Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in the Savvy Sensation Series, Laura. I’m thrilled to be here!
Who are you (what do you write, what are your personal stats)?
I’m a black coffee-slurping M&M-aholic who has penned forty-five short stories and sixty vignettes. My fiction is found in two anthologies and two e-zines. One creative non-fiction story won an Honorable Mention in New Millennium Magazine’s national non-fiction contest. My most recently published short will appear in Slice Literary Magazine’s upcoming Spring 2012 issue. Though I’m thrilled with the publishing success I’ve enjoyed thus far, there is an item on my literary bucket list I’ve yet to scratch off. I want, more than anything, to feel the pride and satisfaction of completing a novel-length project. The novel is a much different beast than the short story. My first attempt at long fiction boasts twenty-two chapters and a thick layer of dust. I’m currently working on attempt number two, a project I’m very excited about and working tirelessly to complete.
Where can we find you online (blog, twitter, facebook, etc.)?
Here’s my Internet 411. Visit any time!
My writer’s blog ~ One Significant Moment at a time (http://nicoleducleroir.blogspot.com)
Twitter ~ @NicoleDwrites (https://twitter.com/#!/NicoleDwrites)
Facebook ~ Nicole Ducleroir (https://www.facebook.com/nicole.ducleroir)
Writing.com Portfolio ~ (My username is heftynicki. Yeah, long story…) (http://www.writing.com/main/portfolio/view/heftynicki)
Amazon Author Central ~ Nicole Ducleroir (http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004JNZBLW)
LinkedIn ~ Nicole Ducleroir (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/nicole-ducleroir/27/273/604)
When did you begin your online platform building?
I launched my blog in late December 2009 before I learned the term “writer’s online platform.” I was such a newbie! At the time, I was vehemently opposed to social networking, (mostly because I knew my sisters used Facebook as a family feud battlefield. No thanks!) In the first six months of blogging, I discovered the vast and supportive community of writers and found my blogger’s voice. By summer 2010 my perspective on networking had shifted. I realized the advantages at this point in my career to expanding my online presence, notably: to give and receive inspiration from other writers, to build relationships with critique partners, and to explore the merits of different markets, agents, and publishers as deemed by industry insiders. I dipped my toe in the social site pool with a Twitter account and quickly found all my blogging buddies. Within two weeks, I’d created profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn.
What is your message, if any (is your blog about anything specific, for example)?
One Significant Moment at a Time is a place where I authenticate myself as a writer. By that, I mean it’s the public platform where I share my writer’s life, celebrate my successes, and admit my shortcomings. I believe putting inspiration out into the universe is a surefire way to receive inspiration. So my message, which is foremost for me, is also for all writers visiting my blog: If you want to be an author, you have only to do two things every day. Say it! Proclaim yourself an author. And do it! Write,write,write. Every post I write communicates, in some way, how I find the courage to do those two things in my own life.
How have you built your followers? What have you done that has been the most successful?
I understood early on that to build a following, I had to create a steady flow of traffic to my blog. First, I sought out other writer blogs and followed them. When I left a comment on one blog, I chose one or two of the other comments I read there and followed the avatars to those people’s blogs. I followed and commented, then perused those commentators, etc. Generally, all those people would follow me back. It’s important to repeat visits and leave several comments, really get to know the people who you are following. Sincerity counts when you’re building a following. Next, I participated in blog hops and passed around blogging awards. Both activities drew attention to my blog while I got to promote other people’s blogs, and traffic to my site increased. The writer’s community is generous and almost everyone is interested in following each other. Building a following is easy as long as you are willing to put your time and energy into reciprocating the visits, comments, and following you receive.
What have you done that has failed?
The biggest mistake I’ve made as a blogger is trying to do too much every day. As I followed more and more blogs, I felt a responsibility to visit as many of them as I could. Most days in the first year of my blog, I averaged visiting forty or fifty blogs a day. It was a daily race against the clock, and I became increasingly stressed out. And time blogging was time I wasn’t writing. Other writers were announcing completed manuscripts, landed agents, and acquired book deals. I finally had to realize I was building a platform for nothing if I wasn’t writing. It was excruciating to take a summer off from blogging, but I needed to do it. After taking a step back, I have a more manageable blogging schedule and I don’t pressure myself to visit more blogs than I can handle. I have less daily traffic to my blog now. But when the time comes to promote that yet unwritten book, I know the community will respond exponentially as I increase my presence.
As I'm taking a little break right now myself, I really appreciate that last comment. :)
How much time do you spend blogging? Reading blogs? Commenting on blogs?
These days I post twice a week on my blog. I don’t have a strict schedule, except to not post two days in a row. The reason why is this: I’m thrilled when I receive comments on a post, and I make every effort to visit those commentator’s blogs within 48 hours and leave them comments. And as far as reading blogs, I like to go to my dashboard and read through the five most recently posted blogs. I do the same at Networked Blogs. That way, I hit a minimum of ten blogs a day, usually more. And I read my cyber BFFs’ blogs on my blogroll several times a week. One rule I hold myself to: If I read a post, I always leave a comment. Even if it’s just to say ‘hey,’ I want bloggers to know I was there and enjoyed reading their thoughts.
What else should we know about you?
I have a lot of God-given talents but juggling isn’t one of them. I can’t toss three oranges in the air without dropping one of them, and the same is true with managing my daily schedule. Yep, if items on my to-do list were fruit, there’d be lots of sticky orange juice on my floors every.single.day. *sigh*
Any additional advice for our readers?
My blog evolved over the years as I came to understand my own voice and as I discovered, through visiting other sites, those things which I feel do not help a blog be successful. For example, I love color. But I realized that for my site to convey a creative AND professional personality, I needed to streamline the format and use splashes of color in a way that doesn’t distract or annoy. On average twice a year, I like to create a new header banner for my blog, always with lots of color. But I always keep the blog background white, with the palest of blues to help compartmentalize the three columns, in lieu of harsh vertical lines. I think as you hone your blogger’s voice, it’s also important to play with the appearance of your blog until you find exactly the look that speaks to you and that conveys to your readers the kind of public personality you want to portray.
What makes you unique?
Although I grew up in upstate New York where I was not introduced to any outside culture, I’ve become quite an international person in my adult life. After college, I lived in Los Angeles for two years and then Washington D.C. for two more. From there, I joined the Peace Corps and worked for two and a half years in the Central African Republic as a Community Health Extensionist. A year into my service, I met my husband. He is French and was working for an Italian road construction company contracted by the World Bank. Later, we were married in France where we lived for close to five years. Our two children were born there. We scrape every penny to fund trips to Europe so our children will remain intimate with their cultural roots. The writer in me is eternally grateful for all these experiences. They are rich fodder for my fiction today!
Thanks so much for being here, Nicole! I know we'll see a novel of your soon the shelves soon. You've got very realistic goals and great advice. Congrats on all your successes so far!