Even though I started this blog back up again after being in a very long hiatus, I'm beginning to realize that Diary of a Mad, Fat Woman really never died. When I moved all the blog posts from this blog to my other blog, my followers continued following as if nothing ever happened. I'm sure they received a little culture shock when they started seeing my new blogging topics, but I didn't really lose that many followers.
But the emails to The Mad, Fat Woman didn't stop. The questions didn't stop. The offers of product reviews and advertisement space requests didn't stop. It was like she just moved, or took a very long vacation.
Now, the transition back again has been pretty tough. But, I've started responding to my emails and questions letting people know that the blog is back up and running...and The Mad, Fat Woman is really back, not just using a different persona.
A couple of weeks ago, right around the time I started this blog back up again, I was sent an email by a friend of a friend of a friend who is currently a student in college. She's doing a writing piece, of sorts, about blogging and bloggers. I think the premise is eventually to weigh the pros and cons of using blogs in classrooms for students, but she's taking her study a little out of the box. The friend of a friend of a friend sent her a long to me, and the student asked if I'd be willing to do an interview. She sent me a list of questions and asked that I answer them as if I were writing them on my blog. I, of course, agreed... with the condition that I'd be able to publish the interview on the blog when she was done with her paper. She also agreed.
Well, she's finished up her paper and has given me the OK to publish the interview right here. I thought it was kind of interesting, and not the typical questionnaire or interview that I'd done before... so I thought it would be great to add it right here.
What made you start blogging?
Well, a few years ago I didn't even know what a blog was. Someone told me that a blog was basically a journal that you wrote online. I loved writing, I wanted to write about my weight loss process, so I did some research and found the blogging site I wanted to use and just started from there.
Is your blog private or public? And why did you decide to do it that way?
Well, again, I didn't really know much about the whole thing when I first started out. I honestly thought it wouldn't matter a bit which one I chose - because I didn't think anyone would be interested in reading it. I went with a public blog because that was what the original settings were set to when I started it up. I didn't see myself writing deep, dark secrets on my blog.. because I knew enough about the internet to know that regardless of the settings I chose - anything I put out on the web could be found and seen. So, I just started writing with that notion... never publish anything I wouldn't want my own children reading. It's a good mindset to have, I suppose.
What were your first thoughts when you discovered that there were people reading your blog?
It actually happened a lot faster than I expected. One day, I get on my blog and notice I have a couple of "followers". After a quick check of what that meant, I was astounded that it meant people had chosen to follow my blog and read it. I will admit that I was a little intimidated at first. I started worrying that what I was writing might not interest the people that had chosen to see what I had to say every day.. and my writing style changed just a bit. Then, I got more comfortable with the idea once I started looking around and following other blogs myself. The intimidation and worry quickly evaporated when I realized I just needed to write what I wanted to write about. If people reading my blog didn't like what I had to say, they could chose to unfollow me.
What topics do you mostly write about and why?
Well, when I first got in to the blogging gig, I wrote about weight loss... or trying to lose weight. I journaled about what I'd eaten, exercise that I'd done, how I was feeling about my progress, etc. I did that for a couple of years. I teeter-tottered back and forth between strictly weight loss talk to life in general and back again. But, for the most part, I felt like my blog was for weight loss - and tried to keep it focused on that. When I gave up on my weight loss efforts a little over a year ago, I decided to start a completely new blog that was just about my family, my work, and stuff that happened in my life. Just a couple of days ago, I decided to restart my weight loss blog because I'm ready to give it another go... and I ultimately believe that my blog is what helped me have as much success as I did the first time around. I've kept my life in general blog, because I like writing there too. It's kinda like a memoir that I can refer back to years from now and see what I was doing with my life.
What has been your biggest surprise from blogging?
I would have to say the support and encouragement from complete strangers. In a matter of a few months of starting my blog, I was corresponding with other like-minded bloggers and we were sharing our support with each other. My blog shifted from being an online journal to a social media outlet where others looking for support could come and see what stuff I was struggling and succeeding with. People constantly complimented my honesty, and it felt really nice that I was quickly becoming someone that was "in the public eye" to succeed. Of course, that came with it's own stress... but for the most part, I loved every second of that.
What has been your biggest regret or fear from blogging?
Honestly, I wish that I had originally started my blog being anonymous. Not because I don't want people to know who I am - but because I tend to be a lot more guarded knowing that there are people that read my blog who know me in real life. I think if I had originally started out as a secret blogger - I'd be a lot more open and candid about some of my feelings or situations that happen in my life. Being a teacher, a mother, family member, and friend to some of my readers - I have to always be on guard about what I say as to not let out information I shouldn't, or say something that might offend any of those people. I also have to keep my topics PG-13...more on the PG level because I know that it's a strong possibility that one of my students might happen to stumble across my blog at some point. Not that I'm upset about that, but I have a feeling the humor and topics would be quite different if that weren't the case. Which relates completely to my biggest fear about blogging.. that I'll end up writing something that really upsets someone I know personally. That's always a fear that plays in my mind with everything I write.
I was told that you've received some publicity from your blog. You were on TV once and appeared on a magazine website. How did that happen and how did it make you feel?
Wow, now you make me feel famous! HA!
The TV segment was a local news station that did a piece when they found out about my blog. They did bits on their Facebook page where you could advertise certain things. I signed my blog up to be something they advertised, and they contacted me about doing a story on TV about it. I had lost 40lbs at that point, and they wanted to showcase the fact that I gave my blog a lot of the credit for that weight loss. The segment lasted all of 3 minutes, even though it took over an hour to tape. But, I will admit I felt super special doing it. Having total strangers follow my blog was one thing, but to hear that a news station wanted to put me on TV because of it was AMAZING!
The magazine piece I discovered only when one of my readers complimented me on it. I had no idea I had been put on their site. Shape Magazine did an online piece about the most influential weight loss bloggers - and I earned a spot on that list somehow. While many people were wondering why I was OK with another site using my name and information without my permission - I was flattered and honored by their gesture. To this day, I have no idea how the Shape Magazine writer came up with me being one of the most influential weight loss bloggers, but I definitely don't have a problem with it.
Do you make money off of your blog? If so, how? If not, why and do you receive any other types of perks?
I don't make any money off of my blog because I don't want my blog to be bombarded with advertisements and companies having a say on what I write about. I could, Lord knows I receive enough offers to do so - but that would take away from the integrity that I put in to my blog. My blogging isn't about how much money I can make... it's about writing. Period.
Now, I have received offers here and there to do product reviews for certain items. That's when a company contacts me, sends me a product to try, and then I write about my experience using the product. I've reviewed weight loss supplements, attire, work-out DVDs, etc. My rules are that I get to write about my honest opinions of the product... or I'm not interested. Getting free stuff is always fun, but I won't accept if there's a catch on how I write my review. Most companies want honest feedback, so I've never run in to a situation where a company has tried to word my review. There is a big difference between product reviews and money making, in my opinion. Mostly because the reviews help me pass on products that are great or not so great for the weight loss community.
Being a teacher, what are your thoughts of using blogs in the classroom?
I think blogs are a wonderful tool to use in the classroom... with the right supervision, of course. Last year, I started a blog for my classroom - but being a first year teacher, I didn't stay on top of it as well as I should have. With the new age of technology, kids should learn how to write on a computer. A blog is a great way to do that. They can choose their own topics, learn about formatting and editing, and also learn valuable lessons in internet safety. My hope is that this next year I will be better at introducing and staying on top of my classroom blog...with the kids doing most of the work. Also, most blogging platforms are super easy to use, so even those teachers that don't have a lot of computer experience could use them in the classroom.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own blog?
First, do some research. Read other blogs and get an idea of what type of blog you want to write. Do you want to be anonymous or for everyone in Cyber World to know the real you? Do you want to blog about a specific genre (weight loss, video games, teaching, cooking, sports, etc) or do you want it to just be a general blog?
Once you have all that decided, find a blogging platform you feel comfortable using. There are lots of great free blog hosts out there - Blogger, WordPress, etc. All are super easy to use and will guide you step by step in setting up a blog.
Don't be afraid to reach out to the blogging community. Whatever you decide to write about, there are other bloggers out there writing about the same topics. If you're a little unsure, most bloggers are more than happy to help out. But, you also have to be in that frame of mind yourself. Chances are, if your blog starts to get some publicity, people will contact you. I think it's good blogging etiquette to be available and respond to questions and comments.
Finally, don't get bent out of shape by any negative comments you might receive. If you're someone that can't take criticism, then shut off the ability for people to leave comments and never publish your email address. I cried the first time I received my first nasty email from someone that had read my blog, but then I was reminded of how many others had sent their support and encouragement. Haters will always hate... regardless of how great you think your writing is. You can't please everyone, and you will eventually grow to hate blogging if you try to. Just enjoy the process, and the support will come.
Well, wasn't that fun? I enjoyed it, and I can't wait to hear how she does on her paper.
Which opens me up to you guys... do you have any questions to ask? I love answering them. So, if you got something that you've been wondering about... ask.
Till next time!
a/k/a Mad, Fat Woman