5 Lessons Learned in 5 Months of Blogging

As of today I have been writing in this space for five months. While technically not a blogging newbie {I wrote on a different platform for years} I am more conscientious and deliberate about my writing these days. 

With that in mind I would like to share five blogging lessons I have learned since hitting publish on Welcome back on 30 March.

Coffee cup on saucer and open notebook with pen sit next to a laptop computer on a wooden surface.

I Am a Writer {Yes; A Real Writer}

Previously I hesitated to say this out loud, because I erroneously assumed that only people who get paid for putting together words were permitted to use such terminology. 

But then I applied that logic to other things, and it did not make sense. Do you need to win marathons before you can call yourself a runner? Do you need to sell masterpieces before people notice you are a talented artist? When people comment that you are a great baker, do you dismiss them because you are not a professional? 

If you are good at something and you love to do it, does it matter whether or not you are financially compensated for it?

Support Other Writers {But Remain True To Yourself}

One of the great perks of blogging is getting to know so many other wonderful writers and bloggers along the way. After a while you really begin to feel like you “know” them, even though you have never met in person and likely never will. I genuinely enjoy following along and engaging with fellow writers and sharing their work. 

However, I cannot compromise my own integrity by supporting work I fundamentally disagree with. I generally do not connect with pages that promote pseudoscience or pages that are overtly religious. If I don’t feel comfortable sharing much of what you post on my social media accounts, I probably have no interest in following your page. And I am completely not offended at all when folks feel the same way about mine. {Atheist homeschoolers aren’t for everyone.} It is what it is.

Writing Versus Marketing {Two Very Different Things}

I enjoy writing, and I know I write pretty well, but I have difficulty with self-promotion. The hardest part of this whole gig is marketing my own words. 

In theory, I know all the marketing tricks of the trade; in practice I often feel nervous sharing my own work. Not because I don’t think it’s useful or I am afraid people will judge—it’s more some sort of ingrained need to feel like I am being “nice” and “not rude” and “never too pushy” when it comes to, well, everything. This is probably my biggest challenge to overcome as a blogger.

You Can’t Do Everything At Once {So Just Start Somewhere}

When first starting out, figuring out the necessary steps to take in the right order can be very overwhelming. 

Do I need a platform first? Should I just start writing drafts until I have several posts in progress? How important is it to have a specific niche? What social media accounts should I have? How can I possibly be active on all of them? Who is my target audience? How do I get search engines to notice me? What if I run out of things to blog about? How do I find technical help when I need it? 

The truth is, all of those things are important, and to some extent you will be doing them simultaneously, so you might as well pick one and get moving.

Many great Facebook groups have helped me tremendously in my journey. If you are interested in which ones I have found to be the most useful, I am more than happy to offer suggestions.

Invest in Yourself From the Start {It Will Be Worth It}

If I could go back and start again, I would pay for self-hosting on day one. When I started, I thought: I need to make sure I am going to stick with it this time; I need to get x number of page views first, I need to prove that I am “worthy” of the cost

Trust me, it will be so much easier to just start out where you want to be straight away.

Even though I’m plugging along now on a self-hosted site {I made the switch a month ago} I really stressed and struggled at the beginning with transferring everything over and updating the layout and just trying to figure it all out again in general. It would have been nice to have only had to do that once. Also, I had to go back and update all of my pins to reflect the new website, which was unnecessarily time-consuming. 

How long have you been blogging? What blogging lessons have you learned?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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Digital Decluttering: 3 Questions To Get You Started

I enjoying living in a decluttered and organized space, and this includes my digital life as well. 

Recently I decided to re-set my laptop to factory settings, essentially clearing all of my personal information and then adding back in only what I deemed absolutely necessary. 

At first I thought I needed a newer, faster, spiffier computer. It turned out I simply had to let go of what bogged me down and free up space for what could move me forward.

Notebook and pen sit near an open laptop computer with a cup of coffee nearby.

Do I Really Need All These Files and Photos?

I realized I held on to plenty of electronic “stuff” for years that is simply not that important, and so I did not even bother backing up a lot of it. I thought of it like this: If I only had one paper copy of this, and I somehow accidentally shredded it, how devastated would I be? The answer in almost every case turned out to be “not at all.”

Of course I did want to save a few items {iCloud came in handy here}, but I purposely did not move others—knowing they would be gone forever—and I felt confident I would not miss them. With the clutter out of the way, I could more easily see what I needed to do to keep my digital life from becoming overwhelmed again.

I hesitated the most with photos. I think those of us who grew up in the age before digital cameras and ubiquitous phone cameras still have a hard time thinking of pictures as disposable commodities. But honestly, I share all of my favorites on social media, and have several photo albums of prints from our travels that grace our shelves. I also upload copies to Amazon photos for storage. I have no reason for the excess to be saved on my laptop for all eternity. 

One loss did disappoint me a little. After I re-installed the operating system, I attempted to download Evernote again and discovered the newest version is not compatible. I had been using Evernote to organize my blog notes and drafts, and I really liked the set-up. But, I made the switch over to a different application—Notes—and it is working out just fine after a brief learning curve.

How Social Do I Have Time To Be?

Next I moved on to dealing with my social media accounts. I currently maintain two Facebook pages {one personal and one business page for the blog }, plus Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest

Here is the main problem I am having: In an effort to be a supportive blogger—as well as to open marketing avenues for my own writing—I seem to have bitten off more than I can chew. That is, I sort of haphazardly “liked” and “followed” a bunch of resource pages, tech support pages, and fellow bloggers, and I cannot realistically keep up with them. 

So now I am taking on the task of sorting through what I follow and paring it down to a reasonable amount that will actually be beneficial to my writing and that I can engage with actively. All the motivational  pages in the world are not going to benefit me if I have no time to digest them. I also want to have the time and energy to give honest support to fellow writers I love following, not just clicks for clicks’ sake. It is proving to be an intense process.

Why Do I Have So Many E-Mails?

Truth: I absolutely cannot stand having unread e-mails. Even if I know it is something I am likely to immediately delete, I will still click on it because I need to get rid of that red notification dot. 

Generally I only leave messages sitting in my inbox if I still have an uncompleted task associated with them—notice of a blog comment I have not responded to yet, confirmation of an Amazon order that has not arrived, a reminder that our library books are due soon and I should renew them.

Every time an e-mail comes through that I am not 100% sure about, I open it and then scroll to the bottom and unsubscribe. I do not need to be on 99% of the e-mail lists I signed up for, and neither do you. Keep a few newsletters and blogs and affirmations if you really enjoy reading them, but most could go and you would never miss them.

This will, off course, be a work in progress. Just as you cannot clean out your closet or declutter your kitchen once and be done with it, keeping your digital decluttering under control will involve active decisions each time new things find their way in. 

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Pressure

Tomorrow will be one month since I launched my WordPress blog {after years on a different platform}. This is my 15th post, so not bad as far as adding new content, I guess. 

However, I still feel I have missed opportunities for writing more, simply because by the time I got around to sitting down to type, the ideas escaped my brain. It is amazing how many perfectly formed sentences enter my mind while I am cooking dinner or getting the mail. Oddly, I never have brainstorms while showering or right before I fall asleep.

In honor of my one-month anniversary, I almost did a thing. I came very close to switching to a self-hosted site and changing my domain name. But in the end I could not justify the cost, especially with having very little traffic right now and no concrete plans to monetize. Not that I am leaving that option completely off the table. Maybe someday, but for now it just seemed like too much hassle for my technologically inept self.

Plus, then I would be compelled to up my marketing game, and I pretty much suck at self-promotion. So, yeah, there’s that. 

Instead I am going to focus on creating new posts, and spending time on my social media sites. I also joined a few Facebook groups for blogging tips and advice, and so far they have been helpful. I really want to enjoy the writing process this time around, instead of feeling like I’m not doing enough.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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Name

When I first decided to make my writing public nine years ago when I started my previous blog, I wasn’t very honest or open. I was trying so hard to be edgy and noticed that I sacrificed my true personality for what I imagined readers wanted. I created a fake version of what I thought a blogger in my genre should be, and while the likes and shares tumbled in for a moment, it fizzled quickly. 

Spoiler alert: Denying your true self and trying to be something you are not never works.

So when I decided to give blogging another go, I wanted to be more forthright from the start. I wanted to be a real grown up writer who genuinely connected with followers this time.

Still, I hesitated whether or not I should attach my real name to this blog. What if I regret not choosing a more obscure blog title, or at least a catchy pseudonym? What if I write something that provokes anger or confrontation and I receive a bunch of mean comments? What if people I know in real life actually read it and judge me for it? What if I attract a stalker? 

The truth is, though, I can never be completely transparent as a writer if I’m hiding behind a facade instead of authentically sharing. I want readers to be assured there will be no pretense going forward. Using my real name helps me to be a more authentic writer

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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Welcome

Hello, friends, and welcome to my little space in the blogging world.

I live in southern California with my husband, our three children {Agent E, Agent J, and Agent A}, and one super needy cat {Agent O}. We homeschool secularly, read lots of books, enjoy traveling, and may or may not have an addiction to all things Disney. You can expect to read about all of those things and more. 

For several years I authored a blog on a different platform, but I never felt very passionate about the writing I did there. It was time for a change and a fresh start, so here I am.

Truthfully, I’m not sure what direction I will take with this new venture. All I know is that I’ve missed writing regularly and I’m excited to get back to it.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this post, I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

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