Lucky #13 of the Challenge Interview Series
Welcome, Natalie. I’m Marsha Ingrao and this is my blog, Always Write.
I love to spotlight bloggers, especially those who reach out to provide challenges or other ways for bloggers to meet and greet. So grab a cup of coffee and something sweet and let’s greet Natalie the Explorer.
I met Natalie recently as she graced the blogosphere. She’s so bright and talented I could post her picture on Becky B’s BrightSquares as one of this month’s posts. Since Natalie is a photographer, I will sprinkle a few of her photos through the post as well as some links to specific posts that I think you’d enjoy visiting.
What prompted you to begin to host Weekend Coffee Share?
Weekend Coffee Share link-up has been around since 2014 and had four hosts between 2014 and 2020. On January 1, 2021, Alli, at Eclectic Alli blog, decided to step away from hosting the weekly Weekend Coffee Share. I was a participant and volunteered to continue hosting it. I’m the 5th host. Weekend Coffee Share is neither a writing challenge nor a photography challenge. It’s more like a weekly bloggers’ social event.Natalie
I love that – a history lesson! Volunteering to host an existing blog a great way to start hosting because you know how it works and can change gradually as you make it yours. The participants already know you, which is a great way to get started. Several of our hosts have started out that way. I included a link to your post this week, which is a wonderful summary of what you did in March. You are so busy!
What is your purpose in hosting the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link-up?
I hope to provide a friendly virtual place where bloggers meet every weekend to share what’s on, their thoughts and lives. I hope to build a fun, positive, social, and supportive blogging community.Natalie
Judging from the many comments you get each day, I think you are accomplishing that purpose magnificently. I counted 38 blog posts linked to a recent Coffee Share, and 122 additional comments. Sprinkled throughout this post, I’m including what a few of her readers had to say about her.
“Hi Natalie – I love how you make the most of things even when in lockdown. Your green photos were lovely and the tulip display sounds amazing – I hope you do a post on them when they are at their most colourful. Glad Spring has arrived and things are warming up for you – it must be lovely to be able to get out and about in the sunshine.”Leanne
Oh, those travel photos give me itchy feet! The emerald lakes in Croatia are beautiful! You certainly have had many adventures. I hope you get the chance to share more travel photos before too long. I love the photos of the trees with the arrows. So cool how you did that! Thank you for hosting and thanks for the coffee!LAURIE
How long have you been doing this?
Since January 8, 2021. Weekend Coffee Share takes place weekly. The link-up starts at 8 a.m. on Friday and ends at midnight Sunday night, Canadian Eastern Standard Time.Natalie
How much time does it take?
I spend about 3-5 hours on each of the 3 days of the link-up to read 35-45 participants’ blogs and write my comments on their blogs, plus replying to comments on my blog.
The participants from five continents join at different times from Friday to Sunday so I read a dozen blogs on Friday, another dozen on Saturday, and the remaining on Sunday. Sometimes it takes me into Monday as well.
I also review and approve ping-backs. I oversee the link-up to delete any posts that I deem to be unsuitable for my audience. These may include ads, “drop and run” links, promotions, and any that are offensive in nature, overly political or religious.
I spend another 5-10 minutes to create and verify the InLinkz link and its codes for the next link-up.
I spend several hours to write my weekly blog, select, resize, and upload photos on my blog. I do it in bits and pieces over a few days.
My guesstimate total is about 20 hours per week for blogging and hosting.Natalie
What a thorough answer, Natalie. Your blogging is like the commitment of a part-time job. We can tell that we, your public are the most important part of your blogging effort. You use lots of hastags and links in your posts as well as visiting so many people each week.
These are genius, Natalie.
Thanks for sharing these precious gems with me on #WordlessWednesday and yes, a very welcome aboard #WW.
Look forward to witnessing more marvel unfold from your side in the coming weeks. No pressure though.
Have a fabulous, restful week ahead.NATASHA
What steps do you take to get your link-up ready?
- Create and verify the InLinkz link-up code.
- Write my blog and add the InLinkz code in my post.
- Schedule my blog to go live on Friday at 8 a.m.
- Verify my blog and the link-up go live as scheduled.
- Once the link-up starts, read other posts, write my comments, and reply to comments on my blog. Also review and approve ping-backs.
- During the link-up, monitor and delete any posts that I deem to be unsuitable.
- Once the link-up ends, verify it’s closed and review stats.
- Repeat the steps for the next link-up.
No one I have mentioned ever mentioned deleting posts that seem unsuitable. Do you get many of them? I don’t get any that are obnoxious on my blog, but I don’t follow up with commercial blogs that are primarily trying to sell something.
How do you follow up with your participants?
I read their blogs and leave a comment. I reply to comments on my blog. I reciprocate blog visits to bloggers who leave comments on my blog.
When I started hosting Weekend Coffee Share in January 2021, I read all blogs and left a comment on each blog. The first link-up had 25 participants. Subsequent link-ups have had 30-45 participants.
I greatly appreciate my blog readers and their thoughtful comments, as well as all Weekend Coffee Share participants.Natalie
Natalie, a beautiful reflective post of the last year! It’s lovely that the weather has brightened for you and you can go out to enjoy some of it. The goose social distancing sigh is sweet and a welcome change from the usual ones! Here we are still in deep lockdown apart from schools going back this week … see how that goes. Exciting news for me today is my first vaccine (owing to health conditions), second one in three months time. It does feel more hopeful. The biggest change I’ve noticed is the fantastically improved air quality, wildlife flourishing and deer in main roads is now a common (and dangerous) sight! Here’s to a good spring and summer full of travels and seeing family! XxANNIKA PERRY
How did you attract people to participate? How do people usually find out about your link-up?
When I started hosting it in January 2021, there were about 12 regular participants. I have blogger friends outside of the Weekend Coffee Share link-up. I invited them to join and some have.
I also participate in other challenges or link-ups where I read and leave comments on other blogs. As my blog readership grows, more bloggers join Weekend Coffee Share.Natalie
I have seen links on many people’s blogs. As a part of the interview series, I have met the most interesting people. My goal is to keep in touch on a regular basis with each interviewee’s blog. I’m impressed with how you have done that through your Weekend Coffee Share.
Are you a part of a group on social media that picks up your challenge and promotes it? Is your challenge like a club where you put a widget on your website or embed something on your post? What about a Facebook Group or Page, or a group in other social media?
I have a page and a link on my blog to explain how to join Weekend Coffee Share. I haven’t used Facebook or any other social media to promote it. I don’t have a fixed badge or widget on my blog.Natalie
I have not been to Morocco or any country in Africa, so I really appreciate seeing the pictures you have shared. It looks like a fascinating place to visit. The doors are huge and so meticulously detailed, I can’t imagine building them in the time in which they built. Thanks for linking to Thursday Doors, Natalie, this was an interesting, educational and fun post.DAN ANTION
It doesn’t sound like you need to promote your posts on social media or have a widget on your blog. You do the most important thing. You connect with people one by one on a personal level. If you expanded beyond the participants you have now, you’d have a full time job!
What do you do with the entries? Do you post or promote the results or links anywhere?
I use the free InLinkz plan to display all entries on one dashboard. All Weekend Coffee Share participants can see the results and the links in the dashboard.Natalie
I like the idea of thinking of the “gifts” a month gave you. Very positive! February gave us several days where while it was still cold, there was sun and not too much wind, and we could take a walk outside! Thanks for your post, and enjoy your day!BETTY
Well said, Betty and all of you. I hope you enjoyed this short trip into Natalie’s blog. Enjoy a few more of her amazing pictures to exotic places.
Natalie is the author of Natalie the Explorer blog, from Ontario, Canada. She writes about the steps she takes to live a healthy and enriched life.
She currently hosts a weekly Weekend Coffee Share blog link-up. It runs from 8 a.m. on Friday to midnight on Sunday night Toronto time. Everyone is welcome to join in any and every week. Her favourite part of blogging is the interaction and connection with others. She would love to hear from you. You can connect with her in the Comment section below, or via her blog: https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/
Thank you, Natalie for agreeing to this interview. You are one of those wonderful people who make blogging so enjoyable.
Did you love this interview? I sure did. I’ve made a new friend and I feel just like Mr. Rogers must have. Denyse Whelan shared a different interview with Natalie on her site as a Woman of Courage. It is a short, easy-to-read post, and well worth the read.
If you know someone who hosts a challenge you love, someone who participates in a lot of challenges, or whose blog you enjoy, I’d love to interview them. Contact me through my contact page.
A Few Little Plugs
Here’s a BRIGHT idea. It’s not too late to link a #BrightSquare post or Natalie’s
If you’re good at using quotes with your #BrightSquares, Cee Neuner’s Challenges link up one or two of them with Wednesday’s Quotes on the topic of Fitness, Health, and Wellness. You can combine challenges and post any time until next Tuesday.
April’s STORY CHAT with the Twilight-Zone-like story, Miniature Planet is up and going like a Chatty Cathy doll (do I date myself?) Stop by, enjoy some of Natalie’s coffee, a beignet, and chat.