Who's that Girl?


Pulling Back the Curtain on Bloggers

Originally posted: August 19, 2013 on TrishMcFarlane.com

What is a blogger?  I have my own working definition in my head that I can spout off when someone asks me.  I have to admit that it is a definition that evolves as I, and my writing, evolve.  Here’s how Miriam Webster defines it:

blog– a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; also : the contents of such a site

Ok, so they don’t exactly define blogger, but it’s the person that writes the online journal….yadda yadda.  One thing I find interesting is that people who do not blog are often curious about the process.  You’ve probably watched the Wizard of Oz, so you know that closer to the end of the movie, Dorothy and her crew pull back the curtain in the palace to find out that the great and powerful Oz is no more than a regular guy.  I don’t claim to be great and powerful, but I am just a regular girl.  I get a lot of questions and in the spirit of the Wizard of Oz, I thought I’d answer a few:

What made you start blogging? I worked at a company that offered a short video training on how to write a blog.  Since all employees had to go through our digital training, I did too.  I had been reading blogs for several years and it sounded like a good way for me to challenge myself to learn how to do something I knew nothing about.  Also, I did not see myself as a strong writer, so I thought that by writing for myself, I would get better at it.  Never once did I think that other people would really start following my blog.  I was so thrilled when that happened.

How did you learn the mechanics of having your own blog? Thankfully for me, WordPress has a great free blog platform with answers to many of the questions you have as you get started.  It was a breeze to set up and it was free.  After a couple months, I had connected with other bloggers and we share tips and tricks with each other.  Eventually I was forced with a hot poker up to my eye, I mean convinced by Ben Eubanks that I should switch to a self-hosted site.  That process was very challenging and as I made that move I learned much more about HTML code and how it all works.  When you have your own site, you can research online or get a trusted friend to help you with the administration.  Almost every blogger I know has someone to help him/ her with things on the site.  My guru is Ben Eubanks from UpStart HR.

How long does it take to write a post? It can take me anywhere from ten minutes to several hours depending on whether or not the idea just flows or needs thorough research.  I’d say on average that 30 minutes to an hour is pretty typical for me.  I tend to write after my kids go to bed, or I wake up around 5:00 am to write, like I’m doing today.

Where do you get your ideas? EVERYWHERE.  I jot observations about the world down on paper scraps, on napkins, and on my hand.  Sometimes I capture interesting things on my camera (phone) that spark something I’d like to write about.  Or, someone says something that I disagree with and that sparks a post idea.  I have many posts that are drafts.  Some will get published and others won’t.  Right now, I have 43 draft ideas just waiting for me to put more thought into them.

Do you think everyone should blog? Absolutely not.  That’s like saying that I think everyone should ride bulls or skip to work every day.  If you’re good at something, do it.  If not, spend your time doing something that you’re good at and you enjoy.  Writing should not make you feel like it’s a chore and that you’re too pressured.  I think great bloggers that I admire speak from their heart and keep it real.

Why do you keep writing? What started out as a way to find challenge when I wasn’t challenged in my last job has turned into a way for me to network, collaborate, make friends, get offered opportunities to travel and speak, and the list goes on.  Maintaining my blog is one of the best things I’ve done for my own self-development and that is very important to me.

What has been the best thing about having a blog? For me, it’s the collaboration.  My favorite time is when people comment and we can get a dialog going.  It’s also been great in giving me opportunities to travel and collaborate with people and organizations I would have never been exposed to.

So, that’s a taste of what I am asked.  I can’t speak for all bloggers and why or how they do things, but I’ve learned that many of us are similar in that we put the pressure on ourselves and we all have a ton of draft posts on the shelf that may or may not ever make it to being published on our blogs.  Feel free to ask me questions anytime, and not just about blogging.  Some I’ll answer in a post and most get answered via e-mail.  Just leave them in the comments.

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