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10 Things I Learned From NaBloPoMo

10 things i learned from nablopomo

I know I am a day early with this post. NaBloPoMo isn’t over for another day–but I kind of have other stuff to do this weekend so I am highlighting the things I learned from NaBloPoMo a bit sooner. I hope you don’t mind!

I had never done a writing challenge before. If you saw me posting at the beginning of November, I talked a bit about how I got sucked into blogging every day for a month. For anyone who might not know, NaBloPoMo stands for National Blog Post Month and while you may do a challenge like this any time on your own, the BlogHer website orchestrates a blog challenge every month. November is the big month however, because there is also another large scale challenge going on. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

I had contemplated NaNoWriMo, but I wasn’t so sure about trying to write a novel. It’s a great ambition, it just seemed a bit too large scale for me. Blogging is more manageable. It allows me to be more creative than I think I would be at trying to write a book. My blog is a venue for me to do a lot of different things. I can communicate my opinions on various topics, take my love for food and turn it into a post to share, review books I have read, create outfit looks that I think are fun–basically, I can use my blog for anything I want.

My blog is me in word form (and I am quite a mish mash of things).

If you were doing the challenge yourself, I bet you have learned some of the same things. If you haven’t yet done a challenge like this, maybe you can utilize something I have found out during the past month.

  1. Before you write for others, you must first be able to write for yourself. You need to be writing about things you are interested in or believe in. Don’t try to blog about something you aren’t very passionate about. Those feelings will show, and your readers will figure it out!
  2. Write in your own voice. Again, this is something readers can easily pick out. When I first started trying to blog, I hadn’t written anything in a long time. I was trying too hard to sound grammatically perfect. What content I ended up with turned out to be stiff and formal sounding. That is totally not me, and those I had asked to read it told me so! If you swear sometimes in every day conversation, do it on your blog (I do). Just be you and write how you would talk.
  3. Practice really does make perfect. The more I have written, the faster I get at writing and posting my blog entries. Granted, I need to have my topic idea, but my speed has increased over these last few weeks.
  4. Quality over quantity is important. There have been some posts I have done that I feel were kind of “cop out” posts. It was so important to me not to miss a day of the challenge that I sacrificed a little quality in favor of quantity. Going forward, I will not be doing that. Yes, sometimes quotes are ok, but I want to invest readers more than that.
  5. An editorial calendar would have been a big help. I am ok at coming up with something to write on the fly when I had to. It also helped me to know that every Friday I was doing a Fantasy Wardrobe Friday post, and almost every Saturday would be a recipe post. Though, some of the other days when I wasn’t in a mood to write, I didn’t know what to write. That made me feel somewhat flustered even though this entire challenge is voluntary!
  6. Write content in advance. This goes hand in hand with keeping an editorial calendar. There will be days you have life to deal with, or you aren’t in a writing mood. If you plan and write some content in advance, you have a little breathing room for when unexpected things come up.
  7. Don’t obsess over your Google Analytics. If you are just beginning, traffic will be slow. It’s good to be aware of your traffic, but don’t keep refreshing your analytics dashboard every five minutes. You will see your traffic increase in time.
  8. Utilize social networking. You don’t need to be a member of every social network, but you should be active on a few. When I post, I have a plugin that publicizes to Tumblr and Google+ when I hit my WordPress publish button. I edit the text in the publicize section before actually posting to my blog. Then I go to Twitter and send a tweet complete with picture when applicable. I schedule a tweet for the following morning via Buffer. I also share with my Facebook and Pinterest.
  9. Try to engage with people on your social networks. I need to work on this. My Twitter followers have grown over the past month, but I know I need to personally be better at adding and engaging as well.
  10. Find blogs you like and leave genuine comments. I need to work on leaving comments and connecting with other bloggers; I haven’t done much of this. I think when I get my blogging schedule figured out I will feel like I have more energy for commenting. At the moment, it seems as if all my time goes into writing. I want to set time to do the social part.

I could keep listing the many things I have learned, but I will leave you with these ten for now. A blog is forever a project of growth. I think I have said that before! It’s true! There is no success overnight, and we all start from the bginning and work our way up. I hope what I have taken from the NaBloPoMo blog challenge will benefit you in some way if you are thinking about doing a challenge, or if you are starting a blog.

What have you learned participating in NaBloPoMo? What have you learned as a blogger? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!


Where My Blog Will Be In The Future

where my blog will be in the future

I wasn’t sure what to blog about today. I decided not to do a “Things I’m Thankful For” post because, well, I’m thankful for a lot and being the non-traditionalist I am at times I didn’t want to do what many others were doing. Besides, it’s not a traditional type of day in my home. Instead of turkey and mom’s party potatoes (potatoes are the only thing I care about, forget the rest), I bought a Papa Murphy’s pizza. It was a nice change in food (but I do want potatoes).

The NaBloPoMo daily blog prompt from BlogHer arrived in my inbox this morning, and I thought it was a good choice for a topic. It has me contemplating where my blog will be in the future.

Where do I see my blog in one year? Five years?

Who can see the future? If I dare to dream though, I will have at least over 125 more posts published on this blog by this time next year. The number right now is a bit scary to my eyes. I know I can do 30 days in a row of posting, so 125 spread out over the course of a year shouldn’t be too bad. Right?

At any rate, I’d like to take this blog and make it grow into an eventual part-time job. It might be putting the cart before the horse, but I have had a strong spurt of motivation and creativity through the NaBloPoMo challenge. This blog has been sitting here getting dusty for some time. I believe I first set up WordPress and found a theme in 2011 or 2012. I had also started a Second Life fashion blog around then. However, I wanted a personal one too.

When you first set up a blog, you want it to be perfect right from the start. You want the site to feel comfortable and familiar, like your personal space at home. I learned that yes, you do need to find a look that represents you, but making it feel totally like home takes time. It won’t feel that way if it stays empty.

Once I had found a theme, I needed the name. I was a little stuck there. So my site just sat…again.

I thought about it from time to time, fiddled with plugins, researched tips on what other bloggers deemed essential when beginning to blog. I learned more about SEO, social networking, and how people turn their skills into fun hobbies and careers they enjoy. It was such an appealing idea to get writing. I had blogged on Myspace for awhile in years past, I wanted to do it again; but I kept feeling held back by one reason or another.

Ugh, the excuses our inner selves make for us!

I think however, the time just has to be right for everything to come together. At times it just comes together slower than others. An online friend helped me in finally choosing my domain and site name, he helped me design my logo after I settled on a different theme, then I let the site sit for a little while once again.

I blogged a few times in 2013 and earlier in 2014. I asked a couple people to read my writing and give me feedback. I wasn’t sounding like myself. I was too stiff. They told me it was like I was trying too hard to write correctly, as if I was writing for college assignments. I tended to agree with that. What I was writing sounded exactly like that!

Anyway, now that I have a handle on it and have remedied that particular issue, I feel much better in this space of mine. I am confident enough in my writer’s voice to think blogging could potentially lead to exciting opportunities for personal and perhaps professional growth. I know I still have work to do in many areas. Learning and experimenting are the fun parts of the whole process!

So, in the future I see my blog growing as I do. Getting better and publishing more high quality content in time. Maybe I will share other creative projects here as well. I have some high hopes. When the challenge of NaBloPoMo is over and I get into a regular routine, I will have a better idea of where the blog will go. Five years is a bit far out for me to assess where this all might lead.

I am excited to continue on the journey and to see where this road takes me!

Where do you see your blog in the future? Or if you have been blogging for awhile, how far has your blog come since your first few months? Comment below!