This is part of the Business of Blogging Series. You can see all of the posts, here.
I’ve done a bit of speaking this summer at various conferences, and I’ve said a few times to the audience (and been met with great laughs), “Let’s face it. Bloggers are narcissistic.”
While I do love laughter responses, I’m completely serious when I say that in order to be a good blogger, or to put yourself out in the public eye, you’ve got to have a part of your personality that believes that You Are Better Than Others.
and this is a challenge. It’s a struggle for me, and I know it’s a struggle for many of my friends. It feels wrong, it feels fraudulent, and it feels deceitful to decide when you wake up in the morning that you are going to make and write about THE WORLD’S BEST BEEF STEW.
or the best way to fold a fitted sheet.
or write about a completely ordinary trip to Walmart but in a way you just *know* your readers will appreciate.
or heaven help you, post a #selfie on instagram.
I wasn’t raised to seek the spotlight, I was raised to sit quietly with my hands folded while the grown-ups talked and not to interrupt. And that is how I’m raising my children. Nobody likes a know-it-all who interrupts. Blogging is about interrupting.
DID YOU HEAR ME?
gah. It’s loud, it’s annoying, and it feels icky.
So what do you do? How do you balance the self-doubt, the negative voices, and the twingy feeling that you are doing something wrong when you decide to put your heart and voice online?
I can tell you that it gets easier, but I can also tell you that I personally stress and analyze every time I write anything online. This is the list I weigh in my head before posting (on any of my sites, on facebook, on twitter, and even on pinterest)
1) How does this help my audience? (and helpful can just be a feel-good moment. there doesn’t need to be a lifelesson in everything you put online, nor does it have to be a how-to tutorial.)
2) Am I writing this only because so-and-so has written about (kale) a lot and I feel like in order to stay relevant I need to write about (kale)?
3) Am I jumping on the bandwagon about a certain event that has a lot of drama and I want people to link to me when they, too, write about this certain event?
4) [related to #3] am I stirring an already-bubbling pot? Is that what I want to be known for? Pot-stirring?
5) In 3 days, will I still be proud of my writing?
6) Am I writing this because I’m getting paid to write about it (like a sponsored post)? Have I told my audience this truth?
7) Will my writing be search-engine-friendly? If not, how can I massage my words to help with SEO?
8) and then back again to #1…. am I being helpful to my audience?
If you respect your audience, they will respect you.
If you jump in front of the
camera keyboard every single time any fleeting thought passes through your head, you might gain lots and lots of followers initially, but they will leave in the longrun. Build a lasting legacy — something that you enjoy, that you can see yourself working on as your life’s work.
As for the negative thoughts? Embrace them. Listen to what they have to say. Maybe you are posting too often, and without anything valuable to offer your readers. Maybe you are only tweeting 7 times a day because some expert told you that’s how many times a day you should tweet. Maybe you are solely only writing about the latest conference drama because you want to be in the spotlight and want to be someone “in the know.”
and if after some soul-searching you realize that you don’t like your current path, then tweak it a bit.
But don’t let the voices win. We ALL have something to offer. We are all on this life-living journey together, and we all have something to share and to teach. Differing perspectives are fantastic — that is how we, as readers, as humans, make decisions. That’s why we read Amazon reviews — our culture needs to know as much as possible about pretty much everything right now. Right this instant. We can’t even wait to get home to our desktop, we have to whip out our phones in the middle of the store and tweet a picture to the masses to see if these shoes are actually a good buy.
This is a great time to be writing online. Do not let self-doubt or shyness prevail. Yes, bloggers are inherently narcissistic. We have to be.
And that’s okay. Just make sure to acknowledge it.
This is another installment in my The Business of Blogging Series.
I have been blogging full-time since 2008, and have been hesitant to share my successes “out loud” with very many people because I worry about 1) jinxing it and 2) being show-offy
and I’m not a show-offy person, and I worry a lot about karma and good will and even feng shui.
But I’ve gotten to thinking about why I do what I do and why I started what I started. And honestly, I just like helping people. Specifically other moms.
I wrote the proposal for the Totally Together Journal way back in 2004 (I was pregnant with my second). I wanted a way to help other mothers, and thought I could be of service in some way. It took YEARS to get that book to the market.
In the mean time, I started the slow cooking site, and wrote the corresponding cookbooks. The very best part of my day is waking up to Thank You emails and tweets. I love that I can somehow help other busy families get healthy, satisfying, budget -friendly (and gluten free, to boot!) meals on the table. I am proud of that.
I worry sometimes about being too proud. I worry about being a braggart, and I worry that others will feel that my success isn’t warranted or that somebody handed me something. I worry that someone, somewhere will think that I must “know someone” and that’s how I got on tv or got book deals, or how I get a lot of people to my website.
and so I don’t talk about my achievements.
or yet I haven’t, much.
I spent last Saturday in Los Angeles with Adam. We flew in so I could speak at the Latina Lifestyle Blogging Convention about Ethics and Blogging (they knew I’m Scottish…!).
And I realized, I know an awful lot about blogging. An awful lot. I’ve learned through trial and error and have been very lucky in my blogging and social media endeavors.
And I figured that EVERYBODY who has blogged for as long as I have has achieved similar results, and am finding out (through talking to friends/acquaintances) that this is not the case.
I make over 100k directly from my websites.
and I do this all, from home, in my pajamas, while I care for my children.
And it’s not that hard.
This post is titled PATIENCE. Because I truly believe that ANYONE, ANYWHERE can have this level of success if they map out a business plan and are patient. The money is out there. The opportunities are out there.
Don’t worry about what so-and-so is doing. Don’t compare your site to anyone else’s. Learn how to write for SEO and give your readers what they want.
I want to help —- my hope is that I can somehow help other people/moms create additional streams of income for their family’s budget.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be living the life I am living, and I would like to help. If you have questions about future installments for this series, please let me know in the comments below. I’ve finally gotten the green light from Adam to talk candidly (sort of. LOL) and I would really like to offer any help I can. oxox steph
OH! and I should probably explain the above photo of the grape vine. I planted that vine 4 years ago, and the leaves promptly all fell off. I kept watering and fertilizing it even though it looked like a dead stick. For 4 years. And this spring? Not only are there leaves, there are teensy tiny grape bundles! Patience. It’s a virtue! :-0
This is part of the Business of Blogging series.
and other stuff:
We’re approaching the end of February. Do you know where your New Year Resolutions are?
I’ve gotten pretty good at making and keeping my resolutions each new year — and while it’s still not super easy for me to stay on track, each and every year I have a bit more resolve to keep on course.
It doesn’t matter that we’re near the end of February — there is still plenty of time to get your new year goals and resolutions back on track. If you’ve fallen off the wagon, here are some tips to climb back in it and buckle up; there’s a long road ahead until the end of the year.
If you haven’t made any new year resolutions or goals for 2013, or don’t like to because you don’t think that’s “your thing” — okay. But you also can’t change for the better in any way unless you make the conscious decision to do so. And regardless of your personal journey or path, I believe we all could do a bit better each year.
This is it.
You’re not going to get today back again, and it’s okay to want tomorrow to be slightly better.
How to make New Year Resolutions that You’ll Keep:
1) Write it down. This is such a simple step, yet the majority of people don’t do it. Yes, there are plenty of people who have stuck to their resolve to lose weight or get out of debt by not writing down their goals, but if you DO write it down you have a greater chance of success. And who are we to fool around with statistics? If it feels hokey, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to share what you’ve written down to anybody — just keep it in a notebook or folded up in your purse.
2) Tell Someone. I know. In suggestion number 1 I said you don’t have to share your written resolution or goal list with anyone and now I’m telling you to tell someone else your personal wishes and dreams. I promise I’m not losing my mind— you still don’t have to share your written out list, but you DO have to share what you’re working on.
Accountability to someone else is a much stronger motivational drive than an intrinsic one. This means that you are more likely to disappoint yourself than you are someone else. That’s just how human nature is. We are also much more forgiving to others than we are to ourselves —- so if you veer off track, having a supportive someone in your corner is just who you’ll need to confide in and who can help you retain confidence.
3) Review your resolutions every single day. However you do this is up to you. You can pull out your list of goals, or rewrite them every morning. Some people have excellent results by writing their resolutions out as if they have already happened. For instance, if your goal is to lose those final last ten pounds, you might start your day by thinking about how thankful you are that you can fit into the dress hanging in the closet. You can go a step further and visualize yourself wearing it and hear in your head all the complements you’ll get from your friends.
I have a vision board. I make a new one every year, and I keep it in the bathroom. It’s personal, and I have sayings and quotes, and magazine cutouts on it. I only share it with Adam, and even he kind of rolls his eyes a bit at how particular some of my visions (picture cutouts) are. But that’s okay. Because my vision board makes me smile and keeps me focused on what it is I’m working towards — I look at it quite a few times a day, and somedays it spurs me on to take action on a certain writing assignment or to go do a few pushups. Other days I just zone out. I’ve decided to believe that even on my zone out days my subconscious is working on something.
4) Pretend you’ve already succeeded. Or fake it till you make it. This might seem phony at first, but you’ll get used to it in practice. If your New year’s Resolution was to work out every morning, act like a person who works out every morning. What time does that person wake up? What does she wear? Does she sleep in her workout clothes and works out before getting dressed for the day? What does she eat? Do you need different food in the house?
If your resolution was to write every day on your All American Novel, start acting like a novelist. What does a novelist do? Does she get up before everyone else in the house and write for an hour? Does she have a set of index cards with character names and traits? Does she spend 3 hours a day surfing facebook or pinterest, or does she buckle down and work?
5) Reward yourself. This doesn’t need to be elaborate, nor does it need to be expensive, but you have to find a way to celebrate the tiny steps and milestones along the way. Day to Day life is hard enough as it is — trying to change or adapt is even harder, even if you know it’s for the better.
Human nature is to find the easiest and least resistant path. It’s easier to lay around on the couch than it is to lace up your shoes and go for a walk. So reward yourself. Walk to the grocery store and after making a few laps get yourself a pack of sugarless gum. If you’ve gotten through the entire day without yelling at the kids, take a bath. Paint your toes. Do something just for you that’s a reward. And there is no harm in using the reward as motivation to keep to your goals — “if I don’t use my credit card but instead pay it off, I can use the extra savings in our vacation fund.”
I’m sure you see what I mean.
You don’t have to be in the first week of January to decide to be a New You. Or a Newer Version of You.
You can do this. I know you can.
and it’s not too late.
It’s never too late to accomplish anything you put your mind to.
For the last week or so, I’ve been using an ironing board as a desk. I wish I was smart enough to have thought of this as a DIY alternative to a standing desk — but I’m not. It just sort of happened.
I’ve wanted a standing desk for a while – I’ve scoured pinterest and DIY sites for ideas, have looked at websites advertising these type of desks (WAY expensive), and even have sent Adam links to how to make them at home using cheap wood and laminate.
So I put this idea on hold.
But then last week happened, and we each had different work trips to go on, and we had unexpected company, and the ironing board that I set up in the corner of the master bedroom got left up. And the computer armoire where I plug everything in at night (my current work desk is the kitchen table, but we have a computer cabinet where we hide everything at night so the “work day” is over by dinner time) got a bit cluttered so I needed another flat surface for charging the laptop.
And I used the ironing board.
And then left it on the ironing board while I was answering email in the morning, and even used it as a table for the last slow cooker recipe I photographed —- and although it’s not the prettiest thing in the world to keep up in the master bedroom, it might very well might be the most practical thing I’ve ever come up with.
What I like about standing versus sitting:
* I’m burning calories — there are studies that prove that standing exerts more energy than sitting
* I’m naturally stepping or swaying while I work — my pedometer (this is the one that I LOVE, and it’s cheap!) is showing that I’ve added a good 2000-3000 steps to my day with very little effort on my part
* I am now finally ergonomic. Since I’ve never owned a desk chair, my table to chair to floor ratio (don’t even know if that’s the actual terminology, but I’m going to assume you know what I’m talking about…) hasn’t ever been proper. I’m exactly 5 feet, so there are very few chairs that allow my feet to sit flat on the floor the way they are supposed to. And our dining chairs are a bit large in the seat, so my knees are at a funny angle if I lean all the way back, which causes me to perch on the edge of the chair while I write, causing my shoulders to slump. With the ironing board, it’s adjustable, so I can raise the keyboard to the actual right spot for my eyeline and shoulders/wrists.
* BUT. My wrists aren’t supported, I know. Honestly, I’ve never had supported wrists or elbows, so that’s not an issue for me, but I can see how it would be for others.
* The other really big benefit is that I’m not spending as much time on the computer. It’s just not as comfortable to stand at an ironing board and read gossip sites, or twitter, or online news as it is to curl up with the laptop on the bed or couch. But that is something I need to work on, personally, anyway. I waste a lot of time on frivolous Internet surfing, and my time could honestly be better spent sticking to my to-do list and goals.
(this might actually be the biggest benefit)
So there you go! Super simple (and actually kind of stupid) brilliant idea!