Planning, Dreaming, Goal Setting

Random Things

I am a BIG dork when it comes to the New Year. I hate the word “resolution” because it simply implies that you are writing down (if you even write them down) some goals for the year…only to get two weeks into them and throw in the towel.

I don’t make resolutions. I set goals. Brainstorm new ideas and plan out new adventures that I can take or that we can take as a family.

Last year, I set some pretty lofty goals including finishing my novel and reading 52 books in a year. Needless to say, I am only about 60ish pages into a story that I’ve had in my head for ages and I only read about 12 books (three of them being The Hunger Games Trilogy and three more being 50 Shades of Grey…). I did grow and expand my business like I had hoped and I did upgrade my camera. So, I hit half of the goals that I set for myself.

I started planning and brainstorming new goals for 2013 long before the year was actually over. While I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t have to be a New Year to set new goals, there is something sparkly and shiny about the first day of the first month of a brand new year. Something that makes me giddy.

December-18

This year my goals are broken into four different sections. Personal Goals. Business Goals. Blogging Goals. Photography Goals.

I’ve got them all written in a notebook (a brand new one, at that) to keep myself in check. But isn’t accountability supposed to one of the best ways to make sure you stay on track with things like this?

Personal Goals
  • Get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. As of right now I’m only about 13 pounds shy of that number. Ideally I’d like to lose those 13 pounds and then an additional 10. That would get me back to my goal weight. And I’d be satisfied. However…fitness isn’t about the numbers to me. So if I never see that number again, that’s fine. So long as I’m healthy and in shape. (And back in a size 8 jeans.)
  • Read More. I love to read. Nothing relaxes me more than a good book that I can lose myself in. While I’ll never be able to read 52 books in a year (at least not until the boys move out and I can sit and do nothing but read all day), I’d love to read at least one or two per month. I downloaded the Kindle app on my phone (already have it on the iPad) so that I can read at night while I’m up nursing. Any recommendations on what to read?
  • Run a 5K. Last year I started the Couch to 5K training and loved it. Once I get the okay from my doctor to ease back into training, I’d love to be able to run one before the year is over.
  • Write in my journal at least once a week. I share a lot here on my blog, but I do have a regular journal. As of late, I haven’t been very good at keeping it updated. My goal is to make more time for that this year.
Photography Goals
  • Become a Clickin’ Mom ProThis is my big goal for the year (photography wise). My big, big one. The ladies that are CM Pro’s are remarkable. To even be considered good enough to be listed among them would be a huge honor. If I could just finish getting my portfolio together, I’d be ready to bite the bullet and apply.
  • Take an Online Class or Workshop. I  have my eyes on a few workshops that Clickin’ Moms offers as well as an online workshop geared specifically toward photographing boys.
  • Take monthly photos of the boys together. I was really bad at taking monthly pictures of Noah (then again, I wasn’t into photography when he was  baby like I am now). I’m determined to take at least one really good, posed photo of the boys together every month. And…I’d like to keep up with Jonah’s monthly updates as well.
  • Take more photos of myself with the boys. I have a lot of photos of my kids. And I have a good deal of pictures of them with their daddy. But not a lot of them with me. That needs to change.
  • Buy another prime lens. I really want an 85 mm. And…if I can justify it to my husband, I’d love to go full frame this year and splurge on the Mark iii. We’ll see, we’ll see…
Business Goals
  • Create and sell at least FIVE pre-made WordPress themes.
  • Create and sell pre-made branding packages and logos for photographers.
  • Cut down on my hours so that I can explore and create other things (like photographs) and spend more time with family.
Blogging Goals
  • Reach 1,000 RSS/Email Subscribers. I’m at 790 now. Surely I can hit this number before 2014 is upon us, right?
  • Reach 1,000 Facebook Fans. Again, I’m at 629 now.
  • Start a Newsletter.
  • Work with companies/brands that I support.
  • Have some of my writing published elsewhere (BlogHer, Huffington Post, etc.)

I have some other goals (especially goals pertaining to photography and business), but these are the ones at the top of my list this year. Obviously we have goals as a family as well. Like taking a trip back to Alabama to visit family. And, if things go like we hope, taking a vacation to Hawaii in the Fall with some friends.

Do you make New Years Resolutions? What’s on your “want to achieve” list this year?

 

 

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Ordinary Everyday

Random Things

I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut lately.

I blame part of it on pregnancy and the fact that I spend about 80% of my day wishing I was sleeping. I missed the memo that, even though I was utterly and completely exhausted my first pregnancy, the second time around was 100 times worse. Namely because I’m spending my days these days caring for the child that I already have.

I’m still working (though, not for much longer! I’m finally almost done!) and that offers me some creative freedom. But, for the most part I’ve been totally and completely uninspired lately.

Mostly in relation to my photography. I’m still on the ropes about whether photography will ever be a profession for me. It most likely will be when we move again and I don’t have to spend so much time focusing on scheduling sessions around the ever changing weather. But, for now, I’m content just taking pictures of my family.

I am dying to take a couple of the workshops over at Clickin’ Moms. But, every time I even think about doing that I wonder how I’m going to fit something else into my shrinking schedule. Blogging is becoming increasingly difficult because, again, I’m so flippin’ tired.

I’m always amused by the number of comments and the response bloggers like Kelle Hampton get on their everyday, lifestyle, run of the mill posts. Not that Kelle isn’t brilliant and a spectacular writer. Or that she isn’t crazy talented and up to her ears in things occupying her time.

I’m just fascinated that such bloggers receive such a response from photos of the every day things. Like a cupcake. Or a post about how they spent their week. Or just a photo of their kid eating cheese with no words (okay, I don’t know that anyone has ever posted that, but you get the idea).

Maybe I’m just not a story teller in that sense. Or my life is a bit on the boring side to everyone else out there. Because my posts about the every day aren’t high ranking posts. They don’t get lots of comments. Or lots of clicks and shares and repins.

And that used to bother me.

Until I started flipping through my blog archives the other day and smiling over some of the posts that I have written about our every day. The tiny little things that I would have otherwise forgotten had I not written them down. Miniscule little memories that might seem insignificant to everyone else in the interwebs; but moments that mean something to me. To our family.

And I realized that it’s okay that not everyone “gets” it.

It’s okay that my sometimes mediocre photos and lack-luster moments aren’t of significance to every one else.

Because they are my moments.

With my family.

Just ordinary, everyday moments that I don’t want to forget.

Sharing this post today over at Things I Can’t Say for Pour Your Heart Out and with Ashley Sisk at Ramblings & Photos for Wittle People Wednesday.

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Where Blogging fits into the Future

Writing

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking this weekend.

About my family. About our life here in Alaska. About my business. But mostly about my blog and my writing and what I want to do with it. Where I want to take it.

When I first started this blog back in August of 2008, I was a newly wed awaiting the arrival of our son living 400 miles away from everyone that I knew and adjusting to life as a military spouse. Blogging became a form of therapy that I never anticipated sticking with. It was a bare all place for me to share my struggles and emotions during some of the really hard days; it became a baby book for me to keep track of all of the things that Noah was doing; and it was a way to connect with people-other moms like me-when making friends was hard.

But, it’s been almost FOUR years and nearly 900 posts since I started this journey and I’m reaching a point where I don’t know what to do with it anymore.

Baby #2 will be here in November and I know that I want to spend as much time documenting his or her life in this small virtual space as I did (and continue to do) with Noah. But, as far as everything else? As far as the memes and the linkups and the challenges and sponsorships?

I think I’m ready to hang all of that up and let it go.

I’m never going to be a Babble Top 100 Blogger. I’m most likely never going to be discovered for my wit and way with words in this space. Mommy bloggers (unless you’re Jill Smokler) typically don’t “make it” in the writing world for very long. I know a ton of big name bloggers who are known through Social Sites like Twitter and Facebook and for their writing on places like Babble.

But, I don’t think that’s ever going to be me.

Not because I don’t have people interested in what I’ve got going on, because I do. Those of you who read and comment faithfully light up my days. I appreciate and get excited over every single comment.

Not because I think we live a boring life, because we don’t. We live in Alaska on the Military’s dime. I own a business that grew from this blog (for which I am more thankful than I could ever put into words) and I’m about to have another baby…when most days I can’t find the time to shower and put a decent meal on the table for the one that I already have).

I’m not a scary mommy or a chaotic parent or an attached parent looking to raise awareness for a cause. I’m just a mom trying to make it on my own two feet with my husband by my side and a few kids along the way. I’m a mom doing something she loves until she reaches the point of being able to really do what she dreams of doing.

I’m not a woman who likes to complain about her marriage or her husband, because frankly, I’m pretty in love with the man that I chose and our marriage works. We drive each other nuts some times, but we’re faithful to each other and both agree that life would be miserable if we didn’t have the other alongside of us.

I believe in censorship and don’t blog openly about everything that goes on in my life or with our families…otherwise we might not have anyone speaking to us. Some things, in my opinion, need to be kept private. Which is why my posts don’t stir controversy or receive hundreds of retweets a day on Twitter or dozens upon dozens of shares on Facebook.

Because I’m just me. Just plucking along at the day to day with the intention of looking back on this life when I’m 85 years old and being able to say, “Yeah. It was a hell of a ride.”

So…

That being said.

I’m still not sure where this leaves me as far as my blog goes. Rest assure that there will still be plenty of Noah and the new baby when s/he arrives. There will still be posts about stuff that I’m interested in (like my design business and the work that I do).

But, as far as my own personal attempts at reaching blogging stardom?

I think it’s time to finally drive the last nail in that coffin and realize once and for all that not only is that probably not going to happen for me, these days, I don’t even think I want it to.

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5 Essential Elements of a Great Blog Design

Blogging

Aside from questions regarding photography and editing, most emails that come my way are about blog design. How I started my business, what advice I could recommend for people interested in designing (or redesigning) their own blog, and requests to do reviews and critiques for other sites. I added Site Critiques and Consultation to my list of services, but there seem to more people interested in what they can do to improve the look of their own sites as opposed to those who want to hire out someone to do it for them.

I’ve compiled a list of 5 Key Aspects to a Good Blog Design. I use these aspects in every single design that I do, both for myself and for my clients. There are, of course, other things that I take into consideration when I’m designing for a client (like their target audience, their goals for their site, etc.) but for the basic core elements of a blog or website, these five things remain unchanged.

  • A Good Color Scheme.

    Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons someone will turn away from your site and never return is a bad color scheme. Dark backgrounds with light colored writing strain the eyes. Neon Pink and Orange palettes that don’t coordinate and compliment one another leave readers dizzy. When you’re redesigning your own site or someone else’s (or if you are just starting out) choosing a color scheme that is pleasing to the eye and coordinates with all of the colors in the palette you chose is one of the most important factors. Unfortunately most of us weren’t blessed with the Martha Stewart eye and given the talent of being able to just match up colors on our own.  That’s where sites like Design Seeds and Photo Card Boutique come in. They have pre-selected color palettes in a variety of shades that you can use to coordinate and create your site. I refer every client to these two sites for inspiration and ideas.

  • A Clean, Well Laid Out Navigation Menu.

    Every Navigation Menu should have the following, hands down: an “About Me” or “About the Blog” section that describes what your site is about and what your blogs purpose is, a Contact Page where readers and potential sponsors can contact you, and a possible list of categories that they can use to navigate around the site. Your navigation menu shows up on every page of your site (unless you have created a custom code in your site that doesn’t allow for navigation, but we won’t go into that), so having this pertinent information available in all different areas of your site makes it easier for readers to move around the site.

  • Uncluttered Sidebars.

    Back in the earlier blogging days, someone decided that broadcasting awards that were received for winning Meme’s and Challenges or for just having an awesome blog in your sites sidebar was a good idea. And while I have nothing against showcasing your talents and mad skills with everyone, things like this can clutter a sidebar and make a blog look to busy. You want to keep the focus on your content and/or images and not on your sidebars. The more that you cram in the sides of your site, the harder it is for readers to keep their focus on what you’re writing.

  • Easy to Read Fonts.

    I am a self-declared font junkie. I spend money on fonts that sometimes make my toes curl ($89 for one font…yep. I’ve totally done it…). But, as the old saying goes, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Your body text (meaning the content area where you do the most writing…like like this section you are reading now) should never, ever be anything other than a clean, easy to read Serif or Sans-Serif font (think, Times New Roman or Arial). Save the script fonts for post titles or sidebar headlines. However, when you are choosing a script font (if you choose one at all), make sure that it  A) Matches your header and the fonts that you are already using and B) Is easy to read. Curly, swirly fonts are pretty on wedding invitations and greeting cards. Not for your Post Titles. There was a great article written over at WebDesign.TutsPlus. on Choosing the Right Font for your Website. I highly encourage you to check it out if you’ve been wondering about picking out fonts and how to match them.

  • An Eye Catching Header.

    Your header is the first impression that someone gets from your site. Your header needs to make a statement without turning away a reader with its overly large and loud design or “too tiny to tell it’s there” sizing. I try to keep all of the headers I design for myself and other clients at no larger than 225 or 250 pixels tall. The one that’s displayed on my site now is 160 pixels tall. While some sites have been able to pull of the large and in charge headers (like Jill @ Scary Mommy and Jeannett @ Life Rearranged) most people will tell you that a header that is too large takes away from the content of a site. You want your header to be prominent, but you don’t want it to overpower and overshadow everything else that’s on your site. If you have to scroll down the page to even get to the content of your blog, then chances are, your header is too big. If you have no room in your header to add a social media icon or a search bar, then chances are the font in your header is too big and the overall design is too wide.  For me, I personally try to keep the logo or blog title to one side and leave room to the left or right for social media icons, advertising buttons, or something similar.

Now, I say all of that to say this: Everyone is different. Everyone has their own style. What works for some won’t necessarily work for everyone. You may think a header that’s 500 pixels tall works perfectly for your site and that Orange, Purple and Black paired with little flecks of teal have the potential to revolutionize the blog design scene. And that’s okay! Blog Design, as with any other creative outlet, is all about finding your style, your niche and your creative technique. These things listed above are just there to give you a jumping off point of things that I have found to work for myself and my clients.

What aspects of a blog design to you find to be the deal breaker for you (whether you’re reading a site or designing your own)?

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Losing Your Integrity to Competition

Motherhood

 

Being a business owner scares me.

Not because of money. Or liability. Or fear of messing up someones blog or website. Those things could be bad; cataclysmic even to my business or my reputation. Those things worry me, but they aren’t the things that I dwell on. Those things that leave me antsy here and there, but they don’t really bother me.

What I worry about is becoming like so many other big business owners or bloggers.

Losing myself to the business.

Forgetting who I am…what I enjoy…why I enjoy it.

More than anything, sometimes I worry about losing my integrity and willingness to help out someone who is just beginning.

When I first started designing, I had one designer in particular who went out of her way to answer my questions, give me advice, and just offer her moral support when I wasn’t sure I could make it in this business. I had a few friends who knew coding and styling who pointed me in the right direction when I was just staring at stylesheet without a clue as to how to edit it.

I’ve had experienced photographers offer insight on setting up shots and tweaking my technical approach here and there. I’ve had friends tell me when images just flat out weren’t any good; providing honest insight and feedback into what I could do better.

I’ve had bloggers message me when they saw a particular word misspelled or sentence that didn’t make sense. I’ve had them add my sites to meme linkups because we live in Alaska and I’m usually too late getting up in the morning (since we’re four hours behind ET) to really gain any traffic from their linkups.

The way I see it you have dozens upon dozens of people out there who are willing to help you out when you are getting on your feet and starting in a new venture. Most people don’t mind because they’ve been there.

But others….

Other people?

Other photographers? Other designers? Other bloggers?

They can be viscous. They can be catty and competitive. Stealing ideas and running with them; passing them off as their own. Saying things…doing things…sending emails or making comments to diminish everything that you’ve worked for. Putting you and your abilities down, comparing your technique to theirs. Your abilities to their own. Your weaknesses to their strong suits.

And I fear ever becoming that.

I don’t want to be like that.

I want to be a designer who isn’t afraid to share what I’ve learned. To share tidbits of information that might help someone who isn’t as comfortable in their know how, figure out where to begin. I want to share what I’ve learned the hard way through three and a half years of owning an SLR Camera, with those who have never moved their camera off the “auto” mode. I want to give feedback to bloggers who are just starting up and don’t know how to grow their readership.

I hate competition. I hate rivaling with people who feel that they have to one up everyone else; that feel that they are the only ones with ideas and abilities and that no one else can say or do or accomplish anything. Because they have already. I hate arrogance and snobbery.

I don’t want to be like that.

I want to be someone that readers and potential business owners can reach out to when they aren’t sure. Someone that they aren’t intimidated by or scared to ask a question to because they still feel like they can connect with me and identify with where I’ve been. I’ve always wanted to contribute. To share what I know. To give back in whatever way that I can.

I never want to be someone who forgets where she started. Forgets that at one point, no matter how long ago that “point” was, I was a beginner. A newbie. A baby in the business who didn’t know where she was going or how she even got to the point that she was at.

I don’t know it all. I don’t have ideas that are any better than anyone else’s. I don’t pretend to be the expert, because I’m not. In fact, if you google “rules” for photography or proper graphic design techniques, I’ve probably broken them all. And I’m 100% positive that at some point I broke a few of the cardinal rules of blogging (colored text and backgrounds, anyone? Hello 2007 Blogger templates….).

I never want to lose sight of my integrity or my willingness to share what I know.

Because if I do, then what’s the point?

Sharing this post with Shell @ Things I Can’t Say for Pour Your Heart Out…a blogger who without a doubt constantly gives back to her readers and the blogging community.

Don’t forget to enter the Diva & 3 Dudes Camera Strap Giveaway! Ends on Monday!

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5 Ways to Lose Readers

Blogging


I’m not a stickler for rules. In my opinion some rules were meant to be broken:

  • In terms of photography, the rule of composition can be broken and you can still score a beautiful photo;
  • In terms of design, some fonts that are just “not useable” can be used to create something great (unless we’re talking about Comic Sans….because, let’s face it, unless your three, that font is just a no-no)
  • In terms of parenting, who ever decided that jumping on the bed and blowing milk bubbles was wrong, clearly hasn’t lived a full life.

But when it comes to blogging, there are a few things that I think people should generally stick to. I don’t necessarily call them guidelines, but more or less things that make reading and interacting with your blog a more pleasant experience for your readers.

Which led me to create this list for Nicole’s Listable Life post this week:

5 Things that Can Harm your Blog Readership

(aka My Top 5 Blogging Pet Peeves)

 

  • The Evil Comment Verification.

    I understand that no one likes to get spam. Really. I get it. I hate opening up my blog and seeing that I’ve gotten comments, only to discover that at least half of them are useless and are linking to not so appropriate websites. These days, however, Spam Filters are top notch and blogging platforms are more geared toward providing the blogger with a better block for this kind of garbage that overflows your inbox. For WordPress bloggers, there is nothing better than the Akismet Plugin. And I’m pretty sure that Blogger has setup a built in Spam Blocker, but there is also the option of using sites like Disqus to control your commenting. Turn off the verification people. It’s a hassle. And when you read 100+ blogs a day, taking that extra three minutes to type in jumbled up, illegible letters can make or break whether or not I will return to a blog.

 

  • Dark Background with White Text and/or Harshly Patterned Neon Backgrounds that Blink.

    I am all for great design. I make my living creating websites and blogs for people. And I’ve heard it all when it comes to what kind of pattern or background a blogger thinks will match their site. But, in all truthfulness, nothing is cleaner or easier on the eyes than a white content background with black text. Colored text on any colored background (unless it’s for a larger headline that you want to draw emphasis to), strains the eyes. Your main content should have a white background. Period. Your sites wrapper (the larger background portion of your site) should compliment your site and be easy on the eyes. Otherwise, readers may find themselves straining too hard to read and never return.

 

  • Automatic Music Players that are turned wide open.

    I am at my desk for a large portion of the day. While I work, I like to listen to iTunes to block out the sounds of Mickey Mouse and Team Umizoomi keep my focus on what I’m doing. Imagine my shock when I open a browser and something else is belting out of my speakers. There are some sites where background music is enjoyable and contributes to the experience (perhaps on an occasional photography website…), but otherwise, music players interrupt what your reader has going on. The mother of a newborn doesn’t want to open your site and have music blast through the speakers as her baby is sleeping. If having a music player is a must for you, consider putting it in the sidebar and turning it off. Then, if someone wants to hear the music, they can turn it on themselves.

 

  • Being a constant Debbie Downer or Critical Carly (I have no idea who “Critical Carly” is, but it sounded appropriate).

    We all have bad days; heck, sometimes we just have bad weeks. And there is nothing wrong with pouring out your heart on your site (in fact, Shell highly encourages this form of weekly therapy). I do it fairly often. It’s a great release and a great way to let your readers know that you ARE human. However, there is a difference between being real and sharing your struggles and just being a constant black cloud of gloom circling the blogosphere. Share what’s on your heart, but try to find some good in something, somewhere. Likewise, don’t be a constantly critical person. Nothing sends me fleeing from a site quicker than to open a blog where all the author is doing is criticizing the people in their life (especially if it’s their husband). We all have people in our lives that we don’t particularly get along with, but don’t air that kind of dirty laundry all over the internet.

 

  • Writing Content that has no value.

    I was actually discussing this with a friend two days ago, and Nicole wrote a great post on Authentic Blogging yesterday. Most of us are doing this blogging thing as a means to get ahead in another area of our lives. Whether we aim to be published authors, professional photographers, designers or business owners; social media is the means of sharing your talents with the world. I don’t know very many bloggers that haven’t accepted opportunities to write Sponsored Content or exchanged ads with other bloggers. These things are okay if they are done properly. I don’t mind reading a Sponsored post or accepting advertising with a business owner,  if it is of quality and relates the the general content of your website.  I’m a parenting/photography/design/lifestyle blogger. Not a food blogger. Even though I might share the occasional recipe here on my blog, I am not known for being a cooking blog. So, me accepting money to write about Great Cooking Utensils, would be a bit off. These kind of posts discredit you as a writer and devalue the content of your site. Think about your site, your purpose and your readers before you accept advertising or Sponsored opportunities.

What pet peeves would you contribute to this list? Are there certain things in the blogosphere that send you over the edge a bit? Share them in the comments or write your own Listable Life post and link up with Nicole!

 

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5 Things Every Blogger Should Know

Blogging

I started blogging in college. Make when MySpace was the cool thing and you could decorate your profile using crazy neon color schemes and backgrounds. Some of my sorority sisters read it and offered feedback, so I felt like a real accomplished writer. Then, when Little Man was born in 2008, I started another blog (like so many others) as a way to keep our family posted on what was going on with him and with our family.

When I realized that they weren’t reading it but that other people were, I started to share more and more of myself with the world and my tiny little audience.

I didn’t realize it then because blogging hadn’t become the social stipend that it is today, but maintaining a successful site and engaging and audience on a personal level is a full time job in itself.

I read somewhere in a random Google Search that there are some 175,000+ new blogs created every day. Which means that there are at least 100,000 people out there who are just starting on this venture and might not have the slightest clue where to go from here. I may not be The Pioneer Woman and I may not get paid to talk about how awesome over-priced kitchen appliances and lipsticks are but I have been at this for over three years, so I think I might know just a tiny bit about social media. Maybe. Just a tad.

That being said, I present you with:

5 Things Every Blogger Should Know
(whether a Seasoned Veteran or a Newbie)

  1. Be Original.

    You don’t have to be Ree Drumond or Heather Armstrong or insert-other-big-name-blogger-here. In fact, I want to encourage you NOT to be. Because they’ve paved their way. They’ve formed their community and their audience and you will never live up to that. So don’t try. Instead, try to be your own person…find your own voice…and share what you know. The world is full of copycats, so don’t try to be someone you aren’t.

  2. Social Media is your friend.

    A blogger deliberately avoiding Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest (as well as the other handful of social media sites that pop up every week) is like a doctor avoiding medical school. You will never see your blog grow to its fullest potential if you don’t get out there and broadcast it. Without sharing your site, the likelihood that you will ever be discovered, is small. People visit and hop to sites that they find from someone else. So if YOU aren’t putting your site out there, then chances are, other people aren’t either.

  3. Throw the idea of Niche Blogging out the window.

    There was a phase for a little while that had everyone thinking that they had to revamp their blogs and their sites because they didn’t have a niche. They weren’t targeting just one audience and focusing on one topic. I could be wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time), but in my opinion, niche blogging is boring. It’s overrated and it’s dreary. Unless you’re a world renowned photographer like Jasmine Star or Andee Tate…someone who is sought out for their speciality and their talents in one particular area, the chances are that your readers won’t mind reading about something new every once in a while. Does that mean you should blog about Health Food & Organic Living one day and then three days later share a recipe on 5 Different Ways to Eat a Twinkie? No. Make it relevant, but don’t stress about staying within certain boundaries.

  4. Don’t feel pressured to post daily

    This concept tends to get mixed reviews from different bloggers, so take this or leave it for what it’s worth. I would rather visit a blogger who posts quality content once every four or five days, than visit someone who posts daily and shares poor content. The same with posting multiple times a day. I tried posting twice a day for a while…focusing one post on photography and one post on personal stuff. It was overkill and neither of my posts were getting the attention that they needed or deserved. Find a pattern or a routine that works for your. If you have something of worth to share, share it. If you don’t, wait until you do. Your numbers may be low until you come back with new content, but at least when you return you will be bringing something good to the table.

  5. Forget about the numbers.

    It’s way too easy to get caught up in the numbers game when it comes to blogging. We’ve all been there at one point or another, and usually default back to worrying when no one is looking. It’s easy to wrap your worth up in how many page views you get per day and how many comments your posts receive. But the fact of the matter is, blogging is supposed to be about YOU and about sharing who YOU are and what YOU know. Not about everyone else and what they think. Feedback is nice and everyone loves comments, but that should never be the main focus of your site. If you find yourself asking “I wonder how many comments this post would get me?” or “I probably shouldn’t share this because it won’t rank high in the search engines.” then chances are you are in this for the wrong reason. Step back. Find your Purpose and then come back.

Blogging is one of those things that can be whatever you make it to be: fun, exciting, therapeutic…but you have to decide which route to go with it.

What have you learned from blogging? Any advice you would share with a newbie?

Linking up with Nicole @ Moments that Define Life for Listable Life!

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One Word: Create

Personal

It took me some time to get on the train with the one word for the year hype.

I spent a lot of time wondering whether or not just one word would suffice to keep me on track for the entire year.

Could one word drive me to make the most out of every single aspect of my life? And could a word other than “present,” “live,” or “embrace” offer such a gripping and meaningful year long journey?

I looked around the blogosphere at the words others were choosing. Some chose those words that were just kind of given (which is totally okay. Each word, in my opinion, means something in particular to every person and their current situation and place in life) and others chose words with some significant depth and thought. Each word selected held such an important meaning to the person who chose it.

I wanted my word to do the same.

I spent some time looking over my goals and commitments for 2012 and brainstorming my ambitions for the future.

Then the word just came to me…

 

 

All of the things that I want for myself this year, everything that I want for my family…can be summed up in this one word: create.

I did some thinking when it came to me originally. How can this word really summarize my hopes for both my career and my family?

That’s easy…

Career wise I want to continue to grow my business creating new clients, new products and new services for those that work with me.

I want to continue to learn how to create better portraits, more meaningful and heartfelt photos and moments that I can preserve for both my family as well as others.

I want to create worlds that don’t exist anywhere except in my mind…stories that haven’t been told as I finish my novel and hopefully start on a second.

I want to keep creating fresh and original content here on my blog; creating friendships with my readers that are more closely akin to family than just “subscribers.”

For my family…I want to create a new being…a new baby…add to our family. Give my son a brother or a sister to look after and love the way that he loves everything and everyone near and dear to him.

I want to keep creating memories together. Moments of laughter and excitement, moments of silliness and passion. Moments that define the life that we live and the time we’ve been given together.

I want to teach my son to create…to play, to imagine. To believe in ideas and dreams and ambitions that some may say aren’t possible.

I think this word is not only going to inspire me to be more original and more unique, but to push myself to open up and share bits and pieces of myself here on this blog. To push myself to go after the big things that I want for my businesses and my family.

2012 is going to be a great year.

Did you choose a word for 2012? Which one? What word describes all that you hope for in the coming year?

 

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When Real Life is Better

Random Things

I feel like I took a short blogging/social media hiatus this past week. I barely checked in on Twitter, scheduled my posts for the end of the week, and haven’t responded to comments or (most of my) emails.

And it’s been great.

Little Man’s birthday was on Thursday, so we spent the better part of the week getting ready for his party. Thursday evening I discussed the power and importance of Social Media with a group of fantastic photographers at a workshop I attended last week. Then, spent all day Friday shooting Studio and Outdoor Portraits for a beautiful group of little models; and spent Saturday learning and practicing my Photoshop Techniques. Sunday was the birthday party and then Trick-or-Treating was yesterday, so every bit of blog, work, social media and email has been placed on the back burner for a few days.

I’ve loved every minute of it.

Loved not having to worry about how many comments I was getting or what my traffic flow looked like.

Loved not feeling the need to check my Twitter stream every few minutes for updates; afraid that I’d miss something.

My Klout score fell by several points (surprise surprise) but I didn’t even care.

Because instead of being sucked into my computer, I was spending time actually living my life rather than writing about it.

I rocked my baby boy to sleep several times, actually went to bed when my husband went to bed for the first time in almost a month, and sat at the table to enjoy a meal with my two best guys.

Working from home, writing a blog, taking care of a toddler, being married and still finding time to take a shower every day is exhausting. It’s taxing. It’s chaotic.

And I’ve enjoyed not having to be everything and do everything these last two weeks.

Just being able to be with my family and spend some time with our friends has been enough.

Being away from here for a couple of days really made me realize how much time I was spending online. Not just with work, but with this blog and social networking and everything else.

And I think it’s time to make some adjustments. I reach this point every so many months where I feel like it starts to be too much and that I need to back off some.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go with my gut and step back to reanalyze.

I’m not leaving or going to quit blogging or working or any of that.

I just need to figure out a better time management system. Set some limitations. Because as I’m sure a lot of you know, 15 minutes online can quickly turn into three hours if you aren’t careful. And we’re wanting to start doing some PreSchooling with Noah here at home, so I’ve got to revamp how I spend my time.

Not to mention my house could use a little more upkeep than I’ve been giving it.

That being said, I’m going to cut my posts down to three time per week: Monday, Wednesday and a Feature Friday Blogger on Friday’s. I’m cutting back Spotlight Saturday to every other week and limiting how many Guest Posts I will contribute per month. If you’ve already contacted me for a post, don’t worry. I’m still going to get it to you, but as of now, I’m limiting those posts every month. It takes me time to write them and submit them and right now I just don’t have that kind of time.

Because being with my husband and my son, is just more important to me than that. And I don’t feel like I’ve been giving them the best that I can.

And I hope all of you can understand that.

Amy in all of her fabulousness took photos for me at Noah’s birthday party this weekend. I’ll share them here once I get them. They are SO great!

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© 2019 • Courtney Kirkland • Writer, Designer, Creative

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courtney kirkland

live life known.