Welcome to the eighth interview of the Let’s Get Inspired Series. A series where I interview our fellow WordPress.com bloggers on their blogging process, what they write about, their passions, their blogging dreams and their blogging tips. Each blogger has a speciality, well, more than one. Which I attempt to bring out in the interview.
Today we are going to speak to Miriam of the OutandAbout blog. Miriam and I have been blogger friends for as long as I have been blogging (March 2016).
I am not sure how we became friends and who found whose blog first. Miriam’s blog is about many things, but mainly her incredible travelling adventures in Australia. Her posts are always full of life in her choice of words and photos. Her posts always contain an essential life lesson. And I learn so much about Australia from her trips – much more than the ‘Lonely Planet’ guide books could ever tell us. Additionally, Miriam recently (maybe last three years) has become a regular writer for a magazine; she shares her journey as part of this interview. Her posts are so very reflective on life and spirituality and right up my street.
I hope you enjoy this Interview with Miriam and take time to visit her blog and see her excellent writing for yourself.
When and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging back in February 2015, at the encouragement of my then 14 year old son. He’s always been more tech savvy than me! Starting out I had little idea of what I was getting into and no clue about the concept of blogging.
The central theme of my blog has always been about getting Out and About. I know that’s not a very original concept and name but I realised that by the very general and open nature of the title I could take it anywhere I wanted. I could take people to the middle of Australia and I could take them into my backyard or into my kitchen. And, over the years, that’s exactly what’s happened.
How has your blogging Journey evolved?
It has evolved, that’s for sure. When I started this blog my posts were about the places I’d been to and yes, they were mostly within Australia. Over the years I’ve delved deeper and I’ve brought more heart and spirituality into my posts and it’s not all been about the places. I’ve written poetry, taken part in photo challenges and I’ve shared my life with my family and pets. In some of my most personal posts I shared the heartache of losing my mother, a very cathartic journey. I’ve also gone back to my guitar, delved into song writing and collaborated with other bloggers to share original music.
Are you blogging as a hobby, or do you want to achieve something else out of it?
I blog primarily as a hobby although these days I think it’s all a bit interlinked. I didn’t set out to make money from my blog but it’s certainly lead me to paid opportunities outside of WordPress. And I think it’s a great foundation to build upon. Having a website and a presence means that people grow to trust you.
How often do you blog or carry out blogging related actives?
When I began I was writing two posts a week but these days I write when the inspiration strikes me. I’ve learnt over the years that there’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to blogging. It’s simply a matter of finding what works for you and not feeling like you need to conform. As for blogging ideas, they come at all hours, when I’m lying in bed, when I’m on a walk, when I’m away for the weekend. I try and capture the ideas by typing them into my phone. I read others posts a bit sporadically but I try to always catch up on my favourites, at least two or three times a week.
How long does it take to write a blog post?
It depends. Sometimes I can write a blog post in half an hour, but that doesn’t mean I’ll publish it straight away. It might sit in my drafts for a day or two, I’ll edit it, add the pictures I want before deciding it’s good enough. Sometimes I can stew on an idea for a blog post for a week and then it doesn’t even get written!
How many times do you proofread, edit etc.?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I’ll often spend more time going over it, adding quotes, remembering something I want to add and so the process drags on. I can have up to 20 revisions. It gets to the point where I think “it’s good enough” and I hit that Publish button.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
Hmm, it varies. I have my laptop set up in a little nook of my lounge room but really it moves around so much! Wherever I’m comfortable, sometimes that’s outside, other times it’s in the kitchen with the pasta sauce simmering away in the background. That’s the beauty (and distraction) of working from home.
Is it hard to write when you are travelling?
Yes and No. Sometimes my best posts are written when I’m travelling. I remember one time it was raining outside, we were by Gunbower Island and I was sitting inside our van and I was suddenly inspired to write. I got an entire post written by the time the rain cleared. Usually though, I’m too busy enjoying wherever I am to spend too much time writing but I’ll always journal at the end of the day.
How often do you publish a blog post?
I used to be much more disciplined and would post once, maybe twice a week, especially when I responded to photo prompts. These days, although I’d ideally like to post at least once a week, it’s amazing how time scoots by and before I realise it, two or even weeks has passed.
How much time do you spend reading and commenting on other bloggers blogs?
Not as much as I used to! When I started my blog, over six years ago, I read every day, these days not so much, it depends what’s going on in my life. There are so many amazing bloggers out there but I have my favourites and tend to gravitate there. Know however, that if someone leaves a comment on any of my posts, old or new, I’ll always respond to it.
Please share a couple of your blog posts that sum up your blog.
Here are a couple of links to two posts; one is a travel-related post on Australia in general, the other is based on three things that are particularly important in my life. It was actually hard choosing, but I think these two sum up the different aspects of my blog.
You have taken a lot of photos for your blog post; do you have a special camera? What do you to copyright your photos? How do you manage all the images you have?
These days I take most of my photos with my IPhone. In the past I’ve had a Lumix, a Panasonic and I’ve played around with lenses but I’ll be honest, the IPhone takes a fabulous photo, it’s compact and goes everywhere with me! My photos are collated within a photo library on my laptop which I’m in the process of re-organising. Copyright is something I need to focus on a bit more to protect my images, however, in the meantime, if someone uses my images without my permission, well naughty you, but I’ll take it as a compliment!
What do you love about blogging?
Without a doubt I’d say it’s the connection. I’ve made some wonderful real-life friendships. Even virtually, it feels like we’re all one big like-minded community. Sort of like being in a café with loads of interesting people around, each gravitating towards those that we resonate with. We share interests, passions, worries, we spill our heart, we share our joys, we commiserate and we open ourselves up when we write. I’ve made so many friends though my blogging.
What don’t you like about blogging?
At the moment many of the blogs that I follow seem to have fallen off the Reader. I don’t know why but it seems to be getting harder to find those bloggers and I physically have to search for them by title which is frustrating. Also, blogging is time consuming and needs dedication, patience, effort and presence. Sometimes I’m lacking in all of those!
What is your biggest blogging lesson?
Always reply to a comment. To me that’s one of the golden rules of blogging and applies to life as well. If someone takes the time to reach out then they deserve a reply. Life’s all about communication and conversations and it can’t be one sided.
What keeps you blogging? Do you find it hard to juggle life and blogging – please explain how you manage your life and blogging and your writing career with the magazine?
Blogging is a part of my life, as it has been for the past six years, but it’s a smaller part than it used to be. I feel as though I’ve built a foundation with my website, like it’s a platform and a springboard that I can bounce off. It’s always there, I love it and it keeps me grounded but it’s not the centre of what I do.
Juggling? Hmnn, I don’t see it as a juggle but as a choice, like everything in life, and it’s up to me as to how much time I devote to it and choosing where I place my focus. Working from home as a freelancer means I have the freedom to structure my days. It also means I have to be self disciplined and I have been known to get distracted!
I find that making lists at the start of each week, and day, keeps me on track with what I want to achieve. Lists have always been my go to in terms of organising myself and keeping myself accounted for. It’s amazing how we’re more likely to achieve a goal when we physically write it down.
How do you use your social media accounts to draw people to your blog? Or do you do different things on your social media accounts?
I have a Facebook Page and I also created a Facebook Group a few years ago YOLO (you only live once) but I never really gave it the attention for it to thrive. I have an Outanabout Page where I link to my latest blog post and although I’m not hugely active on FB I do share my posts on various groups. I remember Carlisle Rogers, Editor of 4WD Touring and filmmaker once told me there’s no point writing a great story or post if others can’t find it.
Instagram, on the other hand, I use more consistently. Here I post photos of my travels and other random inspirational musings. I find it a quick way to get a simple message across. I’ve made some amazing contacts on Insta and find it an awesome way to connect with like-minded creaters.
Here are my social media links:
How did you get your break to become a regular travel writer for a magazine?
I’ve always loved writing and I always dreamed of writing for magazines. I did a comprehensive writing course online many years ago, wrote lots and lots of articles (back in the day when it was all done by snail mail and you had to wait weeks before you heard back, usually a rejection). I had a few successes back in the late 1990s, had a few letters published in magazines here and there and won a few writing competitions. There was no big break as such, it was pure perseverance. Then in 2011, when I really threw myself into it, I began hitting the jackpot. My articles gelled with editors, I started making connections, understanding the package that was required to turn a submission into an acceptance and slowly more and more magazines began accepting my stories. So I’d say to anyone wanting to write for a magazine, learn their style, understand your market and never give up. Just keep writing.
Did your blog help you land that job?
These days, I have a regular column in On the Road magazine. It came about through timing, previous experience in writing for the magazine and, perhaps, my blog may also have helped. The fact that they knew I could consistently put out a diverse range of travel related stories probably helped.
How often do you have to write for them?
This magazine was monthly, then bi monthly but, since Covid and the changes in publishing, it’s now a quarterly (or seasonal) publication.
What do you love about this job?
I love that I was able to name the column whatever I wanted (how could I go past OutanAbout) but mostly I love the fact that I have the freedom to write on whatever subject I choose. Sometimes the options are so open and vast that it can be challenging but truly I feel so incredibly blessed and grateful.
Can you explain how the process works in terms of your deadlines, revisions etc.?
There’s usually a fair bit of revision needed and I’ve been known to scrap an entire column, and start completely from scratch.
Has the editing feedback you get from the magazine editors helped you improve your writing? Are you able to share some pointers with us?
The feedback that I generally get from editors these days is minimal and straight forward. I know what they want and they know what I can provide so when I send in a submission to another magazine it’s usually a straight “yes, we’ll take it” or “no, sorry, that destination has just been covered” or something to that effect.
You learn to let those rejections get to you. I had plenty of them in the past and it’s simply a matter of either contacting another publication or holding a story on file if it doesn’t sell.
If there any wannabe travel bloggers out there, what advice do you have for them?
My advice is pretty simple. Find your own voice and your style and write consistently. Find an angle that sets your story apart from the usual.
It’s easy to Google a destination these days and research facts and figures about a place. We have so much at our fingertips but sometimes readers want more. Finding a different angle and writing it with a unique perspective, your voice, your humour and sense of self makes a story comes alive. People want to feel like they’re travelling with you so infuse your personality into your writing but also give your readers something to walk away with.
General blogging advice for bloggers: Do you have any advice for bloggers starting or struggling?
On a practical level I’d suggest formatting a post so it doesn’t read like a huge essay. While we like to think that bloggers hang on our every word the reality is that most bloggers skim. When you break up your post with shorter paragraphs, photos, captions and headers it makes for an easier read.
And lastly, write from your heart. You can’t go wrong when you write what you’re passionate about. Every one of us has a story to tell and a journey that’s all our own. Once you find your niche and what you’re passionate about, go for it. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Happy Blogging!
Are you inspired, motivated?
I hope you have enjoyed this interview with Miriam. Miriam’s journey to becoming a magazine writer and dealing with rejection in a very light and easy manner is highly inspiring. She has beautifully shared her writing journey, her blogging routine, and how it has all evolved. Miriam has become such a good friend, and I love her posts as they mix travel with life and spirituality. And the fact is that it is all a journey, and our mindset makes that journey happy, sad, joyous or fearful, lazy or prosperous etc.. (well, in my humble opinion).
Do visit again next week when we have another blogger interview. In the meantime, please do take some time to visit Miriam at her blog OutandAbout. Miriam is the eighth blogger in this series, below are the other blogger interview; please do take time to read their interviews.
Images: Supplied by Miriam therefore are her copyright. Feature image created by myself on http://www.canva.com (canva is very easy to use see my YouTube video and post on it)