When I featured Kate during my second round of the Phenomenal You series, I fell in love with the way she shared her stories. She has mastered the perfect blend of wit and purpose, which you clearly see throughout her blog. What perfect about Kate and her blog is that you don’t necessarily need to back track and start from the beginning to get into the flow of her post, BUT if you did want to, you’ll be entertained, you’ll shed a few tears, and you will definitely take something with you.
- Name: Kate
- Blog: GreatestEscapist.com
- How many years you’ve been blogging: 7.5 years
What made you decide to open a blog?
When I graduated from college, I moved from the Midwest to Washington, D.C., & I wanted to be able to tell my friends & family what was going on in the city without having to retell the same stories over & over to everybody.
How do you decide on what to share with the world? How do you protect yourself from public scrutiny?
Oh, I love this question. I think there’s a common misconception that bloggers share everything, that we have no scruples or secrets. I tell stories that I think will feel relatable, be they funny or emotion-laden or whatever, but I try not to go too far with anything. I get vulnerable, but not in a way that will allow the world to be, I think, more judgmental of me than I can handle at any given moment. I do not share everything, & I think there is a real emotional danger in blogging for writers who do.
Have you ever experienced an “Oh my God, I put this on the internet?” moment? Please elaborate.
You know what, I don’t think I have. From day one, both my late grandmother & my former boss read my blog, so I always knew not to say anything I wouldn’t want them to see. There have definitely been times when I’ve waffled on whether or not to push the “Publish” button, especially on posts that feel particularly vulnerable. Over time, though, I found that those posts were the ones that garnered the best feedback – people who would tell me they really appreciated that I didn’t shy away from big or sad or scary topics. And so sometimes I still get nervous when I press that button, but it almost always feels worth it.
What has been one of the most difficult issues you have faced as blogger?
I have a really difficult time reading negative comments, & I don’t know if that will ever go away for me. People say, “Oh, ignore it, it’s just the Internet,” but it’s really tough to ignore terrible, nasty insults that assault your character, your words, your experiences. I know that most of these people don’t know me beyond what I share with them on the Internet, & I take some small comfort in that, but I don’t think there will ever come a time when it’s easy or fun to hear people’s mean feedback.
What advice would you share with new bloggers, or those toying with the idea of opening a blog?
I think it’s a particularly difficult time to become a blogger, much more difficult than it was when I started in 2007, when blogs were still new & novel. Today, the market is oversaturated; a lot of people don’t read blogs anymore, & when they do, the blogs their reading are massive, brand-laden empires – bloggers who have become hugely famous & turned their personal blogs into massive moneymakers. Still, I think that if you’re becoming a blogger for pure reasons – because you have something to say, period, not because you’re hoping for fame or brand sponsorship – then there’s always a place for you on the Internet. Go for it!
Has blogging or writing presented you with any cool opportunities?
I’ve made a lot of great people through blogging, & it means that I know someone in nearly every city. I never started blogging for community – & honestly, I still don’t blog for community – but it’s been a really nice perk. Beyond that, I can’t think of any cool opportunities, no. I don’t have a specific niche, & so cool brands have never been particularly interested in working with me. Sometimes I get bummed out about it – I’d love to be “discovered”! – but then I think that maybe I’m lucky to just do what I love on the side here, without feeling beholden to anyone else’s standards or money.
Share 3 of your favorite posts!
I’ve got tons of posts from 7.5 years of blogging, so here are three of my favorites from within the last year. I think they’re good, funny examples of my writing style & the sorts of stories I tell.
- “The Time a Stranger Maybe Drew Me Like One of His French Girls,” about a strange encounter in a public park with a maybe-creepy dude
- “I Found a Warning Note From a Ghost,” about exploring a fancy hotel where I was not actually a guest
- “Lessons in Adventuring: Ask More (Or Any) Questions,” about how poor planning led to an embarrassing interaction with a guy who was going to sell me furniture
Finish the sentence:
Being a blogger means owning your corner of the Internet – saying what you’re comfortable saying, not apologizing for your voice or your views, & just writing your little heart out.
Being a blogger does not mean that you necessarily have to be a part of a bigger blogging community or that some imagined loyalty to it should come before your dedication to your writing. I think there’s a difference between people who blog for community & people who blog because they will explode if they don’t put their words to paper. Both are OK, but I don’t like the expectation that all bloggers must value “the community.” Above all, I am a writer; blogging is just my platform.
As a blogger I will never compromise my integrity by working with brands that don’t mean anything to me. I’ve gotten tons of weird pitches that I would never write about, even when they’re offering to pay me.
The stereotype I hate the most about bloggers is that we share everything about ourselves on the Internet & that our readers therefore know everything about us. I put a lot out there, sure, but I consciously hold back all kinds of things that aren’t appropriate for the world to know. You see what I allow you to see.
Top 5 things that turn me away from a blog are poor writing, unreadable layouts, bad attitudes, & a clear obsession with finding fame & fortune through blogging (i.e. someone who’s selling out to bad brands or who is visibly obsessed with corporate partnerships). I’ve also seen plenty of great blogs change course & topic, which has turned me away. That’s fine – blog about whatever topic you’re most comfortable blogging about – but if I came to you when you were a lifestyle blogger & your morph into a small business blogger, I’m probably going to quietly remove myself from your readership.
Kate is a freelance writer & nonprofit social media strategist living in Northeast Ohio. She prefers dives to clubs, beer to wine, flats to heels, & the Midwest to just about anywhere. Check out her blog at GreatestEscapist.com or find her on Twitter as @heyescapist.