Recently, I've been getting a lot of questions from readers about blogging, writing, and books. Rather than replying to each question via email, I thought I'd group the inquiries into a themed interview about these topics. I hope you find this useful!
1. When did you start blogging and why?
I started blogging in late December 2007. Since then I've been blogging consistently for three and a half years. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about starting a small business or using my blog as a platform to connect with like minded people. Prior to starting RowdyKittens, I hadn’t thought about the direction I wanted to go with my writing or even if the blog would have a general focus. My goals were simple and straight forward:
A. Learn as much as possible about WordPress and social media.
B. Find my writing voice.
C. Keep friends and family up to date by using the blog as an online journal.
2. What blogging platform do you recommend?
If you're looking for a premium theme, I recommend the Thesis theme. RowdyKittens was built using this wordpress theme.
3. How do I come up with a blog name and brand it?
When you're trying to decide what name to go with, pick something that resonates with you. If you're still having a hard time deciding on a name, make a list of words that you like. Try to combine some of them into two-word pairs and see what you come up with. By combining two words you can often create a term with a new meaning. I used that exercise when I came up with the name for my ebook, Smalltopia.
I didn't start RowdyKittens with branding in mind and it's not my primary concern right now. When it comes to writing and business, my core philosophy is simple and straight forward:
- Write helpful content. - Send out a consistent message. - Be honest and authentic. - "Free Is Not a Business Model." - Have fun!
For more info read: Branding 101 - How to Promote Your Blog Like the Big Guys Do.
4. What's your take on blog comments?
During December of last year, I decided to close comments for the month. Moderating comments was a lot of work and I wanted to try putting that energy into writing instead. But as the weeks went on, I felt like it was the wrong decision. A huge part of my writing has to do with community building and I believe that interacting with readers via comments is one way to do so. Turning off comments felt a little bit like sticking my fingers in my ears and running away from the discussion.
However, with the comments turned off, I felt more freedom to write what was on my mind. Overall, I have mixed feelings about comments. Comments are great because I've learned a lot from readers; but, on the other hand, dealing with trolls isn't fun.
For now, I've decided to open or close comments at my discretion.
5. How did you monetize your blog?
When I started blogging, monetizing my blog wasn't a concern. But when I left my day job last year I got more serious about using my blog to diversity my income stream. I've done that by selling ebooks, letters, participating in affiliate programs that I believe in, and doing freelance work. In essence, my blog is my home-base on the Internet.
For more on this topic, read:
6. Do you have a writing routine? Can you tell me a little bit about it?
I write everyday. I either start my work day by journaling or writing in 750words. Journaling helps me focus on larger projects because I allow myself to write really badly.
Your first draft will always be a shitty draft. So ignore your inner perfectionist and just write. You can edit later. :)
7. How can I become a better writer?
Peter Roy Clark encourages writers to "read for both form and content." He goes on to say, "The writer must answer this question: what am I trying to build? And then this one: what tools do I need to build it?"
Keep writing and reading. If you don't write, you won't be able to improve. Second, I've found that reading a wide range of material has not only improved my writing, it informs what I write about on the blog, in my weekly letters, and in larger writing projects.
To improve your writing I suggest reading: “Bird by Bird: Some Instruction on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott and “Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer” by Roy Peter Clark.
8. On Twitter, you mentioned that you'll be unplugging during the month of July. Will you still be blogging?
Yes, I will be unplugging during the month of July. I won't be blogging, tweeting or facebooking. But I will check my email a few times a week to stay in touch with business contacts as well as friends and family. So what will I be doing? I'll be working on my print book. Stay tuned for an in-depth post about my sabbatical next week.