One of the best photo challenge bloggers, Sylvia from Another Day to Paradise tells all about how she makes photo challenges work for her.
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Sylvia from A Day 2 Paradise Tells All About Blogging
When I first met you, I did not know your first name, as is often the case with bloggers. You were “Another day in paradise,” and now “Another day 2 paradise.” I remember when you started your latest site, and I told you all about knowing a lady who was “another day in paradise,” thinking what a coincidence that was. You kindly said, without making me feel like an idiot that I was talking to the same person – you.
It’s been such a privilege to me to know you. We’ve become close because of our blogging and Facebook; it’s almost like we’ve been friends forever. You have agreed to let me use one of your posts as a chapter in my upcoming book, Because of Blogging as well, so thanks for that too!
You have taken some amazing pictures in your travels, and you also specialize in animal pictures that crack me up. I love the way you give them personalities and develop stories around them. You have had a couple of blogs and post daily just for the pure fun of it, but you’ve developed a large and loyal readership.
How did you get started blogging and what do you get out of blogging personally?
Thanks so much Marsha for inviting me to do this interview and for your kind comments about my blog I started blogging about seven years ago on Blogs24, which hubby saw advertised on our South African news site. He suggested that as I enjoyed writing, I might like to give it a go. I soon became hooked, although it took me a while to work out what it was all about, because at first, I didn’t know how to communicate with my commenters. Once I got it figured out, though, I was well away. Most of the content on this site was only of interest to fellow South Africans, as the politics and daily goings on in the country were favorite subjects. Because all the bloggers were from South Africa and many of them knew one another, it did get a bit personal at times, and it was not unknown for insults to start flying across the blogosphere.
I tried to keep my blogs more about my travels, as I was lucky enough to be doing quite a few overseas trips during those years. People found my experiences and photos of trips to the US and the UK quite fascinating. In 2010 we did a tour of Wyoming and Yellowstone Park, from where I managed to blog almost every day, even though it meant going to bed extremely late after sorting and downloading all my photos.
Hubby was a constant help, and nothing was too much trouble for him. When the internet wouldn’t work, he fixed it for me as well as proofreading my posts. I also blogged a lot about my family, and especially my mom who was quite a character and always having little ‘adventures’, like driving her car up the garage wall, closing the garage door before she’d driven in properly, or accidentally taking off her friend’s car side mirror with hers after they’d stopped next to one another for a quick chat. My dear mom with her marvelous sense of humor was an endless source of blog inspiration, and I can laugh now just thinking of some of her antics. If she happened to feature in one of my posts, I would phone her in the evening and read it to her. She loved the way I wrote about her escapades.
I love the way you write about her escapades as well. She is an amazing woman.
Tell us a little more about your blogs.
Towards the end of 2011, the South African blog site started to disintegrate; the editor resigned, and gradually people became disinterested. We were given a chance to move over to WordPress, but very few of us made the transition. For a while, I really battled to be relevant and to get followers and comments on this international site, but gradually it all came together, and I’ve never looked back.
You’ve specialized in relating all your beautiful photos and adorable stories to photography challenges on your blog.
How do you do tie a story to a challenge and make it work?
I have so many photos from all our travels, and also lots of memories of our lovely seaside town in South Africa.
The challenges seemed just made for me, and as soon one appeared, I’d be going through my photo albums to find the appropriate material. I find it very difficult not to write stories about my photos, as I’m a bit of a wordaholic, but my kind readers seem to indulge me, for which I’m very grateful.
Creative and inventive vocabulary – a wordaholic – I love it! Your photographs are fabulous. You like bright colors, they are well framed and have interesting content.
What advice do you have about taking pictures and using them on your blog?
I take photos of anything and everything, both with my camera and iPhone, as one never knows when they might come in useful. I’m really fortunate that there is so much interesting wildlife in Florida where we are now living. I can’t resist giving names to all my newfound friends both feathered and scaly, and they seem to develop personalities of their own in my posts, sometimes surprising even me; like Iggy Jnr. The Rockstar, and Basil the basilisk lizard.
The names and personalities are what make your animal photos come to life. I love your recent one about the Tri-colored Heron. You always seem to know what they are. “Probably just a small minnow went down the hatch, but he strutted off looking very well pleased with himself.” And of course, he looked like my favorite college president who strutted across campus. We all loved him and imitated his walk just as Mr. Tri is doing.
I always come away from your blog with a smile, if not a guffaw.
What opportunities do you feel have come your way in life that you would attribute to blogging?
I’ve connected with many amazing and exciting bloggers over the years. Although we haven’t met in person, I feel that I know them. If we do eventually meet one day, we will be comfortable in one another’s company with lots of stories to share.
What advice do you have for new bloggers?
Blogging can be very time-consuming, but I would advise new bloggers to post regularly and to answer each and every comment that comes your way. Visit other people’s blogs and try to leave a comment, however, brief it may be. We bloggers can’t survive on likes alone. If someone I’ve never seen before or haven’t heard from for a long while, suddenly leaves a dozen likes on my posts in the space of a few seconds, I’m afraid it means absolutely zilch to me. I feel that blogging is very much an interactive thing. If you don’t give, then you don’t receive, and people will lose interest in visiting your blog, so establish a friendly relationship with your followers.
I agree with that, although when I was new to blogging, I garnered every as I could get and held it close like a big hug. It took a while longer to get comments and months that grew into years as we developed friendships.
What else would you like to add that I haven’t asked you?
If you are going to take a break from blogging for a while, it’s only courteous to let your followers know. When people who I consider to be my blogging friends just disappear without a word, I do worry about them.
Thank you so much, Sylvia, for taking your time for this interview. It has helped me get to know you even better, and I’m sure my blogging community is going to want to run out and get better acquainted with your blog anotherday2paradise as well if they do not know you already.
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Thanks again for joining us here at Always Write for a cup of coffee and a great interview with our guest blogger, Sylvia Shaw. Don’t forget to give her blog a peek! 🙂 To be a guest on Always Write or read other interviews, click here.