This is the first of our new blogger interview series. We will now try to post one interview with a South African Blogger per week.
Natasha from the blog Raising Men makes the start.
Find 19 Questions and Answers and learn how and why she started blogging. Raising Men
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I love writing. I like being silly. I love my kids I’m still trying to figure the rest out.
How you first got involved in with blogging?
I’d been carrying journals and notebooks with me since I was twelve and I liked documenting bits of my life and jotting memories down. I wanted to say how I was feeling and remember things that I liked. I wanted to keep it all in the same place. I want my boys to be able to read about their childhood later.
What do you find most challenging about blogging about your topic?
Sometimes I really want to say things like they really are, but now that a few people read my blog, I have to censor myself quite a lot. I need to be aware that I could hurt someone’s feelings by voicing strong opinions, so I need to be sensitive to others.
I don’t want to offend people. I wanted my blog to be a place where I could fully express my thoughts, and it’s changed throughout the year. I guess it’s more tame now. More normal. And I hate it sometimes. I have days where I read the things I’ve said and I feel like a total phony. I used to write like nobody is listening, and now I am more aware of an ‘audience’ I guess.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working on your blog?
Oh gosh. So many. I got a job offer in Digital PR because of Raising Men (and other work experience of course). I met some of my favourite bloggers. I’ve made a lot of friends. I’ve arranged two really awesome blogger meet-ups. I’ve been offered some writing work and I’ve been invited to brilliant media launches and other events. I’m currently talking to Struik / Random House about another opportunity. I’ve met some really great people.
How would (someone) describe your blogging style?
My personality is a bit all over the place (read: bipolar). Some people comment to say that I’m honest / sincere with a mix of sarcasm and humor.
What do you do when you aren’t working on your blog?
Hanging out with Noah & Benjamin mostly. They’re really cool kids.
What networking do you do that you feel helps your blogging business?
I don’t really. I get chatting to people that I think are cool, but I think mostly people just stumble across my blog. I don’t know. I do link some posts to my facebook profile that I might be particularly proud of. I like seeing the stats on different posts. It gives me a good indication of what people enjoy reading and it’s really interesting and rewarding.
How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog?
I talk a lot. There’s always a lot going on in my little head and my life is pretty busy. There’s always something to talk about. When I don’t want to talk about something, then I usually post pretty pictures of things I want or would like to do. So I just make it an ‘inspiration’ day I guess.
Where do you go for news and information online?
Pinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest. I can’t read the news anymore. I get super depressed and it takes me like two days to recover from reading a really bad story. It’s awful.. the things people do to each other. The things that humans are cabable of. For work, I spend a lot of time on Mashable, facebook, blogs and twitter.
What’s your strategy with your blog in general?
Ag none really. I talk a lot of nonsense. My personal strategy is to declutter an overactive mind and gain a bit more control over things. It helps to say things ‘out loud’. Kind of like talking to a psychologist. I’d like to do themed, scheduled posts like Bangers & Nash does, but I’m just too unorganized for that.
What would you prioritize? Content? SEO? Traffic? Readers?
Content. I focus on documenting my boys’ childhood, with a mix of my personality too. I want them to sit down and read it one day. I’ve had a bit of death in my family. I wish I knew more about my biological father. I was very young when he died. I guess that if anything happened to me, then the kids would have a little piece of me on the blog. Gosh, does that sound totally insane? Oh well.
What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?
I’ve never really thought about that. I guess that other mothers like to know that sometimes parenting is hard, and that they’re not alone in that. So many mothers pretend that everything is just perfect and fabulous. It’s not really like that, and it’s important that they know that. I had so much (self-inflicted) pressure on me to be perfect. You look at parenting magazines and the perfect women on the covers depicting this idealistic lifestyle and it’s just not like that all the time. It’s awesome, but the perception is a bit unnatural. Nothing good comes easily.
What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?
I don’t make money off my blog or allow paid advertising, so it’s not really applicable for me to achieve a super high readership.
What was the most challenging moment in your blog content development process and why?
When I had to start censoring myself. I can’t use it as an online journal anymore. I don’t want to be judged, or make myself too vulnerable, so I need to go other places to be brutally honest about my feelings. Keeping it bottled up is not an option for me. I like having an outlet.
Everyone has a favorite/least favorite post. Name yours and why?
My favorite post was one called “Tampons and other adventures”. My least favorite is called “The deep end” which goes in to detail of when Graeme and I almost got divorced. I keep wanting to delete it, but you know, it’s real.. Married couples fight and go through that sort of stuff.
I don’t want to conceal the truths that I’ve already spoken. I don’t want to be ashamed or pretend that my marriage is perfect, because nodoby’s is. I wrote it at a time when nobody read my blog, almost a year ago. I just don’t like seeing it, because it brings back bad memories. I also figure, it’s good to see where we’ve been, so that we know where we’d rather be.
What is the ultimate goal for a blogger in your opinion?
Blogging is often described as ‘citizen journalism’. That pretty much sums it up. I think that everyone wants to stand out and matter. I know that I want to matter, and I know that I am going to die one day, but the blog for me is like… Like a bushman painting in a cave. It’s my big fat “I was here”.
Which one plugin would you suggest all bloggers to have?
A search tab. I use it so often on other blogs.
Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?
Celeste from Reluctant Mom. She is so honest, regardless of her enourmous following. Lucky Pony. Angie is just so creative and nice, on the blog and in real life.
I love Darling Claire’s blog, (Down the rabbit hole) because she finds the nicest things and isn’t pressured in to posting every day. She blogs when she feels like it.
A big thank you from Cape Town Active to Natasha for her answers.