I am happy to introduce you guys to Ali Hale from Aliventures. She is a fairly prolific writer and if you read some of the more popular personal development blogs out there you will eventually read some of her writing. In fact, she just did a recent article for Problogger called “How to Improve Your Blog When You Don’t Have Computer Access.” So without further ado, here is Ali…
I did have personal blogs before this, but never kept them up for long.
I’d recently started my first full-time job, after finishing university. I felt that a lot of diet and health advice in magazines wasn’t very helpful for people working in an office: it’s often aimed at mums at home with their kids. So I wanted to share some of the things I was learning about fitting a healthy lifestyle around a typical office workday.
I’m also hugely inspired by the desire to make a difference, however small, in other people’s lives — it means a massive amount to me to get an email or comment on a blog post where someone’s been helped by what I’ve written.
On the more selfish side, I love to write, and to have an audience for my writing.
I like to feel that what I do in the day has some significance for other people, and I truly believe my blogging and writing allows that.
On my own blogs, my current audience is split between people wanting to live a healthy lifestyle but without a lot of spare time (The Office Diet) and students who want to get the most out of their time at university (Alpha Student). I don’t think there’s a huge amount of overlap!
I hope the benefits for them of visiting are that I write well, I post regularly, and I give wholehearted advice based on my own experiences. And I personally think everyone should visit Alpha Student just because we had so much fun working on the design — it doesn’t look at all like a traditional blog, and I love it!
1. I’m a staff writer on five blogs. This means I write regularly for them and I get paid. I do this partly because these sites have a FAR bigger audience than mine, so my ideas can reach and impact more people — and partly because I need to pay the rent somehow. 😉 Neither of my own blogs bring in more than a few pennies.
2. I’ve written guest posts for a range of blogs. I love doing guest posts, because they’re a chance to write in a slightly different style (I try to adapt my style to the “voice” of the blog), and because they can be a way to give something back to a blog that I’ve gained a lot from: I’ve written a couple of guest posts for ProBlogger, for example. I’ve also found that guest posting helps make readers aware of my blogs!
1. Be clear WHY you are blogging: is it for personal enjoyment or with career/business aims? (Or to put it another way, do you want to just have fun, or do you want to make money?)
2. Read ProBlogger and Daily Blog Tips, if you’re aiming to make money.
3. Use Feedburner and Google Analytics from the start — you’ll be able to see whether your actions are having an effect.
4. Conversely, don’t get obsessed with checking stats. Most of your time should go on writing quality content, either for your own blog or for guest posts on other blogs.
5. Enjoy it! Don’t force yourself to write posts on a topic that you think will be popular or easy to make money from … choose something that you’re passionate about and very interested in. You’ll be writing (and reading) a LOT about it…
1. Tim Brownson, from The Discomfort Zone. I read his posts cos he’s a fantastic, funny, genuine guy with a really unique style of posting. He says profound stuff in a way that’ll have you snorting coffee into your keyboard. (I HIGHLY recommend his book “Don’t Ask Stupid Questions? – There Are No Stupid Questions“, too, and in fact follow him around the blogosphere telling everyone how brilliant it is.)
2. Crabby McSlacker and Merry Sunshine, from Cranky Fitness. The blog is a wonderful blend of in-depth, insightful stuff — and funny posts. If you’re interested in fitness but you’re, at heart, lazy (and aren’t we all?), you’ll absolutely love it.
3. Liz, aka DaMomma, from Motherhood Is Not For Wimps. I’ve been reading her blog since summer 2005. She is an absolutely fantastic writer; her posts have moved me to tears on several occasions. When I have kids, I’ll count myself a success if I can be a tenth as bit as good a mum as she is. Her blog is an example of “personal” blogging at its absolute finest.
Over the past couple of weeks, a typical day without classes etc looks something like this:
7.00am – At my desk, writing something (ideally some fiction)
9.00ish – Usually head into uni, grab a computer in the library, spend the morning writing blog posts and checking email (I have four different email accounts…)
12.30ish – Sit around eating sandwiches, drinking tea and usually reading something tenuously related to my Creative Writing course.
1.00ish – 4.00ish – Varies, possibly more blogging; today it’s an “interview question answering” day 😉 If I’m at home, I might do admin things like invoices, answering longer emails, or formatting and uploading blog posts (sometimes I spend longer finding a picture and getting everything formatted nicely than I spend writing the post.)
4.00ish – Go to the gym
6.00ish – Back home, checking emails, catching up with RSS feeds, commenting, etc. … Dinner at some point, and usually watching an episode of Supernatural or Heroes … I’m trying not to check emails after 9.00pm but that doesn’t always happen!
Some days are totally different though (yesterday I did some blogging first thing, then spent most of the day in London – tour of the university’s main library followed by coffee with someone I met through a post I wrote for The Change Blog!)
I have a good writing friend from a writers’ group I used to belong to when I lived in Oxford, who I consider a mentor. We’ve been emailing back and forth for years, and we meet up for lunch when I’m in Oxford, and his advice and encouragement on my (creative) writing and career aspirations has been invaluable.
I’m also quite a “driven” person and tend to throw myself into projects that I’m passionate about, like The Office Diet and Alpha Student.
Getting clear about what I wanted from my life also really helped me: I left my full-time job in tech support at the end of July 2008, because I realise I could make a living from writing (blogging and other types of writing) and some website creation — both things I love. It meant a drop in income but I have absolutely no regrets — apart from the regret that I ever had a full-time office job in the first place!
Don’t settle for doing things that are easy. Step outside your comfort zone, and push yourself to be the best person you can be — in whatever way that means for you. (Part of this means reading Tim’s The Discomfort Zone blog on a regular basis ;-))
Ali runs The Office Diet and Alpha Student, and staff blogs for a number of other sites. She’s a postgrad Creative Writing student in London, in the UK, and pays the rent through writing and website creation. In her down-time, she likes long walks, good meals, and great sci-fi shows.
Also, check out my last interview which was with Yan of Blogging for Beginners.