Ever since Rachel and I started blogging we’ve been nothing short of amazed by all the moms out there who blog day-in and day-out as a side hobby. Running Triad Moms on Main is somewhat of a full-time job. So to know there are lots of other moms doing the same thing – by themselves – some more than one blog – most without any advertising revenue – is incredibly humbling and inspiring. I recently reached out to a handful of our favorite bloggers to ask for advice on starting a blog. Inspired, challenged and committed by a variety of different reasons, all of these local women share the same common attributes of hard work, a sense of humor, and a common love for storytelling.
If you are thinking of starting a personal – or professional – blog this new year, read the conversation below. Each of these bloggers provided thoughtful, candid – and sometimes hilarious – words of advice. And when you’re finished reading, please visit their blogs (PS- there are two Courtney’s…not the same blogger!). We linked each name to their personal blog. You, too, will be inspired and amazed. Enjoy!
Q: What inspired you to start a blog?
A: Like many people, I originally started using blogging as a private, personal online journal. I found it to be therapeutic and also found it to be a great way to document my first pregnancy. Now I blog for my kids and for myself. There are so many things that I wouldn’t be able to remember if it weren’t for the fact that I blogged it. – Courtney
A: I have quite a few friends who also have family blogs and I followed them before I started my own. I thought the concept of a blog was pretty neat. And family blogs are awesome! I mean, who doesn’t like to talk about their kids? My husband and I have friends and family all over the country and it’s a great way for them to see what we’re up to. We have some family members that we’re only able to see once or twice a year and they love being able to read stories about the kids and watch them grow in pictures. It’s also an easy way to scrapbook! A while back, a friend of mine introduced me to a website where you can make books from your blog posts. – Stefanie
Q: What has been your greatest challenge as a blogger?
A: My greatest challenge has been not looking at the statistics. Any growth The Fierce Beagle has had has been organic. I don’t advertise; I don’t want the pressure (at least right now) of trying to turn my blog into a business. It’s easy, though, to fret over how many comments posts are getting—or not getting. It’s easy to compare my blog to those of other bloggers. I’m competitive by nature, and I’ve had to remind myself more than once that I didn’t start my blog to Win at Blogging. Now, after two years, I have a very good following of about a hundred daily readers and two hundred subscribers. I cherish all of my readers and every single comment I get. And I know that they read my blog because of the quality. Organic growth creates a loyal readership. – Erin (She also writes for www.GoSimplifi.com and www.listaddicts.blogspot.com.)
A: Finding – no, appreciating – my “voice.” I read so many other blogs, and they always seem so much funnier, more clever, or the blogger can just plain say it better than I can. Then I have to remember that I’m not blogging for all of “them” – though it’s nice that “they” read – I’m blogging for myself and for our families. – RLR
Q: What has been the most rewarding?
A: Recently, a reader saw pictures of my artwork that is posted on my blog. She asked me to paint something for her child’s bedroom and followed up with a heartwarming e-mail about how much she enjoyed my work! – Sarah
A: Definitely for me, the most rewarding thing has been to see my blog in print. Since I use my blog now mostly for documentation purposes I really wanted to have a hard copy instead of just the digital files. I’ve used Blog2Print to have my first three years of blog posts published and bound into a book. This way my daughter has a record of everything I’ve written about her (uh oh… hahaha) and I’m saving up to get the last couple of years printed as well. – Courtney
Q: How did you come up with your unique blog name?
A: I chose “The Fierce Beagle” because of my family dog growing up. He was a beagle, obviously, but he was a small one. His attitude, however, wasn’t small. I guess I sort of identified with that. Plus, the title was unique and nonspecific, which allowed me to post freely on a variety of topics. – Erin
A: I came up with (One Nutty Girl) because I had a cookie dough company called The Dough Nut. One Nutty Girl is where I blogged about my life behind the girl and the business, etc.I ended up calling myself One Nutty Girl, my life in a nutshell.I think I can be pretty nutty most days!!I’ve retired from the dough, but I am still a total nut!I’m super healthy too and I eat a lot of nuts, so it just fit! – MJ (She also is one of the originators/writers for Seek the Triad)
Q: How often do you use other types of social media, like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, other? How have they helped you? What’s the one vice you use the most, and why?
A: Like blogging, I was an early adopter of Facebook and Twitter.. I figured out the other month that when I first started using Facebook in 2006, there were less than 1 million members.. Now there are over 500 million! I love Facebook but hands down, my preferred microblog tool is Twitter. I just crossed the 5,000th tweet last week and it is THE way to reach me. I have met some of the most amazing people thru Twitter..both locally and nationally. – Kristen
A: Having a ‘smart phone’ makes it easy to keep up with Facebook, twitter, and blogs several times a day, but I’m trying to become more disciplined and check in less often. I have a twitter app on my BlackBerry, which is the one I check most often. For me, it’s the easiest one to check on the go, the best way to stay up-to-date (up-to-the-minute, actually) on what’s happening, and it’s easier than scrolling through my feed reader or tons of FB postings. Also, twitter is a great multi-tasker. I have it set to update my facebook status, and I used to have my twitter feed in the sidebar of my blog. – RLR
Q: What has been the strangest thing that has happened to you as a blogger?
A: I use sitemeter on my blog so I can see how many people read it and where they are and stuff. It is really strange to see people on the other side of the world reading my blog! – Bethany
A: I don’t know, being asked to do this interview? 🙂 – Stefanie
A: I tried to make Bakerella cake pops one time and the were a total disaster and hideously ugly. So, I blogged about that.I kept getting comments for months from some one who would just say “These are shit balls”.That is all they would say. I was like “Hello? I know that,” and I pretty much said that in my post, so why do you have to keep telling me like I don’t know!!! –MJ
A: I”ve been surprised to see how many folks are looking for a recipe for strawberry limeade or chicken chorizo tostadas, and have stumbled on my little blog! – Courtney (She also continues to update her first blog).
Q: What has been the funniest thing that has ever happened?
A: Someone recognized my son and I at Harris Teeter and asked (jokingly) for my autograph. I laughed hysterically and signed my name on the carton of orange juice she was buying. True story. – Sarah
A: This was more pleasant than funny, but the day of the Triad Moms on Main launch party, I got recognized by someone who’d previously only “known” me through the blogging world (and I’m not sure if she reads my blog, but she saw my comment and photo on another local blog!) , was blogged about, and met an anonymous blogger. All in just a few hours! That “getting blogged about” part takes the cake, since I didn’t know it was coming and not many people would know that the post was about me. It really was a sweet and kind blog post, and still makes me smile when I think of it! – RLR
Q: Do you ever feel like you just want to throw in the towel, and if so, what keeps you going?
A: Sometimes I’ll get behind in blogging because I want to actually be “in” life and not simply write about it, and it will take hours to get “caught up”, but it’s always worth it to have it all recorded. – Courtney
A: Yes! Sometimes I will read other blogs and think to myself, “WOW! They are so successful! How do they do this? I don’t know enough about flash or html or photography or basic design, etc to make my site look this professional…” but I always come back to it because of the writing, because of the heart of it. Blogging is about celebrating this crazy beautiful experience we call LIFE. To me, it truly doesn’t matter if my mom is the only one reading what I write. I simply enjoy the experience and to me that is always enough! – Sarah
Q: Do you connect with other bloggers on a regular basis, and are there local blogger groups writers can join?
A: I’ve recently started meeting other bloggers, particularly local ones, through the Ronald McDonald House (they hosted a blogger gathering before their reopening just a few months ago). While it’s great to meet other bloggers in real life, I’ve found that online relationships can be very rich and fulfilling. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten, and mentors I’ve had, have been other bloggers I only know digitally. – Erin
A: Ironically, I started a group this Spring dubbed Broads Who Tweet.. I did it to give local female twitter-ers a way to meet face to face and take the amazing relationships that we’ve built online and put a face to each other. While most of us are local, it’s not limited to local women (or men.. We have a few guys who love us, too! They started their own.. Dudes Who Tweet ;0 ) We absolutely would LOVE to have anyone join in on the conversation and meetings. There are also an abundance of others.. Social Media Club Piedmont, Social Media Club Greensboro, Linking Greensboro, Linking Triad, Linking Winston-Salem to name a few. I know that I spoke with a couple of other bloggers (women) who wanted to start a different group specifically FOR bloggers. – Kristen
Q: How many blogs do you read daily, and how do you keep track?
A: I read too many blogs to count. I use Google Reader daily and I assign the blogs I read a Level 1, 2, or 3 priority based on whether or not I feel like I can skip reading their posts or not. I still try to read almost everything in my feed, but when I get behind this helps tremendously. – Courtney
A: I probably follow about 40-50 blogs, but only 10-20 of those update them on a regular basis. I really don’t follow any blogs of people that I don’t know or who I haven’t at least had real conversations with at some point. I follow them via blogger, so when I log in to my blogger account it lets me know who has recently updated their blogs. – Courtney
Q: And from each of you, what advice to you have for budding bloggers?
A: Try it and see if you like it. There are no “rules” and you can always start out with it marked “private” so that only people you grant permission can see what you post. You may find that you want to keep it that way and you may find that blogging just isn’t for you. Either way, it can’t hurt to give blogging a try. – Courtney
A: Make sure you’re enjoying it. It’s rare that someone starts a blog (at least a personal blog) with the purpose of making money that totally takes off. Money comes after the online presence is solidified, and a blog as a business is a tremendous amount of work. Whenever I’ve gotten frustrated or jaded, I always return to my roots: Blogging is a creative endeavor for me, one that has opened doors to new opportunities and new friendships. – Erin
A: Write what you know and write what’s important to you. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t get overwhelmed by folks like Pioneer Woman or the mom blogs that seem to have it all together. Even the most open and honest of blogs are still only showing you a glimpse into their lives and you never know what the whole picture is like. Find a blog or two that look the way you’d like for yours to look (realistically), and let those blogs be an inspiration to you. – Courtney
A: To me, what makes blogging so fun is that you can blog about absolutely anything: your family, sports, food, crafts, books, design, adoption or anything else you can think up. Pic a theme and go for it! My advice would be blog at your own pace and don’t beat yourself up if you get behind! Have fun with it! But I’ll warn you, It can be addictive! 🙂 – Stefanie
A: Don’t put pressure on yourself. I think that I put so much pressure on myself to have the perfect post with the perfect picture. I can take up way too much time focusing on the picture. Sometimes I have some really great blog posts in my head but I don’t write them b/c I don’t have a picture!! Also, if you are tired, sometimes just go to bed. I think we get so wrapped up in the fact that someone is going to click on our blog at 6 am and have to have the post there. I can see for SEEK you need to get it done, but I’ve stayed awake way too many hours working on my personal blog One Nutty Girl, like someone really cares that much if the post is a little late the next morning!! – MJ
A: Know why you want to do it before you start – and remember that when you worry about how many followers you have, why you got a nasty comment, or why you aren’t getting paid/sponsored. – RLR
A: Blog because it is something you enjoy, not because you are trying to please a specific audience. I blog because I truly enjoy writing about life and my creative passions. Blog because you have a passion for someone or something. I blog because I enjoy sharing the experience of motherhood with others. I am passionate about being the best mother/teacher/woman I can be! I am passionate about inspiring creativity and making the world a more colorful place. It also means so much when I can help others by sharing my own experiences. This passion is what drives my blog and makes me come back for more. Blog because you want to make a difference. I think the blogs that focus on the greater good are the most successful over all. – Sarah
A: Just have fun! I take lots of pictures and use them to make up the majority of my posts. Get Windows Live Writer- it makes blogging so much easier ( and I promise I am not a paid promotion of it- I just really like it!) – Bethany
A: Do it because you want to do it. Don’t do it because everyone is doing it or you “have to”. Don’t worry about what you’re writing.. Write from the heart. And decide from the get go whether you’re going to open it up and monetize it because it WILL change how you should write your blog. – Kristen
Wow, thanks ladies!!! Invaluable information. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules – this holiday season, no less – to do this interview. Wishing you all much success this coming new year! Keep it coming!