be here without either one of you. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!

Kennie Morrison: Thank you. Just Thank you for everything you've done, either its partnering with us, reading our stuff, plugging our stuff and even our crew Thanks for everything because without you guys we'd still have 0 views.

Debby: Any tips and tricks for new bloggers?

Kennie Morrison: Keep writing. Promote yourself. Interact with your audience and keep going. Don't evpect everything to happen over night. It takes a long time. So keep at it.

Chris Carlsson: Not only for bloggers, but in anything you do: If you really want something, don't give up. You won't succeed overnight, but if you keep at it, even through the hard times, you will succeed eventually. It didn't happen right away for us, it has taken us 3 years to get this far and there have been times when we absolutely thought we had to give up, but just by keeping on, we've made it this far.

Debby: Thank you both for taking some time off for this Interview and giving us an opportunity to know you more.

*Interviewer's (Debby) take on the whole conversation:

The interview is edited to resolve a few typos. All other words are written as told during the interview. It took place on 27th January, 2300 hours Indian Standard Time.

Kennie and Chris are great people to work with. When I first interviewed for them for the job, it was a formal conversation and eventually turned out to be informal one. That is when I knew I would have fun to work with them. Since then there is no looking back. As employers they are very supportive, caring and helpful. They will find time from their busy schedule to answer back as soon as possible.

Apart from being great employers, they are good friends. Even during the interview, there were times when it just crossed over the formal edge and we were giggling. Kennie laughed, made weird sounds and kept talking to herself. And as a good partner Chris was the one who says hush hush from time to time.

Dear Reader, 
 You have read a lot of their stuff on their online platform "The Torch: Entertainment Guide". I wanted to show you a glimpse of behind the scenes.
Hope you enjoyed it.
 Thank you and Have fun until next time.

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