For today’s interview we have with us one of the most popular writers in the blogosphere. Writing about subjects closely connected with personal growth, blogging and internet marketing, as well as being one of the best writing coaches on the net nowadays. It’s Ali Luke, another leading figure in the blogging world.
She is also a published writer of fiction which only concurs with the fact that the range in which she can write is rather broad. You can find her book Lycopolis on Amazon. She also became a part of the “for dummies” series, when Wiley publishing offered her to write a book about publishing e-books.
Her headquarters on the net, if you will, are at Aliventures.com, one of the best sites dedicated to writers and bloggers seeking to improve their craft. Just for today, we asked if we could borrow some of her time and try and find out more about her.
Ali has been a true role model, and in a sense virtual mentor, helping me on my way to become a better writer. Her dedication, professionalism, and drive are always inspiring to others entering the industry. So for all of you who are trying to make it into the online publishing world, this interview is a must read. Let’s dive in.
1. Hi Ali, I’m really glad that you are here and I know our readers are more than happy to hear from you.
Thanks for the warm welcome – and for inviting me to be interviewed! I’m very pleased to be here.
2. Nowadays it’s quite normal to chase the independent online route when trying to establish yourself as a writer. But when you started this practice was merely in its infancy. What gave you the confidence to pursue such a different route?
You write a lot about internet marketing and entrepreneurship; does this mean that even then you had the eye for what is going to work?
I’ve always been interested in computers and the internet – I was online in the mid-1990s, when the ‘net was just starting to become mainstream. I also love writing, obviously, so for me, establishing myself as an online writer was a natural choice.
I think marketing online is a great route for writers, as most of us are quite introverted (I don’t think many extroverts want to sit alone in a room all day with nothing but their own thoughts for company). It’s a lot less intimidating writing a blog post or sending a tweet than networking in person.
In terms of having an eye for what’s going to work … I try to read a lot! I’m certainly no trail-blazer, but I do my best to learn from others. One of the great things about the blogging/social media world is that people are often very open about their experiences, writing about what’s worked for them (and often just as importantly, what hasn’t).
3. You’ve made quite a name for yourself; tell me, how did things start? Were you determined to build such an online career, or was it rather spontaneous?
My career has definitely developed over time. When I started out, back in 2008, I’d been reading a lot about blogging and I thought it would be a great way to make some money online. Of course, it was a much steeper learning curve than I expected!
For a long time, I saw myself mainly as a freelancer – but since 2010, I’ve been focusing more and more on selling my own products: I have a series of ebooks, plus a membership site.
I find that each month brings new opportunities, and I love being able to have a lot of flexibility over what projects I take on. Over the past year, for instance, I was very excited to have the chance to write “Publishing E-Books For Dummies” – and I also really enjoyed speaking at BlogWorld in November 2011 and May 2012. I’m now starting to take on more speaking work, running some courses in London in conjunction with SEO Training.
4. Every method, career, practice which is less traditional and orthodox is usually received with skepticism. Your articles about personal development are always full of useful advice. So I guess my other question is where does that come from? You just acquired it or picked it up along the road of your own self-actualization as a writer?
I got interested in personal development while I was a student at university – I took a course in self-development and it really helped me to establish better study habits, and to become more confident. After that, I started reading books and blogs on personal development, trying to apply as much as I could to my life.
I’m lucky that my family – and my husband – have been extremely supportive of my rather unorthodox career. It’s certainly been a process of figuring out things and learning from mistakes along the way… but I feel like I’ve grown much more as a person and as a writer than I’d have done in a traditional job.
5. I always say that the people with whom we decide to surround ourselves are partially responsible for shaping our persona, hence our success in life too. Throughout these years you’ve met some really extraordinary people with whom you work together from time to time. People who are well known in the online world, like Darren Rowse, Daniel Scocco, Brian Clark… How did this affect your work, your personal development as a professional?
Those three – and many others, like Sonia Simone, Pace and Kyeli Smith, and Joanna Penn – have been hugely inspiring to me, as well as great fun to work with when I’ve had the chance to collaborate with them.
Daniel Scocco actually gave me my second-ever paid gig when I was a very new freelance writer, back in early 2008 – I was still working full-time in my IT job then. I’ll always be very grateful to him for that! More recently, I worked with him to create an e-course about freelance writing.
All of these people are inspiring as writers/bloggers, and on a personal level: they’ve all built great, ethical business online, and have achieved a lot within their respective areas.
6. Now a word or two about your craft, writing. You are one of the best coaches available on the net, what can you say about developing as a writer. What is crucial if you want to make a progress? Do you have any particular advice for people who want to start with any sort of creative work?
You’re making me blush! ;-) I’ve actually stopped my one-on-one coaching work, to focus on other projects like my membership site. But my advice to any writer looking to develop is:
- Read a lot. You’ll get inspired, you’ll see what works, and you’ll see what doesn’t work. It’s a good idea to read outside your own genre or niche, too – you might be surprised what you’ll learn.
- Write regularly. That doesn’t need to be every day, but it should be at least every week. Some people work best in short sessions (e.g. 15 minutes, most days) and others prefer to dig in for a long session (e.g. two hours every Saturday) – experiment and figure out what’s best for you.
- Get feedback on your writing. It’s incredibly hard to improve otherwise. Your feedback could come from your blog readers, from fellow writers who you swap work with, or from a tutor, coach or editor. Keep in mind, though, that great writing is often a matter of opinion – and even if one person doesn’t like your writing, others may love it.
7. You are a publishing powerhouse as some would like to say, and I totally agree. But I’m interested, from where does all of this inspiration come from? I’m sure there are things that you produce due to experience, but every article has something unique about it and carries your signature, your personal stamp; a story, some experience, feelings, even. Does this translate into rich personal and emotional life?
I find that I think best by writing – so if I’m working through a particular issue in my life, or if I have an idea that I want to explore, I’ll often blog about it.
I think my personal life might look boring to some people – I’m happily married, expecting a baby (it’ll be our first child), and I enjoy reading, long walks and board games. Having a steady, stable personal life means that I’ve got plenty of energy for my work, though! And I’ve certainly had some great experiences over the past few years, like travelling around Europe for three weeks with my husband.
8. Tell us something about your passions and hobbies other than writing. Is there something that you particularly enjoy doing?
Writing is definitely the big one! I also really enjoy reading – I studied English Literature at university. I’ll read pretty much anything from page-turning thrillers to weighty classics; it depends on my mood.
With a baby on the way – I’m currently six months pregnant – “being a mum” looks set to be one of my biggest “hobbies” over the next few years! I’ll still be carrying on with my career, of course (and I’m very glad of the flexibility that working online gives me), but you may well see me branching out into the mommy blogging world…
9. Before we say goodbye, can you try and give an advice for all the ones interested in achieving your level of success and recognition? Looking back in retrospect, what were the things that allowed you to be where you are today?
Keep taking one step further. Although people often think I must be quite confident, I find it scary to try new things – but I push myself forward because I want to achieve all that I’m capable of.
The first time I wrote a guest post, it was a huge achievement; now, guest posting has become a much more normal part of my life (though writing for bigger and bigger blogs means I keep up a great sense of achievement). The first time I spoke in front of an audience was nerve-wracking; I still get a bit nervous, but I’m much more confident now.
Whatever stage you’re at in your life and career, there’s always a way to go forward. Something you might try is keeping an achievements book; I’ve been writing a monthly entry in mine ever since I started out on my online path. It’s great fun now to look back over each month’s achievements, to see how far I’ve come in the past few years.
10. Thanks for your time Ali. I’m sure our readers enjoyed having you as our guest. See you another time, and till then we wish you the best of luck.
Thanks so much, Slavko – and very best of luck to all your readers.