A Post for the Bloggers

>> Thursday, June 17, 2010

We get TONS of questions via email about blogging. So many, in fact, that writing a post totally devoted to all you bloggers seemed to be the best way to answer them all in one place. A few weeks ago, we covered one of the biggies: How To Get Readers (in our FAQ version 2.0). Now, in a three-part series of posts, we'll shed some light (hence the photo) on the top fifteen OTHER questions we get on a regular basis.

Yes -- fifteen. (I told you we get a lot!). Without further hesitation, here are the first five . . .

#1: Why did you start blogging? And how did you come up with (never home)maker?

I started blogging a long, long, long time ago. And if you count my various websites throughout the years (beginning with a site -- complete with an animated, flashing GIF background -- all about John Lennon back when I was 12-years-old -- dork alert!!!), I guess the World Wide Web and I have had an almost 15-year relationship. I started then because I thought it was cool to make things in HTML. I kept going because it was a creative outlet for me. I've always been into writing. I even have a degree in expository writing, so blogging has always been a way for me to hone my craft, if you will. Naturally, keeping up the practice of writing on a daily basis is good for me.

I had several personal blogs about my life that were frequented by my friends and family. Without even realizing it, with each new version I was zeroing in on a focus. Then I started writing a lot about my races and food, specifically. Recipes started showing up more often than not . . . blogging became a really easy way to share my favorite eats with friends. Then I began my first "real" food blog, METHOD, above, and had it for about a year and a half. I think I posted about once a day. I had around 180 subscribers as well as a couple hundred hits a day. I loved METHOD. But I wanted more from my whole blogging experience, so I created (never home)maker in November 2009.

Why the change? I didn't want to blog just about food anymore. I love food -- don't get me wrong! However, it was difficult creating all those cookies, cakes, and other dishes (and eating them all, too!) for daily posts. And even though I have a clear passion for food, I have passion for health much more. (never home)maker gives me (and Stephen!) a great place to share our lives with other like-minded people.

The name (never home)maker is something I came up with in the shower one morning. I had been tooling around with what the new blog would be about, and -- all of a sudden -- it hit me. We were in the middle of marathon training, and I seriously felt like I was always coming and going. Always -- and quite literally -- on the run. Whenever we WERE home, we were desperately trying to cook, clean, bake, and do other homemaker-ish stuff. Finish projects around the house. So, yeah. We're truly homemakers who are never home. The healthy living focus came when we realized that we're always, in everything we do, trying to live the healthiest life possible. Ever since we gained this new focus, blogging has been easier than ever. We're just oozing with posts!

#2: What are the first steps toward creating my own blog?

The best advice I can give if you want to start your own blog is to not concentrate solely on what your audience wants to read. Of course, it's a given that you first need to pick an audience and a topic, but your blog should be about a topic that YOU enjoy. Something you do in your everyday life. Something related to your passions and abilities. Because unless you make it YOU, you won't have the interest or stamina to keep it up long-term. Really, you need to look within yourself and ask: Who AM I? Because more often than not, if you are truly yourself, people will be able to relate and like what you write.

Beyond that, you need to find what makes your particular take on a topic interesting. There are millions of blogs about every subject you can imagine. So, what makes you special? That is what will keep readers coming back to read you whether or not you have a fancy header graphic and design or good photos or giveaways. And you don't need to focus on just one thing either. But make sure you're consistent. Remember that people who start reading your blog about porcelain dolls will likely be confused if you start randomly posting about RVs or heavy metal bands.

So, once you're picked a a focus, you'll need to get started with the technical aspect. Blogger and Wordpress are good places to start. Both have easy and more advanced options for design and posting. We'll cover more about this in a future post in this series. But before you worry about the look and feel, you just need to start writing. The design and other features can always come later.

#3: How often should I post?

This is such a difficult question to answer. But, you need to find a schedule that works for you and your lifestyle. Whatever you do, you -- again -- need to be consistent. If you can only find time to post once a week -- try to publish that post on a certain day. That way, your readers will know when to check back and read more. If you can post every other day, try to keep up with that. Every day? That's great -- but if you find yourself falling behind, don't begin all your posts with a weighty sentence apologizing for not keeping up. Instead, reevaluate what you can handle, and stick with it.

It's the whole quality over quantity thing. And until you get into the swing of it, you might want to start small. Outlining posts for the week helps -- even just a rough list of the items you want to write about. Making sure you have clear topics that fit your focus is also key. But I think we've been over that point already.

#4: What camera do you use?

Photography is another hobby of mine. I'm getting more and more into it with each passing day. I started my blog adventures with a no-frills point-and-shoot digital camera. I think it was less than 4 megapixels! There are better phone-cameras than that now! Anyway, I currently shoot a Nikon D40 and just recently got a D90. But here's the thing: Having a DSLR or fancy camera doesn't guarantee good photos. I can take some pretty crappy ones even with my fancy-schmancy new DSLR.

It's the person behind the camera that counts.

For example, the photo above was taken with a basic digital camera. I don't think it's half bad. You just need to pay attention to good rules of framing, lighting, etc. -- and even a regular clicker will get your pictures that will do just fine. Even better, really!

Don't stress too much if your photos aren't the best right away. You'd be surprised what a little practice will do. And if you're interested in food photography specifically -- checking out what others have shot is helpful. Go to sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting for inspiration. If any of you are interested in more details about taking good food and other photos, let me know. I could consider posting about it in the future!

#5: Can I be on your Blogroll?

(Get it? Rolling pin? Huh?) Often, you'll see people write a NO to answer this question. But we accept links that relate to our content on a submission basis. If you'd like to be included in our Link Love List, just check it out. You'll need to email us with a bit of information -- everything you need to know is on this post. We try to update this content monthly, so don't worry if you don't see your link up there right away.

Whatever you do, don't let the lure of more traffic stray you from being yourself. Readers will visit and stay a while if you are genuine. We love our readers more than we could have ever imagined! So, thanks to all of your for making our lives happy.

I hope these questions/answers help those of you who are curious. Stay tuned for more blog-related posts in the future. And, of course, don't forget you have until Friday, June 18th at 9PM to enter our CSN $60 Gift Certificate Giveaway. I know what I'd do with that $$$ -- buy a new food processor!!!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!!

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