Today I am starting a new set of interviews, named as #WordpressPeople. This will showcase people using wordpress either as a blogging platform or as a money making tool.
I am passionate about people and I am curious as to what and how they are using wordpress. It fascinates me and hopefully you too.
I kick-start this journey with someone very special and dear to me – Mr Amanoola Khayrattee, who happens to be my dad. We have shared our blogging passion online so for long now. Infact my dad was the very reason I started blogging and invested my time into becoming good at servers and wordpress stuffs.
I am very honored and priviledged to have been able to interview him. I have done my best to keep this interview devoid of any kind of bais-ness. As a matter of fact, we both live separately. But we keep in touch via the internet. This interview is fully email-based. So let’s get started with Interview 01.
>> Who Is Amanoola Khayrattee
Amanoola Khayrattee (pseudo: Alfa King) is a bilingual contributor for This Week News Info.
He has been editor of trade union newsletter. He has contributed articles for various in-house magazines and publications throughout his career as technical staff in meteorology, trade unionist, occupational safety and health professional, personnel management & industrial relations consultant and member of professional organizations, both local and international.
His quest for continuing professional development has oriented his participation in national and international workshops, seminars and conferences over a wide range of subjects, including report writing, communication, public relations and journalism.
During his career Amanoola Khayrattee has studied, researched, spoken and written in his field of competence. He has designed, organized, implemented and conducted training programmes for various categories of people, both in the private and public sector.
Amanoola is a winner of the Professional Volunteer Award in 2013 from Edycs Epilepsy Group for his exemplary professional contribution and support in the management of Edycs Rodrigues Help To Grow Educational and Rehabilitation Centre.Blogging since 2007 Amanoola writes in English at Alfa King Memories and in French at Le Journal d’Alfa King.
>> Hi Alfa, please tell us a bit about yourself
I don’t know where to start. Well, my life, like for many, is not without hurdles. I have tried to manage situations as much as I could in order to rise up to the challenges I faced.
Immediately after my secondary schooling I joined the world of work as primary school teacher. I couldn’t figure out further studies. We were from a modest family just enough to survive. Along with my elder brother I had to supplement my father’s meagre watchman’s income to cater for a family of 10.
A year after I moved to the Meteorological Services for better job satisfaction. Subsequently I joined the trade union movement where I served at executive level successively as assistant secretary and deputy general secretary for a little more than 15 years.
>> I guess life was quite hectic with changing circumstances, isn’t it?
Life started to take a whole new meaning. I became more realistic and felt the need to upgrade my education. So I took part time courses to qualify for a diploma in occupational safety & health and another one in personnel management & industrial relations.
I also followed various courses in computer proficiency, leadership, journalism, public relations, and communications among others. My career took a new turn. I became active in professional organizations both local and international.
>> Are you still in employment?
I have now retired, but not idle. I manage to do things that keep my blood running in my veins. It’s good for the health; and I spare at least 90 minutes practically every day for a brisk walk.
I love reading, researching and writing. I have contributed articles for quite a number of in-house magazines. I was at a time editor of a trade union newsletter.
I have just started writing for an electronic paper, This Week News Info (thisweeknews.info). I run two blogs, “Alfa King Memories” in English and “Le Journal d’Alfa King” in French with the pseudo Alfa King from my initials AK (Amanoola Khayrattee).
My two sons, the elder one is a professional in the field of Information Technology and the other a corporate lawyer, are my pride, and those that I cherish the most in my life.
>> When was the first time you actually heard about blogging? Did that ring a bell in you at that time?
It was around the dawn of the year 2000, just some time after I had my first PC. I had but very little idea about the use of such a device. But my new assignment as Occupational Safety and Health Officer in the government service required proficiency in the field.
I had to do a lot of research work and report writing based on current information and developments. Gradually I became accustomed to the use of internet and the various terms associated with it. This is how I came to know that there’s something called “blogging” where bloggers keep a weblog on various issues.
So this triggered my interest. I was keen to know what it means to keep a blog.
>> Early bloggers you started following? And why were you following them at that time?
At the beginning I peeped at several blogs to get the feel. Some comprised personal diary or journal. Others specialized in specific fields. I was particularly interested in those blogs that dealt with issues related to tips about blogging and writing.
Those that inspired me most at that time were Problogger – Darren Rouse, mywritingblog.com – Nick Daws (Freelance writer, editor and coach), Skelliewag – Skellie (who has passion for “creating web content on a wide variety of topics”), The Writers’ Perspective – Maria Schneider (good writing = good blogging) and Daily Blog Tips.
>> When did you feel you needed to start blogging?
Well, as I said I had to write reports. The need to write good reports warrants that you do actual writing practice. I had a passion to share whatever I knew and to learn from others.
Sometimes I wanted to comment on blogs and felt the need to have an identity rather than being anonymous. Little by little I got accustomed to the blogging world and as I progressed I thought the best option was to have a blog and start writing.
What to write about? How to get a site address, hosting service and the like? Above all how to construct a web page and create a web site?
To be honest, I had no idea how to proceed and what to write. Fortunately my elder son was there to guide me.
>> How did you define blogging at that time, and how would you define it now if the definition has changed for you.
As a novice, blogging, as I understood it in my early days, was nothing more than keeping a log of events, personal or otherwise, on a daily, weekly but on a regular basis.
I find that indeed blogs originated this way and they took new shape with the advent of new knowledge and innovative strategies. Nowadays blogs are more topic-based and thus used as a marketing tool along with other social media. They are more information-based.
By providing up-to-date useful information on what you are doing a blog acts as a major search engine optimization (SEO) tool. It builds trust and credibility with people who visit it and creates an opportunity for making money online.
>> When you started blogging, did you have an idea of the different platforms that would allow you to blog?
I would be frank and honest. I didn’t, although I had heard about WordPress and Blogger. You know, the first step is always the hardest. By the way this was the motto of my first blog; I mean the first version of Alfa King Memories.
>> Why did you choose WordPress as your blogging platform?
WordPress is very popular. It’s very user-friendly. Its customizable features and themes offer ease of use. I had the possibility of hooking up my own domain name.
>> At that time, I remember I got inspired by you to start blogging. And thus I started a blog alongside with you and in the process I went deeper in experiencing different platforms & web hosting for us. And finally I decided I will take care of the server aspects, while you could then focus on your blogging. Is that correct?
Absolutely. Had it not been you, I’d never have stepped into blogging. Everything was Greek to me. You have been an excellent webmaster for me and I still depend on your expertise for carrying on my blogging passion.
I am proud of having channeled you to graduate and specialize in the field of information technology. I do hope and I’m sure I can go the extra mile with you by my side.
>> With respect to that, how would you honestly describe my performance at that time? I recall it was in year 2006, right?
Well, I think we did the ground work during the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. I wrote my first post on 11 March 2007 coinciding practically with the 39th anniversary of Independence Day of Mauritius.
You were the kingpin. You still are. You did everything for me, from guiding me in the selection of platform to designing, customizing and hosting. You did it so well that I got it all done without the least hassle.
Your innovative approach and quest for continuing development have been very instrumental. Indeed you did a great job in your early years of practice as a professional in the field. I find no words to express my gratitude to you. May the Almighty bless you.
>> Now regarding wordpress, was it easy or difficult for you to get to understand how it all worked?
At first I had some difficulty figuring things out. But then with your advice and coaching I became more versatile. I could thus manage the dashboard and effect changes as I thought fit.
You can see that I have changed my theme and tagline. I’m always on the lookout for improved and more attractive presentation.
>> Your best blogging moments
Ummm…. I have enjoyed all my blogging moments. I was really passionate. Every moment was one in quest of improvement.
I particularly cherish the time I paid tribute to my beloved dad by dedicating to him a post, my 100th, on 14 August 2007. I did it from the bottom of my heart at late night hours. Tears rolled off my eyes throughout the writing.
Oh, what a surprise. I don’t want to drag you into emotionalism. But this interview coincides with my dad’s 40th anniversary of death.
Then there’s the privileged moment when I interviewed professionals in the blogging and writing field:
- One is Skellie at skelliewag (Blogging and Earning Income Online – Interview with Skellie)
- and the other is Nick Daws (Interview with freelance writer, editor and coach, Nick Daws)
I also cherish the moment I wrote a series of four posts tackling issues related to an unprecedented flood that affected Mauritius on 26 March 2008 with four deaths and a number of casualties. It involved a lot of research. Some of my findings and proposals were reflected in the recommendations of the Commission of Enquiry that probed into that event.
>> That “aha” moment in blogging when you realised you were on par with some A-List bloggers at that time?
That was the moment when I realized my journalistic potential in posting news, views, opinions, analyses and useful guides relating to health and safety, adverse weather situations and political and trade union related issues. My blogging got a whole new meaning.
>> Your first mistakes during blogging and how would you have done it differently now?
With hindsight I realize that I was in a hurry. I had decided to write every single day, which resulted in writing crap at certain times. I was writing without bothering about the reader’s interest. I often met with what we call “writers’ block”.
Now, I can say that if you want to write and be read and followed by people, you need to write with a seriousness of purpose where the reader can get something out of it. Instead of focusing on the “giving” side it would be better to see things from the recipient’s end. Every mistake is an opportunity for improvement.
>> If you had to start all over with blogging, would you still entrust me your server aspects and daily wordpress routines, if yes why?
You know in my retirement era I do not have the same strength and impetus to dig deep into the meticulous aspects of all that concerns design, publishing and hosting of my blog. I better “contract” these out to you while I just relax and think about the writing. Above all you are the expert and I cannot pretend to be better versed in these aspects.
>> The best advice you could give beginners with wordpress and blogging?
If you are embarking on this pleasant blogging journey (yes it’s indeed a pleasant and passionate journey) you need to have a clear objective about what you want to achieve. Select a niche and go for it. Know that there are people out there reading.
They don’t have time to waste in gossips and blogs that seem to beat about the bush. They’ll follow you only if you give them quality materials and subjects that will help them solve a problem.
Questions like: “How the reader will benefit from your blog? Why should they read it? What is their motivation? What is the demand?” will help you identify a niche to focus and write about. This builds credibility and trust. And if you want to choose an easy, attractive and versatile platform, wordpress is perfect and one that can easily be installed on your host. My experience has it.
Don’t be afraid of any set back. Instead take it as a stepping stone towards success.
>> Any future plans for your online activities? Is there any “itch” you are looking forward to scratch and would like to share with us?
Uhhhhh…. If you have a look at my blog since its reactivation this year you’ll notice it has a rather journalistic approach. I have reproduced some articles that I contributed to the online paper I mentioned earlier.
So, I’d be interested to set up an online newspaper or magazine with selective articles. I know it needs a lot of technical expertise. That’s why I keep seeking relevant knowledge and information. If you could have some time to assist me perhaps it may become a reality, who knows?
>> A final thought or word before closing out?
The internet is an excellent tool to keep people close. Blogging is one way to talk to the world, air your opinions, exchange information, knowledge and experiences and market your goods or services. Using the blogging platform judiciously we may do a great service to the world.
>> How can people reach you online?
You may reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also drop a word in the comment box of either of my blogs. I’m also on facebook @aman.khayrattee.