A lot of you, including my face to face friends, wonder how I got started with blogging. I honestly can't remember the very beginning. I think I had a friend start a blog, I loved it, and I wanted to blog too. I enjoy writing, and I was a new stay at home mom--needing a little intellectual stimulation.
So, in 2007, I started a family blog, but like many of you, I found that I neglected it and people didn't visit it like before because Facebook started gaining popularity in 2009. Everyone was spending hours on Facebook.
Then, in May, 2010, I decided all my friends could find my pictures and family updates on Facebook. I stopped updating my family blog and started a more focused blog called Helpmate, which was a blog solely for Biblical posts on being a godly wife. I really enjoyed this blog, but I also started teaching a few lessons to women at church, which, in a way, replaced my time to write researched, edited posts on Bible passages. I also found that the blog posts required a lot of time and study, and between leading in ministry, being a mom to now TWO young boys, and being that godly wife I discussed, I didn't have time to research, study, write, edit, etc. every week. My posts started to get farther and farther apart between me writing them.
Then, in November 2010, I started to research some holiday crafts to do as Christmas was approaching. I have always loved creative projects, whether it involves decorating, art, painting, party planning, crafting, writing, etc. I had never realized the world of "craft blogging" that was out there. It was amazing! In December, 2010, just 7 months ago, I started Calico and Cupcakes.
Calico and Cupcakes, in just 7 months, has morphed and changed. I have learned to balance my time by having about 3 standard posts each week--a crafting/cooking/creative piece on Monday, a Women in the Word post on Wednesday and a Friday Favorites on Friday.
I have learned a lot about blogging in these 7 months. Here are some tidbits to learn if you are thinking of starting a more public blog or if you just wonder what it is all about:
--Blog about something you love. I personally don't specialize in one area (such as cooking), but I am a short attention span creative person. This is why I keep my blog general. I have friends who blog about nutrition, some about fashion, others about being a mom, some about cooking only, and others about party planning. It is easier to gain a following and readers with specific subject blogs, but I am not an expert in any one area. If you love what you blog about, it will show and people will want to hear more. Plus, those weeks you are tired or drained, you won't despise the fact that you have to keep up posts on your blog. Blogging is a nice reprieve and break for me because I enjoy it.
-- E-mail people back. I think a return "thank you" e-mail for comments, features, etc. is kind and polite. I have met sweet blogging friends through simple e-mails. Make sure the settings for your google account are that your e-mail shows. Otherwise, when you leave comments on another blog, your name shows, but you are a "no-reply" commenter. People are often too lazy to hit "reply" to e-mail back, let alone go searching for your contact info on your blog (if you have one).
--Find balance. Like I said, I try to do one project or recipe a week. Some weeks I do more and can save a project for the next week or a week when I am busy. I do a short Bible lesson on Wed.--sometimes they are short, sometimes they are links to someone else's post, sometimes they are from archived lessons I've written on other blogs, and sometimes they are long and wordy. Friday is the day I feature great ideas I've seen on Facebook or on blogs. Have a blogging routine that works with your priorities and schedules. My priorities are quiet time with God each day, being a mom and wife, serving at church, and then, way down, is blogging. Unless I decided to blog for income once my boys are in school and succeeded in this area, my blog is going to remain low-key.
--If you want to gain readers, link up to linky parties. Linky parties are hosted by certain blogs (most crafting or cooking blogs have a list of linky parties they visit or link to). They are "parties" on certain days of the week where you go put a link and picture to a post you want to share with others joining the linky party. Leave lots of comments on other's projects, and you will have people come visit your link too. I spent A LOT of time at linky parties when starting this blog. Some weeks I still link up, and some weeks I don't have time. It is an important way to get your blog exposed to new readers, though.
--Have a Facebook page. A lot of other blogs have Tweeter accounts too. I don't tweet. I have an account for me personally, and I just don't use it. I think I'm an old dog and that trick is too new. I am constantly on Facebook for church (long story, but our church keeps up community, prayer requests, Bible verse encouragement through Facebook), though, and it takes two seconds to link a new post to your blog's Facebook page. This helps anyone who has liked your page to find out that you have a new post about such and such. It really helps increase traffic.
--Have buttons and logos and a unique header. I am not completely here yet. I don't write code for pages, and I was barely savvy enough to create my own featured at and logo button codes for my blog. I am saving up and waiting for my birthday to hire a blog designer to make an updated look for my blog and make new buttons, etc. I am happy with it for now, but it is great to have your own "look". Right now I am using a free template from Leelou Blogs.
--Consistency in a post schedule is nice. Whether you are hosting a linky party every Tuesday or sharing a recipe every Friday, readers like to know they need to go to your blog on such and such a day in order to see "___" post. You need to publish at least a new post a week in order to get regular, consistent readers. If you let weeks go by without a post, people will stop checking back. I didn't start out with consistency. It just found its way to me because it naturally made sense.
--Be yourself in your tone, humor and wording. I think my blog is me in a nutshell. I'm not a super funny person, but I'm fairly low key and mellow. My friend, Michelle, on the other hand, is hilarious. She has a blog called Ain't No Supermom, and I always laugh out loud when I am reading it. Anyway, my point is to let your personality shine. Be yourself and, before you know it, you'll find other blogs and readers who are similar in style.
--Be positive and encouraging. I dislike reading blogs that whine and complain all the time. Don't be disparaging or negative about what other people create or say. People read blogs as a rest, reprieve and break. Be realistic and share those realities with readers, but keep the outlook positive, fun and encouraging. That is one constant feedback I get--my posts and e-mails are encouraging and "sweet." Most readers don't want to hear about your grouchy boss, your broken appliance, your screaming child, or your neighbor's barking dog. Focus on crafting and have fun!
Okay, there you are. This list is not going to win any technical awards, but for those of you who are starting out with blogging or just wondering what it is all about, this helps you get the basics.
Let me know if you have any questions! I'd love to answer if I can. Okay, I'm off to make cookies with my kiddos. They have a little twist, and if they turn out, I'll break my routine and share them tomorrow!