Welcome to the tenth 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.
Jeff and I have only known each other since sometime in 2020.
Jeff actually found my blog and always commented on each and every blog post of mine (amazing). Naturally, I visited his blog to find a lovely blog with a wide variety of content and a exceptionally professionally laid out. I found out that Jeff blogs daily alongside his job and other responsibilities. I then realised Jeff was new to blogging, but oh my, when you see his website, his blogging schedule, and just how he presents his blog, you would think he is an old master at this. I certainly did. Jeff’s blog inspired me to improve my blog in many ways. Admittedly, Jeff has a lot more energy than I do. I am thankful to Jeff for finding my blog, leading me to find his blog.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Jeff which is about his blog mainly, but also his back story as well. His story is very inspirational, where we learn the lesson ” IT is never too late to do anything“. Jeff really proves it in his own life. So enjoy this interview and be inspired.
When and why did you start blogging?
My interest in developing a website actually started in 2019. I started one with my younger son, Jason, which was focused on youth development, an area of theoretical and practical interest and expertise. We started that site on Wix. When the pandemic started, however, I was looking at a few blogs and was curious why the majority of them were on WordPress. During that time, I also had a conversation with my older son, Justin, about the potential creativity being unleashed in the world as people, those of course spared from the deadliness of COVID-19, had more time on their hands. As we continued to discuss creativity, it occurred to me that I would like to write a blog. COVID-19 Creativity was launched shortly thereafter, which was the first iteration of the current site, Develop. Inspire. Transform.
The central theme of the blog is based upon my personal mission statement and vision, which is that development, inspiration, and transformation are available to all of us, if we can learn how to create the necessary context for them to occur. I was once in a state of confusion about these concepts, and for those that similarly find themselves in contexts devoid of development, inspiration, and transformation, I offer my services as a coach and mentor.
Blogging began as a hobby, and is still one, however, blogging is also related to all of my work today. Related to all the parts of the person I am today, and will become tomorrow. Meaning, that as I continue to develop, inspire, and transform, so will the blog. Poetry is an example of iterative development, as I’ve only been publishing poetry on my blog for the past three or four months. As I began to write poetry, I fell in love. In love with the concepts, and in love with the process. Creativity unleashed. Beautiful.
How has your blogging Journey evolved since you started blogging?
My first few posts were about the pandemic. Actually most of the first couple of months of posts were about the pandemic. As I continued to grow, as a human being, and a blogger, the blog followed. On my blog now, for instance, you can find articles related to personal development, professional development, mindfulness, self-awareness, leadership, teamwork, organizational culture, poetry, and more. I am continuously amazed at how much the blog has grown in the past 6 months. I think at the end of last summer, I had maybe 60 followers, and my goal was to have 100 by the end of 2020. Well, I actually hit 500 by the end of 2020. Partly due to my deeper understanding of the blogging community, which took me a while to fully understand. For instance, following others, and being a regular contributor to their blog. Now, I follow over 600 bloggers, actively contribute to at least 30 or 40 sites, and visit many others. It is great fun.
How often do you blog or carry out blogging related activities?
I typically read the 30 or 40 blogs I actively contribute to daily. I sometimes miss a day here or there, yet I think those bloggers’ sites that I actively contribute to, like ThoughtsNLifeBlog, would say that I am pretty consistent. The other blogs that I visit regularly are also usually daily. And, then there are a whole bunch of sites that I visit weekly. I would like to get to all 600 each week, yet I haven’t managed that just yet.
I do research as needed. Because I have theoretical and practical experience with the great majority of topics I write about, research is often unnecessary. I will often, however, link to articles and quotes as needed to strengthen the quality of a post.
How long does it take to write a blog post?
It depends. For instance, sometimes with poetry, it can happen really fast. In a few moments. Other times, such as with a post about leadership or development, it can take a week or two. As some of you know, I work at a community college, and the job is a very busy one, so I work quite a bit, which means that it can take time to get longer posts finished.
How many times do you proofread, edit etc.?
I often let my writing sit for a time. I rarely post a piece right away. Typically, I will write a piece and then reflect upon the contents and context. And, often, I will go back and reread and edit a couple of times before posting. Though I have always found the editing process to be quite laborious, it is super important, as is my reflection time upon each piece of writing.
Well, this is my desk at home, which is where I do the majority of my blogging. As you can see, I love post-its, for when insights occur, or as reminders. What you cannot see in this picture are the 4 whiteboards I also have at home. These whiteboards also assist me in my thinking and reflection process. I sometimes also write at work. Depends on how busy things are and when and where insights come.
How do you generate ideas for your blog topics?
I think it is your weekly roundup post that always makes me think –WOW! How professional you are, organised, and you have a plan for writing that seems to be 365 /260 days of the year. It feels like you know what to write every time. How do you do that?
Oh, thanks for saying that, Bella! How funny, the Blogger’s Diary started as a way for me to reflect upon all of the ideas, concepts, insights, and inspirations for the week, and to consider what the following week, in terms of writing, may bring. I’ve iterated the diary entry recently, now choosing to actually write a little about how 2 of the week’s posts were created.
I don’t actually have a plan that far in advance, though that would be something! I have a general plan each week, and was even, for a time, one week ahead of my posts, alas that is not the case at the current moment. Writing for me does really mirror my life. For instance, when the team is working on communication, you will probably find a communication post forthcoming. When I am working on an aspect of my own development, like vulnerability, or asking for help, for instance, a blog is sure to follow.
Sometimes, like with poetry, an idea or concept will occur, or I may see something that sparks an insight, and then we’re off. I always have my phone with me, and if something does occur to me when I am out and about, I will take notes. I also have a journal, which I use most everyday, which also allows me to process my thoughts for the day.
How often do you publish a blog post?
Yes, mostly every day. For now, that seems to work. It is a lot of work, yet I’ve been able to keep it up. I’m not sure about the future. There may come a time in the next year, when I have to switch posting to every other day, or three or so times a week. One thing is for sure, I am not going anywhere. So, if a little less blogging each week is necessary and needed for me to maintain balance in my life, I will shorten my writing time, yet continue to blog. Oh, and I will always also continue to follow and actively contribute to blogs! I love the blogosphere and the community, which is iterating, and growing each week!
Out of all your blog posts that you published to date – which 3 are your favourite? Please list and provide links and explain why.
Ah, another fun question, Bella! Here is my nonconformist answer. I hope that’s okay.
I think the next three posts I write will be my favorite. It’s how I think, and, in fact, what I find true. Whether it is a piece of poetry, or a post on leadership, or personal development, I always think, that’s pretty good. Or, aha! I love that one. It’s super fun! Okay, now for a more conformist answer.
Here are the three most viewed posts over three domains.
- Poetry: Shy
- Leadership Development: 3 Paradoxes of Leadership All Leaders Should Know
- Personal and Professional Development: The Reflection Series #7: Thinking about Time Differently
Your blog theme /aesthetics: Is your blog theme bespoke?
The site theme is actually P2.
Ah, thank you, Bella for that lovely acknowledgement. Though I would love to say a lot about designing your site, I have stumbled into, and learned everything I know from other bloggers. Mostly by interacting and contributing to their blogs. I like the P2 theme because of its simplicity. My novice advice about site development is to make it both functional and inspiring to you. If it works for you, and inspires you, chances are it will function well and inspire other people. This summer I hope to do some work on the site, updating page content, pictures, and the overall structure. Yet, I will probably keep the P2 theme. Again, simple.
What do you love about blogging?
I love inspiring people, like you and the many other blogs I follow. I love being a part of the blogging community. Yes, I do also love to write, more today than probably ever before. Most of what I love about blogging is the practical aspect of it. Even with poetry on the many wondrous poets sites that I follow, they write about their lived experience. Wonderfully inspirational.
What don’t you like about blogging?
Editing. That’s what I “don’t like” about writing. Though I will write here, that I have a whole new appreciation for the editing process, and for the insights that come when taking the time needed to consider something, anything really, for an extended period of time, as I wrote about earlier.
What is your biggest blogging lesson?
As a very new blogger, less than 1-year, I experience blogging insights all the time; and, they always come from trial and error and from the wonderful blogging community of which we are all a part. The biggest lesson I have learned thus far is about the community itself. Meaning, that for the first six months, I didn’t really engage with other bloggers and their sites. Not because I didn’t want to, I was just inexperienced, and didn’t fully understand how it all worked. Once I started following more bloggers and then actively contributing to their sites, things began to develop quite rapidly. I would say that in blogging, just like all of life, you get back that which you put in. Once you understand something, and you take action, then you will see things start to move. Fun.
What keeps you blogging?
- I am always internally motivated. Meaning that I see my site, which has now iterated several times, as connected to a larger vision I hold, and have for my life and work, which I wrote about earlier. That’s what keeps me blogging. As I’ve mentioned, however, the blogging community is also so very inspiring. I’ve met some of the most creative and inspirational people in the last year. A real treasure.
- Early on I didn’t find juggling life and blogging difficult because my workflow was quite reduced, due to the pandemic, however, as the team and I began to move more work forward and began to create more remote learning experiences for our local community, it did become hard. In fact, it is still hard today. Early on I was writing longer, more in-depth posts, on a daily basis, and while I still write some of those, I can only really get to about 1 or 2 a week, max.
- I balance life, blogging, work, and my other hobbies, by scheduling myself accordingly. Meaning, I work 9 or 10 hours a day, typically, which includes time for writing a little some days, and always contributing to the blogs I follow. I try to write every day, even if it is only a very short poem, or the intro to a new piece I’ve had an insight about. Movement, for me, is key. And, then on Saturday, I will unusually spend a few hours writing for the following week. There was a time when I would write a whole long post in one sitting, not so much today. Yet, over several days, it is possible, and I do manage it pretty well.
Jeff’s back story
I looked around your blog/website to attempt to find out a bit more about yourself. It seems to me you’re a consultant/life coach? Would you like to provide a bit of background to yourself?
- Sure! I was raised in Los Angeles, where I lived until the age of 31 or so, and then moved to Arizona, and from there to Oregon in 2012. I grew up in a middle-class/working-class family, which simply means I understood at an early age the necessary ingredients (skills sets) to succeed at work. What I didn’t get, and wanted from an early age, was how to navigate University. I went to a few Community College’s in my twenties, yet didn’t understand the language of higher education, so I failed. At 33, however, it was time to give it another try, and I went to University and completed a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and then several years later, completed my masters in Human Development and Family Studies.
- In my twenties and early thirties I worked in the private sector and then after leaving University, I began working at the local Community College, where I still work today.
- I am the Director of the Extended Learning department on campus, which includes community education, corporate training and professional development, driver education, small business development, and fire training council. Super fun!
- And, yes, I am also a coach! I’ve been coaching people for many years, and find great joy in 1on1 coaching contexts. I believe that in the coming 3 to 5 years, coaching will take on an even larger part of my work. Because I lead a department, leadership is obviously a very important theoretical, and even more importantly, practical aspect of my work. Well, in fact, it is all of my work, which is why you will find many posts on leadership on my site.
I see from your about page you went to college at age of 33 – how did you find that experience? The pros and cons of it? Did you find your own self-talk making it hard for you to go back to studying and carrying on? If there is anyone reading this and thinking of studying as a mature student, what advice do you have for them?
- What an excellent question, Bella. Going back to school at 33 was very difficult. I was scared. Simple. Yet, due to my own persistence, a loving and supportive family, and awesome student-peers, I was successful. Oh, and I also had some awesome mentoring along the way from several wonderful professors.
- The pros are doing it, and learning more about the world and yourself. The cons, especially if you have children, is that it is hard to manage financially, at least in the US. We were able to make it work, as my spouse worked, and I also worked, wherever I could. I also landed a job on campus in my second year, which made things much easier.
- I did find my negative self-talk challenging, yet was able to muster up the fortitude to go back to school, due to all the people that surrounded me. In graduate school, my negative self-talk got a lot worse, and though I finished my thesis, it carried on that way until I was about 43. At which time I began seeing a life coach every week, which has been a transformational experience for me. I’ve always been interested in Eastern philosophy, yet the concepts were always just concepts. Seeing my life coach made concrete the way to practice the concepts in everyday life, which I carry on today. They are a part of the three things, which I’ve written a lot about, that sustain me; namely, meditation, exercise, and diet. Going within was not something I was taught as a child. Not because my parents didn’t want to, they just didn’t have access to the language, nor the practice. And, you can read every book about anything you like, yet until you actually practice the concepts, live them fully, they are mere information. To know and understand you must practice. Every day.
- My advice for those that are interested in going to University as a mature adult is to do your homework. Go to a school that has support in place for mature adults, especially if you have a family. Even though University is expensive in the United States, you can find Universities that have “family housing,” which, for us, was a must. Seek out peers and mentors. Be open and flexible. You know far less than is knowable. That is the truth for us all. We know very little of what is available to know. When we are open and flexible, we can more readily receive support that other people want to provide. I had so many people that aided me in both of my degrees, I could write a whole book on that alone! Also, be patient with yourself. Doing something new, especially if you were not raised in a context where it was a norm, is hard. Bottom line? It will be hard. Yet, if you persist, stay open, accept help as needed, you will succeed. Lastly, know that failure is part of the process. We all fail. Remember this. Just on the other side of failure, lies success. We must fail first to eventually succeed. It’s just how it works.
Is there anything you share about yourself that the readers might find interesting?
Ha! Hmmm. Well, I have 34 tattoos, does that count? Hahaha. I got them all in about a one-year timeframe when I was 18. People often ask me, not as much today I will admit, if I regret them, and the answer has been and still is no. Not at all. I enjoy them in fact. I love creativity, always have. In addition to blogging, as some of you may know, I play the guitar, create and innovate actively in my job, hike, walk, bake, cook, garden, read, paint, am an amateur potter, am learning a new language, etc. You get the idea. I love the creative process. I denied my own creativity for a long time. Not so today.
Do you have social media accounts?
Admittedly, I don’t use social media much. I do have my social media accounts connected to my site, however, so you can find me and follow me at the following links.
Though I would like to be more active on social media to promote by blog, it is not something that I am prioritizing at the time. As a matter of fact, I am actually reflecting upon whether or not to keep my medium account, which I’ve really enjoyed. Right now, I am dedicating 100% of my writing time to my blog, which just feels right.
I would say to follow your heart. Meaning, learn from others, yes, read articles about blogging, watch videos, learn as much as you can, however, always follow your heart. An example may help here. I once read an article that stated that bloggers should write very long in-depth posts. The article argued that that was the one main way to gain traction on your blog. So I did. What have I learned since then? So much. Your blog should be about the things in your life you are passionate about, and there are no real set rules for how long a post should be. Actually, many bloggers believe shorter posts are better. I think the blogs you write should inspire you, move you in some way, make you feel good, positive, excited. If you can achieve this, excellent. The results mean less than the process. Meaning, when we are after a particular result, we are not focused on the process. And, when we are not focused on the process, well, the writing, or whatever it is that we are doing will suffer.
- Write every day, even if it’s only a paragraph.
- Actively contribute to other bloggers sites.
- When an insight for a poem or article on development occurs, I write it down. Then I sketch it out, and begin to ponder the possibility of the post. And then? I begin to write it.
- You don’t have to write a blog post in one sitting. You can write it over several days, if needed, even weeks. There are posts I’m working on right now that I started last week, two weeks ago.
- Write about what inspires you; what you’re good at, what you do for a living, what you want to do for a living, about your hobbies. Something that you do, unique to you.
- Edit, edit, edit. Haha. Important.
- Select images that move you. That tie into the post. Make the post more meaningful, more vibrant in some way. Many bloggers, like you Bella, do a great job creating their own visuals, which is not something I’ve gotten into yet.
- Reply to comments in a timely fashion. I always try to reply to comments within 24 hours, if not sooner.
- Update your site regularly. Now, I will own here that my site is in need of an update, so I am going to take some time this summer, if not before to complete this process. I haven’t updated the pages in about 6 or 7 months. It’s time.
- Set a blogging schedule that works for you, knowing that that schedule can iterate. At one time, I was posting three or four times a day. No way can I manage that today. My goal is one post a day. Most often I make that work, sometimes, I miss a day. And, there may come a time in the near future, where I will need to cut back to three or four times a week. I think the important thing is to set a schedule that works for you and stick with it, until it doesn’t work anymore, then let it change.
- Renard wrote a great article the other day about a blogging schedule. The gist of the article was to set a schedule that feels right to you. Don’t set a schedule based on what you think you’re supposed to do, but, rather, on one that works for your life. Consistency is key, yet if you overdo it, you may not be able to keep up, get frustrated, and quit.
- Follow other bloggers that inspire you. And, as time allows, contribute to their sites by liking their work and adding comments. One of the things I enjoy the most, as I’ve written about in this interview, is getting to know other inspirational people, just like you, Bella. It is so much fun.
Are you inspired, motivated?
I hope you have enjoyed this interview with Jeff. I love Jeff’s interview and feel so inspired. It’s never to late to go after your dream, or to change your life. I love Jeff’s blog it always up lifts me, and I am very grateful he found my blog so that I could find his blog.
Do visit again next week when we have another blogger interview. In the meantime, please do take some time to visit Jeff at his blog Jeff Flesh blog. Jeff is the tenth blogger in this series, below are the other blogger interview; please do take time to read their interviews.
Images: Supplied by Jeff therefore are his copyright. Feature image created by myself on http://www.canva.com (canva is very easy to use; I have created a YouTube video and post on it)