What is your blog about?
Joiobyw is very much about the world seen from my own unique (and sometimes bizarre) viewpoint. I write about life, love, parenting, cooking and my (mis)adventures, of which there are many. Whilst it’s a personal blog based on my everyday life, I try to introduce my readers to good books, interesting recipes and stimulating ideas; that said, it’s hardly a lifestyle blog, simply because I can’t imagine anyone aspiring to my lifestyle, which tends towards the haphazard and chaotic and lots of moments when I question if I’m not old enough to know better (the answer to this is ‘probably’, but that’s never stopped me).
Is this your first blog?
No – I started out on Diaryland in the late 90’s, and then progressed on to Livejournal and WordPress. The blogging community was a lot smaller and more confessional in the olden days, and I’m still friends with some of the great people I met back then, which is probably a good thing as they know all my angsty secrets.
One of my next projects for my current blog is to start unearthing some of my favourite posts from these old blogs and archiving them on Joiobyw – I transcended the cringe factor and re-read some old posts recently and there’s some surprisingly good writing there. I will consign the most self-indulgent whinging to a password-protected folder deep in the icy bowels of my hard drive, but I’d like to have the posts that I still find poignant or amusing in a more accessible place.
When did you start your current blog?
I started it in 2013, after deliberating about starting a ‘proper’ blog for a while; I wanted an online space where I could be my authentic self, with my own domain and plenty of control about how it looked. Once I’d actually purchased the domain I went into ostrich mode and didn’t do anything with it for about six months. Luckily, I got over myself and this temporary crisis of confidence and got Joiobyw up and running.
What made you do it?
My main motivation was my love of writing. I’ve written on and offline for years and I did a degree in English and Writing as a mature student; for me, journalling is a really good tool for self-discovery and just unravelling thoughts that are too tangled to sit still in your brain. Of course, deciding to publish that kind of stuff publicly comes with its own potential pitfalls, and I make a point of not hanging out my metaphorical dirty laundry because no-one needs to read that kind of thing (but I do have a contemplative morning journalling practice that is just for me). I like to write about whatever’s going on for me, and do so in an entertaining and engaging way. I get a big buzz out of feeling that I’ve stretched my wordsmithing skills and created something that someone else has enjoyed reading.
What was your first blog post about?
It’s mostly about a trip to the supermarket, where we found tiny red and green peppers being sold as a snack in those plastic sippy takeaway cups you usually get coffee in. This is probably a good example of the somewhat eclectic nature of most of my posts.
What do you think is the most useful tool to you as a blogger?
In terms of physical tools, my smartphone. I use it for pretty much all of my photos, and it’s great as a notetaking device. I tend to save ideas for posts in a dedicated notebook on Evernote, which I can access on all my devices; I do the same with any websites or videos that I plan to link to. I’ve also recently started playing with Listnote, which is a speech-to-text app. In theory it’s a great app, but it does demand that you talk to it like you live at Downton Abbey, which gets tiresome quickly and may alarm your pets and neighbours if they overhear you.
I love Instagram, and it’s the social media platform I’m most active on. I find Twitter scary – for me it’s like the digital wormhole of doom, and I worry that if I got sucked into it I’d never get out, because of it’s constantly updated nature, and the vast opportunities for interaction. I know lots of bloggers love it passionately, but I’m not sure it’s for me. That said, I use IFTTT to auto-tweet my Instagram photos. I also use IFTTT to auto-post any Instagram photos tagged #joiobyw to my blog’s Facebook page.
I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Love it for organising events and keeping in touch with distant friends, but hate the depressing signal-to-noise ratio. I’ve been making a conscious effort to refine my use of the site lately – one of the biggest advantage is that every trivial status I DON’T post on FB is essentially more potential blog content.
Do people in your real life know about your blog? If yes, has your blog helped you career wise?
Yes – I’m totally open about my blog, and my mum is my biggest fan. As far as my career is concerned, it hasn’t made a difference, as I’m a mental health nurse in a university – I tend to keep the two reasonably separate, because of the obviously confidential nature of my work. That said, I’m very much in favour of my department’s efforts to use social media, and we’ve been talking about me setting up and writing a blog about student mental health. I also have plans to expand into freelance/ voluntary mental health advocacy, and I think my blog will be useful for that.
What has been the one thing (blog post, project, etc) that you have been really proud of?
This post about the Treetop Adventure high ropes course. I’m incredibly proud that I managed the course, and I’m really pleased with the post, because I’m usually writing more about what goes through my mind rather than what I’m putting my body through. Writing about dynamic activity, without saying, ‘and then I did this. And then I did that…’ ad infinitum is actually REALLY hard.
Where do you see your blog in a year?
Hopefully redesigned. I have a designer friend who has offered to snazz it up for me, so I’m at that stage where I’m looking at other blogs and thinking, hmm, I like your bullet-point character, or, I hate the width of your sidebar, and trying to work out what I actually want. In terms of colour, I think I’ll probably go with orange, as I have a thing for orange. And serif text, and white text backgrounds. Fingers crossed it will be gorgeous.
I’m confident that my readership will continue to grow. Whilst I love reading blogging tips and tricks my main aim is to create strong and engaging content which people enjoy reading.
What do you wish you knew when starting your blog?
Easier ways of transferring photos from my phone to my laptop.
Domain mapping and DNS (I’m still unsure what these two mean but luckily Typepad has some brilliant tutorials which walked me through the various set-up processes).
How easy it is to spend a whole day writing a blog post and faffing with your pictures!
What do you wish you know more about now?
I’d like to discover new places to engage with other writers and their blogs. I guess I’m particularly interested in blogging in terms of good writing. I’m less concerned about monetisation and ‘fame’, although I do wonder what sort of effect it has on the quality of the writing.
How do you keep motivated to post?
My main motivation is the fact that I like it: I love writing, I enjoy taking and editing photos and there’s nothing quite like the tingle I feel when someone tells me that they enjoyed reading my posts. Writing daily – whether for myself or crafting a blog post – helps, too, because I find when I stop for any length of time it can take a while to get back into the writing groove. Not posting frequent Facebook statuses helps massively, because then I always have a backlog of observations or anecdotes to expand on in the blog.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for reading this far – I seem to have written quite the epic response. Also, Joiobyw is Welsh for ‘loving life’ and is pronounced like this: JOY OH BYOO. Do come and say hello, it’s lovely to meet new people and make new friends!