Welcome to the first Blogger Focus session at B-A-R, everyone!
Today, I am very pleased to host Rachna Srivastava Parmar at the B-A-R. Rachna was kind enough to answer detailed questions posed by our B-A-R members. So, if you are a blogger of any kind, looking for answers, read on and find out all that you need to know. Oh and if you, dear reader, have a question for Rachna, please feel free to ask in the comments 🙂 Over to Rachna 🙂
Q: Your Name/ Name of your Blog/s
Q: What do you blog about?
Rachna: My primary blog is a personal blog. Just as the name suggests, it is a blog where I share my opinion wholeheartedly about matters trivial and big, personal and global. The blog straddles many genres including personal tales, parenting, journey of life, health and fitness, social causes, travel and reviews among others. Rachna cooks is a lifestyle, health and food blog. I share my experiments with cooking here along with specific topics like fitness and health.
Q: Why did you start blogging?
Rachna: I started blogging to kill time and to document my children’s journey through toddlerhood. Somewhere along the way, my blog acquired a mind of her own.
Q: How often do you blog? Do you set aside time for blogging regularly?
Rachna: I blog fairly regularly updating my blog at least once a week. I don’t set aside any time for blogging. I do, however, note down ideas as and when they strike.
Q: List one/more blogs that you enjoy reading:
Rachna: I read a wide variety of blogs. Here are some I love reading:
Purba Ray at A-musing (http://www.purba-ray.com/);
Rickie Khosla at reekycoleslaw.com;
What ho at WhatHo.in;
Dagny Sol at Serenely Rapt
Ruchira Shukla at Nirjharini (ruchirashukla.com);
Zephyr at cybernag.in;
Subhorup Dasgupta at Subho’s Jejune Diet (http://subhorup.blogspot.in/);
Alka Gurha at Freebird (http:/alkagurha.in/);
BlogwatiG at BlogwatiG.com;
Sid Balachandran at www.Iwrotethose.com
Shailaja Vishwanath at http://momdiary.blogspot.in/,
Ashish Shakya at https://stupidusmaximus.wordpress.com;
Heartranjan at https://heartranjan.wordpress.com/;
Beloo Mehra at Let beauty be your constant ideal;
New York Times blog, HuffingtonPost India, PsychologyToday
Q: List one/more blogs that inspire you:
Rachna: All the above inspire me to write better.
Q: Is there a blogger whom you admire? If so, for what feature? Share a link to a post by her/him.
Rachna: I admire all the above bloggers for their writing prowess. This is one of the most powerful short stories that I read: The Mistake- A Short story
Q: Advice for new and upcoming bloggers:
Rachna: Enjoy it. If your content is good; you will get eyeballs sooner or later.
Q: Who do you count as your biggest supporters offline, who help you make blogging a pleasurable activity?
Rachna: My family, most definitely. My husband and elder son are my best critics. I do rely on them for support. I also have a few close friends who are never short on their encouragement.
Q: Do you think Blogging communities( like B-A-R) have something valuable to offer the Blogging world? How so?
Rachna: I think blogging communities that focus on sharing knowledge, supporting each other and being generous and kind are little oases in the competitive world of blogging today. They inspire all of us to do better and learn from each other.
Q: (From Sid Balachandran) You have a pretty organised blog and personally, I am familiar with the topics that you write on. But for the benefit of the larger audience, could you tell us how you decided to pick what sponsored posts or contests to write for, without diluting the core focus of your blog?
Rachna: Hey Sid. An excellent question. I write across a wide genre of topics, my blog being a personal one. I do product reviews, website reviews, App reviews etc. keeping in mind my blog audience which is 60% women and men in 25-45 age group and another 20% in the 45-60 age group. My Sponsored Posts are related to topics or ideas that gel with the existing tone and content of the blog. The contests I wrote for were always on topics that I would have written for anyway. I don’t do blatant brand promotion. I avoid writing anything that would jolt my readers. For eg. A client was willing to pay me top money to write about sex toys. I had to refuse.
Q: (From Nabanita Dhar) What are the points we need to remember while creating our media kit? And how does one decide what amount to charge? I always get confused with these things.
Rachna: It is important to create your Media Kit if you want monetary compensation for your blog. It is a one-stop shop for what your blog offers. My media kit includes some information about my blog, its readership in terms of Pageviews (Google Analytics), blog’s readership (what age group), traffic from countries, social media presence like FB blog page subscribers, Alexa rank, Google pagerank, Twitter followers, G+, Pinterest and so on. I have also included the logos of the brands I worked with. Also is added what I offer in terms of reviews, Sponsored Posts, advertisements etc. Preferably keep your media Kit updated to at least 3 months from the current date. Don’t keep it very long. One page or max two pages. Just google and there are many resources on the net on how to create a Media Kit. Make a beginning. You can polish it as you go along.
How much you charge is a very open-ended question, Nabanita. It depends upon the following your blog has, the genre if it applies to your blog, your credentials as a blogger. It varies across people. There is no one ball-park figure. It also depends upon the brand and the kind of research or work you have to put in. Always quote on the higher side and know what price you won’t go below. It is important to be firm with whatever price you think your blog deserves. Don’t underquote, ever!
Q: (From Pixie) What do you like the best about blogging? The actual writing and/or the interaction? How do you deal with fake comments? You know – when you realize by reading the comment that the person hasn’t actually read your post?
Rachna: Tough one there, Pixie. I love the actual writing as well as the interaction. Can’t differentiate between the two. I completely dig the conversations, the personal stories that people share, the views and their warm encouragement as well. It is one of the high points of blogging for me.
I am actually quite polite even with the fake commenters. I thank them for reading while gently pointing out that the post actually said something else. I remember I had written a post about the futility of making every child participate in school annual day programs. I had said that to involve all kids, some kids are made props on the stage (just like my son), not meant to do anything. Many comments that followed congratulated my son’s performance. It was clear that they had not read a single word. It made me chuckle out loud.
Q: (From Elly Stornebrink) This may be a redundant question, Rachna, to Sid’s and forgive me if so, but I’ve never heard of this before: What is meant by a “professional content writer”?
Rachna: Not at all, Elly Stornebrink. A professional content writer is someone who provides content for money. This writing includes Corporate blog posts, articles around the net, ghostwriting, e-books, reports, White Papers, web content (matter for websites), product descriptions and so on.
Q: (From Aditi Kaushiva) Rachna, with increasing social media interactions/e-networking, do you specifically take time out for social engaging?
Rachna: Hi Aditi, Actually, I always keep time to respond to comments on the blog. When a post goes live, I take time out to reply to comments. Mostly I do this either for an hour in the evening or morning. I do also spend about half an hour to an hour daily to read blogs. I barely log into twitter in a day and FB again maybe 2-3 times a day depending upon the time on hand. When I write, all social media is logged out.
Q: (From Carol Graham) You mentioned that you are a true Scorpio and reading your post I totally relate with that. Your warmth balances your determination. Are you a Type A personality who is driven to be a perfectionist?
Rachna: Your question really made me think hard. I guess I may have a few traits of a Type A personality but I am not very impatient, rushed or competitive. I am a perfectionist when it comes to my work, not so much in my relationships though.
Q (From Rajlakshmi): Loved all the answers Rachna … found them very informative as these questions have cropped in my mind too. Your Rachna Says blog is very insightful and I admire how you talk about so many different topics.
Everyone’s asking serious questions, I was quite hesitant to ask this. As soon as I opened our Cooking blog. the first question that came to my mind was – Have you ever made any disaster recipe? If yes, I would love to know more!
Rachna: Thanks so much, Rajlakshmi. I had many disasters in the kitchen when I had started cooking. Burning rice and milk still happens. I remember many years ago I was cooking for a bunch of my husband’s colleagues in the Netherlands. I thought of making strawberry kheer for dessert. I had never made it. As I put in the strawberry puree, the milk curdled and I had to throw it all out. 😀
Q( From Shilpa Garg): Pretty interesting and insightful Q&A. Rachna, would like to know the number of hours in a day you devote for blogging, writing, responding to comments and then reading-commenting on other blogs. Do you follow a schedule?
Rachna: I don’t blog daily, but I do professional writing almost everyday. I work between 9 am and 4 pm till the time the kids get back. I make a weekly schedule of work so I can spread it out over M-F. I don’t work Saturdays and Sundays. Unless a blog post requires pics or graphics, I can finish one in under an hour. About reading and social media engagements, I have responded to Aditi above.
Q (From Beloo Mehra): Seems like all the questions have been asked. Or may be not. Here’s one that comes to mind, Rachna. What is that one aspect of writing that gives you the most satisfaction? Or two, three or more?
Rachna: The most satisfying aspect of writing is when it strikes a chord and helps someone. I also do a lot of research in the line of my work which helps me learn about such a vast array of topics. That is a huge plus too. Also, I have made such good friends and met so many fantastic people in this journey including my clients. I truly cherish all the wonderful people that writing connects me with. Writing and reading broaden my horizons and make me better informed.
Q (From Lata Sunil): Rachna, I am enjoying your answers. For someone like me who is not a trained writer, how can we enhance our writing skills? Any online or distant courses? any book to teach myself?
Rachna: I have undertaken a few courses in writing myself. It helps to train in American English as a lot of writing for my foreign clients is in that. You can check out many free online courses that are available these days. Coursera.org is one great place. I will fish out some more for you when I am at my system next. It is a great approach to keep working on one’s skills. Also remember to read more. That helps with the language too.
Q(From Inderpreet Kaur Uppal): What an exhaustive Q&A session, I have learned so much. I have not been actively looking for writing work but I plan to do it in a couple of months. Thank you for the advice Rachna. My question is , Can I add a clients’ name / logo to my media kit even if I did not work for them directly but through a contractor? Or would that be misleading? All I have is a mail from the person telling me it for XYZ company, which is a respected brand. I was paid well for the posts. Not sure if I should even mention I worked for them , though my friends tell me I should at least mention it. How or who all do I add to the media kit / blog? Then can I just add samples of the work and not mention names? Does that work?
Thanks a ton.
Rachna: Yes, you must add the brand names/logos if those appear on your posts, Inderpreet. Most of the brands don’t directly work with bloggers. They work through their PR agencies. Check out this media kit from Shruti. It is on her blog. You can use this as reference. There are many more templates on the web.http://artsycraftsymom.com/advertise/
Q (From Suzy Que): Hi Rachna/ Do you take part in weekly challenges and if so please share one that you truly enjoy. Thanks.
Rachna: Hi Suzy. Actually, I haven’t as much as I can remember. I hardly pick up tags either.
Q (from Elly Stornebrink): Can you tell us about ‘corporate blog posts?’ How did you get into that and what does it entail? How is it different to a regular blog in what you have to know and do? And also, similar with ghostwriting,can you tell me/us more about that…I have thought about that from time to time… Thanks!
Rachna: Corporates or companies have their blogs. They require someone to maintain them and post regularly. Normally they approach you. To get into professional Content writing, have a portfolio of your published articles ready. Then put up your resume on job websites. You could also try freelancing websites like freelancer.com, elance.com etc. and bid for jobs. Ghostwriting is when you write articles, e-books, blog posts that don’t appear under your name. The client holds the copyright to that work.
Thank you note
All of us at B-A-R as well as those on the blogsphere are truly grateful to Rachna for handing out so much advice with such patience and warmth. Thank you so much, Rachna. It has been a wonderful session and we are so glad to have hosted you on B-A-R for the first Blogger Focus Session!
Dear readers, you are welcome to ask other questions related to blogging, in the comments below 🙂