Spend 10 minutes cruising the Net on what makes for a winning blog and you’ll find the same advice repeated again and again.
Develop a distinctive voice.
Share personal experiences.
Communicate a point of view.
And, of course, the mantra of the digirati: Be authentic.
If you want to see these theories put into practice, bookmark “My Mom’s Blog.” I had the pleasure of talking with Millie Garfield, the 85-year-old voice behind the blog. Like the interview with Master Swisher, Millie offered a mix of insights, wisdom and common sense that can benefit any blogger.
Q: What was your inspiration to start blogging?
A: My son Steve. He said I should I try it. He gave me an old computer and two weeks later I was blogging.
Q: So you didn’t have a computer before you started blogging?
A: No. I wasn’t even on e-mail.
Q: Did you start your blog with a particular audience in mind?
A: I didn’t know what to expect – Who the readers would be or if they would even be interested in what I have to say.
Now I know who they are, what they like to read about – I can tell by their response to my posts. They like personal stories, movie reviews, simple recipes, funny experiences, down-to-earth life experiences.
Q: I noticed in your early posts that you would ask readers for comments but no one was responding. How did you cultivate engagement with readers? Did you get frustrated?
A: I did get a little frustrated. Finally, I asked in my blog, is there anyone out there? I mentioned I was a 70-something-year-old blogger, which got some attention.
Later, Ronni Bennett noticed me. She’s been a producer for TV shows and works with celebrities. She wrote about me so her readers became interested in me. That was my big break. To this day, I stay in touch with Ronnie who’s a friend.
Q: So that got more of your readers involved with your blog?
A: That’s right. On my last birthday, I got so many comments posted on my blog.
Side note: Millie’s blog is a poster child for engagement. What I especially admire about Millie is she continues to push forward with experiments. Her latest is a twist on advice columns called “Dear Millie.”
Q: I know you’ve been in magazines and on TV which also generates attention and more readers.
Even Ellen DeGeneres’ people called me. They wanted me to come out to the West Coast, but the timing didn’t work out.
I don’t watch her show anymore. She comes out on stage and people applaud for five straight minutes, which isn’t very entertaining.
Q: But you’ve been on TV.
A: When CBS interviewed me, the main point that got on the air was my life would be boring without blogging.
Here I am going out with friends who might not know how the TV business works. I don’t want them to think they’re boring. Fortunately, they understood the situation.
Blogging enriches my life, but it’s not the only thing.
Q: How do you decide what topic to write about on your blog?
A: When I first started blogging, I spent most of the time talking about my youth. But after so many years, I ran out of youth stories, so I needed to be open to other topics.
Q: What posts generate the most interest from readers?
A: It’s definitely the personal stories … the background stories in my life. That’s what people enjoy the most.
People like the humor.
I didn’t know I was funny until I started blogging.
Q: Are there any writers you admire?
A: I’ve read all of the LaVyrle Spencer books. I didn’t care for the Swedish guy.
Q: You mean the Stieg Larsson trilogy?
A: Right. I pushed my way through his first book but that was it.
We’ll publish the second half of the interview with Millie tomorrow (Wednesday).
You’ll learn about her favorite post, a trick for improving hospital food and more.
Photos courtesy of Steve Garfield.