Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Next Level: A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog - Interview

When Margaret from Nanny Goats In Panties agreed to this interview I was thrilled. She's been blogging since 2005 which is about fifty years in blog life and she is goooood! Margaret has a wildly popular "Humor Blog" and has consistently delivered with every post generating smiles and laughs for her ever-growing and dedicated following.

Okay, I admit it, I have a blog crush on Margaret and hope to be her when I grow up. She's remained focused on her writing and grown her blog to "the next level", written an award winning video game, had numerous articles published and she's working on a novel. Impressive, huh!

Margaret has agreed to share her secrets for success with us. So regardless of the size or type of your blog, put your feet up and read on. This interview is loaded with experience and advice. Oh, and there's a surprise for you at the end too.

Q. Is blogging your day job?

A. Heck no, it’s not my day job. It’s more of a swing-shift job. The actual writing of my blog posts isn’t what takes up a lot of time, it’s the traipsing all over the Internet visiting with other bloggers for tea and cookies and such that winds up taking a lot of time. I did get laid off from my day job last year, so that does allow more time for tea and cookies right now.

Q. I get the impression that your Followers and Commenters are the tip of the iceberg for your total readership. Yours strikes me as a blog that "the masses" read on a regular basis like they would a particular column in the newspaper for example-- for a daily dose of "Margaret humor". Obviously content is king and yours is fabulous. Do you have any advice on growing your readership to "the masses"? And, is there a daily readership/traffic number to aim for to be considered "the next level" of blogging?

A. First of all, thank you very much for saying my content is fabulous. I really appreciate that. And may I say I love your outfit. It really brings out your eyes.

Anyway, forests of cyber trees have been clearcut for this topic and many people consider themselves “experts”. And want you to buy their book. Sometimes I think the only way to really drive traffic up quickly is to post nothing but viral videos and pictures that aren’t yours. Or even better, porn! That would really bring in the traffic. Clearly, I’m doing it all wrong. But since I want to attract people who like my writing, it’s taking a lot longer to build an audience.

I’m not aware of a specific number to reach to be considered “the next level”. I just put myself out there and maybe someone tells a friend. If I knew another way to attract the masses, I suppose I’d be rich from blogging. Or an expert. And people would be buying my book.

Q. Was there a turning point or a particular event that caused your blog exposure to "pop"?

A. You know what? My exposure has been one long slow boring growth line with no “pop” whatsoever. I’m still waiting for my big “pop”.

Q. I'm not familiar with the workings of BlogHer. How does Blogher enhance your blogging?

A. BlogHer serves different purposes for different people. It’s huge and I only know a little bit about the workings myself. For me, it’s a network of women bloggers who I can meet in real life once a year at a really big conference. I also participate in their Ad Network, which generates a small amount of revenue (I’m talking pizza money, folks). It doesn’t really enhance my blogging in terms of its content if that’s what you mean. It is a community, however, which is the best thing about blogging for me.

Q. HumorBloggers, Sacramento Top 25, Mighty Media and SITS are a few affiliations you have. How have these enhanced your success? What advice would you give to other bloggers interested in using these types of sites?

A. Just belonging to any network such as these can enhance your success in the same way that networking in person can enhance your success. You get to know people who in turn introduce you to other people and so on and so on. You never know who is going to find out about you and invite you to that big party where you meet the Steven Spielberg of the Blogosphere who offers you a big Hollywood movie deal. But you’d better have that completed manuscript in your back pocket the whole time. You have to create your own opportunities, but you can’t expect results overnight, although you are allowed to fantasize about overnight success until you’re blue in the face.

Some networks are very supportive and encouraging and make you feel like you’re part of a community. My advice would be to try them, but not all of them at once. If one of them isn’t working for you, drop it like it’s hot and move on to the next one.

Q. Interviewing Uma Thurman is pretty cool. How do you get involved with celebrity interviews (and/or book reviews and movies) on and on-going basis?

A. They all come from different sources. The Uma Thurman thing happened because I’m a part of Mighty Media (which happened because of all that networking). Someone in the group knew a guy who knew a guy who worked for the PR firm for the movie and they arranged a sort of promo campaign that included interviewing Uma Thurman, Anthony Edwards, and the director of the film. There is no specific “way” to get involved in these things. Start making friends in the blogosphere and over time opportunities will arise. Just don’t keep looking at your watch, waiting for the opportunities, or you will go nuts. Speaking of which, have you noticed how no one wears a watch any more?

Q. What, if any, are the tricks of the trade for using Facebook to promote your blog? Does it help? How time consuming is it?

A. I added NGIP to the Networked Blogs app and invited friends to follow it. I didn’t set up a separate FB page for NGIP, because I use my personal page to pester everyone about new blog posts. I think Facebook helps because I see traffic coming in from the Facebook site. Using Facebook for blog promotion isn’t time-consuming. It’s that insidious Bejeweled Blitz and Farmville that robs me of my days!

Q. What has your experience been with advertisements on your blog? Is this a true revenue generating stream?

A. I’ve only ever tried two ads. One is the BlogHer Ad network, which pays you based on your traffic. The other ad is one that I negotiated directly with the company to place a link in my sidebar. Would I call that a true revenue stream? Meh. It beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but it won’t pay the mortgage or anything. Then again, I’m not aggressively seeking ads.

Having said that however, my blog traffic continues to grow and that 2nd ad was placed very recently, so maybe there’s future there. And then there’s the Kindle revenue (*rubs hand greedily*)

Q. In what ways have you found giveaways to be useful and how do you source your products?

A. I’ve only hosted two giveaways. NGIP is a humor blog so it’s difficult to work them in, but I wanted to see what kind of potential exposure I would get from an event like that. There are a lot of people out there who only enter giveaways, but maybe they’d see my blog and actually enjoy reading it and possibly come back again. My subscriber count jumped up about 150 readers during the giveaway and fortunately, didn’t fall back down after the giveaway was over.

I don’t actively seek products for giveaways. If I wanted to do them more often, I could say YES to every email I get or approach the people whose products I want to give away, or put something on my blog that indicates that I do giveaways, but then I’d be a Giveaway Blog and that’s not what NGIP is about. Giving away a laptop isn’t funny. It’s awesome, and I’d do it in a heartbeat if someone asked, but it’s not funny.

Q. What was your thought process for customizing your blog-- Does/don't/must-haves? (And what happened to your archived comments?) When is it time to go beyond the standard template and invest in your blog design?

A. First of all, I use plain old Blogger, although I try to make it

look like I don’t. You’d think with being a software developer for 20+ years, I’d have some fancy schmancy thing of a blog, but I’m too lazy.

The vain part of me didn’t want to see the “blogspot” part of the URL, so I bought, which surprisingly wasn’t already taken, so now I just redirect to that domain. I also don’t like Blogger’s limited commenting system, so I initially switched to Haloscan which SUCKEDSTAYAWAYFROMIT and then recently switched to Disqus. That last switch made me lose all my Haloscan comments from the last year and a half (to answer your question of what happened to them).

The following DO’s and DON'Ts are totally my opinion which you are free to ignore:

DO have easy-to-find links to your Twitter profile, email contact info, and RSS feed subscription options, because for that one second it occurs to a visitor that they may want to subscribe to your blog or they want to tell you something (like “Can I pay you millions of dollars to advertise on your blog?” or “Would you like to interview Johnny Depp?”) you have to make it easy for them because after 5 seconds they will just give up and move on.

DO blog with first-time visitors in mind. If you are trying to attract readers, that means you have to capture their attention on their first visit. References to people or events that aren’t self-explanatory will alienate your first-time visitor. Don’t say “Rufus came home today, thank goodness” and then act as if everybody already knows who Rufus is and why it’s such a good thing that he came home. It only takes one sentence to fill us in real quick without boring your regular readers who already know Rufus’ habit of running away all the time and that he is your goldfish.

DON’T have pop-up ads on your blog. It’s annoying, and people may not come back if you annoy them.

DON’T get all fancy with text colors, like green writing on a colorful textured background that renders the text unreadable. Don’t make people scroll around that flower in the background that keeps getting in the way when they get halfway down your page. Which is more important, that your blog be beautiful? Or that people can READ it, and maybe subscribe to it so they can read some more.

DON’T have music suddenly blare all over your readers when they get to your site. What if they’re at work and all of a sudden the whole office is treated to George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex”? If anything, give them the option of playing your music, don’t just default it to YES.

As far as when to change your template, that’s entirely up to you. Some people want to appear more “professional” or whatever. And it may open more doors for you, opportunity-wise. Also, a more customized template can be a great way to express yourself, like your clothes. It’s just one more thing you can do to “take your blog to the next level”.

Q. What advice do you have on submitting stories for publication. Is there a standard procedure? Do you write and submit completed stories or do you submit story ideas for consideration first?

A. When it comes to fiction, you must have a completed story and one that has been revised to within an inch of its life before you even THINK about submitting it. And definitely have someone who doesn’t love you take a look at it. They will catch things you missed. Do not have your cheerleaders critique it. Cheerleaders will tell you that your story is fabulous no matter how crappy it is. Cheerleaders will not help you make your story better. The standard procedure for submission is simple: ALWAYS FOLLOW THE PUBLICATION’S GUIDELINES.

Q. What can you tell us about the Kindle gig and how that came about? (Yes, you can subscribe to NGIP via Kindle!)

A. The Kindle gig came about by my going to the Amazon Kindle publishing website and telling them, “Hey man, I wanna put my blog on the Kindle” and they said “Okay”. In other words, anyone can do it.

As a thanks for reading Margaret's interview and to encourage you to VISIT MARGARET at Nanny Goats In Panties AND LEAVE A COMMENT on her blog, YOU can enter to WIN a $25 Gift Card.

All you have to do is leave TWO comments-- Leave one comment BELOW on my blog, AND one comment HERE at Nanny Goats In Panties THANKING MARGARET FOR THIS INTERVIEW.

All entries must be received by midnight Pacific Time, January 7, 2009 to be eligible. You must have a blog to enter-- No exceptions. Include your email please. Comments must be made on both blogs at the above specified links/posts. ( HERE and BELOW on this post.) One entry per person. $25 US dollars. Drawing will be random. All results are final.

Thank you Margaret!
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo Credits: All property of Nanny Goats In Panties


  1. Cool bananas!

    They are the first words that came to mind .... now that's something to ponder or possibly not :)

    best wishes

    PS... it's very hot here in my corner of the globe

  2. Joanna! I don't know what to say. I'm overwhelmed. I'm verklempt! (sp?) I just want to cry, you make me sound so fabulous! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    And also? Thank you.



    - Margaret

    p.s. I'm telling everybody about this interview in tomorrow's post which should hit the air waves at around 8:45am (PST).

  3. I have been enjoying your blogging posts and it was great to meet NGIP! Now I'm off to check out her blog!

  4. That was such an interesting interview - I am going to visit NGIP now

  5. I've been reading NGIP for awhile, and your interview is just as great as her blog. She's a real talent. Thank you for shedding more light on this talented and witty writer.

  6. I have followed NGIP since I began this blog gig. Just seein' the header pop up always puts a big old smile on my face. Some of the things she and her goats get into are just unreal. I strongly suggest (push~push~shove~~~jumpstart~kick) that if you need a pick me up laugh pop on over for a visit. I promise, no regrets.

    A great read, thanks for sharing the interview!

    God bless and you have yourself one terrific day!

  7. excellent questions and answers here, I learned something. thank you.

  8. She is one of my favorites too. I love that you are doing this Joanna. It is great.

  9. Another interview with Margaret! Woot Woot. Thank you so much Joanna, for this wonderful insightful peep into the inter-workings of Nanny Goats In Panties. It's a brilliant interview - funny, interesting, educational, silly. All the things I love best about blogging. And Margaret is just plain everywhere, isn't she? LOVE the Do's and Don'ts. Such practical advice.

    Appreciate this and all you do to stay fresh and poignant and lovable in the blogosphere. The bigger YOU get, the more special I feel our friendship is. I'm so proud of you Joanna! Go girl!

  10. jj, this was great...there are several points that really spiked an interest with me...wonderful. thank you so much for putting this together...

  11. Joanna a wonderful interview.

    Thanks my friend for sharing and leading us to another great blog! xo

  12. I think this all sounds so wonderful and with much needed advice to those who love to blog and enjoy treating their readers to something one of a kind! Great!!!

  13. Joanna, this was so incredible. I loved the honesty of the interview, and told her so.
    You are incredibly generous and one of the reasons thi whole blogging thing is more fabulous every day.
    Happy New Year to you... and may it bring continued success.

  14. I love Margaret. She's delightful and hilarious. My kind of blogger.

    And I agree with everything she said about popups and music and all that jazz.

    Although, "I Want Your Sex" is a really good song.

  15. That was a great interview! And I learned something new! I didn't realize I could access blogs from my Kindle! I'm going to check her out right now!

  16. this was really interesting...there's so much I don't know, but it's kind of comforting when an old pro feels the same way about things. Thanks!

  17. Lots of free advice--I like that! I don't ever aspire to reaching the next level but it's very interesting.

  18. I like the way she just says it like it is, she doesn't act like a famous star (which she sorta is huh). She gave lots of good advice and I appreciate it.
    codacici at gmail.

  19. Great interview. I've been reading NGIP for quite some time and just love it. She just cracks me up. I left a comment (as always) on NGIP also. This is my first time to your blog (via NGIP) and I will be back!

  20. Fabulous! I love Nanny Goats, whether they are in panties or not! Great interview. :)

  21. I love NGIP and being a goat I consider myself an expert. One of our kid goats even WORE panties just for Margaret!

  22. I'm a NGIP subscriber and learned about the giveaway through email. I enjoyed reading the interview.

  23. Great interview, Joanna! Thanks so much for posting this.

  24. I think the POP might come when people want to interview you.

    Great questions. I actually learned something.

    Thanks to you both!

  25. Love me some NGIP!
    In fact I have one of her fabulous pens right here... somewhere on my desk.
    Oh yeah...
    Love me some Fifty Factor too.

    Great post!

  26. What a great interview. Margaret's blog was one of the first I discovered when I started mine and I've consistent gone there for my laugh fix of the day. Good job, Joanne.

  27. Great interview!! Went to visit her blog and I loved that too. She is wonderful and funny!! Thanks for introducing me to her!

  28. Cool. I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog. I have absolutely no idea why but the thought keeps nagging at me so...
    Great advice on do's and don't's. As a new Kindle owner I've been getting NGIP delivered since Christmas Day and am now REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO ITS DELIVERY every day!
    Cheers, Kay

  29. Thanks for doing such a good interview with NGIP! You asked some good questions. I can never think of anything good to ask people, much less enough questions to be considered an "interview". :)

  30. Love, Love, Love NGIP, follow her blog and think she's hilarious. Great interview.

  31. As always, I so appreciate the effort and time you take to help the blogging community out! Thank you.

  32. loved your interview with Margaret from NGIP... and I'm definitely with her on those crappy blogs and sites where music comes up whether you like it or not....

    Thanks for promoting the work of a very funny blogger...

  33. I have just recently discovered NGIP and loving it already!

    I loved this interview! Great questions, great answers giving me great new ideas! Gee, I love when that happens!

  34. Great interview - wonderful advise -
    funny as usual:-)


  35. Women Who Stare At Goats...that's Ms Panties. And I just want to claim my fame: I sent her those panties. I did.

  36. What a nice way to spend a few minutes reading, I just love to get the inside scoop on heroes.
    she just never fails to deliver high quality hysterical posts. One of my personal favorites. ohlalala!

  37. I can confirm what Braja said. I really did get those pink frilly panties from her.

  38. I might need some lessons, what is a kindle gig ?

    I'm not proud to pretend I haven't a clue !

    But thank you for all the insights.

    x x x Just be me then x x x

  39. Well I came by to say howdy to you Joanna..what a fun surprise to read the interview!! What fun!! Thank you Margaret!! What a wonderful interview!! I am off to see your blog now!!
    Hugs to you Joanna, Sarah

  40. Great interview! I just left her a comment too!! :)

  41. What great interviewing skills you have. Thanks for introducing Margaret to us.

    joy dot brasington @ gmail dot com

    ♥ Joy

  42. I'm a follower of Nanny Goats in Panties and whenever I read her blog, I find myself laughing.

    I liked her before, but love her now knowing she's gotten sucked into Bejeweled Blitz and Farmville that also robs me of my days.

  43. This is so cool and I luv finding new blogs! Nanny Goats is great!


  44. Margaret? Joanna made you sound fabulous, because of everything YOU'VE DONE!

    Congratulations to both of you. You both do the blogosphere proud.

    OH, and can I get that big pop in subscribers one day too?


  45. Just discovered NGIP while surfing and then saw her blurb about your blurb. I like the feeling of being entertained and impressed at the same time by two folks. Quite a feat.
    Thank you for sharing your talents.

  46. I'm over here because NGIP mentioned it on her blog. Isn't she wonderful?? Thanks for the interview. :)

  47. I see NGIP mentioned everywhere. It's about time I went over there to check her out. *going right now*

  48. That was very interesting..going to check her out!!

  49. Joanna, thanks for yet another great article on the blogging series.

    Margaret has given us some good tips on blogging. I always learn something new from this series.

  50. Great interview, Joanna. Enjoyable, entertaining and informataive. The perfect post.

  51. I love NGIP. Margaret rocks. And so did your interview with her. Thanks for sharing it with us. You have a very cool blog. :)

  52. Dear Joanna, your today's guest is amazing in her insight and good old common sense of her suggestions. No wonder she is such a succesful blogger. Thank you for bringing her wisdom in my radar. I will certainly visit her blog.

  53. I just love that name, Nanny Goats in Panties. Thanks for this interview, Joanna and Margaret.

  54. This was the best yet, Joanna! She had a lot of good suggestions and addressed some of my pet peeves with blog design and blog music, etc.

    Will you have someone talk about RSS feeds at some point? Remember, I live under a rock and I don't know what the advantage to subscribing to one is, or how to make it easier for someone to subscribe to mine, or even exactly what it is......

  55. thank you for the wonderful comment on Aleta's blog...

  56. What a wonderful interview! You make Margaret sound witty and fabulous...which she is!

  57. Thanks for a great interview of Margaret... she is fantastically funny and a great person! I follow her blog and have subscribed to her blog on Kindle since I got one for Christmas.
    You did a wonderful job interviewing her.
    Happy new year!!

  58. Thanks for a great interview of Margaret... she is fantastically funny and a great person! I follow her blog and have subscribed to her blog on Kindle since I got one for Christmas.
    You did a wonderful job interviewing her.
    Happy new year!!

  59. I've actually read her blog, she's great.
    62 comments??? so far, that's crazy. :)

  60. And yet again, you deliver Joanna - great interview. Though I wonder when you'll be interviewing yourself since you're so worthy?! :D

  61. Very informative! I am getting a bit burnt out on the whole blog thing, actually. If I was not so obsessive compulsive, I would probably quit.

  62. I'm a big NGIP fan and happy to discover The Fifty Factor. Thanks for the interview with Margaret!

  63. I loved this interview!! Great job. I found out some really interesting and inspiring tidbits on blogging.

    I'm off to visit NGIP. Thanks Joanna!

  64. Great interview! I'm trying to get caught up with all of my favorite blogger. Thanks for visiting me and I always appreciate your comments.

    Hugs and love,

  65. What a fabulous interview full of great information! Some things I didn't know and others I did but don't practice. Off to read her blog!

  66. Lovely Jubbly interview - love hearing about new people. I will have to pop by and take a peek.

  67. I've been reading NGIP for over a year, I love Margaret, she is a doll and one of the funniest out there. If there is anyone who hasn't read NGIP yet then they live under a rock and need to visit.

  68. I missed the giveaway, but wanted to leave a comment and say great interview! It was very informative and I learned a lot. Also I discovered a blog I hadn't visited before. Thanks!

  69. Do I feel a competition for a daytime talk show??? YOU are GOOD at this interviewing thing!!! I think when I return to the wilds of da U.P. I should find out more about YOU!!! You are always thinking of things to do to help the rest of us. I would never have come up with an idea like this! Thanks for being so innovative! Great interview!

  70. That's a very cool interview. Might I raise my hand if you feel like doing another interview?

    Humbly, that would be awesome flavored awesome.

    Don Joe the Workforced caretaker

  71. I just wanted to say great interview : ) I know I am too late for the giveaway! Thank you for taking the time to do this!

  72. This might be my favorite interview so far.

  73. Great interview. You did a good job. Margaret is one of my faves!!


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