Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

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The 10 Biggest Blogging Mistakes I’ve Made and How To Avoid Them

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: until very recently, I was considering 10 views a day to be a “good day” for this blog.

To some of you, that may seem laughable.  To a lot more of you, that probably seems very relatable. Putting all the time and effort into creating the best content you can, only to have it read by a mere handful of people can be disheartening. It’s also extremely frustrating, especially if you’ve had some previous successes.

Before I shut it down, “Life, Motherhood and The Pursuit of Happiness” was doing really well. I was getting a few thousand views a month, tons of comments, and actually getting shares from other people. I had a fair amount of subscribers and the Facebook page for that blog had 700 followers, which I naively believed would just naturally migrate over to the new blog.

I was sadly mistaken.

A few people followed along, but I saw a dramatic decrease in traffic and watched my social media following stall out. As you can imagine, this also impacted book sales and brought my other ventures to a halt. It was terribly frustrating, to say the least. For the last year and a half, I have been plugging away, trying to figure out what was going wrong.

When my husband and I started kicking around the idea of me sucking it up and finding a “real job”, I knew I had to do something.  I’ve worked so hard to establish myself as a legitimate author and designer, throwing it away was not in the cards.

I began thinking about all the things I had done to make “Life, Motherhood, and The Pursuit of Happiness” a successful site and decided to apply all I had learned to this blog. Although this site has been up for close to two years, I had to start thinking of it in terms of a brand new blog and start from scratch. A daunting feat to be sure!

Within a week I noticed a dramatic change in my stats. Soon, I was back on track.

I decided to share what I’ve done to bring this site back from the dead in the hopes of helping fellow bloggers increase their reach.

 

blogging mistakes, blog tips

1. Being Generic

When I first started blogging, I was deathly afraid of alienating people. This led to me keeping things pretty bland, which obviously did nothing to keep people reading. I made the same mistake when I started this blog, in the hopes of looking more professional. In both cases, I found that as soon as I started publishing heartfelt pieces and injecting more of my true personality into my writing, my views went up. So did engagement. Don’t water yourself down out of fear. Trust that the right audience will appreciate your authenticity.

2. Not Joining Blog Hops or Groups

When I ran my first blog, I was joining several blog hops (also known as link-ups or linky parties) each week and sharing my posts in several blog groups across various social media platforms. Originally, I had avoided that on this site. To me, having those badges on the bottom of my posts (or in my sidebar) looked unprofessional. However, we all have to start somewhere and in the beginning you are basically writing for other bloggers. From there your audience can grow quite well, but it is definitely a community, not a one-man show.

3. Not Using Social Media Effectively

When I was starting out, I was barely using social media at all. Eventually, I found myself with the opposite problem and using it too much. You want to find the sweet spot and focus on the platforms you actually enjoy. Trying to keep up with 20 different profiles leaves little time to focus on creating content. Personally, I mostly focus on Facebook and Twitter. I also use Instagram for all my images, and have it automatically publish to my Facebook page and my Twitter account, which is a great time saver. I also have my Facebook posts publish to my Twitter account so I don’t have to write as many separate tweets. I use FPTraffic to share daily images and links to Facebook to cut back on the amount of time I have to spend posting things as well.

The other key is to avoid constantly promoting yourself. Share things from other sources as well, share bits about yourself and your life. Keep a well-balanced mix of content to avoid burning out your followers. This is something that has worked very well for me in the past and that I’ve been working harder on implementing for this blog with great results.

It is also worth noting that the occasional promoted post can do wonders. While part of me hates the pay-to-play aspect, if you have something you want to make sure gets seen it can be a useful strategy and can often result in new followers.

4. Not Interacting With Other Bloggers

This kind of goes hand in hand with joining blog hops and groups, but I think it’s important enough to stress here as well. You need to be involved in the community to grow! Comment on blog posts. When someone shares something on social media be sure to like, comment, and share. Email other bloggers. Strike up friendships!

Not only is it always nice to add to your circle of friends, but you never know when you may need someone else’s expertise. You may even be able to help them out or join together in a project that benefits both of you.

5. Thinking It Will Take Off Overnight

Every now and then I feel down about how long it’s taken to get this site off the ground. However, when I think back on my first blog, I realize that it took me about two years before I finally gained some traction. It takes a lot of hard work to build your following. You’ll spend hours writing content, editing images, and promoting your work only to feel let down when it doesn’t immediately pay off. There will be times when you wonder why you are even doing this. Stick with it! One day something will stick and open up more doors for you. If you enjoy what you’re doing and have a little faith, you’ll find the right audience. Just keep doing the best you can and learning along the way.

 

blogging tips, quote hard work, working hard, blogging mistakes

 

 

6. Not Treating It Like A Business

Even if your goal isn’t to make money off of your blog, if you want to be successful you absolutely have to treat it like a business. Figure out exactly what you want out of your blogging experience and go for the gold! You need to carve out enough time to do it well and guard that time with your life. Let others know how important it is to you, and treat your blogging time with the same respect you’d treat your working hours at any other job. One of the great things about blogging is you can set your own hours and be flexible, but don’t let that slide into you putting it on the back burner. If you need to focus on writing next Wednesday and can’t agree to that lunch invite, plan lunch for another day. Do whatever you have to do to make your work a priority.

Half-assed efforts lead to half-assed results.

7. Not Knowing What Your Goals Are

Why do you blog? What do you want to offer to others? What results would you like to see? What are you willing to spend? How important is it to make an income from your blog? How much do you eventually want to make?

These are the sorts of questions you should know the answers to.

When I started blogging, it was just something to do to fill the time. I wanted to get used to sharing my work and to possibly help others as I shared my experiences as bits of knowledge I’d acquired. Eventually, I decided I wanted to turn it into a career.  For me now, this blog is a hub that allows me to express myself, andto  provide encouragement, support, and information to others. It also serves to lead people to my products. For others, the blog itself may be the product.

Whatever you wish to achieve, you must have it well defined in your mind. Write it down, and figure out how you are going to get there. Break it into smaller milestones and develop an action plan to achieve them. What do you need to do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to make it work?

I like to stick all those tiny, actionable steps in my planner and tick them off as I go. You may have another system that works better for you. Maybe you like lists or charts. Maybe you like to keep it all in your mind. Regardless of how you track your progress, you absolutely need to have a clear vision before you can make something a reality.

8. Not Having A Content Calendar…Or Being Too Reliant On One

I know, I know, that sounds contradictory. Allow me to explain.

When I first started out, I was just winging it. Sometimes this worked well, but more often than not it would lead to stress as I stared helplessly at my keyboard, trying to find something to write about. Eventually, I started keeping a list of ideas that I could pull from and that helped a little.

Then one day, I decided to plan out a year’s worth of posts in one go. I sat down with a fresh notebook and wrote down all my publishing dates (I used to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and then I planned a topic for each of those dates. Some of them were very concrete ideas (like a tutorial or recipe) and others were more vague (like “something about Father’s Day”). I remember feeling so relieved to have the hard part done. Now all I had to do was write!

What happened was, I still found myself struggling. Sometimes I didn’t feel about writing the post I had planned or it turned out I didn’t have as much to say about the topic as I thought I did. Other times, I’d get a great new idea I wanted to write immediately or I wanted to write about something that was currently trending. Then I’d stress for hours as I tried to rearrange my calendar. Often times I’d just let those ideas go to stick to my schedule and later wish I hadn’t.

What I’ve learned is that it is absolutely helpful and ideal to have a content calendar. Knowing what posts to write next and being able to write in advance and schedule things for later definitely eases the burden. However, shoot for smaller windows of time and allow for changes to be made. Sure, you may know that you want holiday themed posts on a certain day and can reserve those well in advance, but I find it is better to plan everything else a month or two out at a time and keep the other ideas in a separate list to get to later. This affords the opportunity to move things around more easily if the need arises.

9. Paying Too Much For Hosting — Or Not Paying At All!

While I absolutely understand starting your blog on a free platform (which is where I began!), eventually you’ll have to pony up and pay for hosting. A website looks much more professional when you have your own domain name, and it goes a long way towards branding. There’s also something to be said for owning your own page.

There are many affordable options nowadays, so purchasing your domain name and getting hosting is a breeze. Shop around and find a company that fits your budget and needs–just be sure to do your research! Unfortunately, the internet is full of scammers, so always be sure you are purchasing from a reliable source.

Personally, I use Bluehost for my hosting. I have had great experiences with their customer service team on the rare occasion that things have gone wrong and they offer several packages that are easily affordable.

10. Worrying Too Much

This is by far the biggest mistake any of us make in our day to day lives. Whether it’s worrying about our blog stats or wondering if we are doing a good enough job, or worrying about something in our personal lives, this is something we could all stand to do a lot less. Worrying does nothing but rob us of joy and keep us from performing at our best. In fact, I’ve found that the posts I was most worried about have consistently been my best performing pieces.  Relax and enjoy your work! Keep learning and doing the best you can, and do what makes you happy! The rest will sort itself out.

 

quote abraham lincoln worry, blogging mistakes, blog tips

 

I know blogging, or any creative pursuit, can be full of hurdles. No matter what problems you’re facing, attack them head-on. Never stop searching for solutions and never lose site of the dream.

Confessions Of A Sh***y Wife

Every now and then, I get the feeling that I’m not so great at this whole being a wife thing.

The other day, I decided to write something to articulate these thoughts and I realized that they usually arise from stress.  We ladies have a tendency to get down on ourselves and feel as though we don’t do enough.

Originally, this is a piece I wrote just for my husband and I. As I reread it, I realized that it was something a lot of women I know could relate to. With that in mind, here’s my confession.

confessions of a shitty wife, marriage

Photo via VisualHunt.com

Today, you came home from work at 4 o’clock, like you always do. You told our daughter to get dressed and come outside with you, and asked me to join you. I rolled my eyes and told you I had things to do.

“Sorry, I just wanted to spend time with my family,” you said.

I sighed as guilt overtook me, then threw on my hoodie and followed you out.

As we sat around the fire pit,  I watched you interact with our child and our dog, and I smiled. We wouldn’t have a wonderful backyard oasis if it wasn’t for your hard work and sacrifice. We wouldn’t have a family full of love. Our child wouldn’t have an amazing dad. I wouldn’t have the freedom to go after my dreams.

Cue more guilt.

The thing is, I don’t do affection well. I’ve always been a solitary individual, and letting others into my space is hard. While I try to make it a point to tell you I love you and show you I care, I often prefer to do my own thing.

I’m not good at flowery language, unless I’m putting the pen to paper. Hell, I can barely manage to give more than a requisite “that’s great!” or “that’s too bad!” most of the time.

Instead, I show my love for you through the things I do.  The meals I cook, the hours of cleaning, the managing of the funds, are all ways I show I care. Every time I nag you to take your vitamin or schedule an appointment for you, I’m thinking of how much I you mean to me.

Still, I know I could do more. Say more. Show more.

At the end of the day, I’m exhausted. I know you are, too.

It’s not an excuse, but by the time you get home I’ve given so much of myself to so many people that I have nothing left for you.

I give myself to the friend who’s marriage is going through a rough patch. To the sister in law who’s in the throws of her first pregnancy and needs advice. To the other sister in law who needs an ear to bend. To the best friend who is at the end of her rope. To my mother, your mother, and whoever else sees fit to give me a call.

I give myself to our daughter, who is still so very small. I provide three meals, god-knows-how-many snacks, and more drinks than I can count. I help her with her clothes, her bath, and the occasional trip to the bathroom. I give out snuggles and kisses like they were going out of style. I assess boo-boos and read stories and do my best to keep her happy.

I give myself to my work, churning out pages upon pages of text in a day. I spend hours, answering emails, responding to messages, and promoting my work online. Even more time is spent brainstorming new ways to make this dream of mine a reality.

I spread myself thin. Too thin. In the midst of it all, I don’t even take the time to properly care for myself, let alone give you all you need.

I know I’m a wreck. I know I bombard you with to-do lists, fears, and a flood of complaints and less than crucial information the second you walk in the door.

I know it’s not fair. To either of us.

I just want you to know I see you. I see all you do. And I appreciate it all. I want you to know that I’m trying. That one day I’ll find that balance. As I work towards simplifying our life and our budget and our time, I’m also working to make you more of a priority. To make us a priority.

Until then, remember those piles of folded laundry, the food on the table, and hot coffee I bring you each morning are the best way I know to tell you how much you mean to me.

I love you.

 

It All Starts With A Dream

Every now and then I spend an entire day lost in a daydream. Quite often, I’m dreaming of the future. What kind of life do I want? What kind of person do I want to be?

I’ve long studied the Law of Attraction, which states that in order to achieve your dreams you must visualize them in the present tense. You must feel in your mind that they are already a reality so that your mind opens up to new pathways to your goal.

imagination is everything albert einstein law of attraction make dreams a reality charity

My dreams are fairly simple. I just want my family to never worry about how to pay our bills or put food on the table, and maybe go on a vacation every now and then.

I dream of buying a secluded piece of land and building an earth bag home. Our power will be solar. A good portion of our water will come from the sky. Our pool will be self-sustaining. We’ll grow our own food.

I dream of owning a record shop with a snack bar, where all the local kids come and hang out. I can be an awesome mentor for kids who otherwise lack parental direction. I’d encourage the youth to create their own clubs and support groups and use the space to better themselves.

I dream of owning a bar and grill that serves great food and provides a venue for local bands, comedians, and other performers to showcase their art.

I dream of running a charity that works to foster a sense of community and give others the resources and information to turn their lives around. We would offer various classes and seminars, which would be “paid” for via donations or volunteer hours. You could even volunteer to teach a class! We would provide clothing, food, and other items to those in need, and offer  cash assistance for things like rent, bills, or other necessities. We would help connect people to other services if their needs are beyond our scope.There would be counselors and life coaches available to help people establish a strategy to break the cycle of poverty. Maybe we’d even have a shelter for those in direct need of a safe haven.

Of course, I’ve dreamed about what it would be like to become famous for my writing or my music or what have you. I’ve fantasized about what it would be like to suddenly have large sums of cash. What would I do if I had so much money that I never had to think twice about it for the rest of my life?

I’ve thought about it extensively, and quite honestly, I can’t imagine why anyone would ever need so much money. You need a roof over your head and food in your belly. Damn near everything else is just frivolous.

take what you need, use all you take, give what you can. It all starts with a dream

I would still build my sustainable family farm. Most of my purchases would still be second hand. I would set aside a small amount for my child(ren) to go to school, but I would still expect them to contribute to the funds as well. I’d set aside a modest emergency fund and a retirement fund. Some of my money would be given to friends and family to help them get ahead. I’d start my businesses and make sure my employees were paid enough to support themselves and their families. I would start the charity mentioned above.

The rest?

It would go into helping people who are homeless or in direct threat of homelessness. I would work on an individual basis and find out what they need to create a stable life. Perhaps that would mean paying for rehab or education (or both). It could mean helping them find a job, or paying for medical bills. Maybe it would mean paying a year of rent in advance and setting them up a stipend to take care of bills and food until they are back on their feet.

I would do what I could with my funds to help others. If I had the fame to go with it, I would use my position to prove to others that you can still live well on a lesser amount of money while directly contributing to the betterment of society.

Of course, helping others doesn’t have to wait until you have obscene amounts of cash. Anything you can give of yourself is a step in the right direction.

This year one of my goals is to step up my game and give more. I’ve always donated clothes and other items to local charities, and helped those around me when I can. Still,  I would like to do more.

That is my dream. To live simply, and do what I can to ensure others can simply live.

What’s your dream? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

 

How To Write A Terrible Blog Post In 20 Easy Steps!

So, you’ve decided that you want to run an experiment and create the world’s worst blog, but you keep coming up with quality content. “How can I write the worst possible blog post ever?” you ask, peering over your stylish spectacles whilst scratching your head.

Perhaps you write for a living and have decided you want to get yourself fired.

Or, maybe you’re just kind of a flake and missed your self-imposed deadline and feel pressured to write something–anything–ASAP. It’s okay, I won’t judge you.

Whatever the reason, your quest for suckitude has brought you here. Rest assured that by the time you finish this article you will be armed with the knowledge you need to go forth and write…terribly.

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, terrible blogging is the result of hard work. It’s much more than covering the basics (poor grammar, spelling errors, or WRITING IN ALL CAPS), it’s a sophisticated sequence of events, a carefully choreographed dance, if you will.

Follow these steps in order. Do not attempt to switch them around, as doing so may result in accidentally writing something of value.

 

write a terrible blog post in 20 easy steps

 

  1. Spend nearly a full day writing a post you think is actually good. Put it away and have a glass of wine to celebrate, all you have to do is post it the next day!
  2. Re-read the post you wrote yesterday. Decide it needs more work.
  3. Check out some of your favorite blogs. Realize that someone else has recently written something very similar to what you planned to post next. Decide to put it away, fearing a case of accidental plagiarism.
  4. Decide that maybe the posts aren’t really that similar. You’ll just rewrite it to include a link to their post, just in case.
  5. Open the draft and stare at it for 5 full minutes. Feel that knot in your stomach? Congratulations! That’s doubt you feel and it’s a sign that you are well on your way to writing a terrible blog post. Keep up the good work!
  6. Grab a sheet of paper and start brainstorming ideas for a new article. Just write down whatever comes to mind, don’t worry about whether the idea is good or not.
  7. Hear your toddler crying in the next room. Vow to come back to the desk as soon as you find out what her problem is.
  8. Return to your desk approximately 4 hours later, once your child has finally decided to take a nap.
  9. Waste an hour or so researching ways to increase traffic to your blog.

    computer, blog tips, funny

    Or take notes on Youtube videos, I guess?

  10. Waste another 2 hours or so adding your blog to various directories and social sharing networks that may or may not bring you any clicks.
  11. Remember that you haven’t checked Facebook for a while. Waste another half-hour “Liking” everyone’s posts.
  12. Realize that you still haven’t made dinner and that your family likes food.
  13. Come back to your computer and spot the sheet of paper where you began brain-storming ideas.
  14. Realize you hate all of them.
  15. Open a new document and begin free-writing.
  16. Re-read what you’ve wrote, shrug, and say “Good enough.”
  17. Post it to your blog.
  18. Don’t forget to share it on all your social media sites!
  19. Have a glass of wine.
  20. Promise yourself that your next post will be better.
And there you have it. With the proper mix of determination and procrastination, you too can write a worthless blog post!

 

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