Ya'll know I love Epbot, right? It's one on my favorite blogs...ever. The geekness, the craftiness, the wonderfulness (is that a word? spell check says it is!). I absolutely love it all.
Well I asked the creator, blogging extraordinaire, Jen, if I could do an interview and she said yes! I couldn't believe it! She took time out of her busy, busy life to do an interview with little ol' me. She is a freakin' rock star.
JM: When did you start Epbot and what made you decide to?
Jen: I started Epbot on my birthday this year, 5/12. It was a birthday present to myself: I really wanted to blog about something *other* than cake from time to time, and also to interact more with readers who have similar geeky interests.
JM: Where did the name come from?
Jen: The name was a kind of happy accident. When I was writing my first post for the blog (which at that time had a different name,) I decided to riff on the long-standing Epcot joke from Cake Wrecks, and so wrote "welcome to my Experimental Prototype BLOG of Tomorrow!" As soon as I typed it, bam! I knew I had the name. This meant some last-minute scrambling to get the new mascot together, but I couldn't be happier with the way everything turned out.
JM: Including Cake Wrecks, how long have you been blogging?
Jen: Since May of 2008.
Well, I did have a personal blog for a few years before that, but since my mom was pretty much my only reader, I don't think that really counts. ;)
JM: You have called EPBot your “get-away-from-Cake-Wrecks-stress” blog. Why is Cake Wrecks so stressful?
Jen: Ooooh, how much time do you have? :D
In a nutshell, CW is stressful because it's online and it's popular. That means trying to please everyone all the time, which we all know is impossible. It seems like I'm always walking the razor thin line between humor and offense, as no matter what we do, someone, somewhere, will find a way to be offended by it. (And I'm not talking about the bakers!) Constantly worrying about who we may have inadvertently offended today is very, very wearing.
There are also a lot of demands on my time: besides writing posts there's mostly e-mail, but also everything from handling advertisers to site design, and then also writing the next CW book, organizing/designing calendars, that sort of thing.
JM: If you had to describe EPBot in 15 words or less, how would you do it?
Jen: Geeky, girly, and lots of goofing off. Plus some steampunk. And crafty stuff. (Ta da!)
JM: Is blogging your full time job?
Jen: Yes. And then some! My hubby, John, also works full time for CW. He handles most of the advertising and more technical sides to the blog.
JM: You speak of your hubby, John, often. How does he handle your internet fame?
Jen: John is truly the most supportive husband, ever. Even before Cake Wrecks, he unfailingly supported my every crazy idea, and was always telling me that I could succeed at anything I wanted to do. For a time I didn't do anything, and he was fine - happy, even - with that, too. When CW took off, John was more excited than I was. Then, when it became too much for me to handle alone, he stepped in and began shouldering the burden with me. I keep waiting for him to get tired of it all, but he never does. He tells me I was always famous to him - that now other people are just figuring it out, too. So, yeah, I have the best guy ever; I couldn't do any of this without him.
JM: You are crafty. What is your favorite thing to create and how did you become so creative?
Jen: To be honest, my favorite thing is, simply, creating. Anything and everything. If I haven't produced something with my own two hands in more than a few days, I start to go insane. Even if it's just rearranging the bookshelves, or framing a new piece of art: I have to be physically *doing* something to be happy. This has always been the case, but now even more so with Cake Wrecks: working online is producing things in a way, but it's not tangible. I need to hold something and be able to say, "I did this."
Whatever creativity I do have stems from boredom, plain and simple. I bore extremely easily. I don't *think* I'm ADD, but I do plan 10 new projects for every one I finish. I could rattle off a dozen things I want to do for my next Epbot tutorial right now, so it's a little hard to stay on track. My office renovation, for example: I keep getting sidetracked with new art projects or pieces to go in the room, so the official finish date keeps getting pushed back! I also usually have 3 or 4 projects going at once, although I'm happy to say that I *do* finish them all. Eventually. Hehehe.
JM: You have tons of readers, how does it feel to know you are so loved?
Jen: Oh, man, I feel humbled beyond measure that I have the readers I do - on both blogs, really, but especially on Epbot. Epbot is more me, so the connections I have with people there are more personal, more genuine. We also have more in common, so there's that instant "click" when I talk to an Epbot reader. I don't think of it as being adored by the masses, though - gosh, even writing that sounds conceited - I just think of it as one geeky girl holding up a banner, and those with like interests gathering 'round to chat. Cake Wrecks gave me this huge platform to gather together the much smaller demographic of like-minded geeks/goofs, and I'm very grateful for that. Most bloggers struggle to reach their audience. For the most part, I've had my audience find me. I hope to never take that for granted.
JM: Nicely put! I know the answer to this...but could you please share with my readers the outstanding number of Twitter followers you have?
Jen: Ha! Ok, I'll tell you, but first you should know how many Twitter followers I've LOST: over 200,000. In fact, I lose tons of readers every day. So with that caveat: I have around 1.2 million followers.
I should also mention that the only reason I ever had 1.4 million followers to begin with was that some lovely soul at Twitter's HQ put me on their 'recommended users' list, way back in the day. That meant every new Twitter user who clicked to follow everyone on Twitter's recommended list ended up following me. I'm sure many - maybe most - had no idea who I was. So, since my peak (and since that list changed), I've slowly been declining in numbers. Not that I'm complaining. ;)
JM: Did you ever think that Cake Wrecks and EPBot would be such hits?
Jen: For Cake Wrecks? Never ever in a million gajillion years. I wasn't even sure the half dozen friends I told about it would like it. When the first stranger left a comment, I kind of freaked out: I actually wasn't sure I *wanted* strangers reading it! So that probably tells you a lot about my initial mindset. I was writing for myself, and no one else. I was just goofing off, having some fun. (I've really always loved writing: it's the one craft I've never gotten bored with.)
For Epbot, I went in with more experience, but I still had no idea what to expect. CW also spoiled me in terms of numbers; when you hit the jackpot with your first lottery ticket, even getting the $50 prize with the next feels less successful. Don't get me wrong, by most standards, Epbot is doing just great. Fantastic, really. But it's no Cake Wrecks, and never will be. (It has about 1/10th of the readers CW does.) Frankly, I wouldn't want it that big, though - not if it meant having readers who don't "get" me the way these do now.
JM: What advice would you give to new bloggers wanting the success you have?
Jen: Couple things:
- Love it enough to keep going when there are no readers and no money. Then keep going.
- Keep your expectations realistic. The fact that I can pay the bills with this job is the exception to the rule; making money blogging is *hard.*
- Listen to the praise and the lovingly presented advice, but nothing else. Remember that most commenters on the Internet are, unfortunately, complete and total jerks. (Thankfully my two blogs are the exception to this rule.)
- Set high ethical standards for yourself, and then keep them. I'm not necessarily talking about language or content, here: I'm talking about staying true to your beliefs, and not changing yourself to suit the whims of faceless critics.
- Give credit where it's due, and give it generously. On the 'net, as in life, what goes around comes around.