I highly recommend a visit to Kittling: Books to read Cathy's interview of me - as I write this post I haven't seen what Cathy wrote and, based on how interesting her questions were, I am really curious to read the interview!
When and why did you start Kittling: Books?
I started three blogs in June 2008, Kittling: Books, Kittling: Travel Tales, and Kittling: Personal Observations. Kittling is a Gaelic word which means "anything that strikes [my] fancy", and I thought divvying my interests into three different blogs would suit them best. I was wrong.
It was very difficult to find the time to keep all three maintained. The more I got into my primary passion (books), I realized that the people who read blogs wanted to know something about the blogger's personality. So, instead of being a split personality, I shut down the other two blogs and spiced up the content on Kittling: Books by using the writing, humor and photography from the other two.
As to why I started down the blogging path... I had a book group on Yahoo groups with which I became very dissatisfied. I decided that, if I was going to talk to myself, I might as well do it in a venue that allowed me a bit more to play with: writing with photos and videos and the like. It turns out that I didn't talk to myself for very long, and I couldn't be happier. There are some wonderful people out in the blogosphere.
How has your blog changed since you first started?
When I first started, Kittling: Books consisted mainly of book reviews and little else. Dead boring. I started lurking in a few blogging groups at Library Thing, and the people there did a great deal in educating me about content, about what blogs were out there, about what sort of things were looked for in book blogs. I started visiting blogs to see what they were talking about, and I began experimenting to see what worked for me, and what didn't.
Now I'm not afraid to put myself out there, to let my personality out-- whether it's in the way that I word my reviews, or my photos that I share, or the occasional adventure out on the trail that I share. I think Kittling: Books is pretty much me... in Internet form.
How do you keep the blog fresh both for your readers and for you, as its creator?
I've found it rather amusing that, in the world of book blogging, the posts that generate the least amount of comments tend to be-- you guessed it-- book reviews.
It didn't take me long to realize that I really didn't want to talk to me, myself, and I on my blog. I didn't have a problem generating contact on my other two blogs with my photography and other posts. Kittling: Books was really my favorite child, and what I had to do to change it and keep it fresh was to turn loose of the fear.
What fear? That my blog had to be about books, books, and nothing but books. When I shut down the other two blogs and began using bits of their content on my book blog, things began to liven up. Then I began to see these weekly features on other blogs, and I wondered if I couldn't do something like that myself.
And then I began to get burned out because I thought I had to post every single day. I made the decision to take the weekends off, and also to schedule posts ahead of time as much as possible.
Now most of my posts are scheduled, so I don't feel "deadlines" breathing down my neck, and even though I'm not posting seven days a week, the number of people reading my blog continues to grow.
So... I would say that the best way to keep your blog fresh for you and for your readers is to do what's best for you-- and a lot of times that means getting rid of the fear. Be willing to experiment!
You have several features on your blog, the most well-known being Scene of the Blog. How do you decide to start a feature? How do you keep them going and keep them fresh?
Funny that you should ask me this, Lorin, since I've been playing around with the idea of starting my own reading challenge in 2011!
How do I decide to start a feature? With Scene of the Blog, I think I was inspired by an excessive amount of time spent watching Home & Garden Television (HGTV). I love floor plans, elevations, interior design... and one day I caught myself putting all this in context with book bloggers. So many of us tend to be introverts, much more comfortable working behind the scenes than out in front of the camera. I know I am! But would introverts be more willing to participate in a feature that asked them to show just the area in which they blogged... a feature that allowed them to stay behind the camera?
I thought that the answer would probably be yes, so I began doing research. I couldn't find similar features on other book blogs, and when I asked about it on Twitter, the response was overwhelmingly positive, and that's how it all began.
Scene of the Blog is still going strong, and its premise has so much structure that it stays fresh. No two book bloggers' spaces look the same!
I have tried other features, and they don't always work... or they work for a limited period of time. When the inspiration is gone and no one is responding to them, don't be afraid to let them go. The act of letting one tired one go usually sparks at least one new idea for me.
Many thanks to Cathy for being willing to answer my questions!
Please visit the BBAW website for more interviews from other bloggers.