One of my favorite bloggers, Katy Widwrick, allowed me to interview her. If you’re not familiar with her, she began the #Fitblog chats on Twitter and is extremely knowledgable on the social media forefront. Most of what I’ve learned about blogging, I have learned from her! Enjoy!
1. Why did you begin your blog? Were you nervous about people reading?
I started my blog when I left the daily news business to join a startup company, and felt more free to share some of my opinions of the stories making headlines. Frankly, I got going with a lot of gusto then realized…as much as I like to dissect the journalism business, it just wasn’t making for good blog fodder (and I had some other passions that seemed like better fits for a website).
After a few news-driven posts, I started to experiment with posting about my new healthy lifestyle. I’d begun making better meals at home, following Weight Watchers, working out, etc. and felt much more accountable as I journaled the ups and downs. I also think I fell under the spell of the healthy living blogging community which was really taking off in 2007. I copied what I saw — posting photos of my food, listing all of my workouts — but after a while realized that it just wasn’t me.
After some growing pains, I think my blog is now a perfect fit for what I always wanted it to be. It’s a journal, sure, but it’s also (hopefully!) a resource for other bloggers, because I post about new tools I’ve discovered, review products and try to help elevate the community. Each and every email or comment I get warms my heart.
I was a little nervous about people reading when I started, because I realized that what goes on the Internet can never come back. But I never really considered myself a lifecaster, so I’m less concerned with sharing too much. Now, I have a young daughter and I blog about her life, so it’s something that I’m definitely considering — it’s not just my privacy now, it’s hers.
2. If a new blogger comes to you and thinks they are doing something wrong because of low readership (or anything they consider to be success) what would your advice to them be?
For better or worse, blogging success tends to be judged in numbers — traffic, money, followers, etc. I think it HAS to start with passion, and I always ask: “would you keep blogging if only five people read your work?” If the answer is yes, I am always happy to recommend a few pointers. If not, I urge the person to figure out what he/she really wants to do first, because if you don’t like what you’re doing, you can’t expect anyone else to.
I think the biggest tips for increasing traffic on most blogs are:
a) make your content extremely easy to share (don’t make people take any extra steps – they won’t!)
b) reward people for engaging (reply to comments, go to their sites, follow back)
c) blog often and blog carefully (make sure your posts are proofed for grammar, include photos, are formatted well)
3. When thinking back to the beginning, what do you feel has been the most important factor in Katywidrick.com ‘s success?
I think the biggest factors for my success have been redefining myself until I found the best fit AND becoming an expert and go-to resource on a few key topics. My posts on media kits, monetization and working with brands are some of the most popular and most shared, so I think there’s an element of supply and demand that works for my blog.
4. Do you have any rituals when it comes to brainstorming post topics?
The only rituals I have for brainstorming topics is to look for the questions people are asking, and anticipating the trends. For example, I follow all of the tech and social media sites, so I knew that Google Reader was being phased out. I had already prepared a post with some alternatives when all of a sudden, the announcement was finalized and people freaked out about losing their favorite RSS reader. I was able to spend 20 minutes finishing my post and get it live, when people really wanted the information.
I also keep an editorial calendar so I can immediately save post ideas and start to contribute to them over time — collecting links, screengrabs, etc.
5. What are your favorite blog posts to write and promote?
On a personal level, I really love sharing some of my deep, sometimes dark, experiences with fitness, health and blogging. I’ve had some high and low days, and I like writing about them. But I think on a more professional level, I like sharing the helpful posts — the post on the best WordPress plugins or the post on how much to charge for banner ads. I know those are appreciated and I feel that if I can help even one other blogger, I’ve done my job.