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Hey! I'm Stephanie of Grinning Like An Idiot. Grinning Like An Idiot is me whenever I do something that makes me happy, whether it is sewing, painting, vacationing, a funny interaction, just life in general. Read More

Why You Should Blog and Helpful Tools

 

This week is my 1 year anniversary of blogging!   This is one of the longest posts I’ve written because I’ve got a great deal of passion for what I’ve learned, love and desire to do more. If there are bloggers following me or future bloggers, my hope is that this post rings true for you: blogging for me, is a way to preserve myself today and for the future.  What is blogging for  you? [Tweet this]

Blogging can be addictive or a bother:   For me, it is addictive – I’m never short on opinions and never short on ideas that I love to share and I find the written word easier to convey than the spoken word (I find, people talk too much with so little content: the challenge is conveying so much in so little words).

If your heart isn’t in blogging and you are looking for a lazy way to earn money, blogging is not for you.  Believe it or not, bloggers put a lot of time and heart into their posts.  Although, there are times I’ve heard from other bloggers that they “called it in with that one” when the blogger posts a “Round up*”.  In reality, the only reason why that is “calling it in” is because the blogger didn’t actually have to do the project.  But, this is really not “calling it in”, there is a lot of searching, consolidating, writing to ensure proper credit goes into doing a “round up”.

Bottom-line, blogging is almost a daily commitment that you make to express yourself and your ideas through written word.  This takes time and if you want a following, commitment to doing it well on a frequent basis.   The question for you: Is blogging a have to or is a want to?

WordPress vs. Blogger.  I started on Blogger because I recognized that I’m the type of person that has a very small attention span, so when I started blogging I wasn’t a 100% that I would continue on this path and didn’t want to make the investment.  I gave myself a goal: if I kept it up for 6 months at least two posts a week AND found posting a ‘want to’ rather than a ‘have to’, I’d consider a greater commitment and move to WordPress.

After 6 months,  I came to the conclusion that I really like sharing, I have ideas people are interested in and I like doing it. So I switched from Blogger to WordPress under the guidance from more than one full-time blogger that “if you are serious about blogging, you’ll need to go to WordPress”.  A half year later I still question this statement.

Blogger is like the fast lane where you have 15 items or less – it is quick and easy.  You select a theme, customize it a bit with the features that it allows, fill out a wizard for Google Ads and Google Analytics and you can start posting right away. Blogger is also low maintenance, supported by Google and there are a ton of sites out there with the code for neat little widgets that you can simply add to the Blogger site.

WordPress, on the other hand, is the long line.  It takes more knowledge of HTML, Stylesheets, FTPing, managing plugins, managing widgets, a service to host and a lot of praying when you upgrade to the latest WordPress version that nothing breaks, and, frankly (unlike Blogger) it takes a bit of financial commitment to have the website hosted.  Also, migrating from Blogger to WordPress was a big ordeal! I’m not a full-time blogger so I ended up hiring Sarah at tech4mommies.com who took care of everything in a weekend – love Sarah!!!!

While WordPress does give you a ton more flexibility to expand what you want to do with a blog.  Instead of listening to someone tell you WordPress is the only way to go if you are a “serious blogger”, really ask yourself:

  • How much time do you want to spend on website maintenance?
  • Are you into the whole figuring out if you used the right font for making a quotation mark?
  • Do you have a need to “automatically” post posts to a different site than the main site?

If yes to any of the above,  then WordPress is for you.  If not, and all you really want to do is share your thoughts, ideas, monetize, in a nice predefined layout, then Blogger is the way to go.

Building an audience is work/fun:  I’ve visited many blogs where all of a sudden the blogger decides they don’t want to do it anymore or can’t find time and they leave 1000 plus Facebook followers/twitter followers etc in the lurch.  Every time I see that I think: ‘what a waste, why didn’t they just line up some guest bloggers’, there are so many of us out there that hunger for a larger audience to share with, to get comments from and even try to earn a dollar.

There was a lot of work and time that went into gaining that audience: like interacting with other bloggers, writing good articles, experimenting, sharing successes and failures, supporting other bloggers, and posting regularly to your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, take and edit good pictures, etc.  That’s time and commitment that those bloggers just threw away.  To avoid throwing away all that time and work, ask yourself :is it all about you or are you interested in sharing and helping others as well?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others:  The worst they can say is no or ignore you.  I visit a lot of blogs and many of them have the same giveaways that I’d love to do (Silhouette, Keurig, Kitchen Aid- hello – call me, love your products ;-) ), some I’ve reached out to and been told no, but some I’ve reached out to and got a break – Thank you KRAFT and 14 Hands Wine!!!  The bottom line, when you are rejected it is a business decision: they are making a business decision on whether your audience is a good fit for their product or if your blog is reaching an audience that they may not get through another form of media.

Looking for a guest blogging position, looking for support for tweets/retweets; ask someone that you’ve been following. Everyone started out at some point and someone lent a hand.  The blogging community is just that, a community that helps build and support each other.  Have faith that your fellow bloggers would love to help – just ask.

If you choose to blog, you’ll never stop learning!  For me, taking a webinar/tutorial/attending a blogging conference is something I can’t wait for: I have taken vacation time from work to go to a blogging conference,  I have used weekend mornings to take LightRoom courses, taken classes in the evenings to learn painting techniques, had my Mom teach me how to sew and can on weekends.  I’ve used evenings to learn and participate in twitter parties.  There is always something new (even if you know how to do something you’ll learn how to do or present it differently for your audience). While I LOVE learning, this is time away from family, and my full-time commitments, but it is also a way to help preserve my identity when I’m not just a mother, wife, Project Manager, etc – it’s just me being me.  If you want to blog, ask yourself are you willing to make a commitment to continue to learn and better yourself?

Finally, my hope this helps, here is a list of resources and information that helped me:

Monetize:

Blog Help:

Photography: 

Free Fonts:

Blogging Tips:

Applications: 

  • CollageIt Pro (found in the App Store),
  • LightRoom,
  • CyberDuck for FTP
  • SnapNDrag (found in the App Store) which is great for capturing full window, screen or selection or if you need to delay the screen capture.
  • HootSuite  which allows you to post messages to Twitter, Facebook and other social media in one entry.  This app is also available for your phone, iPad or tablet and web-based for PC/Mac.
  • Rafflecopter website to administer giveaways.
  • Statcounter.com to see some analytic data on where traffic is coming from, how they are navigating and where they are going.
  • Alexa.com’s toolbar (so you can see your site ranking and other site rankings as well.)
  • Instagram (found in the App Store)

Link Parties:

  • Check out my list of blogs that I participate in their Link Parties found on Party On.
  • And I recently came across this site as well: LinkyHere.com

Favorite WordPress Plugins/Widgets:

* Round Up – this is where you find a bunch of things you like that others have done and put it out there for the world to review, criticize and try.

*SEO – Search Engine Optimization

Here are some of my previous posts that represent a milestone for me.

What would you like to see more of? Are you interested in starting a blog. Do you have one already, leave a comment I’d love to know and check out your blog!!

Collage of Some of the past Year 2012 Posts

Join me in

Grinning Like An Idiot

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  • http://thecrookedpear.blogspot.com/ Kelly

    I absolutely LOVED this article you wrote.  It was very well written.  I am a new blogger (started last October) and love it.  Like you said, it’s my time away from my family…it’s something for me that I look forward to at night after my boys have gone to bed.  It also is a way for me to capture special moments with my family and put a little story behind the pictures I post.  Everything about it I love.  Thanks again!  :)

    • http://www.grinninglikeanidiot.com/ Stephanie

       Thanks Kelly! 
      I just checked out your website http://thecrookedpear.blogspot.com: very nice and you have a great looking family! 

      I too love doing the writing at night, I find a lot of times that I’m so caught up in what is happening at that moment that I don’t actually enjoy the moment, so writing about it that night really helps me lighten up and get perspective.  My husband calls me the girl version of Clark Griswold because my expectations are usually so high. :) – gotta love Christmas Vacation.
      What are you looking to do more of with your blog?
      Thanks!
      Stephanie from grinninglikeanidiot.com

      • http://thecrookedpear.blogspot.com/ Kelly

                    Hi Stephanie!  Thank you for responding to me and THANK YOU for checking out my blog!!  I actually found your blog through Amanda’s facebook post…SO glad I opened it up!  That is too funny, I love Christmas Vacation.  :) 

              I would love to see my blog grow and for people to like the ideas and pictures I put on there, comment on them, and pass them along.  I work full time in a super boring office job where all I do is answer the phone all day.  This blog is one of the best escapes away from work that I look forward to…family coming in first of course. 
            
              Any more suggestions or ideas you may have to help my blog grow would be great!  You have tons of resources I am looking through that are so helpful.  Thanks again!!  Kellyhttp://thecrookedpear.blogspot.comhttp://thecrookedpear.blogspot.com 
        http://thecrookedpear.blogspot.com
         

  • Alicia S.

    This article is fantastic!!  Thanks for sharing :)  I am interested in starting a blog and didn’t know where to start.  I can’t wait to look through the links and finally get started.  Thanks for the inspiration!!  

    • http://www.grinninglikeanidiot.com/ Stephanie

       Hey Alicia,
      I’m so glad you liked the article!  One of the things I find about blogging is that I just beam over comments that people leave, like yours :).  It is just so nice to see and hear that I may actually be helping people.

      I’d love to know more about your blog!  When you get it up and running post it to livelaughrowe.com they have a blog hop about once a month and you’ll start getting some traffic from that too.

      Thanks!
      Stephanie from grinninglikeanidiot.com

  • http://www.amswphotography.com/ Alisha

    I’m here via Kevin and Amanda and am so happy to find you! I love when a good resource list comes together (I’m in the process of creating my own). Great work! :)

    • http://www.grinninglikeanidiot.com/ Stephanie

       Hey Alisha,

      Thanks so much for stopping by!  Amanda was actually the one who encouraged me to start a blog and has introduced me to other bloggers/conferences etc.  I’d be glad to pay it forward and do the same for you.  What is your blog going to be about?
      Thanks!
      Stephanie from grinninglikeanidiot.com

  • http://www.happypacas.blogspot.com/ Lisa@HappyPacas

    Hi, Stephanie!  I, too, saw Amanda’s tweet about your post ~ I’m passing it on to our local newspaper, since they’re doing a story on local bloggers (and I was lucky enough to be one of the featured bloggers).  Thank you for your words of wisdom!

  • Marci Johnson

    I have been blogging for a brief period of time and love it.  I am using blogger for the exact reasons you named.  However, I am already frustrated by the limitations it has, but know nothing- i mean nothing- about writing code and designing my own page.  Perhaps someday I will financially be able to commit to making that next step.    :)   

    • http://www.grinninglikeanidiot.com/ Stephanie

      Hey Marci,
      One of the best resources I found for blogger tools was http://www.spiceupyourblog.com/
      , they have all sorts of free tips, tools, code extracts that I literally copy and pasted into blogger. And if you do run into a snag, reach out to Sarah at tech4mommies, her rates are extremely reasonable (I work full time and like blogging for the joy of blogging I went to her after about a week of agonizing over one little thing that she fixed in 5 minutes, after that I go to her for most things cause I’d rather be writing, crafting and taking pictures than figuring out code :) )
      Hope this helps!!!
      Stephanie from grinninglikeanidiot.com

  • http://stacysewsandschools.wordpress.com/ StacySewsandSchools

    Thank you SO much! I have been blogging for almost 4 months and can use all the help I can get! LOL 
    I found you through the Saturday Showcase and will now be a new follower! 
    THANK YOU!

  • http://artclubblog.com/ Bellamanu

    Ooops…didn’t leave a link…

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