I’ve already had my Halloween treat! I got to sit down and chat for a bit with Ileane Smith at the Batty Bloggers Café, one of those seasonal things they do in front of The Old Haunted Pumpkin House. The waiters were zombies – but it was early, and so were we, until after we’d had a little “Zombie Juice” – green tea, not pressed zombies, of course!
“Your first post, Wordsmith, reminds me of my first foray into blogging, back in 1998 or so. I was trying to wrap my head around the word “blog,” which still sounds like an intestinal disorder, to me. In one of my first posts ever, I attempted to define it. Somehow, that post got picked up by Deepak Mankar of the Hindustan Times, and he referred to me as a “veteran blogger.” I think that was twelve of my fifteen minutes of fame. I understand you got started blogging by accident. How on earth does one start blogging by accident, Ileane?”
“Holly can you believe that I had no idea what an RSS feed was back in 2009 or how to subscribe to one?”
I raised an eyebrow in disbelief.
“Well it’s true,” Ileane assured me. “My daughter started a blog on WordPress.com and I was trying to subscribe to her blog. Without realizing it, I was actually signing up for a blog instead.”
“How did you come up with the name for it?” Most bloggers struggle with that for weeks, or so they tell me. I wondered what our “accidental blogger” came up with on the spur of the moment, once she’d figured out she had a blog.
“I’ve always got something to say, so I called the blog Ms. Ileane Speaks (all the kids call me Ms. Ileane and I love when I hear them say that) and I still use that handle for my audio podcast and YouTube channel.”
“Does your daughter still blog?”
“Yes, Nikki has a website where she sells party dresses and cocktail dresses called Estava Morioka and she also has a companion blog that caters to the “American Party Girl”. If you want to look hot on a first date or make a grand entrance at that next big event, check out her website.”
As a mom, myself, I had to ask: “Did it annoy Nikki when her mother became a famous blogger?”
Our waiter brought over a plate of artistically arranged and slightly too realistic “lady fingers.” Ileane took one without batting an eye and nibbled at the sparkling, sugar nail. I burst out laughing, and pretty soon I was sucking a thumb. Not mine. The bakery here at the Batty Bloggers Café was amazing, though not for the squeamish.
I washed the digit down with Zombie Juice and asked Ms. Ileane, “Is blogging your ‘day job’? Do you think that a successful blogger can – or should – make blogging their primary source of income?”
“I have a full time job which I absolutely LOVE! I work for a publisher and I’ve been with the company for nearly 30 years.”
“It’s always refreshing,” I said, “to hear someone talk about loving their job. What is it about your ‘day job’ that makes you want to spring out of bed and go?”
“SPRING out of bed?” Ms. Ileane looked over at me across her highly caffeinated Zombie Juice and grinned. “One of my favorite aspects of the job is that I get to travel to different colleges and talk to engineering students quite often. I’m amazed to see so many bright, talented young people that are optimistic and focused on making the world a better place to live in.
On the other hand – about a year ago, I had a conversation with a young Internet marketer who was making so much money at the time that he was ready to drop out of school because he could live off of his online income. He talked about how he thought going to college was pretty dumb and people shouldn’t have to do it.
I was ready to don my Suze Orman costume and say ‘Are you KIDDING ME??’”
At that moment, I jumped up from the table and exclaimed, “Suze?!”
Ms. Ileane laughed. “Fits me pretty well, doesn’t it?”
When my jaw refused to pick itself up off the floor, she took off the mask and continued. “I asked him how he would feel if on his next visit to his doctor he found out that the doctor said he dropped out of medical school… Ironically, I saw this same young man on Facebook about 6 months later saying how he was bored with Internet marketing and he wanted more out of life. I couldn’t help but wonder if I played even a tiny role in him coming to that realization. My point here is, try not to put all your eggs in one Internet marketing basket, and NEVER drop out of school to pursue a career online.”
By now, a small gaggle of zombies had gathered around our table, and one was nodding along at Ms. Ileane’s advice. I didn’t know whether to shudder or giggle – so I did both. “Ms. Ileane, what do you do when you’re not working, blogging, or tweeting? And if all those things really are your only hobbies – how do people you know offline react when you tell them that? Or DO you tell them that?”
“For the most part, my friends aren’t really into social media or making any connections online, but they are not at all surprised that I am. We got together recently and they were laughing when I told them I have a blog – but in a good way. They say things like ‘Girl, you are TOO much.’”
“What are your top two ‘life goals’? How do you stay focused on achieving them?”
“I thank God and I feel blessed and fortunate to be where I am right now. I’m really happy, and my goal is to stay that way as long as possible.”
“I have to put in a plug, here, for your favorite word, ‘Boo!’ After all, it’s Halloween. Have you ever ‘been booed‘ on Halloween? It’s kind of a cool twist on Trick-or-Treat, isn’t it? Like ‘pay it forward.’ That’s what you do with your Basic Blog Tips, isn’t it? You’re known for generously helping other bloggers achieve their goals. Why is that so important to you?”
“Honestly Holly, it comes naturally for me and I strongly believe in having good karma. I have a little more to say about boo and I recorded this Audioboo for you in the spirit of Halloween. I hope you enjoy it!”
And in the blink of an eye, the lovely Ms. Ileane transformed into a SCARY version of Mo’nique and I heard this come out of her mouth…
“Eeeeeek! I about fell out of my chair, ‘Boo’!" It took me a minute, and a few more sips of Zombie Juice to compose my thoughts. "Ms. Ileane," I ask, for she had once again transformed into the woman we all know and love, "what do you think is the biggest reason people fail to achieve their goals?” I asked. “What’s your #1 tip for success in business and/or blogging? How about in life?”
“Don’t think of it as failure,” Ileane answered. “I find that “setting goals” is really the tricky part. Many times people have goals to accomplish things that they don’t have the skills or the knowledge to achieve. Don’t set the bar too high and think about having short term goals and long term goals. If you can work on the short term goals each day and put forth your best effort then you’re moving in the right direction towards the long term goals. In business and in life, when things don’t turn out as planned, learn from your mistakes and move on.
In The Three C’s Needed for Your Blogging Success I talk about how important it is to make the right connections and using collaborations to help build your confidence. I also find that it’s helpful to pick a mentor. They don’t even need to know that they’re your mentor but just be sure to pick someone who is honest and has integrity. Don’t try to mimic them but at least let them set a positive example for you to uphold.”
“Wonderful advice, Ms. Ileane! Thanks for having breakfast with me. I know it’s time we don our ‘corporate costumes’ and head off to work – I hope you, and our readers, have a marvelously SWEET Halloween. Thank you – Boo!”
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