An Interview with Georgina Laidlaw

Today I have the pleasure of presenting to you an interview I conducted with Georgina Laidlaw recently. Georgina is well known within the blogging world for being the editor or ProBlogger. She has also blogged for some of the top blogs on the web such as CopyBlogger and SitePoint and released a fantastic book about successful bloggers entitled BlogWise.

Georgina is one of the leading figures within the blogging niche so I encourage you to follow her on Twitter. I hope you enjoy the interview.

How did you first get into the world of blogging?

Actually working as content editor for ProBlogger is my first foray into blogging proper. Before that I wrote articles for, and edited, publications you could call blogs, but they were large commercial brands. Oh, and I did start a personal blog under a pseudonym in 2008.

You’re widely known for being the Content Manager (Blog Editor) for ProBlogger. How did you first meet Darren and land such a prestigious position?

Well, you know, they say business is about relationships, and it’s true. I used to work with The Web Marketing Ninja (now revealed as Shayne Tilley), and I’m the kind of person who keeps in touch with friends pretty well. I moved on from that role, then eventually went out on my own as a freelance writer, and I was still mates with Shayne. Shayne knew Darren, and Darren realised he needed a content manager … and the rest is history!

In addition to ProBlogger, you also write for your own blog and other popular blogs such as SitePoint too. How do you manage your time effectively to ensure that everything gets done?

Yep, I’ve been working for myself for about 4 years now, and I do freelance copywriting, and product and content development for all kinds of media and clients. Darren’s the only client for whom I manage content.

That might sound like a lot, but in reality, I’m lazy and I like to indulge that laziness! What that means is that in addition to work, I really prioritise personal time. I’m not the kind of person to work overtime—especially not since I’m my own boss. And there’s a lot to fit in!

For me, time management comes down, firstly, to choosing what I want to work on. For freelancers, that can seem like an anomaly—you take everything that comes your way, right?! But there’s no way I could do a good job for my clients and fit in my lazy time if I did that. To be a successful freelancer with a life, you have to be able to say no.

The other thing that matters is organisation: routine, flexibility, and an ability to get things done. Routine ensures I have time set aside to do all the things I need to do, and get a bit ahead. That gives me the flexibility to respond quickly to events at a moment’s notice—something that I find pretty fun. And an ability to get things done means I don’t tend to procrastinate or waste time much at work, which lets me enjoy a pretty good balance in life.

ProBlogger is one of the most popular blogs on the web. In addition to planning the post schedule for ProBlogger, you also have to review guest posts. What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers who are looking to have their articles published on a major blog?

The key advice I’d give is get to know the publication before you pitch. So often I get pitches that are way off target, or posts that, though they sound ok in the pitch, aren’t nearly as detailed, rich, or appropriate for our readers as they should be.

The easiest way to avoid rejection is to get to know what standard of content the site publishes—how detailed, long, and specific it is. Do they prefer objective pieces, or posts that present authors’ personal stories? How much latitude do you have with things like voice? How strict are they about links and references? And which posts seem to be more engaging for readers?

If you know this, you’ll intuitively be able to pitch and write successful guest posts.

You’re well liked online and known for being friendly yet professional. Has being a blogger helped you become a better blog editor?

Aw, thanks Kevin! I really came to blogging through freelance article writing, and I think being a blogger has opened my eyes to the differences between the two realms, and the challenges bloggers face. I definitely think that’s helped me become a better editor.

As an example: many of the writers who write for the sites I started with have training in communications and journalism. Most of the bloggers I work with don’t. Most of the first group of writers write fairly dispassionately; most of the second group are very passionate.

This means that I can sometime see opportunities to help bloggers reinforce and build their authority using journalism or professional comms techniques, and to support their ability to communicate passionately and clearly that way.

Have you ever thought of launching a professional blog yourself?

You know, I was emailing Sonia Simone the other day and realised that there are a few blog editors out there who don’t have their own blogs. That’s an interesting trend!

To be honest, I can’t get excited about a professional blog. I write two personal blogs focusing on different aspects of my world, but not a professional one. I think ultimately that I know the dangers of publication. It’s tough. It’s risky. I can handle that on a case-by-case basis, blogging professionally on others’ blogs, but I don’t want to do it on an ongoing basis on a professional blog of my own. Not yet, anyway.

From what I hear, you’re an avid reader. What’s your favourite book?

Well, now you’re asking! I love Truman Capote probably more than any other writer, and I do love a lot of writers. I love all his work for different reasons—each book feels like a gift, an amazing stroke of serendipity in my life, and I read them often. But In Cold Blood probably changed my perceptions of writing, of people, and of the world most of all.

I recently took advantage of ProBlogger’s special book offer and purchased all 6 ProBlogger books for only $60. I enjoyed BlogWise in particular as it gave ma an insight into how top bloggers operate. Do you have plans to release more books via ProBlogger or independently?

Blog Wise: How to Do More with Less

I’m so glad you enjoyed BlogWise. I really enjoyed working on that title!

I don’t have plans to release more books, but I’m always having ideas for books. As every blogger knows, ideas and plans are different things. I’m always writing, though, so whether it’s for clients or for myself, I’m sure there will be more books to come.

What do you do in your spare time to relax?

Actually, I live in the country, and I have 3.5 acres. Over Christmas I added ducklings to my small menagerie of hens and goats. Most of my spare time is spent in the hammock (or by the fire, depending on the time of year) when I’m not trying to grow food—including the animals I just mentioned—and protect the native forest on my property.

What does 2013 hold for you?

Good question! We have some really interesting plans afoot at ProBlogger this year, so I’m really looking forward to working on those. I also have some other interesting work going on—like ProBlogger, most of the stuff I work on is nontraditional, so there’s plenty of scope for creativity, which is exciting.

As I mentioned in a recent post on the blog, I’m also working to develop my writing style a bit more consciously this year, and not just through professional writing: I’m thinking of joining a writers’ group in a town near me, and I have an ESL teaching qualification, so I’m volunteering as a teacher for migrants too. As you can tell, I’m pretty obsessed with language and communication…

My other goal is to build a repertoire of great duck recipes!

A huge thank you to Georgina for taking part in this interview. You can follow Georgina on Twitter @georginalaidlaw and LinkedIn.

I am an experienced blogger who has been working on the internet since 2000. On this blog, I talk about WordPress, internet marketing, YouTube, technology and travelling.
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