Recently I was contacted by Craig McIntosh, a writer for That's Beijing magazine, for an interview about girls (and ladies) blogging in China.
The result, a mix of all the answers he had received, can be read in the latest March issue.
My complete answers - more detailed than published - about blogging in and about Beijing can be read here:
* When did you start writing your blog on Beijing and what made you start?
My first post on Beijing Notebook was on December 4, 2006.
I love to be creative and I love to write. But how can you become a freelance contributor when you don’t have studied journalism…. and have no references? So I started my blog, my personal writing playground. Beijing has so much to offer, that I always had several posts on my mind. And my blog posts became my references. Half year later I started to contribute as a freelance writer to That’s Beijing Home (later urbane) and That’s Beijing kids (now Beijing kids). Now, international magazines contact me for articles.
* Is Beijing a good source of inspiration for things to write about? If so, what things in particular?
Of course ! Especially when you come from outside China you see things with different eyes and discover so many exotic places, people and stories almost every day! And when you are blogging you especially pay attention to your surrounding. Even small things you got used to might be interesting to read for someone who has never been in China. Of course you might need to tell a funny frame story around and upload a good photo to make it interesting for readers.
* What's the response been to your blog since you started writing about Beijing/China? Any feedback?
First I was shy and did not tell anybody about my blog. But when working on a post and not getting any reaction in return sooner or later it is not satisfying. You need to do a bit of net-working like in real life to kick your blog off. Now feed backs keep me going. I get them through comments or direct emails. Also to be nominated for a travel blog award – may it be an important award or not – is always encouraging. And when companies start to ask to advertise on your blog it is a sign to be on the right way.
From my statistics I can see that I had record amounts of visitors to my blog before and during the Olympics. People still ask for hip accommodation, shopping tips (mainly antique furniture or design replicas) and sight seeing tours. Or simply: 'Are the lakes still frozen? Is there still snow?'
* Why do you think there has been a rise in the number of women writing blogs in Beijing/China/the world?
My guess: maybe more women are blogging because more girls then boys tent to write diaries? Women like to share information no matter what nationality – and when you look into special subjects like interior design blogs, most of the bloggers are women.
* What does your blog mean to you?
1) It helps me to file information, stories and pictures about Beijing. Instead of having all in different booklets, files or at flickr etc. it is all there, for me, for my friends, for Beijing visitors.
2) I love to be creative. And when I do not paint, I write a post. Maybe one day, I will write a book.
3) I enjoy the blog world. I can help people with trip planning and I can meet fellow bloggers or magazine editors.
* Who is your favourite blogger?
While in Beijing my daily read was Danwei. They translate selected articles from Chinese newspapers, post job offers in the media business and publish fun videos. This blog was featured in China Daily and that’s how I discovered them – a team of American and Chinese bloggers.
* Where are the best blogs?
Good blogs are everywhere. You can find them on the blog roll of your favourite blog or even in the print media in an article of your interest.
New blogs get started daily in blog land. And also good blogs might stop running due to personal issues (e.g. new job, sick child, lack of time, moving away etc.)
My insights learned by blogging:
In general, when you criticize something or even a company in the Internet, I think, you should be very careful because it can be read world wide and it might stay in the World Wide Web forever. And also it can hit back to you when you don’t have researched a post enough. Your readers won’t come back if you are not credible.
Also the readers don’t come back if you don’t post regularly. Best is to post about 3 times a week. Then you can attract regular readers. If I do not post anything new, you loose your readers. This is the pressure you might feel as a serious blogger.
On the other hand, if your blog gets nominated for an award or is mentioned in the press, the ranking is improving, you feel kind of obliged to continue.
That’s why I can’t stop blogging on Beijing Notebook although I have moved. This blog is still fun and Beijing is still on my mind. And I plan to visit soon again!
My proposal for the PR Department of the Chinese Government:
As the Chinese government wants to spend millions of yuan for image advertising abroad to make Western media to write positive about a better China, its PR Department should think of sponsoring bloggers who enjoy China and share their experiences. I would not mind to get an invitation to Beijing to write a story about some special subjects! (Contact: writing.suzie(at)yahoo(dot)com)
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