Dear devoted readers, this week's Smart Woman Online, Average Jane (also known as Celeste) will open your eyes to some secrets about marketing to women online, though she did not set out to do so when we interviewed her. Today we bring you a young woman who is comfortable in her own skin, and whose openness is a friendly look into the heart of America -- a place we know ALL of you want to sell in to. Read Average Jane's words with an eye on learning something. The lessons are there, if you will but look between the lines.
Lip-sticking: You're very open in your 'About' page that your blog is a journal. You say, "I hope to look back at my posts for years to come and be able to recapture the flavor of the experiences I had when I wrote them."
Are you saving them somewhere besides your blog...will you ever put them in print for posterity's sake?
Average Jane: That's an excellent reminder that I should be downloading and backing up my blog entries more often. I'd sure hate to lose hundreds of posts, even if they're not all gems. The short answer to your question is, "I don't know." I should have some hard copies if for no other reason than I've lived long enough to see several forms of computer file storage media go by the wayside already.
I like to think that my niece and nephew might enjoy reading my old blog entries someday. In the future, I think historians will find the same value in surviving blog entries that they now see in journals, diaries and correspondence from earlier times. That said, framing my blog as a journal also gives me an out if someone happens to call me on the complete self-centeredness of everything I write!
I don't rule out the idea that I might write a book someday, but it probably wouldn't be based on the blog.
Lip-sticking: Jane is going to comment on your blog design and means no disrespect -- we LOVE your cartoon! We LOVE your title. We're not as thrilled with the black background. Did you choose it? If so, why black? We're beginning to see other black backgrounds and we wonder if we shouldn't rethink our view on using black as a background.
Average Jane: I love the cartoon, too! It was scrawled on the back of a FedEx calendar poster by Cari Heelan, a friend and co-worker of mine in the mid-1990s.
The original depicts three of our other friends standing next to me. I've kept a copy in my file for years and when I decided I wanted to start a blog called "Average Jane" (several years before I actually started the blog), I wrote to Cari and got her permission to use the image.
When I set up my blog, I decided right away that I liked the way the image looked reversed. I experimented with adding some accent colors to the site text and the doodle, but I liked the plain black and white version best. I think it reinforces the idea of "averageness" and also speaks to my print background.
I think black text on white is highly readable - not so much white text on black, but since I confine that to the outer edges I think it gets by. Also keep in mind that I have very limited design skills and have never owned a color printer. (Jane is speechless! We LOVE our color printer(s)!)
Lip-sticking: Let's get to the good stuff -- you're very free and friendly with your writing. The wonderful essays you write (rambling thoughts, some might say) are a part of the American lexicon. While we understand you are not out to win any prizes for your content, we think you're brave for sharing your life so openly. Can you give us a hint on who reads your blog...and whether you care?
Average Jane: I'm glad it seems as though I share my life openly on the blog, but in reality I keep a very tight rein on what I discuss and how I discuss it.
Among my blog readers are my husband, my sister, former bosses, the owner of the company where I work, my aunt, and many of my friends. My husband will call and let me know if I have a typo in the day's post! (always a good thing.)
I don't expect to maintain my limited anonymity forever, but I think it's important to respect the privacy of the people in my life, which is why I seldom discuss other people in my blog. If I'll say something to you directly, I'll say it in the blog. Otherwise, I stick to the quote from Thumper's mother in the movie Bambi, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
As much as I admire certain bloggers who "go naked" online, to use Blogher parlance, I'm not comfortable publicizing the more intimate details of my own life. I prefer to stick with tamer topics. However, if I'm sick or it's my birthday, I won't hesitate to bore my readers to death about it!
Lip-sticking: Now let's talk about life. A recent post called "Average Jane's Childhood" talked about games you played. How different do you think the games of today are, compared to the games of the 70s? And, what happened to just going outdoors to play tag???
Average Jane: I grew up on some acreage away from the city, so my sister and I didn't have a lot of regular playmates. We played tag, hide-and-go-seek and games like that together. We also played board games as a family: Monopoly, Scrabble, Life, etc. At one point, my dad developed a board game that pitted Vikings against the English and we'd play it with him over and over as he developed more complex rules and strategy.
I still remember when we got a Pong game for Christmas, but I believe the novelty wore off fairly quickly. I watch my niece play with her friends and it all looks pretty similar to what I remember. I'm sure they play the occasional board game or computer game, but mostly they run around, play tag and make up little dramatic scenarios just as my sister and I did. I hope that's the case for most children.
Lip-sticking: One of the neat things about your blog is your blogroll. Share some of your favorite blogs (we know, they are ALL your favorites but we're asking you to choose 3-4, please) that are similar to yours -- in other words, more journalistic than business-like. Jane, especially, wants to connect with more women like you.
My blogroll is really larger than it looks because I've taken to adding new blogs I like to Del.icio.us but I haven't gotten around to revising the Average Jane list lately. From a writing standpoint, Finslippy is my absolute favorite.
I've laughed out loud at her blog postings more times than I can remember. I also enjoy Dooce and I'm looking forward to hearing Heather Armstrong speak at Blogher. I love Bakerina's richly detailed posts about baking and food and I like reading about life in New Zealand from Fi at Kiwifruit Blog.
My blogroll and Del.icio.us list also contain many blogs written by people I know, all of whom have very entertaining things to say.
Lip-sticking: What would you say is the best thing to come along, in the "making thit a better world" category, since you were a child? What's the worst thing?
Average Jane: The personal computer has probably had more influence than any other development in my lifetime, especially when you take the Internet into account. If it weren't for the web, we wouldn't be having this conversation at all!
I think the worst trend to develop in my lifetime is the growth of the convenience food industry, by which I mean both packaged and restaurant foods. By placing a higher value on speed and convenience than on nutrition and flavor, we're in danger of losing touch with the idea of eating for enjoyment.
Lip-sticking: Do you think the Average Jane, such as yourself, and the Average Dick, really has any influence on what happens in the world? Can you tell us something you do to make the world, even your world -- the community you live in -- a better place?
Average Jane: I think it's up to every individual to do everything in his or her power to make the world a better place, even if it's only in small ways: behaving civilly, speaking kindly, volunteering some time, etc. I'm active in Soroptimist, an international volunteer service organization for business and professional women, which makes it easy for me to regularly participate in community service projects. Still, I always feel as though I should be doing more.
Lip-sticking: We need to know...you can't escape it...do you shop online? And, here's a tricky one...when do you shop online? (at home in your jammies? at work during lunch? first thing in the morning?) PLEASE don't tell us Amazon is your favorite place to shop...give us a DIFFERENT answer...even if Amazon is a prime place you click into. (we have our reasons...)
Average Jane: I do shop online, mainly at home (often in my jammies, I'm sure). I can't really say I have a favorite place to shop because my shopping is so wide ranging. I found my car online and set up the appointment with the dealer via e-mail. I purchased two songs from the iTunes Music Store last weekend. I've bought goofy shirts from Glarkware more than once (including the one I'm wearing in my photo). I almost always book airline tickets online.
I really don't enjoy shopping at stores very much, so if I want something and I can get it online in a reasonable amount of time, I'll usually go that route. When it comes to Amazon, I have to say that I'm using it more for the Wishlist than for shopping these days. (good choice.)
Lip-sticking: So, to add our thoughts on the Wedding Day walk coming up in NY, as posted on Toby Bloomberg's Diva Marketing blog, we agree with you and we would take the idea one step further...why do women feel the need to proclaim this silly, societal requirement, to the world? Why do we have to be the same size now as when we were a bride?
Many of us have children, numerous children, and while we're still in very nice shape, we're no size 6!
We're surprised you didn't say so in your post about this....Comments? (no offense to Toby who was being tres' supportive of women of all ages.)
Average Jane: I actually did say that I'm a different shape now than I was when I got married...and there's no question that my new shape weighs more and requires a larger clothing size! Maybe this is just my Midwestern perspective, but it seems to me that as long as you're healthy, comfortable and happy with the way you look, what difference does it make what size you wear? (hear, hear!)
Lip-sticking: Last, we would like to say you are very average, and...so un-average -- in Jane's eyes, you represent the core of American womanhood. We like your style, we like your candor and honesty, and we hope you'll keep blogging for many years to come.
So, for a last question, could you share 3 things with our readers: 1) Your favorite old black and white movie; 2) Your favorite place to stroll...within the city limits of where you live, and 3) Your favorite year, whether it's this one, now, or one from decades ago -- don't forget to tell us why it's your favorite.
Average Jane: Thanks so much for being a loyal Average Jane reader and for allowing me the honor of being a "Smart Women Online" this week.
- As a science fiction fan, I have to say that Fritz Lang's Metropolis is one of my favorite black and white films.
- In the spring when the flowers change almost daily, I love to stroll through my own yard each morning before I go to work.
- My favorite year was 1999. I had my first dotcom job with a great group of co-workers who have remained my friends ever since. My husband and I both had good jobs, which allowed us to enjoy some little luxuries that we hadn't had in the past. I traveled quite a bit for work and visited New York City and Los Angeles for the first time. Even at the time I recognized just how great my life was, which makes looking back on it even sweeter.
Average -- perhaps in some eyes, but not in ours! This interview, dear readers, is a fine example of what women want...online and off. We hope you were paying attention.
What's not to like about that?