(This is the second part of a game of 20 Questions I have been playing with myself, each one focusing on a different side of myself. This one is about blogging.)
What is the name of your blog, and what was the inspiration for it?
My blog’s name is CrapPile. When I first created it a couple of years ago it was called The Novice Student of Writing, because writing was going to be its primary focus and also because after writing off and on since I was a kid I felt like I still had not gotten very far writing-wise. Towards the end of 2017 I took an extremely long break from blogging, and when I decided to reenter the blogosphere back in May 2018, I felt I needed to start from scratch. I still felt that everything I was writing was crap, and if I were to actually keep blogging and not stop as I had done way too many times over the years, it would be a bunch of crap piling on top of each other. Hence the now popular moniker, CrapPile.
Why did you decide to start a blog?
Years back when I created my very first WordPress blog it was simply so that I had a website for when I finally published and became an author. Over time I realized that a blog would be a great way for me to practice writing and building a reader base so that when the time came for my first books to be published, I’d already have a format to do some advertising with and potential buyers already lined up. On top of all that, blogging is just fun.
What do you blog about?
Unlike a lot of blogs, I write about whatever I feel like blogging about. I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been talking a lot about writing and some of my own personal projects, but I try to vary my content as much as I can. I have written several political commentaries, some personal stories, humorous bits, and various updates as to how my blog is doing and posts answering questions a lot of my commenters throw at me. Writing about different topics not only is a challenge for me to step outside my comfort zone, but also allows an even greater audience to come visit me. And again, it’s fun.
Are there any topics that you WON’T cover in your blog?
I don’t think any topic should be considered off-limits to the intelligent writer. There are obviously a lot of things that I have not yet gotten to in my own blog, but it is not due to a prejudice against any particular subject. For instance, I have yet to write about religion or philosophy. I also have not written any pieces that involve research or statistics, mainly because that takes up too much time and I have yet felt the urge to write anything really objective. But who knows? The blog is still young, so in the future there’s a chance I will have covered every conceivable subject known to man. It’s just whatever I feel like churning out at any given moment.
How often do you post?
My only stringent requirement that I set for myself is that I post daily. I average anywhere from three to five posts a day, sometimes more if I decide to post mini updates about anything. I also make sure to post at different times throughout the day, because I realize that with viewers and followers from all across the globe and with lives of their own that they log in at different times. Spreading the posts out helps reach people better.
What have your most popular posts been about?
As of right now, my two main political posts have gotten the most views, as well as the most comment activity. The first “official” post I made after I rechristened my old blog as CrapPile was on the NFL instituting a policy on kneeling during the National Anthem and my thoughts and opinions on that. The other was my reaction to the recent Morgan Freeman allegations. Others have started to gain more traction, but these two towards the bottom of the list keep getting the views.
Do you ever post fiction or poetry to your site like many other writers do?
I have posted a few sonnets I had written a while back during an experiment with iambic pentameter, but I am extremely hesitant to post any fiction because doing so constitutes self-publishing, and many of the magazines and venues I hope to appear in in the future have strict rules against publishing previously-published work, including one’s own blog page. The only reason I decided to post the poems was because I honestly have zero interest in poetry and was not planning on editing or fixing up the poems to try and get them published. I am far more serious and protective about my fiction. If the day comes when I finally post a story on my website, either I have exhausted all other avenues of publication OR I wrote the piece specifically for my blog readers. Other authors have done so in the past, so chances are good that I will get around to it myself, but it isn’t a priority right now for me.
Are you an active follower of other blogs?
I am! There are many good blogs that I follow and comment on on a regular basis. It’s becoming harder and harder to do as my fan base continues to grow, but I do make an effort to read what my other bloggers have going on. I’m also always on the lookout for new blogs to follow.
What are your thoughts on guest blogging?
I think guest blogging is a great way for bloggers to help each other out. A blogger allowing another blogger to borrow his or her audience gains a unique perspective to the site from whatever the guest blogger is posting about. The guest in turn is afforded another platform for his or her writing and potentially more exposure.
Have you ever been a guest blogger on another blog?
I have not been asked to do so yet. If and when the time comes, I’m more than happy to discuss it with the other blogger. It all depends on what the blog is about and what they want me to try and contribute to it.
Will you ever allow guest bloggers to write for CrapPile?
Right now I am so busy blogging myself that adding any more content would be overkill. I’m not against having a guest blogger, there is just no point right now. I don’t think my blog is popular enough or has been around long enough for it to do other bloggers any good posting for me.
How do you feel about re-blogging?
I actually feel flattered when I see that people re-blog some of my posts. A good thing about WordPress is that as long as it is done correctly it automatically gives me credit as the author and the link back to my site. Only once did I ever catch somebody copying and pasting something of mine without citing me as the author, but after I got onto them they fixed themselves. I have only shared something from someone else once, because I thought it was a great article that I could 100% relate to. Why take the time to write a similar post when someone else already did it for you? I’m hoping the amount of likes that re-blog got also translated into hits for that author’s blog. I love helping other bloggers out, if I can.
Do you have an official commenting policy like some of the more veteran bloggers do?
I am one of the most easy-going guys in the world, both on and off the internet. People can comment whenever they want and as often as they want on any of my posts. Comments usually go straight into the moderation queue, but at the first possible second I always approve them. I’m not going to approve death threats or any other kind of discriminatory jabs at myself or other commenters, but so far my audience has been the best possible so I have no problems at all with the comments.
Do you use images or media in any of your posts?
In the entire run of my blog, I have only used one single image. The only reason I did that was because it was a perfect example of what I was talking about and it saved me having to come up with words to explain it. Other than that, I usually don’t find pictures or videos necessary. I realize that this is a stark contrast to a lot of blogs, with some bloggers even going so far as to say that part of their success is because their blogs aren’t just words on a white background. As a blogger with a fairly plain template (black words on white background) I am a little offended, but at the same time 550 followers in two weeks with an average of 400 views a day just shows that images aren’t everything. Besides, I’m a writer. Unless you are a children’s book author, most books that adults read do not contain pictures. If you don’t expect the books to have pictures, why worry about whether or not the blog has any? I will admit, though, that the blog is still VERY new and I am still working on figuring out what is working and what isn’t working. Maybe down the road I will add more color to the blog, but for now everything is working just fine and I see no need to change it.
Have you ever thought about having multiple blogs?
I think the only real need for someone to have more than one blog is if they want to have a separate blog for different purposes. I do not. My one blog is dedicated to whatever I want it to be. When if all goes as planned and I become a published author with books and upcoming projects to report, CrapPile will serve as both my blog and my author’s website. It will be both convenient and time-efficient to do so. I don’t judge anybody else for having more than one blog. It is not only none of my business, but those bloggers have found something that works for them and their purposes and that is great! Whatever works for you. Having one blog is just what works for me, that’s all I’m saying.
What has been the reception from friends and family to your blog?
My girlfriend is beyond thrilled that I’m plugging away at it and that it is growing and slowly becoming popular. She loves how happy it makes me and how I feel much less stressed and down because of it. My best friend has been hesitant to take a look at it because she is a liberal and saw several of my Trump posts, even though I keep telling her that that is not all I write about. I am not sure if any of my family knows about it yet, though since every post is directly uploaded on Facebook I’m sure they’ve seen it. It isn’t the sort of subject that comes up in regular conversation. Several other Facebook friends told me they love it and complimented me on my writing skills, which has led me to put even more effort into blogging in hopes of becoming better and better at it. So on a personal level the support has been amazing.
Are there any bloggers that you look up to?
John Scalzi. I wouldn’t be the kind of blogger I am if it weren’t for the other John S. He is not only a top-notch blogger but also an increasingly major figure in the science fiction community. He and I are both very different individuals; he has strict commenting and contacting policies and takes his time VERY seriously, where as I am the easy-going, I don’t care kind of website administrator. But our styles of writing are very similar, even though I tend to ramble a whole lot more than he does. He is pretty much the only veteran blogger I look up to, although recently I have begun following other, smaller blogs that have been a blog influence on me. Blogger Liv Foster is the first that comes to mind.
What is the best blogging advice you have ever gotten?
I learned from Scalzi’s blog Whatever that it was his blog and that he can do whatever he wants to with it. That mindset carried over into my blog entirely. I guess you could also translate that into “blog for yourself first, not other people.”
What is some of the worst blog advice you have ever gotten?
When I was getting CrapPile going I was reading blogging advice articles from other established blogs. A lot of them said to focus on one really good post a week instead of daily posts, to use a bunch of pictures and to not worry about views or followers. No offense to them but I hated all of it so I purposely ignore it and do the opposite. It’s worked out for me so far.
If you could give new bloggers a single word of advice, what would it be?
I’m not sure if I am qualified yet or not to be giving out blogging advice, but I’d say choose a catchy title. There’s no better way to get people to want to take a look at your site than a title that catches their eye.