Thursday, June 21, 2012

Five Simple Tips for Starting Your Own Blog

Ever thought about joining the blogosphere?  If so, I can't say as I blame you.  I've been blogging for many years and have found it to be one of the most rewarding forms of writing I do.  Blogging is creative, informative, educational, fun, interactive, entertaining - all those things and more!  The best part is that it can be whatever the author wants it to be.  

For me, it simply started as an online journal of sorts.  I'd write about my life, my family, or whatever else inspired me at the moment.  Eventually, it took on a new shape - and name (Getting it Write for You), and I used it as a serious marketing tool.  The focus became writing (obviously).  Through my blog, I've connected with some incredibly talented people from all over the world who have remained my mentors, friends, and even clients or employers over the years.  

I always encourage anyone who's interested in writing for hire, to begin a blog because it's one of the best ways to both make connections and showcase your writing.  When I was freelancing more than I am now, back in the days when I didn't have four children to fill up my days (and believe me, they are filled to the brim) I directed potential clients to both a professional website with an online portfolio, rates, and so-forth, as well as to my blog.  

They both had writing samples, but of very different styles. My blog showcases my writing in a relaxed and informal way, exhibits my knowledge on writing, and gives potential clients an idea of what kind of person I am.  It's helped me acquire many writing jobs.  

Over the years, people have often asked me how to start a blog of their own.  Whether it's for personal or professional use, here are a few tips that might be helpful to anyone getting started with their own blog:

  • Consider your purpose. First of all, think about what you want to do with your blog.  Will it be for personal use, an online journal as mine began as or will it be to aide your journey in something - albeit writing, or couponing or whatever else your interest is.  Having a focus helps to draw a targeted audience.  A good question to ask yourself is who do you want reading your blog?  
  • Just do it!  After you've determined what your purpose will be, research the different blogging sites out there.  Two of the most popular options are Blogger and WordPress.  They are both free. Blogger offers professional looking templates and is easy to navigate.  They make it simple for the beginning blogger to set it up and get going right away.  One of the biggest complaints Blogger gets is that the templates have only cookie-cutter designs and are less molded to an individual's personal preferences.  For those who feel that way, WordPress might be a better choice.  The author has more options to make their site more unique.  They may choose from templates that are more professional looking, but WordPress requires a little more knowledge and time to get set up. 
  • Start driving - traffic to your site that is!  If you're starting a blog to market a service or a product, it's important to get out there in the blogosphere and start making connections.  Read other blogs.  Comment on entries that you find interesting, and when you comment always leave your URL.  This helps drive traffic to your own site.  Also, join forums related to your trade or product.  It's a great way to learn from others who are trying to accomplish the same goals as you and once again, by leaving your URL with your signature, people will visit your site.  
  • Have fun and share!!!  Most importantly, have a blast with your new blog!  Write your little heart out, meet new people and make connections.  Enjoy the experience of sharing information, or bringing joy to someone through the very words you've written.  I know I do!  This is a great place for me to inspire, encourage, and educate those who are looking for that in their lives.   
  • Or don't share at all.  Of course, if none of that's for you - if you are maybe a little shy about sharing your writing for the entire world to see, or you only want your blog to be a therapeutic place to write your innermost thoughts, it doesn't have to be shared at all.  It can be a private place for you to write whatever is on your mind.  Just be sure to click that button when you're getting set up.

A blog is as individual as a fingerprint and that's wonderful.  So if you haven't set one up yet, but you've been thinking about it, get to it!!!  The joy it brings will be well worth the effort - guaranteed!!  Oh!  And if you want to share it, be sure to send me a link!  I'd LOVE to check it out!  Until next time, have an incredible day!       

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"You're mean, Thunder!" my four-year-old childishly chides the sky as she eagerly awaits the passing of today's gentle storm.  Me?  I'm loving it as I steal away a few moments in my quiet sitting room, with the windows wide open.  I love a good storm, gentle or not.  There's nothing quite as relaxing to me, and after the last several days, I'm thrilled to enjoy some down time.

Summer vacation has begun for my two older children, which means even more fun for the two youngest - or more fights if you want to look at it that way.  I prefer to be an optimist and not think of the the bickering that may soon ensue!

Honestly, though we've had mostly peace and harmony since vacation began last Friday. How could we not?  It's been one big party for them so far.  We started our vacation off with a bang by making a trip to the Erie Zoo with some of our favorite friends, the Wallace ladies, on Friday.

A trip to the zoo isn't complete without a ride on the train.  Here's a combination of our girls getting ready for their ride.    

Here's Giana sitting on my lap.  She couldn't wait to see what was going on!  She never went on a train ride before - at least that she remembers.

After the zoo, we went back to the Wallace's where they graciously shared delicious ice cream cake and we decided ordering pizza would be a good idea.  So that's what we did, but we congregated back at our house, and after eating and playing more we ended our day with a campfire and s'mores.  Life doesn't get any better than that, especially for a child!

The weekend was jam-packed with more fun for the girls - mostly involving kiddie swimming pools, and swimming at the pond.  My fun came in a different form - that of weeding, preparing and planting gardens, both veggie and flowers, but mostly flowers.  It may sound like a lot of work, but like storms gardening is relaxing in its own way, and it reaps so many rewards.

This is definitely one of them.  Fresh cut flowers on the table is one of life's simple delights!  The same goes for fresh veggies to put on the dinner table, or to can during the harvest season.  I love feeding my family when I know exactly where the food came from or what ingredients went into what was prepared.  It's hard to know what to trust these days and I never have to question it when it's from my garden.

But what I love most when I'm out gardening is the time I get to enjoy all by myself.  Usually when I'm working I'm alone which is a rarity with four children.  If they come near, they know I'll put them on weed-pulling duty which they definitely don't want!  Either way, I win!  

But seriously, gardening reminds me of my youth when I was able to enjoy the world around me; to really hear the birds singing, to watch the little chipmunks scampering across the yard, to feel the breeze blowing against my cheeks. It also gives me time to plan my days, decide what has or hasn't been working in my life, as well as prioritize and set goals.

Someday my life won't be full of the chaos that goes with raising children.  Then perhaps these sweet little gifts will be mine all the time, but believe me, I'm in no hurry for that.  For now, I'm perfectly content to enjoy trips to the zoo, listen to little girls giggling or bickering, and to stop to smell the vases of fresh cut flowers on my table every once in a while.  I'll cherish the time I get to myself, but treasure my time with family and all my blessings even more.