This week as part of the Zujava author interview series, we caught up with Art Aspirations, who has published some great recipes, tips for finding photos to use online, and gardening. Though she's interested in writing about several topics, her content all has one common theme: it comes from personal experience. When you read her leaves, you'll immediately be able to tell that she's writing from personal experience, which adds enormous value to the reader. Often times, when you publish content that chronicles an experience or was written as a reference to use yourself, that's whey we publish our best work.
Here's what Art Aspirations had to say in her interview questions:
How long have you been writing online? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and why you decided to start writing online?
For as long as I can remember, I have loved the whole idea of publishing. When I was a kid, I created handmade books. I spent endless hours on writing, illustrating and bookbinding. That passion never left, it just morphed into becoming part of the colorful world of online publishing.
We bought our first computer in 1986 and got our first internet connection in 1990. I can remember our computer guru making the bold prediction that “in the future, home computers will be as common as home telephones.” Turns out that was an understatement! I started learning about domain names and websites. I had an idea in the back of my mind that someday I would publish a website to share helpful information, and as a side effect, that would bring me a passive income. In time I began to realize it wasn’t likely to happen. But there is power in synergy; together we accomplish more than any of us could alone. That’s how I become a content site writer.
I think my primary motivation is to inspire and encourage. Most of my online writing tends to be about what has made my life more fulfilling – I want to share it because it probably could do the same for someone else.
You listed some great free options for photos on your "Top Ten Choices for Free Photos" leaf. Which one is your favorite, and why?
If I can’t take my own photos for a leaf, I almost always visit Wikimedia first to see what’s on offer there. I am a big fan of collaboration and sharing - such a healthy part of the internet. I try to foster that generosity as much as I can. I like Flickr, but I’m very cautious about using any photos that have recognizable people in them, even if they are marked Creative Commons. For a generic photo of a person, I make sure I use one with a model release. I just have this thing about invasion of privacy.
I wrote “Top Ten Choices for Free Photos” because I have spent so much time over the years wading through free image sites. Sure, you can find dozens of them, but so often the quality isn’t what I’m looking for, and I don’t have so much time in my life that I can afford to waste it on unproductive searches. I decided to make a reference list for myself of the sites I actually found most useful. Then, of course, I realized it would help others and I had to share it.
Another leaf you published was Easy Gluten-free Coconut Flour Biscuits. Will you be publishing any more gluten-free recipes as you try them?
I probably will do more leaves about gluten-free living. When you have to cope with a dietary restriction, it can be frustrating and bewildering. Fortunately, with the online world to turn to, you’re no longer alone. I’ve cooked for a lot of food sensitivities - avoiding wheat, dairy, nightshade vegetables and sugar - so I’m pretty good at finding alternative ways of making meals, and I like to pass on what will make someone else’s life easier. I discovered coconut flour quite a while ago when there were almost no recipes available. That has changed, but I think most people would rather have a few good, tried-and-true recipes than a bunch they have to experiment with.
What do you like best about writing on Zujava?
There is an intangible quality about Zujava that just works for me. I think it has to do with the emphasis on quality. It shows in the interface that makes it easy to create great pages. It shows in the quick response to support questions and issues. It shows in the constant effort to keep out junk and spam. It shows in the welcoming way Zujava members relate to each other. I’m thrilled with being part of the site from the earliest days, and I hope to grow with it for many years to come.
What promotional methods have worked best for your content? Which ones do you rely on the most?
One of my biggest barriers is lack of time since I have a full-time job, so I can’t spend a lot of time on promotion. I do some keyword research to make sure I’m not missing important search terms, because I mainly rely on the content itself to organically lead the reader to the writing. Beyond that, I use Pinterest, lensroll, and crosslinking. Next, I’m going to try submitting to DMOZ.
If you could give just one tip to other authors publishing on Zujava, what would it be?
Write about something that is uniquely yours. Write about what you know. If your article is nothing but a collection of Amazon or Youtube links, it’s not really very interesting. The Amazon site has a search function. So does Youtube, so the chance of anyone using your leaf to get there is miniscule. But if you tell me something about your own experience, what your thoughts are and why you care, that makes a huge difference. That is interesting.
Which leaf are you most proud of, and why? Is there a back story to the topic of the leaf?
I guess I have a soft spot for the first leaf I wrote on Zujava - http://www.zujava.com/too-much-zucchini, because it was the beginning of this exciting journey. It seems like a good choice because the zucchini season is just ahead and if people only knew how useful this vegetable is, it wouldn’t get such bad press.
But in reality, my favorite leaf is always the one I haven’t written yet!
What would you like to see next on Zujava?
Since you asked, I love the personal aspect of who authored a leaf and why, so I am hoping for the ability to have leaf-specific bios. But the truth is that I am completely happy with the site and how it’s developing. Zujava’s done a great job so far and I only expect that will continue.
Thanks for this great interview, Art Aspirations! Be sure to check out some of the work she's published below: