Welcome to the twelfth 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 specialty, well, more than one. Which I attempt to bring out in the interview.
Today we are going to speak to Hugh W. Roberts of Hugh’s News & Views blog.
I came across Hugh’s blog mainly because of his blogging tips and tricks. It was one of Hugh’s blog posts on the new block editor that got me to take the plunge. I am now a convert and enjoy the block editor.
What also drew me to Hugh’s blog is that he also lives in the UK.
What I didn’t know at the time is that Hugh is an author and has several books published. He also writes in his blog about publishing and writing books which I find helpful.
Actually, all Hugh’s blogs post are helpful, inspiring and creates enthusiasm in me.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Hugh. It is lovely how Hugh overcame aspects of his life to blog and write his book.
When and why did you start blogging?
I published my first blog post on the 12th of February 2014.
I’d been thinking about starting a blog for some time because I saw it as a way out of beating myself up for being dyslexic. I’d been told many times that dyslexia stopped you from becoming a successful writer.
I’m glad I pushed the publish button on that first post because it was the beginning of the conquest of my fear of people knowing I’m dyslexic.
I stumbled across WordPress quite by chance and liked what I saw. At the time, they also offered an online beginners’ course for new bloggers. I liked the thought of that, so I began the process of creating my blog.
My blog doesn’t have a niche or theme because it covers a wide range of subjects, but it’s probably best known for the blogging tips I write and publish.
I like to help people with the whole blogging experience and entertain them with my flash fiction, short stories, photography, guest posts. I throw in some music for good measure. My blogging tips posts are popular and have certainly helped put me in front of a whole new audience. It’s gone on to help me achieve publishing two short story collections.
I blog as a hobby. I don’t make any money from it and don’t intend to.
How has your blogging journey evolved since you started blogging?
It’s been a very long learning curve, not just in how to blog, but it’s also helped me become a better and more confident writer. I never believed that I would make many online writing friends, some of whom I have met in person. Those were incredible experiences.
And I never believed that I would evolve into writing and publishing tips about blogging. That is a big surprise, given that I started to blog so I could write and share my short stories and flash fiction.
How often do you blog or carry out blogging related actives (e.g., reading other bloggers posts, researching a blog idea)?
The world of blogging has become an everyday essential because I enjoy it so much.
Some days, I write and read blog posts; some days, I just write. Likewise, the amount of time I spend blogging varies from one day to the next. From a few minutes to four to five hours a day, it’s something I get a lot of enjoyment from. However, I never force myself to blog. If I find myself getting fed up, I go and do something else.
How long does it take to write a blog post?
My Wordless Wednesday posts take about 20 minutes. My blogging tips posts can take up to a week to write. I never publish any posts on the same day I write them because I know I can continuously improve them.
How many times do you proofread, edit etc.?
I proofread and edit all of my posts several times before they are published. However, I still end up finding the odd mistake as soon as they are published. I correct errors straight away. It’s one reason why I like to be at the computer when a post goes live.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
Yes, in the study. Just to the left of my desk is a large window overlooking the front garden. It gives me lots of inspiration and calm while I write.
How do you generate ideas for your blog topics?
Mainly from the comments section of my own posts and those of other bloggers. They can be an abundance of ideas. It’s why I always read the comments section of the posts I read.
Ideas for my flash fiction and short stories come from writing and photo prompt challenges published by other bloggers.
How often do you publish a blog post?
On average, about three times a week.
Out of all the blog posts you published to date – which 3 are your favourite? Please list and provide links and explain why.
That’s a tricky question I had to think long and hard about. But here you go.
Every time I read this post, the memories in it bring butterflies to my stomach. It’s the single, most significant moment that changed my life. I’ve had other life-changing moments, but nothing on the scale of this one.
Another life-changing moment for me that produced a lot of emotion in the comments section. Given that many people are still afraid to come out as gay or bisexual, I hoped this post would help all who read it regardless of their sexual orientation.
I wrote this post because I’ve gone through several stages of feeling stressed about blogging. But also because of comments and tweets from bloggers apologising for not reading and leaving comments on blog posts because they were offline dealing with personal matters.
I was gobsmacked as to why people felt they had to apologise for not reading or publishing blog posts or leaving comments while dealing with personal problems. It was as if they thought they had a duty to be online 24 hours a day!
The comments in the post speak for themselves and much of the blogging community.
Your blog theme /aesthetics: Is your blog theme bespoke?
I don’t think so, no.
If you’re talking about the WordPress theme I use, it’s called Arcane. I change the theme at least once a year as I think it helps gives my blog a fresh new look.
How long did you spend in creating such a thoughtful layout, which is very professional?
I make changes to my blog as and when anything new comes out or discover problems such as broken links. I enjoy playing around with all the different options WordPress gives its users.
I think it vital that all bloggers ensure their blog looks good and is easy to navigate around. If visitors can’t find what they are looking for, see an overcluttered menu, or keep finding broken links, they won’t stay around and probably won’t return.
Do you have any advice for bloggers like myself who just stumbled into blogging clueless in terms of how to make our websites flow and sparkle like yours?
Take on board and learn about the tools you’ve been given by your blogging provider. Practice using those tools first and only publish your first post when you’re confident in using them.
Rather than complain, read tutorials and watch any videos they publish to use the software they provide. If you still have problems using it, don’t be afraid to ask for some help.
Ask for feedback about your blog. What do people like about it? What don’t they like? What can be improved? What changes would they want to see? Ask yourself if there is anything you don’t like about your blog. If there is, make the changes straight away rather than setting them aside for another day. Make changes rather than allowing your blog to look tired and out of date.
Don’t forget about housekeeping your blog. Make sure your ‘about me’ page is up to date and that any links on the home page of your blog work. Get rid of clutter or anything you no longer use. Don’t be afraid to delete posts that are no longer of any use.
And finally, never be afraid to ask for help or feedback. On the whole, the blogging community is always happy to help.
What do you love about blogging?
It’s a place where you can write down anything and share it with whoever wants to read it. There are no having to get a publisher, sending off what you’ve written in the hope it’ll get published, and no restrictions on when you want to publish what you’ve written. Blogging is a free world where you can pretty much do what you want, where you can allow your passions to run riot, be yourself, make friends, have fun, and (if you wish) make some money.
I also love how the world of blogging is constantly evolving. I love the changes and trying new ideas out. For those who want it, blogging takes you to new levels every time changes are announced. Don’t get left behind.
What don’t you like about blogging?
The trolls! Especially those who seem to get enjoyment out of trying to make a blogger’s life a misery. I’ve had a few visits from trolls, mainly because of my sexual orientation. I don’t know why some people can’t accept someone for who they are. I’ve known some great bloggers who have given up their blogs because of the trolls. It’s such a shame it happens.
I dislike the thought of bloggers getting themselves into a state of stress or guilt because they can’t keep up with reading and commenting on blog posts. Some seem to think they have to read and leave comments on every blog they follow. They’re constantly apologising for not doing so or for being offline for a few days.
Publishing a blog post a day late doesn’t warrant an apology. If you think it does, then I think you need to ask yourself a question as to why you feel you need to keep apologising. Nobody cares if you’re late publishing a post or didn’t leave a like and comment on their last blog post. Get over it. Enjoy it, not apologise for it.
What is your biggest blogging lesson?
Don’t expect overnight success. It takes the majority of bloggers years of hard work and dedication to get an audience. If you do have a passion for blogging, then you won’t give up on it. Engage with other bloggers, even if it’s just once a day. Read as much about blogging as you can.
What keeps you blogging? Do you find it hard to juggle life and blogging?
The writing! I love writing, and blogging is the perfect place for me to write as and when I want to write.
I used to find it hard to juggle blogging and life in general. I found myself getting very stressed out about it. I came to a point where I had to either change the way I blogged or give up blogging.
And how do you get yourself out of it?
I made some simple changes that helped me balance my blogging and life ratio. I stopped feeling guilty about unfollowing blogs that were publishing content I didn’t really find interesting. I stopped following blogs simply because they followed me. I stopped leaving comments that added no value to what I’d read other than merely to say I’d been there.
The enjoyment and fun of blogging soon came back.
Your Book Glimpses and More Glimpses: How did your book writing journey begin?
It all started when I started publishing some short stories and flash fiction pieces on my blog.
I participated in some writing challenges hosted by other bloggers. I was fortunate in that one of my stories went viral. It wasn’t long before I was being asked to publish all my stories in a book.
Can you tell us more about your books Glimpses, that is, what type of short stories are included?
I write in many genres, so you’ll find stories covering paranormal, science fiction, LGBT, horror, drama, fantasy, comedy, war, thriller and supernatural. Something for everyone, I hope.
What was the book writing process like for you?
Most of the stories were first written and published on my blog, so the writing process was fun and enjoyable.
How long did it take from writing, editing, to publishing?
‘Glimpses’ was published in 2016, so it took me two years to write, edit and publish. ‘More Glimpses’ was published in 2019.
Did you self-publish, or did you have a publisher?
Both books were self-published.
Can you share your experiences of getting the books published?
It was hard work and, at times, frustrating getting the books formatted and uploaded. I wanted to do it all myself but soon realised that I needed a lot more help than what I had asked for.
The first edition of Glimpses was okay, but I knew the formatting wasn’t the best. This was my first book, and I asked myself why I hadn’t hired somebody to do the technical work of formatting for me. I hired somebody and was over the moon with the results.
I learned a lesson in that if you are not happy with everything, don’t publish it. I now apply this to my blog posts.
How have you marketed your books?
At book fairs, on social media, on my blog, and as a guest of other bloggers. I’m not very good at marketing, but I will take any opportunity I’m offered to market them.
Do you plan to write more books?
Yes, I’d like to publish another volume of Glimpses, but not sure when yet.
One of the main reasons I follow your blog is for your blogging tips. How have you become the Guru of WordPress.com, please explain your journey in becoming an expert?
I remember seeing a blogging tips post and thinking how helpful the blogger who had written and published it was. It was a gold mine of information that helped me a lot.
I started looking for more tips and played around with various settings and WordPress buttons. It wasn’t long before I uncovered a treasure-trove of information that helped me.
As a thank you to those who supported me by following, reading and leaving comments on my posts, I decided to start writing and publishing my own blogging tips. I’ve never charged anyone for the information and never intend to. It’s my way of saying ‘thank you.’
I get told a lot that my blogging tips are straightforward, easy to follow, and the screenshots I include help. I think this alone has helped my blog become well known for help with blogging questions and tips.
Your advice, tips are always so thorough and clear to follow. How long does it take you to write a post with all the screenshots and annotations you do?
On average, they take about 7 days to write. I never rush into publishing them because I know the first draft is of no good to anyone. I take my time and ensure that everything in those posts is easy to read and follow.
What software do you use to take screenshots, and what do you to mark the screenshot up with text?
I use a piece of software called Nimbus. It’s excellent for taking screenshots and adding information to them. It’s easy and free to use.
Do you have social media accounts?
How do you use your social media accounts to draw people to your blog?
Twitter has always been the biggest referrer of traffic to my blog. I use it every day, and the time I put into being on it has rewarded me in getting my blog and books lots more exposure. Just like blogging, it’ll only work for you if you engage with other people. So, be social on it.
Flipboard is a sidekick that I use as and when I can. I’ve had great results from it, but it’s not as reliable as Twitter.
Hugh W. Roberts – Social Media and other links.
Blog: Hugh’s Views and News
Do you have any advice for bloggers starting or struggling with blogging?
Yes, don’t expect your blog to take off overnight. It took me over a year to get my blog established.
Blogging takes up a lot of time. Be prepared to give it the time it needs.
Don’t follow back everyone who follows you.
Only follow blogs you know you will read and leave comments on.
Don’t ignore your audience or take them for granted.
Respond to all their comments (expect spammy or nasty comments, which you should delete straight away).
Never be afraid to ask for help.
The ‘about me’ page is one of the most-visited parts of a blog, so make sure you have one. Most new visitors want to know a little about the person behind the blog before deciding to follow or not.
Make it easy for visitors to find information by tagging and categories all your blog posts.
Only use your own images on your posts (or pictures that are free to use from sites like Pixabay). Don’t fall victim to copyright infringement. Be yourself. Don’t try to copy anybody else.
What are tricks for successful blogging or the running of a website?
I said much of what I said in my last answer, but I’d also add to enjoy the experience. Never allow blogging to become a chore.
Don’t overwhelm your readers. One of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers make is publishing too many blog posts within a few hours, having not published anything for a few days. Schedule posts out over a few days rather than publishing them all within a few hours of each other.
Are you inspired, motivated?
I hope you have enjoyed this interview with Hugh, and it inspired you to blog with more passion, self-publish the book you are writing, or even start the book you want to write. Hugh’s tips on blogging, his process, and advice for us bloggers. He said don’t apologies if you post is late; this ‘hit’ home as I use to do this a lot. I also liked learning about his book writing an publishing experiences.
Hugh is the twelfth and last blogger in the ‘Let’s Get Inspired Series’; please take the time to visit his Hugh’s News & Views blog.
I have learnt a lot from all twelve bloggers and have already started implementing what I have learned. Each interview is different; therefore, each blogger provides various views, tips and experiences to blogging, which I think is so important as life changes. Life never stays the same; our blogs are an extension of our lives and reflect our life. But the best thing about blogging on WordPress.com is the in-built community of international friends who will always be by your side.
I hope you will visit all twelve bloggers interviews they have all shared so openly, their interviews are below. Or you can find them on the top menu of my blog under ‘Let’s Get Inspired’, or by searching for the category ‘Let’s Get Inspired’.
Images: Supplied by Hugh 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)