Robert Chen (RC) is a business/life coach who writes “articles for ordinary people who want to be extraordinary”. Through his site he shares the experience and knowledge that’s been helpful in his life and helps people maximize their potential. Just like his articles, this interview is a source of effective advice, which is really useful to acquire to have the right mindset when starting.
Susan (LZ) started Lazy Susan Speaks in the heat of a passionate decision. That exact day she made a decision that she would not be renewing a new work contract as a middle school teacher. In the fervor of this well-thought out decision she forced herself to do something she had wanted to do her whole life: write.
How did you choose the name for your site?
RC: It’s never easy choosing a domain name since many great names have already been taken. I was lucky to get embracepossibility because it was a great match for my passion, which is to help others realize that it is possible to achieve their dreams and they must embrace that possibility. Kierkagaard once said: “A possibility is a hint from God. One must follow it.” I show people how to follow it.
LS: About two weeks before beginning my site I was making an excuse to a friend telling her that I couldn’t go walking today and that she could just call me a Lazy Susan. Having the name Susan it never dawned on me to connect it with the term Lazy Susan until this moment. It just struck me funny and I liked it. It also made sense because of my impending possible retirement from school that I would be a real Lazy Susan. When I went to name the site I just fooled around with names.
Lazy Susan was of course not available so I played with options. The first one that sounded good to play off the Lazy Susan idea was Lazy Susan Speaks. It was available and that’s the end of the story. I jumped on it and haven’t stopped. It just worked and was right from the beginning. I especially knew that Lazy Susan had a high recognition factor and thought that would help people remember me. And it has. I even get searches for that lazy girl site. I also knew that a lot of my writing would be about my faithful pooch girl Tinky so I placed a quirky picture of she and I as part of my branding.
Which qualities do you have that make you a good writer?
RC: Good is subjective to a person’s experience but I think people enjoy my articles because they are well organized, easy to understand and touch upon topics they can relate to. As for the qualities that make a good blogger, the three that I value most is having a clear message (this is a combination of research and thought), being authentic and having a good time while writing. If you don’t know what you want to say, then it’s probably better not to say anything. Pretending to be someone else is just to draining. If you don’t enjoy the process, it makes it hard to put in the time to become good and you’re probably better off doing something else.
LS: I am a real person just wanting to entertain others. I write the most personal things that we all share. I am fearless and won’t allow myself to censor my thoughts. I am authentic and have so many different interests that it makes it fun for people to read me regularly. I’ve been told that they never know what to expect but they know I will somehow touch them or make them laugh. I am also dedicated to growing my potential. I try to branch out into new areas in new ways. I think most of all that people identify with my humanness. They see themselves in me and can feel what I say.
What are best and most challenging aspects of your lifestyle?
RC: The best aspects are the communications I get from the readers and meeting many interesting people who were intrigued by my message to get to know me better. I also like reading old articles that I’ve written and finding that it was better than I remembered and wondering if it was me that wrote that article.
One challenging aspect is striking a balance between perfect and good enough. It’s tough for me to stop tightening my articles but at the same time, when it’s 3:45am and I’ve been fussing over the same article all night, it’s time to just hit publish and go to bed. The second challenging aspect is the time commitment. Before I started blogging, I already had many interests and ideas and not enough time to implement them. Now with my site, I have even less time. Since I enjoy replying to comments, I’ve found that there are too many things that compete for my time and attention.
LS: The best part of the blogging lifestyle is the personal challenge of the writing. It’s so gratifying when someone tells me that I made them laugh or that they enjoy my posts. The most challenging is the writing and the business end of the internet. As far as the writing goes I decided to post daily. It is very difficult for me to find topics and be interesting on a daily basis. I often sit with a blank screen and begin to soul search. It can be grueling. I push my way through it and manage to come through. Like anything, some days are easier than others.
As far as the business end goes I am trying to begin to monetize my site. It is really difficult to make money unless you build readership. Building a huge base of regular readers can’t be hurried. It is sometimes disheartening to look at numbers and know you have a really good post that day and just couldn’t get your message out to enough people. On one hand I don’t want to only measure my success and live and die by numbers but the reality of finding readers is a tough one. I am determined to keep pushing and looking to build more and more. I also realized that I need to have something else to sell other than referrals or other people’s products so I am in the process of completing my first ebook.
What is the memory you recall most fondly and why?
RC: Blogging is a fairly lonely profession. Yes you can connect with other authors and yes you do get many readers contacting you or leaving comments but when you are writing (which is where I spend most of my time), you are by yourself with your ideas. When you first start out you wonder if people care and in the beginning it doesn’t seem like they do. That’s why it’s so important to enjoy the process and to know why you are blogging in the first place.
If those reasons haven’t changed, then you keep writing without worrying about what people think or stats and analytics. To answer your question, my fondest memory came after I wrote my first feature article. It was finished in the wee hours of the morning and despite not getting sleep, I felt energized for writing this article. I was really proud of it since I put a lot of thought and research into it and I was glad I had built a platform to share it with people.
LS: I love my story about my Barbie doll. I enjoyed writing it so much because of the wonderful memories that toy brought to my life. I can feel the thrill of seeing that first Barbie commercial on TV as a young girl. I love to reread my stories like this one and relive my life. I also enjoy sharing those fond memories with others. I love it when someone tells me they share similar thoughts but I was able to capture the words to describe it. Blogging for me is all about sharing myself and connecting.
What is your advice to people who want to start?
RC: If you want to start a site, just do it. It’s really easy and there is really no reason or excuse for not starting now. Now to grow a site is a bit tougher. There are still a lot of resources and websites that can help but I think it really comes down to the message you want to get out to the world and the reasons you are blogging. There are no wrong reasons – you can be doing it for money, you can be doing it to show off how much you know or you can be doing it to help people.
No matter the reason, if you want to get people’s attention, help them get what they want and they’ll help you get what you want. Play to your strengths and don’t let anyone tell you what you should want or what to do. Talk to successful writers, read their articles and take their courses but whenever you get expert advice (for anything) take what works in your situation and don’t be afraid to discard the rest. There is only one you so be your unique self. In my particular situation, growing my site means promoting it to people who would benefit from reading what I’ve written (guest posting is a great way to do this) and continue to produce quality content.
LS: Don’t wait to get started. Do it today. Take a chance and put yourself out there. Keep your page clean and concentrate on good posts. For most of us that won’t be building our numbers by winning the lottery and going viral on a daily basis – have patience and make your website the best product that you can. Post regularly. Don’t let all the so-called experts confuse you and take your money. There is no magic bullet for building readership – it’s a combination of everything, including dumb luck.
Hold your head high and enjoy self-pride that you are actually acting on your dream. Make sure every post you write is creative and something that you are proud to encourage people to read. Write what you want to read and not what experts say will be a big hit. More people are like you than you realize. Bottom line: you’ll have days when you just have to push through and others when you’re so happy you stuck with it. Blogging is a lot like life.