Happy Saturday everyone! A few months ago I followed Britt Brombacher (affectionately known as Blondenerd on the interwebs) a prominent blogger and geek enthusiast on Twitter. Shortly after I had the pleasure of meeting another enthusiast by the name of Robert Catalano. Robert was kind enough to extend his email to me and encouraged me to come to him for any questions concerning blogging and social media. Being an opportunist, I asked him if he would be interested in making a feature of it. He graciously agreed and here is the interview!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what it is that you do?
Sure! My name is Robert Catalano, I am a social media professional working for various companies in New Jersey designing websites, and managing their social media networks. I’m also a huge geek, I love video games, movies, anime, and cartoons. I attend many of the anime/gaming conventions on the East coast, and I’ve been doing so for about 7 years. In my spare time I run a site called robertcatalano.com which is a personal blog dedicated to social media, and geek culture.
How did you go about deciding to start a blog?
I’ve been creating websites for others professionally and I figured I’d make one for myself, and talk about the things that interest me. I’ve also never actually stumbled upon a site that deals with Social Media and Geek culture exclusively together. Once upon a time, you were probably like most of us, not a lot of followers, etc., etc.
How did you go about garnering such a large following?
I’ve been using Social Media for a very long time, and it took a lot of relationship building to accumulate the following I have now. I’m still no different from before! I’ve also been lucky a couple times, by having some of my blogs/tweets shared by more influential people – so that certainly played a role. But obviously creating content that people want to share will always be key.
What challenges have you faced on your road to become a prominent blogger?
On my blog, I’ve combined my two passions in life – Social Media/Marketing (my career), and all things Geeky (my hobby). So one of my worries was if the two would mix well together. Would it look weird if there was a post talking about LinkedIn Group Etiquette, right next to the game play trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3? To me it looked odd at first, but it seems to be working well so far! My blog is very easy to navigate, so someone looking for only the geek stuff, or only looking for the social media stuff can do so by hitting the tabs.
Do you feel like there is a difference between video-game journalism and ordinary journalism?
Absolutely, I do think there is a difference. It takes a very unique person to write about video games for what they really are. Video games have evolved to such a point, where it’s not just about the game’s aesthetics anymore. There’s the story, the emotional draw, the connection with players and characters – it goes beyond just the visual cues.
What tips would you offer new bloggers who aspire to one day have a large following?
Stick with it, and find your niche! It’s a fact that ANYONE can have their 15 minutes of fame on the internet, we see it every day and that’s more than enough time to build a following and get your name out there. You also have be consistent, and unique. Originality is almost becoming a lost art form today. If you can bring something new to the table, or even show people a new perspective on even the most simple of things – it’s sure to catch fire.
What is the most rewarding aspect of running your own website?
I like that I have the freedom to write and share the things that I find interesting. What’s most rewarding is when others share these interests with me, and we can have conversations and debates for hours about the most geekiest of things.
What’s your favorite video game of all time and why?
This question is the absolute hardest to answer when you have a such a strong appreciation for a wide array of games. I mean I love The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Sonic, Mega Man. Although I must say that I do have a special connection with Final Fantasy VII. I think the entire series in general is absolutely fantastic (Crisis Core, Advent Children etc). It’s got a great cast of characters, and one of the most iconic villains in the history of gaming.
What’s your favorite console of all time and why?
The consoles we have now are just absolutely mind blowing, but you never forget your first. So my favorite console is definitely the classic NES. As a child my after school activities mainly consisted of The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Mega Man 3.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not blogging or playing games?
I am a big movie guy, so you would probably find me catching up on films I haven’t seen yet, or depending on the season, rooting for the Yankees, Giants, Knicks or Rangers.
If you could have dinner with anyone in the industry, who would it be and why?
Shigeru Miyamoto, no doubt it about. He’s responsible for creating some of the most iconic franchises of all time, and essentially my gaming childhood. I would definitely love the opportunity to meet him person, and pick his brain about all sorts of things.
If you could live in one video-game world forever, which would you choose and why?
That’s tough!! Do I choose by which monsters I’d find less dangerous just roaming around? Haha! I think I would probably go with the more realistic route though and live in the world of Ezio Auditore in Assassin’s Creed II – it’s as close to Renaissance Italy as I’ll ever get. Beautiful architecture, atmosphere, and if I was ever caught doing something wrongful, all would be forgiven by simply ripping down a couple wanted posters, or becoming invisible by sitting in between two strangers on a bench.
Do you have any phobias?
Not so much in real life, but in terms of gaming, it would have to be the drowning music from old school Sonic the Hedgehog. I never knew that you could experience a heart attack at such a young age.
What are some geeky things that you own and which do you covet the most?
I own tons of geeky things from statues, to art, to figurines to replica weapons and more! But what I covet the most is my lifetime video game collection. I was never one to trade in a game, or sell them once I had completed it. I own most video game systems, including handhelds and I’ve collected A LOT of video games over the years, so there is a lot of history and memories there and I hope to continue building that library.
This has been a big year in terms of console launches and the like. What are you most excited for as 2014 draws nearer?
Right, this year’s console war has been pretty ugly to say the least, but looking ahead into 2014 and even beyond, the focus is and always must be about the games. There are at least a dozen titles I can’t wait to check out – Watch Dogs, Destiny, Kingdom Hearts 3, and The Division, just to name a few. Oh, and of course I can’t leave out Super Smash Bros. – I mean come on, MEGA MAN is making an appearance!
My thanks go out to Robert Catalano for taking the time to interview with me. I hope you’ve found his advice as helpful as I have. Make sure to check him out at RobertCatalano.com for the latest in social media news!