Featured Blogger: Wendy Atterberry of DearWendy
Blogger Wendy Atterberry is the friend that everyone has needed at one point or another. On her blog DearWendy, she provides thoughtful and honest relationship advice. Wendy has the broader perspective and insight that a close friend just may be too close to properly give. Wendy responds to readers’ questions in addition to posting advice inspired by issues and trends in the news. In conjunction with reading her blog, fans can follow her on Twitter and Facebook!
A: I started a personal blog called “City Wendy in the Windy City” back in 2004 at the urging of my then-boyfriend, who was a blogger himself and thought the writing outlet would be good for me. I changed the name of that blog to just “City Wendy” a few years later when I moved to New York. Shortly after that move, I began blogging professionally, first at Nerve.com, and then at TheFrisky.com, where I started my advice column, “Dear Wendy” in 2009. In January of 2011, the column got a new home when I launched my own blog of the same name. I now publish my advice columns, as well as other relationship-themed content on DearWendy.com several times a day.
Q: How do you think your blog stands out amongst other advice blogs?
A: I have a “tough love” approach in my advice-giving that’s maybe a little less touchy-feely than some other advice blogs out there. That’s not to say I’m not compassionate, but I try to tell people what I think they need to hear and not necessarily what they may want to hear. I don’t mince words. And the one thing that perhaps sets me apart the most is the active community on my site — it’s not unusual for a column to get 100-200 comments from readers with a range of perspectives and additional insight and advice. I also frequently post updates from previous advice-seekers letting us know whether they followed the advice given and how they’re doing today. I think that further fosters a sense of community and reminds us that our words — both mine and the readers’ — are making a real difference in people’s lives.
Q: What does your family think of your blogging?
A: They love it. My parents, like most parents, love to brag about their kids, and my sister is always happy to tell her friends and co-workers about my column.
Q: What experiences do you draw from to answer so many varying questions?
A: My own experiences, for sure, but also the experiences of my friends, family, and just about anyone who has ever shared a personal story with me. I’m a great listener and have collected a lot of relationship stories from a range of perspectives and a variety of outcomes.
Q: How much time daily do you spend blogging?
A: I probably spend about two to three hours each day doing actual writing. But I also spend time reading letters — I get anywhere from 5-8 each day — answering some of them privately, promoting my site on social media networks and other websites, moderating comments, brainstorming content ideas, and scouring the news for relationships stories and essays to comment on.
Q: How many times have you redesigned your blog since it started?
A: Since it’s still relatively new, the site has not had a major redesign yet. I do, however, change up the banner during special occasions.
Q: How many reader questions do you receive weekly?
A: Anywhere from about 35-50.
Q: What joys did you not expect when you started blogging? What pains?
A: I never expected to develop such an affinity for the readers. I really respect their opinions and comments and have come to see them as a vital part of the site. Their participation really is at least 50% of what makes the site successful. I can’t say there have been too many unexpected pains. There are the occasional hurtful comments or people who don’t like the advice I’ve given, but none of that has been surprising. I’m actually surprised, given the amount of readers there are, that there hasn’t been more negativity. But I’m definitely not complaining!
Q: What’s something your readers don’t know about you?
A: I’m deathly afraid of small spaces.
Q: What’s been your favorite question to answer on your blog so far?
A: I can’t pick just one question, but my favorite subject to tackle is anything wedding-related. That’s been a real surprise to me since I’m actually not much of a wedding person and couldn’t wait to be done planning my own wedding. But the wedding-related questions always generate the most reader feedback and get people really riled up, so I enjoy that aspect. I’ve also learned, though answering wedding questions, that I’m a lot more into etiquette and social rules than I thought I was. Answering questions about wedding etiquette has given me a chance to flex that muscle a little.
I’m also very proud of any questions where I feel like I’ve been able to make a real difference in people’s lives. There was one not too long ago from a woman whose boyfriend was beating her. I posted her letter and later that day she wrote to me to tell me that my advice and the kind words from readers had convinced her to seek help at a women’s shelter and that, as hard as she knew it would be, she’d decided to leave her boyfriend. Those aren’t necessarily the kinds of letters that get the most traffic or generate the most comments, but they’re rewarding to answer when I feel like I have been of some help, in any small way, to someone who really needs it.
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