Thursday, 3 November 2016

Blogging questions, asked and answered!

I did it. I did the thing. I lectured. It went well. It was the other day, I taught some freshers how to blog and yeah, it was well cool innit. 
I am deliberately being short here because I don't want this post to turn into a mushy monologue, I really must stop doing those...it's so tempting, though... 

The first thing I did in both my seminars was break the ice and open up the floor – mixed metaphors aplenty – and instead of rambling on and on at them, sharing all my anecdotes and probably the more menial matters, not to mention doling out countless useless tips, I asked them to ask me what they actually, genuinely wanted to know. 


I was so excited to answer the resulting questions, from each of the groups that had formed within the room. Interestingly, I was only asked one particular question twice – I'll indicate which one below.
I thought it might be cute and hopefully useful to answer their questions on here, too, written down and probably more coherent and thought through than when they asked me and I had to respond verbally, immediately and most likely slightly erratically...!

So, if you want a mini-seminar of sorts, a quick lot of my tips on blogging with some personal experience mixed in, read on! These are the questions I remember being asked and most enjoyed answering.


How did you get into the blogging thing? (this is the one I was asked by a group from both seminars)

I started blogging when I was 16. I was between classes at college and I was just full of feelings and angst and confusion...I needed to get that all out somehow. For some reason having a notebook in my bag and scribbling stuff down didn't work for me then; that felt like I was still carrying things around with me. So on a complete whim I made this Blogger site braceletsandbangles.blogspot.co.uk, and it served as a safe space for me to muse, vent and just throw thoughts out through. I didn't care that others could read it, if they felt so inclined. It was just for me, then.
I take it much more seriously now. It's still 100% me, just less...angsty. I've found and earned more of a following, more lovely and responsive readers, over the past 2 years.


Do you have a schedule? How do you post consistently?

1. No schedule! I may not have a concrete day-by-day routine with posting BUT I do have a strong sense of what needs doing, over the course of a week. For instance, a Just Some Things post will go up every week and then bookish and personal posts will pretty much alternate. Shorter posts will fill spaces sometimes, but not just for the sake of it, they're all written with care. And obviously if something has to be up on a certain date it will be, and any other posts that week fit around it. It's hard working out how to keep everything fresh all the time without overloading followers and posts getting lost in the surge!

2. I never 'forget' to post. I always want to. Which is good, I think. As it says in my Twitter bio now, that wanky thing I keep saying when I'm asked why I write: I can't not.


When do you share links?

Typically I'll make things live and share links between 7:30 and 8am, because posts are always read at that time – whether that's commuters on their way to work or folks reading with breakfast/while brushing teeth (the latter being me). I will also post in the evenings, around the time folks are heading home from wherever or are just settling on the sofa with dinner and 'It Takes Two' (yes, that's also me).
I also try and share something bigger for weekends, one post that goes live on Friday morning and will last for the following 2 days. I don't always like posting late Saturday afternoon or mid-morning on a Sunday as nobody is around to read, it seems! And Saturday night is the most hit/miss time of all, sometimes I get tons of views and sometimes none.


What's your blog about?

EVERYTHING!! Mostly books, sex, personal drama, my health, snippets of creative writing, opinion pieces...yeah, loads of tings, innit.
I used to wonder if I should make separate blogs for individual topics, but then I quite like that everything can be found here, under different headings at the top of the page. So do readers, apparently. 


How did the blog help with your degree?

I would post bits of assignments on my blog, and share it with the Creative Writing 2011-2014 Facebook group. We'd all do that now and again, and ask one another to proof read and comment. It was very helpful!
I also made a blog specifically for my ECP in third year. It consisted of photos I'd taken of scenery and my friends posed as important characters; it was just a big interactive collage of snaps you could click on for little bits of story. That went down well, gave the diss another dimension and actually helped me focus on the writing more.


Do you make money from the blog?

I do from time to time, but nowhere near enough to be my sole source of income. I dream of becoming a freelancer someday but right now I am happy to write for next to nothing (with the occasional cash package landing in my lap quite by surprise, god bless commissions) and get my experience and exposure. I'm paying my dues! 



How do you know something you want to post will work?

I've started sharing bits with friends or just asking if they'd want to read something about [insert topic here]. Mostly, though, I just abide by that ancient writing rule of (paraphrasing): if you're unsure, save it in drafts and re-read after some time has passed, to see it objectively and decide once and for all. I usually give it about a week, and then I'll know. Having said that, there are still posts waiting patiently in my Drafts folder that I've been wobbling over for months...


What advice would you give to those starting a blog now?

I'm at the phase in my career, my life, where I'm saying 'yes' to everything. So I'd say get used to doing that – although not if you're being offered or asked to do something you don't want, y'know? – and reach out. Can't hurt, can it? Worst thing that can happen is the idol you tweet with a plea for advice will not see your reply and won't answer. And you can always try again.

Also, don't delete anything. Just 'revert to draft', if need be. It's important to see where you've come from.

Okay, and the key things when writing anything, but especially a blog: write what you know, yes, and what you care about. It's all well and good writing a few hundred words on something you know a shit ton about, but unless you have a passion for it or at least a keen interest in it, the post won't be exciting to write and then it may not grab readers. Be true to you! Cheesy enough? Good. 


Do you see yourself doing it forever?

Totally. 


* * *

It was such a pleasure talking to these kids, and I really hope I didn't come across as a try-hard cool-teacher type with my bright lippy and lack of shoes while lecturing...though I understand completely if that's how they saw me, tbh. 

Thank you, Winchester. It was surreal af and unexpectedly the most fun thing to do. Shout-out to my fellow lecturers, you utter gems, thanks for looking after me! 

If anyone reads this post and thinks of something they'd like to know that hasn't been covered here, then by all means tweet me or email at grace.latter@gmail.com!

1 comment

  1. Can you describe three different ways of earning income from blogging?

    ReplyDelete

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