Sunday, January 29, 2012

Featuring Something Charming

For the past 18 months, I've been strict with myself regarding the internet holes I fall down Alice-style and have really made an effort to only focus on the niche of expat blogs.  The web is endless - though when you're sleepless at 3am I know it can seem like there's nothing new to find - and I think I had to set myself blog boundaries to avoid going insane at the start.

Boy, am I glad that I eventually followed the rabbit into the larger blogosphere!

In early December, soon after I started enjoying lifestyle blogs written by impressive and insightful women all across the world, I discovered Something Charming.  I was blown away by blogger Joelle's aesthetic and style; not only does she have the most welcoming way of writing but she has also created a beautiful site where she shares the realities as well as the pretty pieces of life.  Especially striking, I found, was how Joelle is so honest about the ups and downs of blogging.  She enunciates so much of the joy and doubt I feel because of Betsy Transatlantically and, I expect, you feel because of your blogs.  Dear readers, I wrote to her, and (among other things) I said:

I relate to a lot of what you write, and your meta posts on blogging really speak to me.  I love sharing my thoughts and experiences with my readers and I love each of my 64 followers and I don't want to change the essence of what my blog is because, truly, it is what I am.  But I was wondering if you had any insights on how to maximize blogging - to reach as many people as possible and take each post to the next level and, basically, be the best blogger possible.
AND THEN I thought: hey, if I'm wondering all of this, my readers-who-blog probably also are wondering the same!  I'd be really grateful if you had any advice... and also I'd be really extra super grateful if you'd be comfortable stopping over to do a guest post about it on Betsy Transatlantically.

Ever gracious, Joelle said yes!  I emailed her a few questions about blogging that have been swirling around my mind, and her replies are here below.

What inspires you to blog?
Blogging is my creative outlet, and it allows me to escape the humdrum of my every day life {for now}. I'm starting my own business, so it also gives me a platform to express myself and my work, and to promote my event planning. I'm inspired to work harder, knowing that this isn't just for fun anymore. I blog for myself, of course, but I want to be inspiring to my readers, and to introduce them to pretty things. I also see so many amazing blogs out there, and while I don't want to compare myself to them, knowing what the possibilities of blogging are encourages me to be myself on my blog and to explore what I want with my life and my blog.

How do you conquer your blogging fears and frustrations?
I actually have a really difficult time to with this, and unfortunately I find myself looking for validation through my readers. I have a problem asking for feedback, when I really should just focus on what I want to write and post, because it is my blog after all. I get scared that people won't want to read what I have to say, which isn't true because people do keep coming back. And I get frustrated when my blog isn't as "big" as I want it to be. These are all very valid and very common, and I continuously find myself struggling with the balance between blogging for other people and blogging for myself. I've improved a lot with this since I started blogging over a year ago, but I still have quite a ways to go.  

Does a blog need a niche in order to be successful?
This is something else that I've struggled with, because I don't know that I necessarily have a "niche." I post about fashion and weddings and my life and design and inspiration, and a thousand other things. But I've asked my readers about this, and they actually say that having a niche isn't always a good thing. I guess people like variety, but I can't say that I wouldn't be more popular if I did have a niche. I just don't want to box myself in just yet.

How can a blogger at any stage maximize her blogging potential and take each post to the next level?
This might sound a little strange, but I think it's really important for all bloggers to have a blog mission statement. Just write down why you blog, and your personal standards for your posts. For me, I blog to develop my business, my style, and my writing. I also blog to reach my personal and professional goals and to inspire others. If the topic of a post doesn't reach these standards, I don't post it.
I also think that it's important to really evaluate who you are as a blogger and a person, and to not compromise that. Bloggers like sincerity and integrity, and it's pretty obvious if a blogger isn't either of these things. Don't post something just because everyone else is doing it, but post because it adheres to the mission of your blog and represents you as a person.

What advice would you give to a new or refocusing blogger who wants to connect more with her readers and find a blogging community? 
The number one thing that I think a lot of new bloggers don't realize, is that blogging itself isn't a one way thing. Having a conversation with your readers is really easy by responding to comments, or being active on Twitter or Facebook. I've found that Twitter is the most popular way for bloggers to connect with other people, and it really works.
Also, reach out to other bloggers by visiting their blogs and commenting, following, etc. But don't just do it to get more followers. Learn from them, see what they are doing right and wrong, and go from there. There are so many bloggers out there, and each and every one of them has something to teach the rest of us. And chances are, if you reach out to someone, they will be happy to follow back or connect with you in some other way.

Have you been surprised by anything you've discovered during your blogging journey? 
There is a lot that I've learned in this last year and a half. Mainly, I never knew what a community blogging is. There are so many amazing people out there, who truly want to be your friend and want to see you succeed. I've met a lot of great bloggers, who I can now say are my real life friends. These are people that I never would have found otherwise, and I am so happy I did.

Thanks so much, Joelle!  You've given me - and many of us, I'm sure - a lot to think about.  Hopefully we'll see you back here again in the future!  And best of luck with your new business and all the other adventures.


  1. Thanks, Betsy and Joelle! I was tossing around some of these exact thoughts yesterday. I was reading some of my favorite blogs and thinking how creative and funny and feeling "I'm not worthy!" I'm also struggling with the need for feedback. Thanks for the reminder to just write for me and push myself to be the best blogger that I can be!

  2. Thanks for this. Your idea of having a blog mission statement is something I think could be very useful. Note to self: make time to sit down and do this.


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