Jamila Rowser is pretty unique in the blogging world - she’s a comic-book-lover, anime enthusiast and self-proclaimed geek. Jamila is the one-woman army behind Girl Gone Geek, her blog where she talks about what she’s “obsessed with in the geek realm.” That can range from sci-fi and fantasy to anime to video games, and everything in-between.
Jamila’s one of the panelists for our upcoming bitly breakfast event, where she’ll talk more about her story and the opportunities and experiences that can come from starting a blog.
We had a chance to chat with Jamila about Girl Gone Geek, her community and how she feels as a girl in a “boys’ club.”
How did Girl Gone Geek get started?
I started Girl Gone Geek in May 2010 because none of my friends liked the same geek stuff I did. I wanted to talk about all the things I’m obsessed with that falls in the geek realm - comics, anime, sci-fi/fantasy stuff. It’s a big part of my life and I wanted to write about what I’m most passionate about.
I didn’t think [the blog] would become what it has - I set it up just thinking some people will read it and maybe I could make some Internet friends to tweet about geek things with. Slowly, it started to become a bigger thing than I had ever imagined and that’s been a really great surprise.
What are some daily responsibilities being the head of Girl Gone Geek?
I check my blog every day. I approve any comments, update any widgets, reply to emails. Because I work, the blogging system that works for me is I’ll sit down on the weekend, answer blog emails, write my posts up and schedule them to be posted throughout the week. It’s the best system for me, to do all [the writing and editing] in one day and manage it when the posts come out.
I’m obsessed with Twitter, since that’s where most of my blog community is. Twitter is how I interact with my community and how I like to keep in contact with them. Once [link] shorteners became important, bitly was the first one I saw people use.
When I tweet out a post or something else related to my blog, I’ll check the stats on bitly to see how many clicks I got. I’ll be like, “Oh, when I tweeted about Doctor Who my community really liked that, so maybe I’ll continue to do that.” It gives me the stats on what people are interested in, so I’ll use that to think about what kind of content to put out.
What advice would you give to other bloggers?
Make sure it never feels like a job. The things I blog about are things that I love, so it’s always fun for me to do. It’s never like “Ugh, I have to blog,” it’s more like “I get to talk about something I’m passionate about.” No matter how busy I get, it doesn’t bother me and it never feels like a burden.
That shows in your writing - if you’re truly passionate or if you’re blogging to blog. It’s also what keeps people blogging for a long time, because it’s not going to last if it’s not something you’re passionate about.
I also don’t like when bloggers or people feel like they can’t respond to their community or fans at all. My blog can get really personal sometimes, so I treat my community like they are my Internet friends. I reply to pretty much everyone who talks to me - I try to respond to every comment on Facebook or tweet on Twitter. I’m not just pushing out my content, I want us to talk about these things together. I don’t want it to be a one-way conversation. I believe in engaging with your community and caring about what they think.
What exciting things have you done as part of Girl Gone Geek?
Neil Gaiman is an author that I love. I did a blog post about people who got tattoos of his work and he retweeted me and wrote “cool” or something like that. I was freaking out. It broke my blog for a little bit and to this day it’s the most views I’ve gotten in one day - it was really cool.
I tweeted Scott Snyder, the author of Batman, about reading his comics. He responded to me, checked out my blog and said he liked it! I went to New York ComicCon in 2012 and he recognized me out on the convention floor and said “I know you. Hey Jamila!”
In my head, I was freaking out thinking “You know me?! You write Batman!” But I kept my composure on the outside as best as I could. It was such a great moment.
In April, I was on a panel about women in comics. This father and his teenage daughter came up to me after the panel and said the daughter is a huge fan of my blog and I’m a big role model to her. I just write about what I love, like comics, anime and games, so I would never expect someone else to see me as a role model. I was extremely honored and so happy, I was almost brought to tears.
One of the big things for me is that in the geek world, it’s still sort-of a “boys’ club,” so creating a space where girls and women don’t feel left out is important. To this day, people young and old are still teased about being a geek and often feel like outcasts. It hurts my heart to know that still happens, so I try to fight that by actively showing how proud I am to be passionate about these topics. I hope that I’m able to bring comfort to others by showing them there are more people out there like them. That’s what had happened with that young girl [at the panel]. That’s what I blog for - moments like that.
Jamila created a bundle just for us - take a look at some of her favorite links from across the web here.
Interested in hearing more from Jamila? Come join us on May 31 at bitly HQ for a breakfast and panel discussion on what your blog can do for you. Featuring Jamila Rowser of Girl Gone Geek, Dave Gustav of Bowery Boogie, Hide Harashima of Dumbo NYC and Brandon Gorrell of Thought Catalog. Space is limited, so register here!7 months ago