This weeks featured Blogger is Carly Findlay from Tune Into Radio Carly
When did you start your blog?
I have been blogging for many years, on and off. My first blog was through Diaryland back in 2001 maybe. Then I had a secret blog, again through Diaryland, and then a blog for a uni subject about New Media, and then a Myspace blog. I started Tune into Radio Carly in December 2009. It’s the blog I’ve really taken seriously, to launch brand Carly Findlay. Ahhh that sounds so pretentious. But realistically, I’ve focused on my writing quality and editing a lot on Tune into Radio Carly, and the hard work has paid off.
Why did you start blogging?
I wanted to have a voice. I wanted to launch a writing career. I wanted to share my experiences about living with my chronic illness – a severe skin condition called ichthyosis. When I first wrote about how bad my skin was one day, and another time when I was abused in a store because the shopkeeper thought the vaseline on my face would ruin her clothes, I received so much support, and realised that blogging really does have an impact – teaching people about the difficulties of living with such a visibly different appearance and also providing support for me when things get tough.
Describe your blog in 20 words or less
I share stories about being chronically ill. Throw some social commentary, food, music, fashion and shopping into the mix as well as some musings about the ignorant twits who can’t get over my appearance and you’ll see I’ve got some interesting tales to tell. Maths was never my strong point. Way over 20 words.
What are your 5 must have tools for blogging?
Blogspot (yes, I know what you WordPress lovers think!)
A good sense of observation
iPhone for taking photos and making notes
A sense of humour
Resilience - bloggers are bound to get criticism just by putting ourselves out there, and also there are a lot of knock-backs and no-responses when chasing stories for the blog.
What is your favourite part of being a blogger?
Writing. I love telling a good story through words. And it can often be good therapy.
Going to conferences and meeting other bloggers.
What would be the biggest thing you have learnt since starting your blog?
It’s important to blog for myself. Don’t try to please the audience.
Everyone will have an opinion about what I write and do, and sometimes it can be difficult to read the criticism, especially when readers don’t get the full context of the situation.
People have also come to me for advice, and see me as a role model. This can be flattering, and also challenging. Boundaries need to be set.
If you could start again, what would you do differently?
Focused on quality writing from day one of blogging on Tune into Radio Carly. I don’t find my early posts particularly engaging.
I don’t have any regrets from my blog though. I have always maintained honesty, and stood by my writing.
What has been your blog’s biggest achievement?
Getting freelance writing opportunities through blogging. I write for DiVine (a Victorian Government website for the disability community) and ABC Ramp Up. I have also been featured on Mama Mia, and been asked to write for a number of other publications. I won an award for my writing on DiVine too, and was also a finalist in the Best Australian Blogs competition in 2011.
I also think getting stopped in the street by readers of my blog is pretty cool – a big change to being stopped in the street because someone has been shocked at my appearance!
What do you find is the best way to help promote your blog?
Social networking! It is very time consuming though – difficult not to go overboard with spam! I use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Linked In. I think you also have to have faith that your loyal readers will also promote your blog too. I have also found that when a prominent blogger/writer links to your site, a lot of hits are generated. And I belong to a number of forums around fashion, ichthyosis and blogging, and so when I get the time I post on them too.
What advice would do you have for new chick bloggers?
Just do it. Don’t be afraid – the blogging world is awesome! Set some time aside every day to write a little. And network a bit – comment on other blogs, join conversations on Twitter, and have fun!
Do you (or do you plan to) make any income from your blog?
A little, but definitely not enough to quit my day job. I’d really like to seek some sponsorship for BlogHer 2012 in NYC…
What future goals do you have for your blog?
Promote myself more. Do more freelance writing. Set up a motivational speaking business where I go to schools to talk about looking different. Promote the hell out of it at BlogHer 2012 and be discovered by Oprah or someone equally as powerful.
I have also launched an online portfolio of my key writing, TV and radio appearances, and hope that this generates some writing and speaking opportunities. You can view this portfolio at www.carlyfindlay.com
What is your all time favourite post that you would love people to read?
Untouched. I am really proud it it. It was born from a very personal conversation I had with someone close to me. I showed him the draft and he said it was one of the best things he’d ever read, and I think it taught him so much about me. He said he would read it every so often to remind him of the struggles I have faced. Though my Dad read it too, and said to me out of the blue ‘I’m worried that you’re not being touched enough’. Awkward!!
What is you most popular post (in comments, or traffic received)?
My review of Love and Other Drugs. Hands down! It was the naked Jake Gyllenhaal that did it. A tip – if you want more traffic, put a nude picture of a hot celeb on your blog.
Who are your 5 favourite chick bloggers and why?
Five is not enough! I love so many!! These ones are my top five Aussie ones – and to be honest, I love the Aussie ones the best!!
Jess at 91 Odd Socks – this is a blog by my friend Jess. She writes about her chronic illness in such a beautiful way. I wish I could write as poetically as her.
Bern Morley at So Now What? – Bern is incredibly funny and so lovely. I am so glad we became friends in real life too.
Eden Riley at Edenland – Eden’s blog had me hooked when I read her post about meeting her idol Bono. She is so engaging and tells it like it is.
Sydney Shop Girl – I love her witty observations of day to day life. And again, she’s become such a dear friend through blogging.
Heidi at Apples Under My Bed – an amazing food and nutrition blogger. We have bonded over food and this year have been doing regular dinner dates. Again, such a good friend!