Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What's in it for bloggers?

The topic of why BLOG piqued my curiosity recently when blogger Misty Rayburn asked the question on an Independent authors Facebook group Master Koda"Why are authors afraid to talk to bloggers? Seems to me they always act like we're gonna bite or something.”

This sparked an interesting conversation. Misty thought that authors are afraid to approach bloggers.

"There's a question bouncing around in my mind right now. "Why are authors afraid to talk to bloggers? 

Bloggers don’t get paid, for the most part, and if anyone benefits more from the author/blogger relationship it’s the author. So, “sharing content is imperative. This is a partnership. We bloggers expect to get new views from an author’s readers just as they expect to get new readers from our postings.”

Talking with Misty, got me thinking. There are so many blogs out there that it seems the Internet will explode at any minute and yet there are still new blogs being born every minute. The desire to blog is not going out of style anytime soon. 

I appreciate people who are spreading a positive message. I like to look for the good and all those bloggers who are out there supporting authors are really doing us a favor. Her blog is The Top Shelf.

Hi Misty. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself. 

I always feel like there’s not much to tell about me.  I’m 32 years old and graduated from Capital University here in Columbus in 2005 with a degree in English Lit.  Before my back went bad on me, I used to do photography for bands.

What inspired you to start a blog? 

Mainly, the fact my back went south.  I couldn’t stand for long periods of time so I had to give up photography.  I went to a spine surgeon and did 6 months of physical therapy.  As a gift, my fiancĂ© and a friend got me a Barnes and Noble Nook.  Some friends of mine on the Nook page realized that when I talked about books that people listened.  They suggested I start a blog and so I did.  

Why do you keep the blog going?

Because I love it.  Simple as that.

Does your blog have a general theme?

If it had one overall theme, it’d be my interests.  If I’m interested in it, people tend to wanna hear about it.  My back flared up again over the last two years and I’ve been lying to myself so it kinda turned away from what I liked and enjoyed to just get some interesting content up there.  I’m changing that back now that I’m better.  I want to blog more and talk books, not just say “HERE look at this!” 

What are the rewards?

On the lowest level, the free reads.   We get to read stuff before everyone else!  On the other hand, we have to wait longer.  On the highest, making a difference.   

How much time do you spend keep up a blog?

I’m always working on the blog in some way shape or form.  Plugin updates, design tweaks, content, graphics, database and site backups.  

What are your goals with having a blog?

I don’t have any large term goals.  I’d like to make some money doing it because this is pretty much all I can do.  Other than that the overall goal has just been to read and talk about books! 

What has been your worst experience as a blogger.

I set a very high bar with The Top Shelf.  When my back started acting up again, I kept telling myself keep going, you’ll be okay.  You can’t let these people down.  It just kept getting worse and worse and it got to the point where I wasn’t reading as fast as I normally did because the pain was distracting.  I was missing blog tour deadlines, review deadlines that I had agreed to and I didn’t want to tell anyone the truth because I thought I could handle it.  When I finally did tell people I was taking a break to go back to the doctor, they were so supportive!  I think I did a lot of damage to myself with that whole deal.  There’s no shame in not being able to handle it all.  

Why do you think authors are afraid to ask you questions?

Probably the same reason we bloggers are afraid to request books from publicists.  We’re afraid of rejection.  We’re afraid that someone is going to look down on us for whatever reason.  

Sounds like you just answered your own question. Ha ha. What has been your best blogging experience?

Getting to interview Jeff Lindsay!  I haven’t posted it yet though!  Amazing interview and not about the Dexter series.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your blog?

The fact that it took off so quickly.  I’m proud of what I’ve done and what I see in the future for it.  I just hope I hold up!

Can you list some blogs that you like and follow? What do you think makes a blog a good one?

Honestly, I check random blogs people share on FB so I can’t really list any that I read regularly.  Too busy reading, reviewing, interviewing, scheduling and up-keeping.  Plus I’m trying to get back into photography so that takes up some time too.

What would you like authors to do different?

I think a little more understanding would be great.  I got a lot of people who said okay you go get yourself sorted but you could kinda tell that they were disappointed.  We don’t get paid for this and if anyone benefits more from the author / blogger relationship it’s the author.  
I think also sharing content is imperative.  This is a partnership.  We bloggers expect to get new views from an author’s readers just as they expect to get new readers from our postings. 
Always try to offer up new content.  I’ve had some authors send the same content to like 20 different bloggers.  Try to limit it to 10.  If you need help coming up with new content, ask the blogger.  We take the time to post your content, you should take the time to give us new things that will bring readers. Let me also say this:  Even if it’s cut and paste, don’t think we can just cut and paste it.  My Wordpress blog is a little temperamental when it comes to pre-formatted posts.  I take your content and format it myself every single time and yes that’s time consuming.  
Do you see your blog evolving into something else in the future?
I foresee a lot of things.  Periscope has me very interested and I might be playing around with that.  If I can’t get that to work the way I want to, I may start a youtube channel.  I’m also seeing a podcast down the road.  I’m already toying around with Instagram and posting pics from signings and stuff.  So yeah definitely a lot of great things in the works.

After talking with Misty, it got me thinking. There are so many blogs out there that it seems the Internet will explode at any minute and yet there are still new blogs coming to light and the desire to blog is not going out of style anytime soon. My girlfriend Anna Salvatore, together with her friends just recently started a food blog called Great Eight Friends. They might not consider themselves ‘authors’ but they are writing and not only that but they have learned about editing and coming up with entertaining subjects. These girls are doing it and with finesse but still, my question is Why? Why invest so much into something that may never get noticed? As I write this, I couldn’t help asking myself the same question and my answer comes quick. PASSION! I am pretty sure this is a big reason why most people do this but still, I need to know more. I mean, blogging takes time, energy and often money. Is passion enough to keep it going? I asked Anna this and here is what she had to say.

Great Eight Friends


Hi Anna. I have so many questions for you about your Great Eight Friends.

Let’s get right to the point, why are you doing it? What inspired Great Eight Friends? I understand you are passionate about cooking but why invest so much time and energy into doing a blog?

Great Eight Friends began as a dinner group 17 (seventeen) years ago. Four couples decided to get together just four times per year with each couple hosting at their house...simple, once a year dinner party, anyone can do that, right? And we called ourselves The Great Eight. 

For several years now our friends and kids have been encouraging us to do a blog. When I quit my job at the beginning of the year I decided it was time. I love writing and we each love to entertain and mostly just have fun. We are really doing it for ourselves and our kids. It is a Gr8 way to document family recipes, parties, and fun times. If others enjoy it and get something from it, then all the better!

 I love that! What has been the hardest thing thus far?

The hardest thing with having a blog is having to learn it all from scratch. None of us are tech savvy and none of us are well versed in social media, so every day is learning something new... Which is also kind of fun!

 What has been the most rewarding aspect.

The most rewarding part is the feedback and support from friends and family. One of my friends, who is young enough to be my daughter, asked the other day if we would do cooking lessons so she can learn to cook for her family. This is gratifying; not only does it expand our repertoire, but it feels good to help people!

 You are not an author but you write. Do you or any of the eight have writing experience?

None of us are professional writers, other than what we did in school.

 Who is doing the editing?

I do most of the editing and Kyle backs me up.

Who decides your material?

Kyle, Debbie, Jurga and I get together about every two months to create the editorial calendar. We consider the season, holidays, any trips or events that may be occurring in each of our lives.

What has received the most attention?

We are still trying to figure out what works best. Right now it looks like the Sunday posts get a lot of attention and any time we post something about comfort type foods we get a bit of a spike.

 Where do you find your images? 

We take all our own photos, which has been another learning curve for each of us. But we are having fun doing it! Now, when I look back at old photos I see how dark and shadowy they are. It’s rewarding to see marked improvement. And we each still have a long way to go!

Is there anything you find especially hard?

The only “hard” thing I think is that I wish I were younger and was raised with all the social media. We are still trying to figure out what really works.

What would you like to see happen with GEF? What is the goal?

Our first goal is to reach out to friends and family to share all the fun we’ve had and share some of our secrets.
And I would like to grow our Gr8 Friends base to reach even more people. We have such fun together no matter what we do, that we want our friends to join us in all of our Gr8 Fun!

I am inspired by Anna and her friends and I appreciate people who are spreading a positive message. I like to look for the good and more than anything I like to laugh. And no one makes me laugh more than Carol E. Wyer. author of humorous articles and books. She also writes for the Huffington Post and has an uplifting blog called Facing 50 With Humour. 

Hi Carol, please tell us a little about your blog.
 Facing 50 With Humour is sure an attention grabber. What inspired you?

It started way back in 2010 when I had a kernel of an idea for a book. I wanted to write about a woman facing 50 and all that that entails and who was stuck at home with a recently retired grumpy old man. Problem though; I knew nothing about blogging. I was going to do it in a diary format but that had been done too often so I decided to write it in the form of a blog. I wondered if you wrote a blog if anyone would read it and given I always research properly, I started the blog Facing 50 With Humour using a blogspot free format. The blog had two followers for a month and I posted what was to be the first few chapters for Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines. Then, surprise, surprise the blog took off. Word got out it was a funny blog and by the end of a few months I had over a 1000 followers and requests to guest post. I got cracking on the book and blogged about my life with Hubby (a grumpy old bloke who got up to all sorts of mischief) as well as the daft things that happen to me. I changed blogging platforms a couple of years ago, and now the blog is aimed at keeping people laughing or occasionally providing useful and amusing information for them. All the original posts were removed but if you want to read some of the earlier chatty posts take a look at my old blog www.facing50withhumour.blogspot.com (see below)

Is this your first blog?

Yes but I have since written FortifyingYourFifties which I had to abandon due to time constraints. I now also have the blog www.grumpyoldmenopause.com and write posts for the Huffington Post and Silver Travel Advisor.

What is the hardest part of blogging for you?

Time! There are never enough hours in a day for me now I have so many other writing commitments. Also, I never have time to visit other people's blogs. I used to always head straight over to a blog if someone commented and read their blog. Now, I can only do it when I have a spare five minutes.

How much time would you say you spend on Facing 50 With Humour?

These days I work on the blog one entire morning each week preparing and scheduling posts for the rest of the week. Fridays are hugely popular with my Feel Good Friday jokes and I have to make sure I have plenty of material for those or I'd get lynched. I once didn't post for two weeks and I got so many emails it was untrue. One came from a vicar who was distraught as he used my Friday joke day for material for his Sunday sermon each week.

I love that Carol! How do you keep it fresh and interesting? Is there a downside to blogging? How do you come up with your material?

It comes to me in the night when I am awake. I have never been short of ideas. There is so much out there for anyone who wants a laugh or who is facing 50 themselves.

What is the best part of blogging for you?

I always say blogging is like being at a huge virtual party. You get to meet some incredible people and I try to stay in touch with everyone. It is thanks to the encouragement of all my followers and friends online that I have enjoyed the success I have had with my writing. I shall never forget that. The blogging community is so supportive and consists of the friendliest people.

Maybe that has something to do with your amazingly positive attitude. You know, you attractive what you give kind of thing.What would you like to achieve with blogging?

I think I've achieved almost everything I set out to. I didn't expect to still be blogging five years later and still loving it. My biggest goal in life is to make as many people as possible smile and I hope in some small way I achieve that through my posts. As long as I can type, I'll still blog!

Well, there you have it. Three great blogs, all with different purposes but not without lofty goals. We might have different reasons for blogging but the rewards for many seem to make it worth the big time investment. 

There’s a ton of information floating around the world wide web. It’s so nice to know there are people putting their hearts into their work and lending their voice for the betterment of us all. When you have a chance please check out these fabulous blogs. 

Misty Rayburn is a graduate from Capital University with a BA in English Literature. She was a live event photographer, covering a lot of Columbus’ local scene but a back injury kept her out of the scene for two years. While recovering, she created The Top Shelf.  

Carol E Wyer is a writer, blogger and stand up comic who writes humorous fiction and nonfiction and attempts to encourage others to age disgracefully with Facing 50 with Humour

Anna Salvatore is a fly by the seat of her pants wife and mom who tries to make life for her family as fun as possible. She has had many chapters in her life and the latest is Great Eight Friends blog.  

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