Jen West: blogging with passion
Jennifer West and I have been friends for some years now, though we couldn’t be more opposite in demeanor. She is bubbly and laughs out loud, and I’m crabby and quiet.
But I’ve had the privilege of working with her on various projects over that time, including publishing her movie reviews for the local film festival and interviewing her about her trip to New York to appear on “The Rachael Ray Show.”
Her blog, the Jen West Quest, started as a way to document her goal to lose 45 pounds. It turned into major opportunities, including working with Health magazine and appearing on a national talk show. And since its debut on March 30, 2010, this Birmingham blogger has posted something every day.
I interviewed her by email to find out how she did it, why this blog became successful and ways others can reboot their blogging effectively.
You have blogged for 449 days straight. What’s your secret?
Actually, I look forward to writing every day. It’s a great release, and I always surprise myself that I can come up with pretty interesting content most days. If I’m at a loss for words, all I have to do is focus in on what I’m feeling at that exact moment. I actually find that I can say too much instead of not enough.
Since I blog every day, I try to keep my posts between two to four paragraphs as to not burn myself out and to also make it easy to read. Nothing is worse than trying to read something that’s too long and complicated.
Do you consider yourself a blogger? A writer? Why/why not?
I definitely consider myself a blogger, but for some reason, I get all shy when someone refers to me as a writer. It’s never been easy to give myself that title because I feel like it’s a lot to live up to and I’m not sure I deserve it just yet.
But I do hope to confidently refer to myself as a true writer one day soon.
Do you feel like you’ve lost momentum since accomplishing your original quest to lose weight? Why/why not?
Once I started getting close to my goal weight, I went ahead started planning out what I’d blog about next, since I knew I didn’t want to stop. It has been so useful as an accountability tool, so I thought that I could apply it to almost anything else that I wanted to achieve.
Honestly, I was a bit scared that readers would leave once I stopped talking about my weight loss. I did see my visitors drop slightly, but for the most part people stayed around.
My next personal goal is to write a book, but my plans were temporarily halted by dealing with a divorce, which I’ve also written about from my own perspective. Honestly, the Jen West Quest has become an online diary of sorts, a place where I can talk about my goals and also talk about real-life obstacles. I think that’s what makes it relatable.
You had blogged before on a different site. What made it take off this time as opposed to before?
I did originally have a different blog a few years back that I wrote in briefly when I thought my next big project would be writing a script for a feature film. All that changed however when I was presented with the opportunity and momentum to lose weight, and it just felt right to start over with a clean slate.
I felt that changing directions that quickly on my old blog would be confusing to readers, and I didn’t want to appear scattered. Now that I’ve established a personality and writing pattern on my new blog, it’s been easy to change goals and focus all under the same umbrella of the Jen West Quest.
What advice do you have for bloggers looking to start over with their blogs?
Once you find what you want to write about, just jump in. Don’t fuss too much over the way it looks or all of the back-end techie stuff. Focus on the content, and let it drive itself. Everything else will fall into place with time.
While I don’t think it is necessary to blog every day in order to be effective, I do think it is important to have some sort of a schedule in whatever fashion it happens for you. And most importantly, write about something you are passionate about. If you do that, you can’t go wrong!
Photo: Angela Karen
Want to learn more without leaving your Inbox?
Sign up for our e-newsletter today!