Hi everyone! My blog’s 3rd birthday is this month and I thought, what better way to celebrate than sharing with you what I know now and what I wish I knew along the way, well that and birthday cake for breakfast!
Why did you start blogging?
I actually created my WordPress site in 2014, that was the first time I ever seriously thought about blogging, I went to school for English and took some creative writing classes along the way and for a long time I thought I’d end up working in a publishing house, or as an editor, but after I got my English degree I needed a break, I read books I hated, wrote papers I didn’t believe in, and just felt like I had gotten so much feedback that I didn’t really know what my voice sounded like anymore.
Back then, I had written two 10-page short stories and some poems and I thought they’d live here, but I was too nervous to post them.
Fast-forward three years later, I posted my first blog. The motivation was that I desperately needed a distraction from my real life, my dad was a couple months away from being diagnosed with a terminal illness and him and my mom were spending most days at doctors appointments for testing. I needed something to take my mind off my life and I ended up here. My first few blog posts are still around, I don’t look at them much because they seem a bit forced compared to what I write now, but I leave them up as proof that we all start somewhere.
How do you get ideas for blogs?
Some of my favorite blog posts have been inspired by other media, whether a made-for-Netflix movie (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before), a book (everything I know about love, Things that (Sometimes) Make Me Better), a song (Taylor Swift Inspired Diary-Dump, thank u, next – Why Just Like Ariana I’m Grateful for My Ex) – ideas are all around, did you just read that back in Hugh Grant’s voice, oh okay, just me?
Sometimes I look for inspiration and other times it finds me. I will say that doing something out-of-the-ordinary always makes me feel like blogging, maybe planning an outing for the day, like a winery, or apple orchard, or going away overnight, like to the city, things like that always make me look at things a bit more like a writer and with such a happy heart.
How long does it take to write a blog?
Sometimes I can have a blog written and published in under an hour, while rare, that does happen from time-to-time. I pretty much always have 25 draft posts that I’m working on, maybe only 5 of those will end up getting published, but I like to keep my ideas drafted, just in case I wake up one day ready to write. The longest I’ve ever worked on a post was close to a year. I just kept dumping ideas and snippets into a draft and eventually was able to piece it all together. For me, the hardest part of blogging isn’t writing, I write down sentences and paragraphs I want to use in my Notes app all the time, but the way I write is always in pieces, like vignettes, for me, piecing them together and making them make sense is the tricky bit.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
YES! And when I do, I go for a drive. I think best behind the wheel, going 60, with the windows down, and music on. Sometimes I have to pull over because I finally figured out how one thing fits together with another thing.
What’s the best bit of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
I think about this SO often. How everything I know about writing started the summer of eleventh grade, when I went to a Summer Scholars program at Vassar and met a professor who was so influential to everything I’ve written since. “Be clear and concise.” “Don’t be afraid to hit backspace.” “If you’ve used more than one word to describe something – you’ve used too many.” Anyone who’s ever tried, really tried, to write anything knows what a painstaking process it can be, which is why we sit and stare at a paragraph for hours, re-working it, adding a word here, deleting a word there – but honestly, you’re almost always better off to delete the whole thing – once you’ve written it once you overcame the hardest bit, getting it on paper, now that that’s not stopping you, delete it and write what you really want to!
How many people view your blog?
WordPress breaks down site stats by views and visitors – a view means someone looked at a post or page, a visitor is how WordPress counts unique site visits. For example, you might be counted as a visitor if you visit my site, and you might be counted as multiple views if you look at multiple posts, so I’ll break down both:
- In 2017: 1,225 views from 410 visitors
- In 2018: 5,375 views from 2,681 visitors
- In 2019: 19,580 views from 11,277 visitors
- So far in 2020: 8,224 views from 4,850 visitors (keep in mind October-December is my “busy” season)
- All time stats: 34.6k views from 19.2k visitors!
Where does most of your traffic come from?
It’s kind of weird to think about this one, because when I think about my blog – I just assume that the people who read it are all people I know in real life, but about 60% of my traffic comes from search engines, while sometimes that’s someone googling my name, more often than not it’s from them googling something else, like “queer eye butternut squash soup recipe,” or “butternut squash soup queer eye.” Go ahead try it – I’m one of the first Search results and I’m putting that on my resume thank you very much.
Do you make money blogging?
NO! I haven’t made a penny blogging. While I’m open to the idea of turning blogging into a source of income, I’m really happy with where I’m at right now. I would so much rather keep this my little, happy space on the internet, than push some pyramid scheme to make a few extra bucks! Also, I’ve done freelance writing and something about being paid to write makes me love it a bit less, so we’ll see where I end up, but if anything ever changes – you’ll be the first to know!
Do you ever feel apprehensive about sharing?
YES! I still feel anxious to post on Instagram that I have a new blog post up, I was terrified the day I told my co-workers that I had a blog, as much as there are amazing, supportive people, there are also a lot of people who follow me on Instagram who look at my blog, who’ve never mentioned anything good or bad to me – don’t worry, I don’t know who you are – just that about 25% of my followers have been here before.
I don’t mind sharing and I do in the hopes that someone sat at home can relate and feel like they have a friend, even if it’s one that they don’t talk to every day. While I have never gotten a mean comment, I also very rarely get supportive ones – there’s a lot of radio silence, which I guess is probably a good thing.
There’s also this thing where “blogging” is kind of a dirty word on the internet. I follow so many “bloggers” who don’t actually write anything, and all I do is write, so sometimes it feels like maybe it’s not the best name for what I do. I’m not doing swipe-ups, I’m writing about the best and most soul-crushing bits of my life and that feels different from everyone else’s “Personal Blog.”
What advice would you give yourself three years ago?
I’d give myself the exact same advice my MBA advisor gave me when I went to talk to her about starting my Masters. She said, “Stephanie, when was the first time you thought you wanted to get an MBA?” I said, I don’t know, maybe three years ago. She said, “if you started then, you would’ve been done already.” It was a heavy realization, but also a dare. So, I started school. I would tell myself – that time spent dreaming is wasted, especially when you could be doing.
What would you say to someone thinking of starting a blog?
DO IT! First of all, I’m so super nosy, so if I know you and you want to post about your high school boyfriend, the current love of your life, your job, your ex best friends, I’M HERE FOR IT, I’m reading it, I support you, I’ll send you all the heart-eye and fire emojis. I’d also say not to really worry how it looks at first, my blog wasn’t very “glossy” when I first started, and while I’m still not where I want to be, I’m so proud of my progress!