In the lead-up to my Blogging for Beginners course at the NSW Writers Centre, I thought I’d give myself a little interview, going over some questions I commonly get asked about my blogging life.
Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging, partly, as a sort of reaching out. I was living in the town where I grew up, and I worked in a bookstore, but I didn’t have many friends who shared my passion for literature. A blog was a way to express that passion, for one. It was also a way to practice my writing. I also intended it to be a kind of record of my publications, as it was around the same time I started doing small reviews for Bookseller+Publisher. That was in May, 2007.
How do you find readers?
At the very beginning, I invited my MySpace (remember that?) friends to have a read, which included now-published authors, lovely people like Chris Currie and Krissy Kneen, and young writers I’d stalked online after reading their pieces in Voiceworks. I also just sent out a few emails. Then I joined Facebook, and would invite my friends on there to read the blog (and eventually started my own page for it on Facebook). At the Byron Bay Writers Festival I wore a shirt with my blog address written across the back! I think that was 2007 or 2008. I moved to Melbourne in March 2008 and started meeting people and making friends by going to literary events – launches, talks, readings etc. – and began working at Bookseller+Publisher. Through B+P I made a lot of contacts in the publishing world, too. The readership grew slowly through social media and word-of-mouth.
After blogging about the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2008, Crikey offered me a spot in their new blog network, and I ended up being a Crikey blogger for three years, which brought me a great deal of readers. One of the best things I ever did, too, was join Twitter. I left Crikey last year and, admittedly, lost part of my casual readership who would click through from the newsletter, but a loyal chunk of readers remained. They come through (going by my stats) WordPress subscriptions, Google readers, Twitter, my Facebook page and personal account, but mainly through Google searches. There are a few tricks to coming up high in Google searches, which I will talk about in my blog course…
Do you make any money from it?
Not everyone asks this, but people always want to know. I make a very tiny amount of money from LiteraryMinded – directly – through affiliate programs, and a limited number of ads (I never want to overwhelm the blog with ads). There’s also a donate button in the blog sidebar in case anyone wants to support the hours I put into it. What has happened, however, is that I’ve made money through the other opportunities that blogging has opened up. I chair panels at writers’ festivals, do talks, and – what I’m most proud of – am often asked to write for other publications, online and off. I have been contacted by all sorts of amazing people because of the blog.
How do you have the time?
It’s a habit, now. I’m just in a rhythm with it. I don’t blog as often as some people do. And some posts are much better than others. When starting out, it’s a good idea to just set aside a certain time each week to think about, or draft, blog posts. Soon it takes up a particular space in your brain, and you’re constantly getting new ideas for it. But it is worth wondering what else you could be committing to, with that head space, and that time. I sometimes think about that myself, but I’m addicted now… And I still get a lot of other writing done.
Do you still enjoy it?
Yes. I even love it. I couldn’t tell you exactly why. Perhaps because I’m writing about books, and book-related subjects, and I’m just so passionate about books! Sometimes I feel like Kafka: I am nothing but literature, and can and want to be nothing else. It’s constantly on the brain. But I do have to change things up, often freshen what I’m doing. The blog has evolved, many times. I’m starting to indulge my other love a bit: movies, ie. writing about literary-minded films a bit more. I’ve also filmed two episodes of a literary interview show with my colleague/co-producer Mark Welker, which we’ll release when we get the edits right and line up a few more subjects.
Angela Meyer has been blogging for four-and-a-half years. LiteraryMinded has been an independent blog, and has been hosted by Crikey, the Australian news website. Besides blogging, she is a book reviewer for various publications including The Australian, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.