Today I have the pleasure of posting the first part of an email interview that I conducted recently with Gina Trapani from one of my favorite blogs – Lifehacker. I’ve divided the interview into two parts because Gina’s put some great ideas into what she’s written and I’d like to give us all the opportunity of digesting it slowly over a couple of days. I hope you enjoy it.
Can you give us a short introduction into who you are and where you blog?
I’m a web programmer and freelance tech writer based in southern California. Primarily I write Lifehacker.com, a weblog about software and productivity which I update several times a day. I also keep a personal “stuff that interests me” tumblelog at Scribbling.net.
My first dead tree book came out in December, which is based on Lifehacker.com. It’s called Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day, and is available at bookstores and at Amazon.com. More info about the book is available at http://lifehackerbook.com.
How did you get into blogging?
I lived in New York City and worked at an office about 2 miles north of the World Trade Center on September 11th. Like everyone else across the country and around the world, the experience of that day changed me – especially being so close geographically, witnessing the attack as it happened, and losing a family friend who worked in the towers.
Afterwards, reading my co-workers’ and friends’ accounts of that day on their blogs helped me process and deal with what happened more than any mainstream coverage, and they inspired me. That December, in 2001, I began my first personal weblog.
How did you get the gig as a blogger at Lifehacker?
It was luck, great timing, and a hyperactive brain. I had been working for Nick Denton, founder of Lifehacker’s publisher, as a programmer for a couple of years already the day he and I went out to lunch and he mentioned he’d registered the lifehacker.com domain. I think my jaw hit the table in awe of what a great domain name that was, and I started listing all the great stuff he could do on a site named that, right over our Vietnamese food. He asked if I wanted to write it on the spot. Even though I’d never written anything professionally, accepting his offer was a no-brainer.
What tips would you give to someone looking to land a job blogging at a blog network?
Start your own blog on the topic you love, and make every effort to make it great. When you apply for a pro blogging job, tell them about your personal blog and point out posts you’re most proud of – that site will be your interview for the position.
Can you tell us a little about what you’re required to do as part of that blog?
On average I write about 6 posts a weekday, usually pointing to interesting productivity-related items around the web, and two feature-length original articles per week. On a daily basis, most of my time is spent researching and writing posts (obviously), answering email, managing my co-editors, brainstorming site improvements, interacting with readers in the comments, and planning new post series and feature articles. I get paid much the way a writer at a magazine gets paid. At magazines, you get paid per word; blog publishers usually pay per post. Feature posts – like magazine feature stories – require the most work and bring in the most traffic, so we get paid a higher rate for them.