Tomorrow, Monday June 11, Chilihead is doing a blogging meme. I thought that I would play along and read along as well. However, I already have a post I need to put up on Monday, so I thought I'd spread the word and post my answers all in one shot and then link up at her place tomorrow. This is the kind of thing I could not get enough of in my first six months of blogging, but it's still fun for me to read and discuss, so since she asked. . . .
How did you start blogging?
I first heard about blogging when I was seeing reviews of Julie and Julia. I read the archived blogs and I read the book (I loved the book, but the language is not for the faint-hearted). I was hooked. How cool is this? This person had an idea, blogged about it, strangers commented, and she got a book deal! My first blog was started with that sort of mindset, and I quickly became bored with myself. A few months later I started Snapshot, just to practice my writing--and get in the habit of writing daily.
Did you intend to be a blog with a following? If so, how did you go about it?
I told my friend Katrina about it, and she told me about hers, and the one other person who read her blog (Dianne) commented one day as well. I was hooked on the interactive nature of it. I did some things in the beginning to expose my blog to other readers, such as participating WFMW, carnivals and joining a couple of blogrolls.
What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? Have you been successful? If not, do you have a plan to achieve those goals?
I really started this blog in order to practice expressing my thoughts in writing, specifically my thoughts about my family and motherhood. I wanted to create a "Snapshot" of them since the perspective looking back on them is different from my thoughts in the midst of the experience. I was very surprised at the depth of thought that was opened up once I started writing about my kids and my "job" as mom.
I have been moving towards writing professionally, so yes, in that respect I've been "successful." However, now I have to be sure that the blogging doesn't get in the way of some writing-for-pay that I want to do. I am not expecting to have a book contract offered to me on the basis of this blog alone :).
Has the focus of your blog changed since you started blogging? How?
I don't think that it really has. I did get more involved with reviewing books, either just favorites of mine or books that were offered to me on blog tours, and I've enjoyed that. If anything, of late I think that the quality is not as good, because I've been busy and have expanded my writing to other arenas.
What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you started?
Everything will balance in the end. I started in March or April of 2006, and by June I was fully immersed in the whole blogging community. It was summer, so things were more laid back, so I was able to do that with abandon. I loved exploring new blogs, and seeing who was finding mine. I started worrying "How am I ever going to fit this new grand obsession into my life??" However, in the second six months everything balanced out. I don't have a panic attack if I only post three times a week instead of six or seven, I don't check my sitemeter compulsively every hour and a half, and I know that my bloggy friends will understand if I only stop by their place once a week instead of twice a day. It will balance out in the end. And the balance has helped me enjoy it all the more.
Do you make money with your blog?
Not really. I am an amazon associate, which means that when I mention a book or product, I link to amazon with a specially formatted link. If someone makes a purchase through a specific link or the general link on the sidebar, I get a (very small) kickback--less than a dollar. However, it adds up, and it means that every month or so I get a little gift certificate to amazon. I think that some people stay away from these links not wanting people to benefit, but I am now careful to actually initiate my purchases through the link that first made me aware of the product. Support in small ways such as that might give my favorite blogger incentive to keep posting (that and my encouraging comments).
I also enjoy the free books that I have received to review (and I try to always state if a book I'm reviewing has been provided to me, or is just one I read, lest there be any confusion about my intent). Free books to me equals free money.
Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? If so, do they read it? If not, why?
Most of them know, and I have a few loyal readers from my family and close real-life friends. I always enjoy getting a comment from a non-bloggy real-life friend or family member.
What two pieces of advice would you give to a new blogger?
Don't worry. Don't worry that people will forget about you if you don't post for a day a two (although conversely, consistency is key to keeping a following, so don't let weeks go by with no word from you). Don't worry if someone else gets more comments than you do or is nominated for more bloggy awards.
Figure out why you are doing it, and do it for that reason (not for popularity). If you want to chronicle your daily life and post daily pics of your kids, do that. If you want to make people think, write those kinds of posts. If you want to share your love of books, or technology, or fashion, write that. Some sort of focus is usually good (but for me, all that means is that I write about what I like, and my readers generally know what that is: reading, family, some travel, some Bible applications, and my thoughts on--well--anything).
For me I really enjoy the connection. So if I feel like I've connected with you on a personal level through comments you've left or I've left or email responses to comments (hey, by the way, please check the box!), I'm more likely to regularly read that blog and look forward to your thoughts on mine. So, I continue to write in a way that hopefully allows others to connect with me and me with them.
That was fun! Consider playing along and linking up tomorrow (and I'm sure that new people will be linking up throughout the week).