One of the students I had the pleasure to teach in our most recent blog writing course was a dear lady across the pond who has a penchant for karate. Sue was an enthusiastic student who quickly caught the blogging “bug” and has been consistently writing and growing her blog. You can find her martial arts themed blog at Kick Ass SueC.
The following is a recent interview that I did with Sue to follow up with her and see what her experience with blogging has been like since the completion of the course.
First of all, tell us a little bit about your blog, and the types of things you write about.
I write a martial arts blog. This is very much a student’s perspective of learning a martial art as I am still working my way up the coloured belts towards black belt. However, I try to avoid it being merely a training log as this would be boring – even to other martial artists! Some of my posts may focus on a particular technique I am learning or have difficulties with, or I may talk about some wider issues in martial arts such as problems with women’s self-defence courses or whether women should train with men. Occasionally I write articles about some aspect of Japanese culture or on some historical aspect of karate. I’m basically looking for meaning in what I am doing and trying to put my martial arts training into a wider historical or philosophical context. I hope that doesn’t make it sound too heavy and serious – I try to touch on some of these subjects with a bit of humility and humour.
What got you interested in blogging?
I originally got interested in blogging as a means to self-publishing my creative writing efforts, which is my other hobby. I write short stories and poems. However, having looked into how blogging works and the fact that successful blogs usually require you to post regularly (3-4 times a week) I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep it supplied with new and original material. I decided to test the waters out with a martial arts blog instead – not much different hey! I love writing my martial arts blog so much that I don’t now intend to start a creative writing one. However, I still like creative writing so as a compromise I have just recently added a new feature to my side bar called ‘Hooked on Haiku’, in which I am attempting to write a daily haiku poem (on a martial arts theme of course!)
Now that you have been blogging for a few months, how about looking back on the Blog Writing Course, and tell us how it did (or didn’t) prepare you for the world of blog writing?
I stumbled on the Blog Writing Course by accident. I had just set up my blog the week before and came across a post from an ex-BWC student who said the course was enrolling again. I enrolled immediately because I had realised that I was out of my depth a bit and needed some help to develop my blog. I wish now I’d started the course first – then I may have chosen a different name and URL for my blog! The course though has given me numerous tips and advice on how to improve the appearance of my blog, how to make the side bar an interesting adjunct, how to collect stats, how to publicise my blog and bring in traffic. I’ve learnt the importance of illustrating posts with pictures or videos and how to keep safe whilst blogging.
What was your favorite part of the course?
My favourite part of the course was communicating with the other course members – giving and receiving comments on each other’s assignments. As bloggers we were all natural communicators and so we all tended to bend over backwards to be helpful to each other. We managed to develop the sense of community that we all hoped to experience through our own individual blogging experiences. So in that sense communicating with each other through the course was like a trial run for learning to communicate with our fellow bloggers in the blogosphere.
How do you think the experience you are having now with your blog would have been different, if you had tried the process from scratch on your own?
Well to be honest I did start the process from scratch on my own but soon realised a bit of help and guidance would be useful! If I hadn’t then enrolled on the course I think my blog may be less well organised, probably less aesthetic and much harder for people to find. The information provided on the course is out there on the web if you look for it but you would have to make the time and effort to find it yourself. The advantage of this course is that everything you need to know is all in one place and includes links to all sorts of other useful websites that you can continue to use well after the course has finished.
What has your experience been so far with drawing traffic to your blog? Have you put any of the traffic-building suggestions from the BWC to use?
I have a small core of people who visit my blog often and have put me in their blog roll and regularly leave me comments. Some of them have registered on my site as ‘followers’ but not all of them. However I also know that I have a much larger group of people who visit less frequently but do return from time to time. I also know that hundreds of people have just read a specific post that they found via a search engine. I know that 75% of my readers have come back more than once and I know which town and country they have come from. How do I know? I have registered with statcounter who record this information for me to see. I have also registered with about 6 ‘blog register’ sites and I know people have found me through this route. I also installed a visitor map in my side bar which enables me to see at an instant where all my traffic comes from and I’ve had visitors from every continent (except Antarctica) which is amazing!
Has the blogging experience been positive so far? Do you see yourself continuing to blog, at least into the near future?
The blogging experience has been very positive for me so far. As well as writing my blog I love reading other peoples blogs as well. I think it is fascinating to discuss topics with other like-minded people from around the world. I often leave people comments and love receiving comments from other people which I always follow up or leave a thank you. I have come to see my blog as part of my martial arts training, broadening my horizons but at the same time providing me with a tool with which to think and analyse my training efforts. So for me it is a way of looking both inwards at myself and reaching out to the wider martial arts community. I will definitely be continuing blogging in the near future.
A big thanks to Sue for participating in this interview! If you would like to follow Sue, or any of our other blog writing graduates, check out our list of BWC Alumni on BlogWritingCourse.com. And if you would like to find out more about our Blog Writing Course, click here to see how our eight-week course can help you get your new blog up and running.