JMJ *Yesterday, in a silly moment of insane-ness, I started a blog “Challenge 52”, open to anyone who might like a new self-improvement challenge a week. I thought it was a neat concept, and it was. It was the beginning of a new year, and the perfect time to start a blog, or so I thought…
(Scroll down below school diary, to see the worst way to start a blog.)
RING THE BELL 81/180 days-
A reminder, the following events are from exactly 4 years ago. I am presently enjoying writing for my blog, “Once upon a Schoolhouse”!
Yesterday, exactly 4 years ago, in a silly moment of insane-ness, I started a blog “Challenge 52”, open to anyone who might like a new self-improvement challenge a week. I thought it was a neat concept, and it was. It was the beginning of a new year, and the perfect time to start a blog, or so I thought…
The blog lasted a whole of one day, or exactly one post. It had been an impulsive decision, as many New Year’s resolutions are. It was one of those moments where I had temporarily lost my mind. It was too much to expect to keep a school journal and a blog as well, that particular school year. And the blog was not even related to my journaling, which was already taking up some of my time on a daily basis. A sloppy shorthand journal of the day’s happenings was all I could fit into my schedule at the time, and I loved writing down my feelings and activities of the day, but with the demands of a family, to write beyond that was a ridiculous thought!
Other tidbits of day 81…
Financial paperwork, including financial aid stuff, and Sabrina’s essays dominated the day. I secretly hoped that Melissa and Sarah would apply to a shorter list of universities, when their turn came around, than Sabrina had! This was way more work than I had anticipated. A decision I made early on in the year, to help Sabrina achieve success in her applications, was taking its toll in time and energy. I know I could have just let her figure it out, but I chose to be part of it. Thank goodness I had the foresight of quitting my part-time teacher job at Golden Valley, before starting this school year.
After completing her schoolwork, Sarah spent some downtime watching Cut-Throat Kitchen on the Food Network. She loves that show and everything about the Food Network. I watched I Love Lucy, and the Andy Griffith show as a kid. Times have changed, but my kids still love the same shows as I did. Besides that, I am very particular about what they watch.
Melissa’s big salad was the highlight of today, which she made for lunch, and included lots of veggies, eggs, garbanzo beans, and chicken. It was so delicious, we repeated the same menu for dinner as well. Teaching my kids to prepare food has been one of my best investments of time!
The worst way to start a blog:
These are the mistakes which I made when starting the blog, “Challenge 52”, 4 years ago. I truly enjoy writing for my new blog, “Once Upon a Schoolhouse”, which focuses on the everyday adventures of a school year.
Here are things NOT to do. A sort of checklist for success. Of course, there are always exceptions, and overnight success stories, but I have never found myself to be part of this group! So I believe the following is sound advice.
1.START ON A WHIM. Don’t start on a whim as I did. Define your goals and also think about what success is to you. For me, it was to start something I knew I would commit to, that was heartfelt, and that I felt others could enjoy and benefit from. The “Challenge 52” was a fun idea, but not as close to my heart, as my “Once Upon a Schoolhouse”, school year diary. The passion wasn’t there for “Challenge 52”. Even if I had had the time, I think it would have fizzled quickly, as I don’t really like the premise of starting of new resolution every week, for 52 weeks.
2. BEGIN BEFORE YOU HAVE A PLAN. Just an idea isn’t good enough. Don’t start your blog until you have a plan. Just a concept is usually not enough to keep it going. Basically, I had started with no plan, with “Challenge 52”. The plan for my present blog is to scrapbook a school year, and provide advice to interested readers about homeschooling and family life in general. Also, it is a family blog, and my daughters are invited to contribute posts as well. Melissa, my 16-year-old, has decided on, “Melissa’s Corner”, where she shares piano performance videos and art videos, as well as special features. I also decided to include a section on allergy-free recipes, since I have much experience in this area due to Sarah’s multiple allergies. Now that is a plan!
3. SCRAP THE CALENDAR. It is a good idea to decide when you will post, perhaps in a couple of categories, again something I did not give any thought to initially. I am probably a bit more flexible than many bloggers when it comes to this. Now, what I do is basically post a daily entry every school day, with the goal of including one recipe a week, and one of Melissa’s videos. In the future, I would like to include a weekly post on fun stuff to do with your family.
4. FIGURE YOU WILL DO POSTS WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT. I usually I sit down at my computer, start writing, and then get motivated. Good intentions won’t get the job done. If days go by with no writing, an honest evaluation needs to be made regarding if this is the best time to start a blog. For me, it was definitely not going to happen.
5. ASSUME PEOPLE WANT TO READ WHAT YOU ARE WRITING. Although it may have ended up being a topic of high interest, I have no idea. I would suggest reading some blogs and exploring what is out there before making a decision on a topic, to see if there might be an audience.
6. POST YOUR FIRST DRAFT. I have learned to revisit my posts several times to tweek it, add nuances, check for grammar, and improve it. Thoughts come and go during the day which I can use. I post every day, and sometimes I am tempted to submit the post on the first draft just to get it over with for the day, but when I do, I find myself coming back to it several times after I have posted to change it up. Why not post a refined essay for your readers? They might “like” that much better!
7. GO IT SOLO. It took me a few months to jump on the bandwagon and take a look around me. Read what other people have written, and get involved by leaving comments and feedback on other people’s blogs. It will inspire you.
8. SKIP THE ADVICE. So many good bloggers out there know what they are doing. Create your own checklist using other people’s advice and refer to it any time you write a blog.
9. JUMP INTO IT BEFORE AN EVALUATION. When you think you have a great idea for a blog, brainstorm possible essay topics. If you run out of subject matter after only a few, it is probably not a good topic, because you will need a constant stream of ideas, to keep the blog going. How many posts can you honestly write about your idea? A journal is an exception to this, as you are documenting a journey of some sort.
10. WRITE THE BLOG EXCLUSIVELY TO BE LIKED. Write about something close to your heart. When I hastily started “Challenge 52”, I was mainly thinking along the lines of what other people might like. A personal goal is very important. With “Once Upon a Schoolhouse”, I will have a school year, documented with anecdotes and photos, something to pass along to my kids and perhaps someday their offspring. Along the way, I hope to impart helpful advice to those who might benefit from it. Write about something close to your heart.
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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is part of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs. Every day’s blog entry coincides with a day from that special year. It can be read from the beginning by selecting the “Ring the School Bell 180” category on the side bar. Commence with the narrative, “The School Bell- What comes to mind when ‘you’ hear that bell?”
Start here to get the story from the very beginning:
Follow along with us day-by-day through the school year. Hope you will join us!
May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine. Annette