Our Write-Away Contest guest judge this month was Amanda from Oh Amanda, a wonderful person who writes about her two children, her home, her creativity and her religion with a comfortable openness that invites you in.
When I interview people sometimes I'll focus my questions on things that interest my guest and then sometimes I'll focus on things I'm thinking about myself and you can tell by a few of my questions where some of my thoughts have been lately . . . Christmas is right around the corner!
Amanda, I hope you're having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!
You’ve been blogging for several years now, how do you deal with the ups and downs of blogging?
I've always said I love the ebbs and flows of blogging. It's MY blog and MY life so I can kinda do with it what I want. When I'm busy, my blog reflects that. When I'm focused and inspired, my blog reflects that, too. I also think it's the ups and downs that spur me on. When I feel blaze about my blog or my readers or stats or "influence" it makes me want to push harder and do better.
Have your goals with your blog changed? How?
When I first started my blog I thought it was a creative writing outlet. But I remember my very first post and I can hear that I also hoped someone would read it. And I'm continually surprised that people do! I think this all goes back to the ebbs and flows...at one point my goal was to get 3 comments. Then to make a couple of bucks. I think now my goal is to influence people--I try to post things that will be encouraging, insightful or helpful. (I don't think I always get that accomplished, but I try!)
What has been the most fun part of your blog? What makes you want to keep with it?
The most fun part of blogging by far is the people! I've met so many different types of people. People I'm pretty sure would have never spoken to me (or vice versa) in real life--are now dear friends to me. My whole world has opened up in a new way since I've really gotten into the blogsophere. I couldn't NOT stick with it--like that old blinkie says, "I love my computer. My friends live in it."
Do you have any advice for people trying to get their blog noticed?
I wish I was an expert on this. My only advice is to be a part of the community . . . read and comment, play along with carnivals and fun parties, email your comment-ers back, respond on facebook or twitter. If you want your blog to be out there--put yourself out there! Oh, and it doesn't hurt to be cute and normal, too.
You do a lot of product reviews, what advice would you give for people who’d like to do reviews on their own blogs?
Don't take everything that comes your way. I just got an email about tissues. And although I think it would be fun to get a big box of tissues in the mail . . .what am I really accomplishing? I saved $1.42 and now I have to spend an hour or more writing a post about tissues that my readers don't even want to read. Just make sure you pick stuff you really like and would have blogged about for free. (Uhm, like Disney or chocolate.)
If you've never received a PR pitch, try signing up with a network like One2One or MomSelect. They send out emails about lots of different opportunities. You can pick and choose and not worry if it's a good company or not!
What changes, if any, have you seen in the world of blogging—especially mom blogging?
I think my blog has mirrored the blogging world as far as changes. I went from I'm-in-the-cool-geeky-crowd to wow-someone-likes-me to i-can't-believe-this-company-
I love that blogging has mushroomed. I have to admit, sometimes I feel like it's passing me by. I am in awe that I get to be a part of your Write Away contest--you are a bloggy hero to me! But I am also feeling the "age" of my blog. I feel comfortable in my blog and I think there are many people who are recognizing the amazing platform that blogging is. I want to take full advantage of it and use it to make a difference in the lives of others. So to make a long answer even LONGER, I think the biggest change is that blogging is LOUDER. Moms have seen that a blog can be more than a journal or a way to win free stuff. Blogging can be a vehicle, a tool and an agent for change.
What are your favorite holiday traditions your family has?
As a semi-new mom (my kids are 3 and 1) I feel like our family "traditions" are all forming. And I think that's exciting. My daughter has had 3 Christmases and doesn't remember any of them. So, every year is a new sparkly treat for her. I love discovering family "traditions" with her and now with my son. I'm inspired by so many traditions and crafts and books that I think I try to many at one time!
What do you do to make the holidays more meaningful?
I'm the kind of person that likes to make events special. I want the candles lit, the music playing, the food ready to go and a few little extras thrown in. But besides the actual celebration, I want my children to know the meaning behind the holiday. I have worked hard at helping Lydia understand what it means to be thankful. We spend weeks focusing on the details of the real Christmas story. I feel like I've got a fleeting opportunity to get to her heart before the media and the craziness of the season gets it's chance--and I want to impress her first!
Do you have favorite holiday books or movies your family enjoys? I know you recently posted about Thanksgiving traditions, what about Christmas or New Year’s?
Oh my goodness, books! I could list 50 Christmas books I love. My very favorite story ever is the Gift of the Magi. I have started collecting as many different editions as I can. It's the most beautiful story of sacrifice, love, gratitude and thankfulness. It is set at Christmas time but I think the lesson is appropriate at any season. My newest favorite tradition is the advent calendar. I can't get enough of them. This year my daughter will probably be opening five advent calendars a day while we make another one! Like I said, I get excited about traditions and special events!
What kinds of things are you looking forward to in 2010?
My son will be in his first year . . . I mean his first year that he's NOT an infant! This 14-20 months age is so exciting to me because I can see a little peek into his real personality. Everything will be new and fun for him. Everything is a first. My love grows with my children and I'm excited to see how he grows and my love with him. Also, on a personal note, I'm a new Disney Mom, so I'll be on the Disney World website as part of the Disney Mom's Panel this year--a dream come true for me!