Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our Interview with Tsh of SimpleMom.net

Today's BlogCoach blogger interview is with Tsh at SimpleMom.net:

You blog anonymously. Why is that appealing to you? Have you found that your anonymity gets in the way of community building?

I honestly wish I could write under my real name. If we ever move back to the States, I probably will. But until then, due to the lifestyle we lead overseas and the amount of international traveling we do, my husband feels it's best if we keep our name out of cyberspace if at all possible. So I guess that answers your question - anonymous blogging isn't really that appealing to me! But I have found that it doesn't really get in the way of community building, which is a blessing. I have a great group of readers, many of which comment regularly and interact with each other. Slowly but surely, Simple Mom is becoming a talkative site, and it's all because of the readers. It's imperative that a blog writer show respect and camaraderie for her readers - they're the ones who make your site what it is.
Simple Mom is a gorgeous blog. I love the header, the graphic buttons for your series and the clean look of the site in general. Do you do your own design? What are your top three design tips for new bloggers?
Thank you so much! As a graphic designer, aesthetics and design are pretty important to me. I like the phrase I once read that speaks volumes of truth about blogs and websites - "If content is king, then design is queen." For me, it's right under content as a priority. I tweaked a beautiful design done by Chris Pearson called Thesis. And yes, I designed the logo and the buttons.

Hmm, my top three design tips... 1. Take away everything in your sidebars that isn't useful - chuck those fun-but-pointless widgets. 2. Select color schemes and layouts thoughtfully, and consider your target audience and the look that appeals to them - Colour Lovers is a great resource to start with. And 3. Take the time to learn a little CSS and PHP code. Painfully boring at times, I know, but it can be really useful in the long run. Oh, if I could add a fourth, it would be 4. Don't use flash html. Most intelligent blog readers don't like crazy stuff dancing for their attention - I know I don't.
You've got a button for the Firefox browser at the bottom of your site. Why do you recommend using Firefox over Internet Explorer?
Again, design is important to me, and to put it bluntly, IE makes everything look horrible. Firefox is for internet users that want speed, clarity, and sites that just plain work. It's free, it works with pretty much every operating system - I suspect the main reason people still use IE is because they don't even know they have a choice. Their PCs come loaded with a little "e" button, and all they know is it takes them to the internet. I know IE messes with Simple Mom a lot, so I suspect it happens a lot with other sites, too.
Your blog is a WordPress blog. What led you to WordPress over Blogger?
I've used Wordpress for several years, starting with my personal blog that I still update. I used Blogger in the very beginning, but not for very long. The main reason I went with Wordpress is because I liked the look of other Wordpress blogs I came across - and then when I kept reading that bloggers I admire used Wordpress, it just kept me going. So I guess I went with Wordpress back in the beginning because their whole way of blogging appealed and resonated with me.
Can you talk a little bit about Twitter and how it fits within the scheme of your blog? Do you see Twitter as a way to build readership for bloggers?
Sure. I honestly don't "tweet" that much because I'm 7-10 hours ahead of the U.S., where the bulk of my audience is. But I really do enjoy the time I have spent on there. I was like so many in the beginning, thinking, "What's the point?" when you hear what Twitter is supposed to be about. But I really have met so many bloggers from Twitter, and I feel like I actually get to know them as real people. It's one thing to read some amazing post they just published, but then to find out on Twitter that their toddler just threw up in their hair, you feel, "Hey, they're just like me." Twitter has now become my main platform for blogging feedback - it's where I got a lot of help when IE was killing my site, it's where I got most of my guest posters for my upcoming vacation, and it's where I find a lot of great links and blogs. Anyone can feel free to follow me on Twitter, if they want.
You're a regular contributor to the Blissfully Domestic community, where you blog about blogging. Can you talk a little bit about that? Is joining a blogging community something you'd recommend for new bloggers?
Blissfully Domestic is a new gig for me, and I'm honored to be a part of it. I only write there once a week because that's all I can allot, but I enjoy finding a place to write about a topic I love to research - blogging! My hope is to help the "average Jane" with blogging questions, to get to know the other writers of Blissfully Domestic, and to mutually encourage and build up each other's blogs. If you're able, joining a community can be a worthwhile investment to building up your individual blog. Just make sure you see eye-to-eye with the blog's editor, that the terms are understood, and that it doesn't detract from your main blog. It can expand your audience and your traffic.
Read more BlogCoach blogger interviews.

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