A reader wanted to ask me the following questions about writing, travel, motivation, and more, so I decided to set time aside and give them thoughtful answers. As I was going through, I thought they would be fun enough to publish as a blog (or Myspace) post! Enjoy!
1. Why did you start your blog?
My friend gave me ethanrenoe.com for my 18th birthday and it has been a slow evolution to what it is today. I began writing seriously on it in 2012, whenever I felt inspired. I began writing weekly after the viral video in 2015, and now I probably publish between 3-7 posts per week. (Lately I’ve been slacking because of the upcoming book though)
2. What motivates you to keep posting?
Being a 4w3 on the Enneagram. Also being an external processor and having an undying urge to create things. It’s more of an addiction than an accomplishment.
3. Did you have any goals or expectations for where your blog would lead you?
Wealth, fame, book deals. Basically the goal of every megachurch pastor in America.
4. How long did it take to establish your brand?
I don’t have a brand? I’m too diverse and ADD in my interests.
5. How much time do you spend on your blog?
1-2 hours a day
6. Are you happy with WordPress or would you recommend a different host?
7. Do you have a planned schedule for your blog?
8. Have you ever regretted posting something?
Nope. But I regret how dumb some people’ interpretations can be.
9. How has sharing your thoughts via an online platform changed your life?
I’m $38 richer. Also the meaningful emails people send about how my writing has helped them in some way, even though I have no idea who they are. Those make it worth it.
10. How has your blog impacted your relationships? Friendships?
Only once when I was like 22 I published something I shouldn’t have about this girl’s dad being mean to her and he found it. It was meant to highlight the love of the Father, and I didn’t use names or anything, but he could still tell. Also, some women don’t want to date me after reading one blog post or another (Whether it’s my beliefs on sex or homosexuality, being famous, or having dated so many women in the past…).
11. Has blogging made you a better communicator?
Yes, practice makes perfect. There is no substitute.
12. Do you find blogging to be a good way to connect with others or is it isolating?
Yes! So much connection. That’s also why I usually write in coffee shops when they’re open.
13. How has posting about difficult topics and personal sin helped you grow as a person?
The stakes are higher, I would say, for messing up in the future. Just by being a hypocrite. But it also seems to connect with other people who–coincidentally–are also sinful.
14. What is your favorite part of blogging?
Being creative with it. For instance, with my most recent 6-part series, I wanted to communicate real thoughts I’ve been having about the world via fiction rather than my usual nonfictional prose. The best part about my blog title be my name is that I don’t have any restraints or limitations on themes or topics–it’s just whatever Ethan Renoe wants to write.
15. What is the most difficult part of blogging for you?
Reining in the oversharing, which is my tendency. Also taking harsh criticism or mean comments–I’m probably more sensitive than I let off. Also just the frustrating people who think they know more than me because they “read a Francis Chan book on this topic once.” lol
16. Is there anything about blogging you hate?
17. What kind of responses do you get on your posts?
All kinds, depends on the topic. I’d say the majority is encouraging and the rest is split 50/50 between polite disagreements and just plain dumb critiques or wild claims (Especially if I so much as mention the T-R-U-M-P word).
18. How do you deal with negative feedback?
Ignore it and move on. My dad said “There is so much crap on the internet and it’s easy to throw.” I only reply if I know them personally, and want to maintain that relationship. Then I do so OVERLY loving and gently.
19. Has blogging opened any opportunities for you as far as experiences?
Yes, plenty of speaking opportunities and cool invitations! Plus contributing to magazines and other publications.
20. What are some things you wished you knew about blogging before you started?
Well, if I had had my site set up properly before the viral video, I’d be a millionaire right now. I had NO advertisement for my book (only had one at the time) and no means of inbound marketing or advertisement. I’ve learned a lot since then, both technical things, like how to have the site set up for the best possible returns, and just behavioral things, like posting more often than not, how to respond to mean comments (just don’t), etc. I’ve begun doing consulting for this sort of thing now… 😉
21. What topics do people seem the most interested in (in a good way or a bad way)?
Sex, dating, porn, masturbation, virginity, sex.
22. What other blogs would you suggest I follow?
I don’t really follow any blogs regularly, I read books instead (But don’t stop following my blog…..buy my books too).
23. What’s your favorite color?
24. Do you prefer writing books or writing for your blog?
Ooooh, I can’t say. One is my right arm and one is my left. I love having a big project to work on over months, but also love blasting out a solid 1,000-word thought in an hour too.
25. Have you done any races like a marathon? Are there any you would suggest?
My best friend Dave and I ran the Bolder Boulder for like 5 years in a row.
26. Which one of your books is your favorite and why?
Time Kills All Things because it’s so fat (600 pages). The New Lonely as far as a cohesive thought put into a book (and it’s the best-selling, so others like it as well). The upcoming one, Bad Timing, I am excited for because it’ll be the most marketable since TNL, as people love reading dating stories and advice. I need to redo the cover of Now Let Me Find A Stopping Place, but that one holds a sweet spot in my heart, since it’s actual personal poems from 10 years of my life, and the other two (The Tall People and Leaving Weather) also hold sweet spots in my heart but they’re not GREAT, you know? I need to redo the cover of Tall People too because people think it looks like he’s masturbating.
27. What kinds of things would you recommend doing in Colorado?
Leaving. It’s overcrowded and the ocean is better.
28. What has been your favorite trip?
I’m still on it! 29 years and counting… But also the week Dave and I spent backpacking Guatemala
29. Where would you recommend for international solo travel?
That’s tough–I know a lot of great places but can’t vouch for their safety haha. Like, Guatemala is great but if you’re a solo female, there’s a good chance you’ll at least get groped. It happened to several of my friends. Same with anywhere as a female, unfortunately. Safety aside, I always prefer developing countries over developed ones. Aside from the economic enigmas and the power imbalances, I really love the charm and the intimacy of poorer countries. They seem more open and authentic, whereas wealthier countries just seem shiny and orchestrated to funnel tourists through the proper sights at the proper times. One of the best days of my life was when Dave and I were roaming around northern Guatemala and found Jorge’s Rope Swing–the deadliest tourist attraction which would NEVER fly in a developed country–and just swung into the lake all day for about $1.25.
I would also recommend Thailand (especially the remote islands south of Bangkok), backpacking up the Brazilian coast (we went from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro), and for a domestic adventure, the outer arm of Cape Cod where it feels like going back in time through quiet colonial (surf) townships.