Your name: Nathaniel Parrales
Name of your blog: Given To Words
Blog URL: www.giventowords.blogspot.com
Blog social media handles:
- Bloglovin’: N/A
- Facebook: I just use my personal profile right now for any blog promotion.
- Twitter: @given_to_words
- Instagram: @given_to_words
- Pinterest: N/A
Let’s get to know YOU:
Tell us a little bit about yourself (mini bio):
I am a senior in high school living in Dallas, Texas for the next few months until I move to Springfield, Missouri to pursue a music degree at Evangel University. While music is my primary focus now, writing was my first love. Besides being a blogger, I have multiple years of experience with news writing, novel writing (not yet published), as well as all categories covered by far too many English classes. I am also a passionate musician, dedicated to bring the same authenticity and encouragement in my music that I hope comes through in my blog. I love God and people and love to hear the stories of what happens when the two meet. My blog is my story, a journey through this crazy mess called life.
What do you do outside of blogging (think school or work):
By the time this is posted, I will be attending Evangel University pursuing a degree in Worship Leadership. I intend to be fully immersed in all musical activities, from choirs and orchestras to musical theatre, all the while creating my own music and sharing it with the world.
What do you like to do on your down time?
On any given day that I have down time, you are likely to find me in one of two places. Either I am at my computer writing, be it for my blog, a novel, or something else, or I am shut in my room with my guitar and keyboard practicing and creating (hopefully) beautiful music.
Blog niche: Spiritual/lifestyle. I like to branch out here and there, see what really gets people’s attention.
What’s the purpose of your blog?
There are so many things I want to say to the world and yet so little time and space to do so. My blog helps me get those words out. I want to provide my readers a place where they can read something real and relatable. They can find my stories and my musings in a way that encourages and challenges them in their walks of faith. I am also using this blog to take action on two issues I am passionate about: promoting adoption and fighting human trafficking.
Who’s your target?
Anyone who will listen! Currently, I have a deep desire to minister to my peers, other teenagers facing the same world I’m facing. I don’t keep this blog for myself; I keep for the sake of those who may need to hear something I have said. If they will read it, I will write for them.
What’s the best way for your audience to contact you?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I get notifications sent directly to my phone, and this email was created specifically for all writing-related activities, so I won’t lose your message amidst other things. I love talking to people, so don’t hesitate to shoot me a message!
How would you describe your blogging style?
Depends on the day. One thing is for sure, I am a very straightforward communicator in general. While I may watch my exact language around a sensitive topic, I do my best to tell things how they are. It is part of a commitment I have made to be real and relatable anytime I’m putting myself out there, be it through music or writing.
When did you start blogging?
My first post was published on September 18, 2015. At that time, my blog was actually called Uncensored Christianity. I have made a lot of changes to the site since then, and I am still finding new ways to improve it.
What inspired you to start blogging?
I was inspired by the example of one of my friends, Amanda (you’ll hear that name a lot anytime I’m talking about my writing). A university journalist, established blogger, and self-published poet, her passion for writing in its many forms is exciting to see. Amanda helped me discover my love for writing long before I ever considered starting a blog, but when I did, it was also inspired by her example.
What’s the biggest change in your life since you started blogging?
I’m always on a spiritual journey, but things have really changed since I wrote that first post. I have faced a great deal of struggles concerning my sincerity and commitment to the faith. On this side, I am fully committed to God with complete assurance of my salvation found only in Him. It’s an ongoing process in my life. Every day, God is changing something else about me.
- Short term: I am always looking for new ways to increase my blog traffic. I would also like to come up with a few themes/series that I can write about, breaking the weekly randomness. Lastly, if I haven’t by the time this is posted, I want to get my blog on a custom domain. I am just waiting for enough blog traffic to justify that kind of investment.
- Long term: I want this blog to go hand-in-hand with my music career, another way for people to connect with me. I will continue to be real and relatable in my writing, introducing people to God through my stories. I cannot envision exactly what this connection between my writing and my music will look like in the long run, but the adventure of finding out is just part of the fun.
If you could start blogging all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have started slower. I rushed into things creating a blog on the first server that came to mind and writing with no plans. If I had it to do again I would have slowed down and planned things out. Deciding what I my intentions were early on would have saved me a lot of time changing things later on.
How do you motivate yourself to continue blogging?
I constantly remind myself why I have taken up blogging. If this was only for me, I would quickly find excuses to let it fall to the wayside. That I am doing it for other people, and ultimately for God’s glory, pushes me through those mundane moments when I can’t think of a topic or don’t feel like writing. I simply have to remind myself that this isn’t just a hobby, it’s a calling.
What attributes has helped you become successful blogger?
I am big on structure and consistency, and people look for that in a blog. Sure, they want to be surprised occasionally and read something new and exciting, but they want a reliable author. I am skilled at keeping a professional style about me and my blog while also being a real person on the same level as my readers, because after all, we’re all trying to figure out the same mysteries of life here.
How have you tried to increase your blog traffic? Which way has been the most successful?
Social media is my best friend. I have used my accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ to promote my blog and share new posts. I even created separate accounts on Twitter and Instagram for writing purposes as I started to buckle down and get more serious about my writing. So far, I’m not sure what has worked. I get the most traffic from Facebook, but getting people to subscribe and not just wait for the next post shared on social media is the trick I have yet to figure out.
What’s your favorite social media platform and why?
I have always been most comfortable using Facebook. I have the largest reach there, and Facebook groups are life-savers for me as a writer.
Most of your traffic comes from which social media platform?
What’s your favorite blogging group on Facebook?
Blogging 101! It’s how I connected with Michelle, and it’s how I first began to expand my reading list. This is definitely the place to be for bloggers at any level.
Do you have a freebie for your readers? If so, what is it? Do we need to subscribe to receive it?
I have no freebies at the time of filling out this questionnaire. Between writing and music, I hope to eventually have merchandise to sell and then I can start giving out free stuff.
What’s your greatest win so far with blogging?
My writing style has improved drastically with a combination of blogging and journaling regularly. My first blog post wasn’t poorly written, but if you read it, you’ll see a drastic difference between it and my most recent post. As they say, the only way to get better at writing is to keep writing!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far with blogging?
I have learned that no one reads my social media. Just kidding 😉 I think being a blogger has taught me to think differently about the things that happen in my everyday life. The best way to keep from being topic-starved is to find something interesting in your daily life and turn into a beautiful life lesson post. You have to think outside the box as blogger, more than you ever have before. It’s amazing the things you learn about the world and yourself as you develop a writer’s mind.
Has blogging surprised you in any way? If so, how?
I haven’t really come across any incredibly surprising things. Though I’ve found plenty of new things to learn, blogging has (so far) met my expectations.
How often do you publish a post?
Every week, normally on Saturdays.
Have you had writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I ask my friends who also blog what I should write about. I get some unique ideas this way, things that stretch my limits and help me improve my writing.
Do you have a blogging schedule? Daily theme? Please share!
Right now, I just have a new post each weekend. Sometimes I will do a Thursday Special. This is usually reserved for reviews or time-sensitive topics.
Have you guest posted for someone? No, I have not.
- For whom?
- Blog URL:
Do you accept guest posts? If yes, tell us about it!
Not yet. I’m not big enough to attract guest writers.
Have you made money from blogging? If so, how?
How long had you been blogging before you made any money?
Who’s your favorite blogger before you started blogging and why? (Name and blog URL)
My favorite blogger has always been my friend, Amanda (told you I’d mention her a lot). She has provided so much of the inspiration and encouragement I’ve needed to get my writing career going. When you read her words, you will find someone who is real and unafraid to let the world see her as she is. I greatly admire and respect that characteristic of hers.
- Blog Name: Not To Be Cliché
- URL: www.nottobecliche.com
Who’s your favorite blogger now and why? (Name and blog URL)
I doubt the day will ever come when Amanda ceases to be my favorite blogger.
What type of blogs are you interested in reading and why?
I love the spiritual/lifestyle combination as I feel it enables the author to be incredibly real. Our life stories were meant to be shared in order to inspire other people, and seeing people’s lives from their own perspective is very special to me.
List the top 5 blogs you are reading currently: (Names and blog URLs)
In no particular order:
- Not To Be Cliché www.nottobecliche.com
- Arbitrary Existence www.arbitraryexistence.wordpress.com
- CoffeeHeartMind www.coffeeheartmind.com
- Adela Just www.adelajust.wordpress.com
- Esquire Unspoken www.esquireunspoken.wordpress.com
Give advice to someone who wants to start blogging:
It’s my one regret; don’t let it be yours. Don’t get excited and rush into things without a plan! Take your time. Do your research. Decide up front what you want your niche to be, who your target audience is, and how you want to run things. Changing things is perfectly acceptable, but the best change is change made to improve what you’re already doing rather than making changes because you still haven’t figured out what you want to do.
Tell us one thing your readers don’t know about you:
I know every word to every song from Frozen, and I don’t care how much you hate me for it. More recently, though, I fell in love with Les Miserables. Give me a little more time, and I’m sure I’ll report back how I have the whole movie memorized.
Anything else you’d like to share with us? Go for it!!!
As I have said, my blog is for the readers. This means that my topics are inspired by my readers. I am always looking for suggestions to research and questions to answers. I hope that those who read this post will have some questions that I can answer and ideas I can pursue!
Leave a message for your readers:
Thank you for sticking with me as I got going. I know it has been a crazy road, but it’s been an exciting one. God has done great things in this blog’s first nearly two years of existence, and I can’t wait to see what else He has in store.