Interview With A Blogger (Part 2)
(More from insight and inspiration from fellow bloggers)
By Elizabeth Cutright
As I first detailed in my previous blog (Interview With A Blogger, Part 1), near the end of last year I decided that after almost 12 months of blogging, I still had a few questions. I wanted to know what made other bloggers – many whose posts I admire in both content and posting regularity – tick. I wanted to know what got them to the page, and how they’d overcome different challenges and obstacles. My first entry focused on the birth of a blog, detailing the many varied ways and avenues that lead my different interview subjects online and into the storm of regular blog-writing.
In part 2, I delve a little deeper. I ask about the difficulties, the complications and the hurdles my fellow bloggers encountered and overcame. And I also ask about fear – what scares your average blogger…the empty page? Feedback from other writers? The commitment to consistent writing? The uncertainty that you have anything of value to say? Those trolls and dragons that lurk in the deepest, darkest corners of the web?
Luane Castle , (Don’t We Look Alike? , Writer Site , The Family Kalamazoo) admits, that although starting a blog did not intimidate her, the technology involved was a little overwhelming. “The idea of blogging wasn’t frightening to me,” she writes. “ I’m used to writing and to being read by others. What scared me silly was the thought of the technology.”
And for Luanne, like many of us, in the end WordPress came to the rescue.
“It turns out that my writing group peers directed me well to use WordPress.com. I hate to sound like an ad for them, but it was just so easy to learn. I didn’t need help from anyone, which was a great confidence-booster for this Baby Boomer.”
For LouAnn Geauvreau-Karry the voice behind On The Homefront and Beyond, the initial setup was also daunting.
“I did not know how to do it so my wonderful niece Chay set it up for me,” she explains. “Once it was created I only posted about once a week. Now I try to post every day.”
And as we all know, technology provides a variety of content options beyond the basic essay. “I am still learning how to add pictures and videos to my blog,” says LouAnn, echoing the learning curve of many a newbie blogger.
Fantasy fiction blogger M. Q. Allen meanwhile, admits he started out with little fear of what was in store.
“Foolishly- no,” he answered my query “Was there anything that intimidated or frightened you when you first contemplated creating a blog?”
“In the end, I wasn’t (and still am not) planning on being a super-blogger with hundreds of followers and posts every day,” he explains. “Knowing that I wouldn’t have a lot of readers, it wasn’t quite so daunting. Since I’m an aspiring writing, the actual blog-writing isn’t very intimidating (if I can’t write a blog, I shouldn’t be trying to write a novel).”
Travel got blogger Bahia also did not initially feel intimidated. “When I first started the blog it was just as a way to communicate with my family and friends so I didn’t think much about whether I had an obligation to an audience or anything,” she says, going on to confess, “After I came back and started writing about other things and started to think of the blog as more of a project, I felt more intimidated by the idea that I needed to put out content and have obligations to a readership.”
And like many of us, as blogger Veronique Darwin ( a novel journal), struggled with perfectionism.
“I imagined that I had to get it right the first time, as though thousands of people would tune into my blog the moment it launched,” she writes, before explaining how those expectations were quickly dispelled by fellow bloggers.
“I went to a panel discussion by bloggers who all told me the opposite,” she says. “No one is going to read this for a while. A blog is always in progress. So I just did it. I think it worked.”
Blogger Joaquin Pineda (The Bard of Steel) also confronted the notion of audience expectations. “I think it was finding the right things to write about,” writes. “I didn’t realize back then that there’s an audience waiting for every kind of blogger.”
“Don’t give in and write solely to get hits,” Joaquin advises, “You’re bound to grow disappointed or bitter fast. You just have to keep writing about what you love until the right readership comes along and stays.”
As for the thorniest conundrum facing the bloggers I interviewed, almost all agreed time was their biggest opponent – some spent too much time at the keyboard, while others find that carving out space to write in an already overloaded schedule posed the biggest challenge.
“Carving out the time to write for the blog can be very hard when life is moving along too fast,” says Luanne. “I force myself to stick to a schedule, knowing that if I let up on myself, I won’t have the impetus to produce posts on a regular basis.”
“The most difficult part is definitely writing regularly!” agrees Bahia. “It can be so hard when life gets in the way to keep writing, but you have to make it a priority.”
Veronique is in the same boat. “The most difficult part is sitting down in the first place,” she states. “I stand too much; I run between things; I do other things that take up my sitting time.”
For LouAnn, maintaining time-management is key. “I find I am drawn to the blog world—and enjoy posting every day, she writes. “My husband calls my laptop “the evil computer”. I am working diligently at not spending too much time on the blog, or paying too little attention to it. Like Goldilocks I need to find the ‘just right’.”
MQ Allen agrees that balance can be difficult. “At first it was [challenging] just finding suitable topics,” he writes. “Now it is more a matter of balancing my time between working on my current novel, doing critters.org critiques and life.”
Sarah Berardi (Empty Nesting, Migraining and Menopausing ) also acknowledges that she realized part of blogging involves knowing when not to post. “Originally [I] put pressure on myself to blog every week day. But I realized I wasn’t that funny to blog every day.”
Luanne believes in the value of building online relationships, but recognizes it can be time consuming. “This was an unforeseen part of blogging,” she admits. “I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy the interactions or even that there were interactions between bloggers. What would blogging feel like if I just dropped my posts into cyberspace and went away until my next post? Pretty lonely, I suspect. And worse yet, I wouldn’t learn anything new.”
Joaquin believes consistency can also be problematic. “Being consistent both in the quality and quantity of content delivered,” concerns him most he says.
“It’s easy to see that if you run a blog where you write whenever you feel like it,” he continues, “chances are you might lose your audience. You will have more control over your material, sure, but without the challenge of a deadline you could grow complacent with your work, while at the same time lamenting your lack of traffic.”
Time. Audience. Content. The troubling triptych many a blogger has faced and overcome. And as you can see from the insight and instruction thoughtfully provided by the bloggers I interviewed, the bottom line is always the same: write…write….write!