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Interviews with Big Bloggers

Interview with Meghan Bassett of Buried Truths

No Comments 29 May 2012

Happy Tuesday, guys! This post is a little belated thanks to the three day weekend and the fact that I’m in the tight grip of moving/post-being-sick hell, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. In fact, I’m so thrilled to share this interview with you guys. Meghan Bassett is one of my best friends, who puts up with all of my nonsense in real life, and has turned into an absolutely brilliant blogger. Of all of the newbie bloggers I meet and work with (of which there are many) she has one of the most intense natural talents I’ve ever seen. Even Chase, my boyfriend, is frequently found on her personal blog searching through her recipes. She has a gift.

After the astounding success of her personal blog, Time for Renewal, Meghan decided to launch a very sophisticated sister site based on her graduate work and the important trafficking related issues called Buried Truths. This site came out, if I do say so myself, incredibly. It’s one of my favorite sites I’ve ever been a part of (I was here for questions as she built it) and I’m so excited to present it to you guys. So now, without further ado, here is Meghan!

1. Your first blog, A Time for Renewal, has really turned into quite the culinary adventure. Explain to me the premise of your personal blog and how it has evolved into what it is now.

Time for Renewal has been an unbelievable journey since I started it in January 2012. When I started the blog, I was going through a bit of a hard time. I was deep in the throws of a quarter-century crisis (similar to a mid-life crisis but without the wrinkles). I was feeling lost and despite having earned my masters degree last year, I felt like I lost my direction. Typical post-college issues I suppose. One particularly lazy Sunday I came across one of your posts on MsMorphosis that described how starting a blog changed your life. It really struck a chord with me and I decided to accept the challenge and start writing.

The whole idea of Time for Renewal is to take time to focus on myself. I know that sounds a little selfish, but when you find yourself in your mid-20s and you feel like you are already losing touch with yourself, it’s time to slow down and figure out where you got off track.

As I continued to blog, I rediscovered my two major loves in life – writing and food. As time goes by, food has certainly begun to take a front seat. The food portion of Time for Renewal started with the goal of trying one new recipe a week since I am not a great cook and my husband was starting to get sick of being the only one making dinner every night. Now the goal is trying two new recipes a week and I am really starting to challenge myself with the recipes I try (Maple Bacon Ice Cream or cooking my very first steak being the most recent accomplishments). I even find myself trying random recipes for the hell of it; Friday night I had the overwhelming desire to bake something so I whipped up a batch of meringues. Just so you know, I have NEVER been that girl before. Though it has only been a few months since I began the blog, it has already changed my life in ways I never thought possible. I can’t wait to see where the road leads me from here!

2. So in this experience of starting your first blog, what has been the most exciting part? What’s been the most challenging?

That’s a tough one! Particularly because there have been so many exciting aspects to starting my first blog. When I first started the blog, I had absolutely no expectations. I was a newbie to the blogging world and I had no idea the depth of social media involved with the online community. Time for Renewal started as a journey with no destination. All I knew when I started was that I wanted to reconnect with myself and this was the best way I could think to start. As I began to write and develop the site, it became, for lack of better words, a part of me. There is this amazing sense of liberation that comes with putting yourself and all your deep, personal thoughts out into the blogosphere. Exciting doesn’t even begin to encompass how it feels to start my first blog. It literally is learning a whole new set of skills and becoming a part of a community.

To be honest, the personal blog has not presented any extreme challenges. I fell into this blog and ever since it has felt completely natural. I suppose if I had to narrow it down, the most challenging part of Time for Renewal has been picking two recipes to feature each week. I am a bit of a recipe hoarder so it is always a challenge to narrow down my thousands of recipes to only a couple a week. I have a feeling I won’t be able to limit it to two recipes a week for much longer, especially since Pinterest is severely aiding my recipe addiction.

3. Then this brings us to Buried Truths, your latest creation. What’s Buried Truths about? Why did you decide to make it a separate site from Time for Renewal?

Buried Truths is a site dedicated to all issues related to trafficking. When I say all trafficking-related issues, I am talking about sex trafficking, labor trafficking, body parts trafficking, drug trafficking, and weapons trafficking. In my experience, there is a huge lack of knowledge in this area. Many people don’t realize that these issues are closer than they think, often occurring in their own backyards. In my opinion, it is important for the public to be well-informed. Without educating people on these topics, change can never occur.

Making Buried Truths separate from Time for Renewal was an easy decision for me. Time for Renewal is very personal and very much focused on me and my life. Buried Truths, on the other hand, is focused on an area which I am extremely passionate about advocating change for. The site to me is more of a professional blog where I can utilize my educational background, raise awareness, and hopefully help instigate change.

4. What can we look forward to seeing as Buried Truths grows and evolves? What are your plans for the site?

My ultimate goal for Buried Truths is for the site to become a main resource for trafficking news. In my experience, there are not many sites which fit this mold. I would love to become known as an expert in the field, providing up to date news, interviews with other experts in each area of trafficking, and ways for everyone to get involved to bring about change.

My plans for the site are fairly simple – getting people involved and raising awareness. I sincerely believe the more people know, the more possibility there is for change to occur in the world. I have always been dedicated to international trafficking issues and by sharing everything I can about the world of trafficking, I feel like I am putting my undergraduate and graduate degrees to good use. :) On a more serious note, I feel that I am finally giving something back to the non-profit community, even if it is simply raising awareness.

5. What have been your largest obstacles in building Buried Truths? What advice would you give to someone building a website for the first time?

There were several obstacles when it came to building Buried Truths… As someone who is extremely inexperienced in HTML and building sites, technical errors were one of my biggest nightmares. I remember one night I was fixing a very minor issue and in my attempts to fix the issue, I managed to make my site disappear. I was left in a panic for the rest of the evening until it got fixed. Thankfully I was lucky enough to have a mentor (ehem, I believe you know the lovely Jen?) who could help me through the crisis. Seriously, without you I am pretty sure my head would have imploded. Jen interjects: awwwww :) well, to be fair, we had Chase’s help! It all takes a village, especially in web-world.

The biggest obstacle for me was fear. When I started working on the site I was so excited and as I got closer to launching the site, the excitement grew but fear grew with it. I found myself wondering “what if no one cares?” and “what if I do all this work and no one sees the site?” Then I started to fear the critics out there who might not like my perspective on trafficking topics. Overcoming my fear was the biggest accomplishment in this whole process. I could have thrown my hands up and simply stopped at any point. No one really knew about the site and no one would hold me accountable. The only person who would know I gave up would be me. I realized I would have to live with that choice and that was unacceptable. I told my fears to take a hike, kept my chin up (despite the technical errors which followed), and stayed true to one of my favorite quotes from Nikki Giovanni – “A lot of people refuse to do things because they don’t want to go naked, don’t want to go without a guarantee. But that’s what’s got to happen. You go naked until you die.” So I went naked. It wasn’t the easy choice, but I will never regret it.

For someone building a website for the first time, the best advice I can give is when things get tough, take a deep breath and step back for a moment. There are times where things will get a little overwhelming. You might want to give up and you might feel like the work is not worth it. These are the moments when you need to take a deep breath, take a step back, and just give it a minute. It is so easy to feel like building your own site is a daunting task. Yet if you have a vision and you are dedicated, it will all come together. And if you have a mentor in the blogging world, TAKE ADVANTAGE of that connection. I can’t emphasize that enough. It makes all the difference in the world. If you don’t have a mentor, make connections and find a consultant to help if you are feeling lost.

6.You wrote a fantastic blog post on Time for Renewal (which I republished here) about the fear of starting a new blog. If someone is reading this and is nervous about the whole process, what advice would you give to them?

Thank you so much! That post was a real look into my heart and soul; I have to say it was probably one of the hardest posts to publish since it was so personal.

If anyone is considering starting a blog and are having reservations, the best way to figure out whether blogging is for you is to just start writing. From experience, that’s the best advice I can give. As soon as you start writing, you will know whether this is something you want to do. For me, it was an instantaneous connection. I didn’t have a site thought out and I didn’t have a goal in mind, but after publishing my first couple posts I was hooked. After that, the passion for blogging was all that mattered. As long as you have the passion, you will find your direction and your site will morph into exactly what you want. So start writing! If you love it, then keep going despite any fears that may be lingering in the back of your head. Life is too short to not do something based on fear. Like I said before, just go naked. If it doesn’t work out, it’ll always be an amazing story to tell.


Want More?

Visit Meghan Online:

time for renewal

buried truths trafficking


time for renewal facebook



How to Blog

TL;DR – 3 Reasons Why No One Wants to Read Your Blog Posts

3 Comments 16 May 2012


When I first started blogging, I was knee-deep in my over-caffeinated college education. I took the writing I was doing for class, or the ideas that my teachers didn’t want to read, and turned them into blog posts.

They were long.

They were dense.

They were brilliant, if I do say so myself.

But goddamnit, they were boring.

When I started studying with Jon Morrow I learned that good blog writing isn’t the same as good writing anywhere else. Academic writing is different than legal writing, poetry is different than business plans, and novelists are singing a different tune than grant writers.

Somewhere along the course of my blogging career I learned that my dense academic writing wasn’t doing me any favors.

It was probably somewhere around the same time that I realized my traffic rankings were never breaking the double digits, and my mom had stopped bothering to even pretend to read.

Exhausted from all of my hard work, I decided to take a step back and take the intensity out of my content. I started writing more like I was talking to a friend and less like I was talking to a professor. More like “Jen’s had three glasses of wine and isn’t afraid to make someone mad” and less like “this blog is going to please everyone and I’m going to instantly become recognizable for my brilliance.”


Lesson #1: Write Like Your Most Fun and Engaging Self, Not Your Smartest Self

Most people, when trying to sound like their smartest self, come off like an asshole.

You know when you go on a date and the other person is just trying way too hard? How you never want to go out with them again? How they end up looking more like a needy insecure looser than someone that’s much more aloof and far less desperate? Well, don’t be that guy.

Do you know what will prove that you’re smart?

Making interesting points. Captivating people’s attention. Proper use of grammar (for the love of God, check your “its/it’s” and “you’re/your” and “to/too” before you press “Publish”). These things alone will set you above 99% of published content on the internet.

Do you know what will make people come back to your blog?

Being engaging. Being humble. Admitting what you don’t know (and being passionate with what you do know). Having character. Being relevant. Teaching your readers something useful that they want to know (not just that you want to talk about).

Blogging, my friends, is a lot like life in this way. Have real value, have grace and humility, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, and don’t be arrogant. Oh, and know your grammar.


Lesson #2: TL;DR* – Break Up Text with Sub-headers

One of the biggest lessons newbies mess up (and I still fail to do myself, sometimes) is break up text visually.

Internet eyes are skimming and wandering eyes. They’re like the boyfriend that’s always looking to see “what else is out there.” They are not committed people, my friend.

So, if you had a boyfriend with a wandering eye, would you sit down and explain to him how wonderful you are to convince him to pay attention? No, you’d put on a skimpy dress and walk around like he doesn’t exist. Much more effective.

Similarly, if you try and get someone’s attention by putting a big dense block of text on the page, they can’t skim it, so they lose interest and wander off elsewhere.

But, if you break up the text with catchy little subheads they are able to skim, they get caught up in the buzzy little titles, and are forced to read to see what it is your talking about.

For instance, tell me which of these pages you’d rather read:

Effective Subheaders for Bloggers

No subheaders. Just a lot of Jen. 

Effective Subheaders for Bloggers

Still a lot of Jen, but now elegantly divided up with little inner teaser titles (aka, sub-headers)

The efficacy of sub-headers when looking at a piece of text is one of the many reasons list posts are so effective. For instance, one of my most popular posts is the eloquent piece “7 Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath” (apparently I’m not the only one interested in these things). One of the reasons I believe it’s so effective, though, is because of its visual appeal and intrigue:

Sub-headers and list posts for bloggers

Lesson #3: Let Multimedia Spice Up Your Life

One of the coolest parts of producing content online is that you can embed images, audio, and video anywhere you like.

We all learned the “show don’t tell” philosophy in elementary school, and now we can take that to a whole other level.

If you’re trying to explain how to do something but one step is particularly technical, make a short YouTube video demonstrating it and embed it in your post.

Draw diagrams. Doodle. Draw pictures.

One person who has mastered this is Austin Kleon, who I interviewed here on Blogging Fearlessly for his book Steal Like an Artist. We can also learn from web comics like The Loading Artist or Hyperbole and a Half.

The message is, there are many ways to illustrate ideas and concepts – the more mediums you’re able to throw in there the more stimulating your blog post will be for the reader, and the more likely your message is to resonate and make an impact.

At the end of the day, make content that’s fun to read. The more you can provide real value and be entertaining, the more likely people are to come back and want more. x

*TL;DR = “Too long; didn’t read.” When Chase and I first started dating he said this about all of my blog posts. He later learned that if he wanted a girlfriend that that acronym could no longer be a part of our relationship internet messaging dialogue.

Interviews with Big Bloggers

Interview with Psychology & Body Image Writer, PsychCentral’s Margarita Tartakovsky

6 Comments 19 March 2012

Today’s interview is with with Margarita Tartakovsky, an associate editor of PsychCentral, as well as the creator, author, and curator of PsychCentral’s body image blog “Weightless.” Weightless is a blog right after my own heart, covering concepts ranging from weight, to dieting, disordered eating, the culture of thinness, eating disorders, and emotional eating. From topics like “5 Things Not To Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder” to weekly Body Image Boosters, anyone that has struggled with food or their body will undoubtedly find comfort and wisdom in Margarita’s writing.

There were a few reasons I wanted to talk to Margarita here on Blogging Fearlessly. First of all, I’ve been following her for a long time and absolutely love her content. She produces a TON of it, so as a writer I’m fascinated by her productivity and how prolific she is. More than anything, though, Margarita has taken my two main interests in life (psychology and writing) and turned them into a real, adult career – one, I might add, that allows her to be creative, dictate her own schedule, and work from home. Continue Reading


She has a rare skill of communicating highly intellectual subject matters known to be abstruse so others can understand and gain knowledge. — Braun Salazar