Aya Katz Interviews SweetiePie

We often hear from Hubbers who are new to the site, but HubPages has been around since 2006. What about the pros? What about the first people to join?

To add a bit of perspective and to give us a peek into the life of a Hubber who has been publishing on HubPages for years, Aya Katz proposed an interview of SweetiePie, and asked her some really great questions.

In the following exchange, you’ll get some fun insights from one of HubPages most longstanding Hubbers, and perhaps even walk away with a different perspective on driving!

Aya Katz: You have been on HubPages for five years now. That makes you one of the veteran members. How did you first discover HubPages, and what do you think of how the site has grown, developed and changed since you first joined?

SweetiePie: I discovered HubPages back in December of 2006 when I was searching for ways to make money by writing online.  Several years before that time period I knew I wanted to start writing a book and writing articles for magazines.  On a whim I had even sent in article pitches to several magazines, but I never heard anything back.  I wrote my first Hub in December of 2006, but it was not until December of 2007 that I rediscovered the site and began writing more frequently.

HubPages has become much bigger since I first started writing here, but it gave me a foundation to branch out and try other writing formats.  I always come back to HubPages because I enjoy publishing here from time to time, interacting with people on the site, and I tend to get more traffic here than I do elsewhere.  However, one thing I learned from interacting with other writers on HubPages is that it is imperative to have your own website if you want to explore a certain topic in more detail.  For instance, I enjoy writing about my daily adventures with art, photography, and walking, so I have several different blogs that deal with each of these subjects.

Another thing I learned from interacting with the people on HubPages that there are many talented writers who self-publish books and it is possible to do so if you want to explore this avenue.  It is something I am considering since I am currently working on a novel, and hearing about others’ experiences with self-publishing makes me realize this is attainable if you are willing to work hard and do your research.

You have several sites of your own that you run. For instance, you have one called The Pedestrian Life. Is it true that you prefer walking over driving as a means of transportation? If so, why?

I prefer walking over driving because honestly I was just way too nervous to be behind the wheel of a car on the congested Southern California freeways.  Back in 2000 I took numerous driving lessons, and I realized sitting in the driver’s seat made me anxious every time. After a while I decided I really had no desire to drive, so I decided walking is the best form of transportation for me.  Friends and family members were perplexed at first when I told them I was just going to be a pedestrian or take the bus for longer trips, and they insisted my life would be easier if I purchased a car.

After a while I grew weary of how almost anyone I ever met informed me that “everyone drives,” but I often wondered if they ever noticed all the people walking, too.  Walking is actually easier on the pocket book, and I became a pedestrian before it became the trendy thing to do.  There is a lot of talk about getting an electric car, but what about just not driving your car as much?  I realize most people want to drive, but the reality is a lot of people drive far more than they need to.

Basically I recommend becoming a pedestrian for people who want to save money, or for those who just want more exercise without paying for a gym membership.  Now when people ask why I do not drive, I am honest and say that I do not want to because I have discovered many benefits to being a pedestrian.  I have always found some excessive driving practices of Southern Californians to be a bit on the hilarious side anyway.  For instance, a lady scream at my dad once when he took a parking spot that she claimed was closest one to her gym, and she was upset she would have to walk a bit further to go work out.  What I found peculiar about someone complaining about a slightly longer trek to the gym is that the point of exercise is that you are supposed to move around.

Also, I have always wondered why some people insist on circling the parking lot just to find a parking spot at the front, and I have literally seen people fight over and flip each other off over these coveted spots.  My years of walking have made me expeditious, and I am able to walk across an entire shopping center parking lot in a shorter amount of time than it takes some people to circle it once in a car looking for the elusive front row parking space.  Since most pedestrians do not go around asking drivers why they prefer their cars, part of the reason I started my blog was to raise awareness that not everyone needs nor wants to fit in a certain box.  I know a Southern Californian wanting to walk rather than drive is a very perplexing thing, but this blog is a liberating way to let others know not everyone wants to do everything exactly the same way.

Growing up in a car culture made it a little daunting to go against the flow as it were, and I have literally had people tell me that I was not accomplishing much in life until I get a car.  My blog is a way to share with others you can save money, and be your own person, and you do not have to feel like a misfit just because you choose to walk somewhere, take a bike, or take public transportation.  I always hear people complaining about their car payments and insurance, and at least those are two things I have not had to worry about.

What kinds of arts and crafts do you like to do? How long have you been doing them? Where do you get the inspiration for your projects?

I started drawing and crafting from a very young age, and by the time I was in kindergarten these were already activities I enjoyed daily.  My favorite art projects consist of drawing Southern California inspired scenes with mountains, pine trees, and palm trees.  People do not realize the diversity of SoCal geography in that during the winter and spring we have snow-capped mountains that you can see in the Inland Valley with palm trees in the foreground.  I spend a lot of time drawing Southern California inspired scenes for pictures I paint, or colored pencil drawings that I frame.  Hawaiian themes also fit predominately into my artwork, which you can see on my various Hubs.  I also hand draw pictures on the front of card that I send to friends, or I print out my artwork on cards when I want to save time.

Other crafts I like consist of pyrography and handmade jewelry that I primarily make for myself, but I also give some of it to my niece.  Making your own jewelry is another creative way to save money, and I have been doing this on and off since I was old enough to manipulate beads.  My penchant for crafting inspired me to write Hubs about how to do so on a budget, and I have also been writing about budget crafting over on the Examiner since March of 2009.

You also run a site called Sweetbearies Art Workshop. What is that all about?

When I signed up for HubPages I decided on the name SweetiePie on a whim, but I have often wished I could change it to Sweetbearies since this is the pen-name I use on many websites.  Sweetbearies Art Workshop is supposed to be like Santa’s Workshop, but it is my version of it has art inspired gifts for people of all ages.  On this site you can purchase art inspired shirts, mugs, hats, plates, and other items I have designed with my artwork and photography.  Many of the items for sale make ideal Christmas and birthday gifts, hence the name Sweetbearies Art Workshop.

You have a Hub about kicking the soda habit. That is something I had to do, too. Tell me about your experience.

Several years ago I was very good about kicking the soda habit, but I must confess I am a little guilty of drinking a bit of Coca Cola lately.  However, I am now making a concerted effort not to buy it, and one thing I know from past experience is that it is very hard to lose weight if you are drinking soda.  I highly recommend sparkling water or flavored bubbly type waters for people who are trying to kick the soda habit.  Mostly I just liked the fizz of soda, but the funny thing is I only started drinking large amounts of it during my senior year of college because I wanted a caffeine jolt when I was working on a paper.  Once again I am making an effort not to drink soda, and the best way to avoid it is to just not put it in your shopping cart.  I am thinking about purchasing a club soda maker so I can make my own bubbly water, and I have seen some nice ones on Amazon.

You also seem to have a lot of experience at gardening in containers. Do you get to save on groceries doing that?

I love eating salad and making pizza, and I have saved money over the last couple of years by growing tomatoes, peppers, and a little bit of lettuce in containers.  There was an initial monetary investment in purchasing potting soil and containers, but this year I only had to buy the plants since I already had all those things.  Also, the amount of money I spent on buying containers, potting soil, and the plants over the last two years is probably not even a fourth of what it would have cost to buy organic salad ingredients at the store during an entire year, so I have definitely saved money.

Over the winter I enriched the soil in the containers with ground-up leaves that had fallen from a tree nearby, and I realized container garden is perfect for people with limited space like me.  I grew up in a family where they loved the garden, but my favorite aspect of gardening was tending the compost.  I used to love to make multiple trips to the compost just dig it up and mix it around, but I never realized how much I actually enjoyed gardening until I decided to start a container garden last spring.

You sometimes feature recipes. What is your all time favorite recipe?

My all time favorite recipe is making pizza, which is easy, but a bit time consuming because I choose to make my own dough.  I highly recommend making your own pizza because it is a great way to use up any leftover veggies and/or meat in your fridge.

You like to read and have featured book reviews in your publications. How do you find time to do so much reading? What kinds of books do you like to read?

From a young age I have always enjoyed the written word, so reading books is just second nature for me.  Since I do not pay for cable TV I find I have more time for reading, and I enjoy writing book reviews because it is like a virtual book club.  In the past I always wanted to join a book club, but never really had the time.  I have discovered that writing book reviews is just like being in a book club because everyone can share their opinions about a book, but they are free to do so at their leisure.  It also allows you to interact with people around the world who have read the same books you have, which is not something you could experience through a local book club.

Honestly, I do not exactly have a favorite type of book to read, but I have enjoyed reading biographies, history books, and fiction with international themes.  However, I do read a bit of everything, and I am always open to reading something new, as long as the story line is not overly violent.

What are your ultimate goals as a writer? How is HubPages helping you achieve them?

Ultimately I plan on publishing my novel, but at the present moment I content with working on my Hubs and blog posts.  Although being a published author is definitely a goal of mine, I have come to realize over time that by writing Hubs that I already have readers, and some have told me certain Hubs I have wrote helped them with a personal issue, or to discover a new hobby.  Connecting with new people and old friends on HubPages is definitely a way to stay motivated with my writing aspirations.

What one piece of advice would you give to a new person starting out on HubPages?

Write for yourself and not based on what others think you should explore.  It can be helpful to follow SEO experts and the trends if you want to get search engine traffic, but I have been most successful by just writing about topics I truly enjoy, and I discovered over the years that like-minded people have managed to find my Hubs and blogs posts by remaining true to me in the writing process.

 

Creative Hubbing: What to Expect

This week’s Online Writing Insider is inspired by Anish Patel, who sent in the following question:

What does HubPages think about fictional Hubs or other creative Hubs? (spoofs, funny hubs, short stories, poetry, comic strips etc.) Is it a good idea?

Of course publishing creative writing and art on HubPages is a great idea! We hosted the HubPatron of the Arts Contest last November just to highlight these types of Hubs, and we absolutely love the fiction, photos, art, and poetry people regularly share in our community.

That said, publishing creative content on HubPages is a very different experience from publishing informative Hubs. We cover these differences in this week’s podcast (The Gist of Creative Writing Online), though the gist is this:

  • HubPages is a great place to develop your skills and get feedback on your work
  • HubPages is a wonderful place to showcase your work and host an online portfolio
  • HubPages is a splendid place to build a following

BUT…

  • Creative Hubs don’t typically earn significant ad revenue
  • Creative Hubs won’t be found on their own- you have to share them and promote them if you want them to be read

With reasonable expectations, we think any creative type could have a blast on HubPages- plus make a bunch of meaningful connections! Thanks for the great question, Anish. 😀

The HubPages Cookbook Contest

Can you believe it’s May already? With the weather getting warmer and a variety of fresh foods in season, we’ve decided to celebrate with a new contest: the HubPages Cookbook Contest!

This June contest will revolve around use of our new Recipe Capsules which include dedicated capsules for recipe ratings, yields and cook time, ingredients, instructions, and nutrition. The Recipe Capsules help to make your Hubs easier to read, plus more attractive search engines (we posted a special blog post with more thorough explanation of how that works)

To enter, all you have to do is publish a recipe Hub using at least the Ratings Capsule (set for recipes) between June 1st at noon (Pacific Time) and June 28th at 11:59 am. By entering, you’ll have a chance to win one (or more!) of 62 prizes worth $3,600.

14 prizes will be awarded each week during the contest, and six prizes will be awarded at the end:

  • $1400 in $50 Daily Drawing Prizes awarded to one randomly-selected recipe entry every day of the contest
  • $1400 in $50 Weekly Prizes awarded to the seven best recipe Hubs each week
  • $100 Best Dessert Recipe Prize for the best dessert recipe Hub
  • $100 Best Drink Recipe Prize for the best drink recipe Hub
  • $100 Best Family Recipe Prize for the best family meal recipe Hub
  • $100 Best Healthy Recipe Prize for the best healthy recipe Hub
  • $100 Best Budget-Friendly Recipe Prize for the best budget-friendly recipe Hub
  • $300 Grand Prize for the best overall recipe Hub

To qualify for these prizes…

While there is a good chance that you might win one of our 28 Daily Drawing prizes randomly, you’ll be able to boost your chances of winning a Weekly or Final Prize if you consider our judging criteria while crafting your entries. Our judges – experts in the culinary writing field – will be looking carefully for:

  • How well the Recipe Capsules are used (see our Learning Center guide to Recipe Capsules)
  • The usefulness of the recipe (summarized steps followed up by detailed instructions with step-by-step photos, variations, demonstrations) (see our Learning Center guide to writing successful Recipe Hubs)
  • The overall value of the recipe (additional background or history associated with the dish or recipe, use of the Recipe Capsules to share detailed nutritional information and ingredient information, etc.)
  • The presence and quality of original photos and/or video
  • Whether the entry is on a long-tail, niche recipe that has not been extensively covered online
  • Whether the entry has a search-friendly title (mirrors common search terms)
  • Excellent writing (proper use of grammar, capitalization, etc.)
  • Uniqueness of the entry (that it is not copied or paraphrased from elsewhere online, full of details, examples, names, and figures)
  • Attractive formatting (avoidance of excessive link, eBay, or Amazon capsule clutter, excessive bolding or italics, and all-caps)
  • Judicious use of other relevant Capsules

We’ll be announcing our special judges as the contest launch approaches. In the meantime, get cooking! You can always start drafts of your entries now and publish them throughout the month of June.