Interview with Lorelle VanFossen

By Daniel Scocco

This Tuesday instead of the Bloggers Face-Off we will have a single interview with Lorelle, the author of Lorelle On WordPress and of the Blogging Tips book. For the next month or so I will experiment with biweekly Face-Offs (as opposed to the weekly ones). Hopefully this will keep their quality and freshness high.

Being the famous blogger she is, Lorelle needs no presentation. I will leave you straight with her answers, check it out!

1. How long have you been blogging?

Well, blogging is today’s word for online journaling. I was sending out email journals and newsletters before the web was developed, and had one of the first websites on the web, which I then hand coded and posted my email journals and articles. The dates are fuzzy because of that fine line between email and the web, so I guess 1994 would be a good starting year guess.

2. How many hours do you dedicate to your blog daily?

It depends. I travel a lot with my work and lifestyle, so I will write 18 hours a day for three or four days and use future posts to publish several weeks of blog posts, then not work on my blog other than maintenance and checking comments and such for a week or two. Or I’ll write articles 2-6 hours a day if I’m working on a project. Like I said, it depends upon my schedule, projects, and which of my blogs need the most feeding. 😀

3. How many page views does it generate daily?

I don’t know. Honestly, I rarely look. It’s not important to me. I lost that obsession many years ago.

4. Do you make money with the blog?

WordPress.com blogs are not permitted to do advertising or pay-per-post. I make money through my business as a web consultant and adviser and writer. Indirect sources.

5. What is the biggest blogging mistake you did?

Oh, honey, I’ve done them all. I’ve been doing this so long, I’ve done all the big mistakes. When I read through blog posts listing their blogging mistakes, I think, “Yep, did that one in 2001. Oh, that one, I did it big in 1998. Been there, done that in 2004. Won’t repeat that mistake of 1997.”

Is there just one big mistake? Nope. There are only big lessons that come from every mistake along the blogging path. I tend to focus on the lessons learned and not the screw-ups.

6. Do you think Alexa is reliable?

Not a clue. I don’t use nor check it. I know what it does as I’ve written about it, but you’ll have to ask someone who works for them. Besides, what does that have to do with blogging and writing your best blog content? Nothing. It’s a statistic that is subject to interpretation. There are better statistics out there. Trust your readers and your instincts.

7. How long should a blogger wait to monetize the blog?

Ha! Forever!

I do not think bloggers should monetize their blogs. I think that people who want to get into the business of blogging must make a business plan on how they will use blogging for their business or as their business, thus creating a plan for monetizing their blogs.

But general bloggers? Why should your hobby make money? If you want to work your way towards professional blogging, then blog for a year or two to get a feel for blogging and make your business plan. Then move towards being a professional blogger.

Blogging, in general, is a hobby. Blogging for business is a business. There is a big difference between them and I’m a fan of a hobby for enjoyment. Not every hobby has to make money.

8. If you could give an advice for a novice blogger, what would
it be?

Blog your passion. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if 2 people or 2000 people share your passion. If it feels good, keep blogging.

After that, I highly recommend a plan. If you don’t know what you are blogging about, you will tend to lose interest and focus, leaving another dead blog on the web and another unfinished project in your wake.

9. What is the best promotion method you have used?

I do not promote Lorelle on WordPress through the normal practices people talk about all the time. Never have. Wasn’t the purpose of the blog. It just became popular from content, not any “method”.

The best promotional method, though, continues to be word of mouth, which in today’s terminology is writing something of value to others that gets others talking (blogging) about it.

10. What is more important, the content or the design?

Which is more important, the apple or the skin of the apple? In a way, that’s the answer. Content is critical, but you can have the best content on the planet and still not have readers if your blog design is unreadable. Many bloggers are successful because their content has value and is readable, but their web design stinks. Others have the most beautifully designed works of art and they get little or no traffic because they have no content or no content of value. Then there are plenty of the in between. Pretty isn’t anything. It may be nice to look at, but readable and usable is more important than pretty.

If the apple tastes good, it doesn’t matter if the skin is perfectly red, yellow or green, or even has a few worm carvings in the skin. It’s the taste that matters, not the pretty skin. But you sure won’t buy an apple with a major fungus growth or bugs crawling in and over the surface, will you?

11. If you could read only one blog, which one would you pick?

One blog? Honestly, I haven’t found that “one” blog that meets my needs. I can’t. The best blogs supply niche information. I go to this one for that information and that one for this information. That’s the wonderful thing about blogs. There are many blogs which offer so much, but I tend to visit the specialists, knowing I will get the expert information I need on the subject I’m curious about. I honestly don’t think I’d like to find a “one size fits all” blog. I’m interested in too many different things.

12. What is the secret of your success, expressed in one word?

Educate



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32 Responses to “Interview with Lorelle VanFossen”

  • Bang Kritikus

    1994, the senior

  • Melt du Plooy

    Lorelle, that is awesome, you have found your “true love” 🙂 just kidding. You explained perfectly what passion for blogging is.
    My poor blog is being left out in the cold at the moment. It’s not my main job (or source of income) and my focus is not always there.

  • Daniel

    That is true Lorelle, but you can also have passion for your job. Daily Blog Tips is my job currently (not the only one, but the main one) and I love to write for it, to interact with the readers and so on.

  • Lorelle

    Melt du Plooy: Honestly, the statistics are not important to me enough to figure out feed readers from actual visitors. Unless I’m writing an article on the subject and need the reference.

    Here’s how it works for me. If one person benefits from my blog, I’m a happy girl. If 10 people benefit form my blog, I’m thrilled. It’s working. If 1000 people benefit from my blog, I’m worried. I’m fearful. I now have to work harder to make sure I’m blogging for them and not for me as much. If 5000 people benefit from my blog, I’m a paranoid mess. HOW could anything little ole me says be of value to anyone else in anyway? I now have to write for the masses not me and my 10 friends. It’s a responsibility. I have to think through the content thoroughly, examining every word, to make sure I’m not offending anyone or saying something that isn’t right.

    It’s much harder work when you write for the statistics, so in order to maintain my sanity and the style of my writing (and my mental and physical health), I gave up statistics a long time ago. 😀

    When I say that your blog and blogging experience changes when you monetize your blog, this is what I’m talking about. Emphasize something other than original intent and passion and things change. It’s not “fun” any more. It’s a job. You have to treat it accordingly.

  • Melt du Plooy

    Thank for your reply Lorelle! Your site visits probably do not account for your total number of readers. Have you factored in those who read your blog via RSS readers?

  • Daniel

    Thank you Lorelle for taking the time to participate.

  • Lorelle

    Wow! I’m on the road traveling and was caught off guard by this fast release. Thank you for the interview and the kind words, everyone.

    Let’s see if I can address some of the issues here.

    Wannabes: Der Amerikaner summed it up loverly: I like to think that I don’t have time, but in fact, I don’t make time. I don’t care what you do, if you don’t enjoy it and find the passion within and without, STOP IT. “Wannabes” are everywhere. Be a “Doer” not “Wanner” and you will get past being a “whiner” to being an action.

    Make time. Make it your passion. Make a plan. Adjust the plan over time. And stop if it ain’t hitting the passion button.

    Blogging is writing, no matter how we want to disguise it. Writing comes from the mind, body, and spirit. If those three aren’t connected, you are disconnected.

    Outdoor Adventure Blogs: While directed at you, this is directed at everyone.

    Why use keywords in your comment “name”. Stop it. It’s about YOU not your keywords or blog name. Become your blog. Be the “Lorelle” for your blog’s identity. Otherwise, you look like a splogger. I know that’s harsh, but this is a lesson everyone needs to learn NOW not later.

    If it isn’t taking off, you are not paying enough attention to the right things. Its about content and time, not numbers. It’s about relationships and networking, not statistics. It’s about building a roof over your head before you can sleep comfortably in the rain. Fix the leaks. 😀

    If it ain’t working, take an honest look or hire someone to help you make it work. If it’s that important to you, it’s that important to spend the time, money, and energy to make it work.

    You’ve gotten some great advice in here, too. Consistency is right on track.

    Mike and MichelleVan: When I’m in major production mode, as I call it, I know the reward is a few weeks release from the day to day blogging stuff so I can focus on my other writing, consulting and business, as well as the traveling I do as part of my work. I take 1-2 hour breaks during the day for food, exercise, and such, but working from the road is really tough, though improved now that WIFI is scattered around the country.

    I’ve been writing and photographing as work since I was 15, so the long hours required by both are part of my life habits. I love what I do so much, when I’m doing other things, they feel like jobs and my work feels like joy.

    I don’t “blog” 18 hours a day. There are a lot of things to do during those long hours, many not fun, that are part of the blogging and consulting I do.

    When you find your passion, you will also find that time will slip away, too.

    Besides, the way I travel, every few days the view changes outside of my office window. There is something cool about that!

    Melt du Plooy: After the interview, I checked and found that the numbers are not as impressive as many think, but not slacking.

    Still, it’s not about the numbers for me. It’s about the readers and what they need and how I can help them. It’s about sharing the knowledge I have with those who need it. It can be simple information like understanding how categories work, or more complex issues like copyright and understanding the differences and similarities between how categories and tags work.

    In the end, I just do what I do because I feel there is a need. My readers and fellow bloggers help dictate much of my content, a never ending source of inspiration. To them, I owe everything for the success of my blogs. They are in my heart when I write.

    Thanks again for all the kind words. This was fun!

  • MichelleVan

    I’ve been impressed with Lorelle since I email her once and she sent me a very nice email back. Many bloggers don’t time the time to respond, and I was pleasantly surprised she did. Curious about writing 18 hours a day though.

  • Andrea

    I’m with Bret. I stopped reading her blog long ago.

    She comes off as really pretentious in this interview.

  • Melt du Plooy

    Daniel, this is a awesome interview from an awesome blogger. I cannot compete!

    There’s a few things that stand out for me in the interview:

    1. she knows what she is doing – been journaling since ’94
    2. the time she spends on her blog – it shows passion and dedication
    3. don’t care about the visits, just the content
    4. great content alone is what is driving visitors to her blog. No promotion.

    amazing, I would love to know what her monthly visits are…

  • KD Griffin

    I’m just getting started in Worpress and visit Lorelle’s site all the time. Great interview.

  • Bret

    Daniel, I like the post/interview. It’s always great to hear what other bloggers say about blogging and their approach to it — especially from someone that has been doing it for awhile.

    Your questions were perfect for the interview, the answers you got — well, let’s just say I used to read her blog but stopped a long time ago. I try to avoid posting negative comments but this time I just couldn’t bite my tongue. I think that gets my point across without being too rude.

  • Mike

    I’m amazed by the “so I will write 18 hours a day for three or four days and use future posts to publish several weeks of blog posts,…”

    How is that even possible?

  • Daniel

    “Problem is, I am having trouble making it take off.”

    Keep trying man, consistency is key.

  • Adnan

    That was one of the best interviews I’ve read in a long time. Lorelle, you’re truly an inspiration for us WordPressers, and you’re doing a great job!

    Well done Daniel for some thought provoking questions too!

  • Outdoor Adventure Blogs

    I have started a blog system for my students (and anyone else for that matter) on my Outdoor Adventure Forum.

    I am hoping that people will be motivated to start a blog on the site that involves progress towards a goal. These goal oriented blogs could help people train for a certain activity or get back in shape.

    Problem is, I am having trouble making it take off.

  • Der Amerikaner

    I like to think that I don’t have time, but in fact, I don’t make time.

    When I really take the chance to sit down and write something I really care about, I feel it can be great. Problem is, I only take a few minutes to jot down some blurb and I am unsatisfied with the outcome.

    I’ll keep trying.

  • Jamaipanese

    Blog your passion!!!

    that advice motivates me to continue with my blog 😀

    Thank You

  • Bel

    Armen, you expressed that brilliantly! ‘Writing with voice.’

    Reading this interview, I could just see Lorelle’s blog in my mind’s eye. Her voice carries far.

  • Daniel

    Armen, yeah she does have a strong voice :). Something we can only learn from.

  • Ramkarthik

    Really good Interview. Keep it coming. Lorelle, I admire you in a way that you don’t monetize your wordpress blog.

  • Armen

    Man…you’d know that was Lorelle without even reading the name! Talk about writing with voice; she is the perfect example.

    Intriguing thoughts on some issues. Thanks to both of you.

Comments are closed.