I’ve known Annie just about as long as I’ve known anyone in this blogging world. I even remember the first post I ever read on her blog. It was about going to a cooking class with a friend. After reading just that one post, I told Jimmy (my husband) what a hilarious and great writer she was.
A few years later, she is now a well known blogger, a published author and a national speaker. Annie is one of the most friendly, fun people you’ll ever meet and I’m pretty sure she knows everyone on the face of the planet.
I know you’re going to learn a lot from Annie this week. Without further ado, here is Annie Downs…
1. Give us a quick intro to you and your blog.
My name is Annie Downs. I am a writer and speaker in Nashville, Tennessee. In my writing, I love sharing truths about my life in Nashville as a single Christian woman and the stories that are woven into each day. That happens on my blog (AnnieBlogs.com) as well as at other online outlets and in my books.
2. Tell us your blogging story. (Is this your first blog? How did you get started? How long have you been blogging?) Feel free to share anything that might be helpful for growing bloggers.
I started blogging in November of 2006. My younger sister had just started a blog and in classic sibling behavior, I figured if she could do it, so could I. For the first few months, I wrote for my friends and family. There were a few bloggers in my church and we pretty much just wrote for each other- telling stories and anecdotes that we knew would entertain our friends.
I didn’t start as “AnnieBlogs.” I titled my blog “Taking A Step Towards My Dream” because of a letter my father had written me about making steps towards becoming a writer.
In 2007, I attended SheSpeaks Conference and at the suggestion of other bloggers there, I switched to AnnieBlogs.com to simplify my persona across the internet. This was back in the day when I still wasn’t sure I wanted the internet to know my last name :), so I was AnnieBlogs everywhere.
By that time, there were “strangers” reading my blog, meaning people who didn’t have my phone number. It was an interesting switch to realize that I wasn’t just writing for faces I knew- I was writing for faces I didn’t.
I saw my traffic continue to grow because I was (and am) an active part of the blogging community. Traffic comes when you are legitimately making friends across the internet- reading and commenting on other blogs. Some of my dearest friends have come from connections in blogging.
Tweetable: “Traffic comes when you are legitimately making friends across the internet” –> Click to tweet.
Now that I am an author and my last name is on the internet :), I’m continuing to figure out the best ways to connect with my readers – both online and offline.
3. Tell us about a blogging “success” or “failure” that taught you a powerful lesson.
I feel like I learn from mistakes all too often. 🙂 One of the most important lessons I have learned through blogging was when I blogged about a shift in my career before telling my best friends. I got many-a-phone-call the next day, when the blog post went up. It was that day that my two best friends and I made a deal that they would never learn something big from a blog post- they always get to hear it first from me.
Another big lesson I learned early on- I was VERY invested in my traffic numbers and wondering how many were reading each day. A dear friend said to me, “just remember that when the internet dies, so does AnnieBlogs. What kind of life does Annie Downs have then?” I realized that I was putting so much time into AnnieBlogs that Annie Downs did not have the quality of life that I wanted. I adjusted a lot the days and weeks after that. Now I honestly don’t keep up with my traffic much at all, just check in once a month or so to make sure everyone hasn’t disappeared. 🙂 While our online lives are real and life-giving and important, our offline lives are the ones that matter the most.
4. What are the intangibles (perspective /determination /character /planning /supportive family etc) that have helped you succeed?
I think the biggest thing that has made my blog successful (if it fits in that category) is openness and honesty. I am very me, for better or for worse, on my blog. My readers know that I am not going to tell them about a product or a book or a memory or a story that I’m not genuinely connected with.
5. How do you keep your blog and home life in balance? What does a “typical” blogging day look like for you?
I think I probably have it easier than most bloggers because writing is my full time job and I am single, so I’m not balancing blogging with a job outside my home or twelve kids scurrying around the house.
On a typical day, I work from 9am-3ish and then again from 9-11pm. In the morning, I usually work on whatever book project I’m currently writing, I answer emails, I read blogs, and I respond to comments. In the evening, I usually write my blog post for the next day.
I am careful to work during my work hours and not work in the late afternoon/dinner time. That is when I meet with college students from our church or grab coffee with a friend or go on a walk. One thing that is easy for single women bloggers/writers to do is work ALL THE TIME because you don’t have a family to feed or a kids to take to soccer. So it is important to me that I daily build a life of balance that allows for growing relationships and investment in the things I value in Nashville while also investing in my career and writing.
Come back Wednesday to read all of Annie’s Blogging Gadget and App recommendations and on Friday she’ll share her thoughts on social media and writing. Stay tuned!
Q & A with Annie Downs
What questions do you have about blogging for Annie? Click here to share your thoughts or ask your question!
Read All The Interviews with Annie Downs
1. How They Blog: Annie Downs
2. Gadget and App Recommendations (Coming Wednesday)
3. On Social Media and Writing (Coming Friday)