So you want to start a blog ...

24 April 2013

I know very little about blogging. VERY LITTLE. But in an effort to steer you down a wildly successful (WINK!!!!! please catch my joke drift) path .. here we GO.


Step into my office. I'm open from 1pm - 3:30ish most days of the week.

This doesn't mean I think I'm a successful blogger! I don't have thousands of followers like so many other blogs do and I wouldn't classify myself as a work-at-home mom because of the blog or anything like that but I love blogging and I think it's a great outlet for a whole host of reasons. So! I want to share my journey with you. If you think I typed that last sentence seriously ... Hi, My name is Grace and I hate the words share and journey used in that context. So, that sentence was just a dumb joke that is now over. (I'm on day two of a three day juice cleanse that I will write about in a few days but I think it's making me sober-tipsy so excuse my poor attempts at humor - this entire post is probably a stupid idea and I'll blame the juice.)

1. Pick a host. I use Blogger but I think Wordpress is a lot prettier. I guest posted on a Wordpress blog a few years ago and when I got "behind the scenes" of the post I felt like I was on the fanciest and most frustrating rocketship ever. I'm just used to Blogger. I'm sure I could easily adapt to Wordpress but I don't want to switch so I'm not going to.

2. Get a domain. So I used to run with pattonperpendere.blogspot.com which was some latin something that made sense at the time but I eventually switched to www.camppatton.com to match the name of the blog. It's $10 a year on Godaddy.com and it's worth it. Dwija advises that you match the name of your blog with your domain name and I think that she is a genius. Do it.

3. TURN OFF WORD VERIFICATION. I don't care if you get spam. I check my email so many times a day and more times than not some spambot has told me what a great site I have here and that it looks like like his old blog and would I please check out his watch store? Delete. Who cares. Word Verification screams .. it SCREAMS, "PLEASE don't comment on my blog!!!!!!!!!!!" When I host or co-host linkups I REALLY try to go check out a good chunk of the posts and about 94% of the blogs have word verification and well ... no comment for you or you or you or you. Turn it OFF. And here's how.

4. Express yourself/Copycat with Caution Sing it. No, I kid. I know everyone says this when they write posts like this but it's true. Just because your favorite blogger posted about ... I don't know ... the lint in their toenail crevices accompanied by a heavily filtered photo of their pigs doesn't mean you have to do the same. You can! And if it's such a specific emulation (that's a stretch of a euphemism for COPY) then maybe throw them a little link credit? Obviously blog posts aren't copyrighted because they are silly blogs and anysillyone can start one but don't feel like you have to fit any sort of mold. I went through a (and I cringe now. I cringe just typing it) phase of altering thrift store clothes almost every single day. I still wear a lot of the clothes and it was a lot of fun but I read a LOT of sewing/fashion blogs then and thought that that was what was WHAT. [A few weeks ago I walked downstairs to find Sebastian SCREAMING in pain and I couldn't figure out what the deal was until I inspected very closely and saw that he had wrapped a spool of thread around his neck 48 times VERY tightly ... I won't say he nearly decapitated himself but it was no good so my sewing stuff is up and away for now which I don't love but I have a few things I want to fix so maybe I'll risk it during naps one day soon] Anyway, I bristled when people (my family actually mostly my brother) called this a "mommy blog" but I had to be honest with myself in that if I was going to be writing about poop 5+ times a week I should probably just own it. I prefer mom blog and I think some people call mom blogs "lifestyle" blogs but I'm not above the mommy even though Julia usually calls me "Gwace!! Where ARE you??!!"

5. Social Media. I love having a Facebook page and I'm starting to like Twitter more. They aren't necessary but I strongly recommend a Facebook page (but I don't put my posts on my Grace Patton page because I don't know .. I just don't). I've read "social media is here to stay!" more times than I've driven to the hospital to visit Simon which is a lot of times so ... don't be scared.

6. Engage. Figure out how to respond to comments via email and respond to your comments that have their email attached to their name. I know I do a horrible job of responding to comments IN the comment section but I have a long list of things I plan on improving and that is near the top. 

7. Pictures. I probably overdo it with the pictures. I think I'm trying to make up for my writing inadequacies? I don't know but I like posting with pictures and I like reading posts with pictures. I have no idea if I'm a visual learner and I do read (a few!) blogs that never have pictures so don't classify me as a total dunce. I know they are a lot of work but I think it's worth the effort. I also think it is FREEZING outside at 49 degrees so ... you know.


(staged)
(but this is where I blog during naps)
(someday we'll get fancy with a desk)
(also, Simon calls these my "weirdass pants" and says he can't take me seriously when I'm wearing them and lots of other things that I've conveniently forgotten)

8. Sponsors? Giveaways? What??? Where to even begin? Maybe you don't want to monetize your blog (some people might think of it as 'selling out' and I think of it as 'now I can hire a sitter so that I can sit in the Wendy's parking lot, eat some fries, stare at the steering wheel, and remind myself that residency is a temporary situation') and that is great. Don't! Don't do it if you don't want to. If you are interested in making a little bit of lettuce I will not think you're selling out. Blogging takes a lot of time (a lot!!!!!!) and if you can make some mascara money off of your blog - I think that's great. There are a zillion different ways to go about it. I felt icky about having a "sponsor" tab for a LONG time and I still kind of do but whatever. It's there. I'm sure people might disagree with this but I think it's a good idea to have your stats on the page (I basically copied Bridget). Some people just have options to purchase ads up on their sponsor page without listing how much traffic they get ... whatever you want. Oh my goodness ... who even cares about this? Anyway, email companies (with your stats! don't make them have to go the extra step and ask) you're interested in working with, join Blogher (they are great!), don't accept every offer than comes your way if it's a weird fit for your blog, and just know that we can't all be Cup of Blogging Empress. Have an obvious contact page and I'm stopping now because I really am the novices of all novices when it comes to this. (But really .. I emailed a few bloggers asking their opinions on when to start trying for sponsors - some said 500 followers, some said 1000 followers, some said 100,000 monthly page views and I don't have 1000 followers and I didn't wait until the 100,000 monthly page view mark so go with your gut and follow your heart or something.)

9. Design. I don't have an eye for this but lots of people do! I'm sure anything you come up with will be better and cleaner looking than the field of grass background the Camp was rocking a couple of year ago.

10. It's just a blog! I'm currently listening to No More Monkeys on the Toddler Pandora Radio Station to keep Julia happy while I finish this which is how I know that maybe this post has sucked up too much of my time. I try to only blog during nap times or when Simon is at the hospital on call weekends but emails can bleed into the hours after the kids have gone to bed.

Thanks for reading .... let me know any questions and I'll add them here! ALSO -- OH THANK YOU JULIA FOR YOUR CAPS LOCK HELP.  Also, if I've missed something and you're a seasoned blogger .... hit me with it. Thanks.





43 comments:

  1. Grace, this was great...I really liked what you said about not feeling like you have to fit some type of 'mold'...that really stod out to me. Once I started it this I was amazed how big of a thing this is! thanks for your insights and sharing:)

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  2. 1. I love your pants.
    2. I have that baby monitor and may or may not want to crush it with a hammer and replace it before I have any additional offspring.
    3. I also love your dresser.
    4. Desks are overrated. That's what laptops are for.
    5. I think #4 is the most important of all and what makes people enjoy reading what you have to say, even when it is about poop.
    6. Because I'm obsessed with numbered lists, thanks for the great read.

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  3. Pictures are awesome and bring your blog alive. Keep it up!

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  4. This is gold. I feel like I need to "specifically emulate" your humor much of the time, but alas... I do not have your unmatchable wit. I also don't have adorable children or princess hair, so... There you have it. Oh well. I am content to live in your shadow, since you're so nice. :)

    For real, this is a great post. And did you get any flack about making a Facebook page from anyone you know? I always share my posts on my own Facebook but I would really like a page but I don't want to seem pretentious. Advise.

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  5. Thanks for this..I enjoy your blog.

    And, I think your pants are cool. But, I have heard that using a laptop on your lap could cause cancer. or something .so you might want to possibly consider, re-thinking your naptime blogging strategy. Just a thought.
    -Amelia

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  6. Blogging is so much fun. I wish I had more time to devote to it. It is an outlet for so many different emotions and thoughts and whatever the heck else you can call the stuff in my brain.

    I had to laugh about your daughter calling you by your name. My sons do this all the time! I don't know how I got through my girls never calling me anything but "Mom" and "Mommy" but Dominic and Vincent both will call me through the house, "Michelle!" <--that's Dominic...or "MA-SHEUU"<--that's Vincent. It cracks me up and I gotta admit...I don't even hate it. :)

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  7. I am really taken with the gold drawer pulls on your turquoise dresser. I am nearing feeling that I am moved into my house and so ready to start making blog time again. In reference to a comment you made in a post recently, I know you've missed me. :)

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  8. I'm sorry. Did you read my mind? I was just wondering all this stuff, and the part about "be yourself" really struck a chord as it was what I was praying about while writing today. My husband says to find your niche and run with it, and I tend to get pulled in the newest, latest direction. Niche finding to commence in t-minus five.

    Thanks for your insight!

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  9. I'm partially disabled and empty nested so I read a lot of blogs. I consider myself sort of a professional blog reader except I think to be professional at something you have to make money doing it and I don't. I don't have babies any more... I'm Southern Baptist... you and I have nothing in common but I still very much enjoy your blog. High five, Gwace!

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  10. I also hate "mommy blogger". I hate it so much, that I make sure I refer to my own writing in that exact term as often as I possibly can just because I chose the wrench like that.

    Ugh. I hate it. I hate it when women refer to themselves as "Mommies" in any context other than in conversation with their young children.

    Signed,
    Mommy Blogger

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  11. I love your how-to-blog posts, dare I say they have made me the blogger I am today. <-being funny.

    But seriously, they are so helpful and I just get so excited every time you tell everyone to turn flipping word verification off and fix their emails- that's how I figured it out! Also the pictures- I have exited out of an embarrassing amount of blog posts because there are no pictures with the words-- i no read without looky things.

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  12. Thanks for taking us on your journey, Grace.

    *snort*

    I agree, that might be the single most annoyingly over-used and inappropriate word in blogland. Everyone thinks they're Hercules, but really ladies, you're just trying to schedule a blog post for tomorrow, not capture Cerberus. Let's tone down the drama, mamas. :)

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  13. Lovely post - even a non-blogger like me read it all the way through. Blogging is one of those things I randomly think about doing sometime, somewhere. Sort of like organizing photos into scrapbooks, or giant home improvement projects. I'm so very, very glad that better writers like you, and Ana, and Jennifer, and Hallie, and Dwija, and Rachel, et.al. are out there taking the pressure off the rest of us!

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  14. Totally rocked the field of grass.... For a looooong time. Quit using it what.. 2 mos ago?

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  15. Ditto about the dresser, and thank you x 100 for #3!

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  16. Thou shalt not covet thy blogging neighbor's turquoise dresser! Thou shalt NOT covet thy blogging neighbor's turquoise dresser!

    I've been blogging since Jan. '07. I don't know if that makes me "seasoned" or just stubborn. New bloggers need to think about burn out because it's gonna happen. I think the best ways to avoid it are to take a break when you feel you need one or, on the other hand, don't be afraid to try something new if you get into a rut. Oh, and... you are going to get weird comments, you have to let it roll off your back. Try not to take them personally. Blog like nobody's reading. Blog for yourself first.

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  17. YES YES YES. to all of the above.

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  18. Whew, glad I mentioned you when I totally stole your post about Conversations with Julia. Otherwise I would have felt veeeeeeerrrry guilty reading this post. Instead, I could focus on feeling happy that I don't wish to sew all day every day either.

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  19. Not related: HOW are you so tiny? Is that thyroid related too? I keep thinking Theo is 50 months older than Ev but then I remember it just FELT like that because I was 2 weeks overdue. I need to cleanse. Is there a chocolate one? Or maybe I should start hanging out with Jillian more often again. Boo.

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  20. Some feedback for you: I definitely click on sponsor links on my favorite blogs, and discover things and people I wouldn't have otherwise, and it has everything to do with my liking the blog they're linked up with. So there you go!

    Christie @ Everything to Someone

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  21. THANK YOU! Totally didn't realize I was being a douchebag with my comment settings.

    /that is all

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  22. But seriously, you ARE amazing at the alterations.
    Great post!

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  23. Even though I already have a blog...this is actually very helpful! (I wish I had found this post BEFORE I started my blog! lol!)

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  24. Love this! I'm actually in the process of starting a blog and this post was very helpful.. Also thanks for responding to my email the other day - for others that comment, Grace responds asap - which is much appreciated. Even if she's holding one or more "piglets".

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  25. I love your blog!! : ) I don't know what I could possibly add to the blog world, but I might do it someday - just to keep track of the kids cuteness and if you're interested, follow, and if not, so be it.

    The worst is that someone i know is now reading "grammy blogs" - because she's going to be watching her grandchild full time. I would think that a grammy blog would be much less entertaining than a lifestyle blogger...and I do enjoy reading about your lifestyle!!

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  26. love these tips! i need to work on blogging consistantly! totally agree with all of these. and, i love your pants. the end.

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  27. thank you grace! at the risk of sounding cheesy i will unabashedly confess my not-so-slight obsession with your blog; you have given me hope that i too can be a cool momma blogger if i just put my mind to it. and with that note, i'm off to post :)

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  28. As someone said above, "thanks for taking us on your journey, Grace." ;)

    Seriously though, this is great for those of us who are trying to figure out blogging but haven't quite yet and also it makes me feel a little better when I want to roll my eyes at bloggers and that weird things they say (but not you!) about their journeys'n'stuff.

    Also, for what it's worth, in my RSS reader (Boo google, yay The Old Reader), I have you filed under "Lifestyle"... granted, I don't have a "Mommy" section but still.

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  29. Re: nfp while breastfeeding--I keep looking for more resources on that, but so much is conflicting! Ecological breastfeeding is supposed to be 98-99% effective for the first six months. That's how I breastfeed. And my fertility came back 9 months postpartum after the first (which is around the time she started nursing a *little* less at night. I've read about people not getting their cycles back until more like 2 years postpartum, but they were still cosleeping and nursing every two hours at night. (Seriously CANNOT imagine sleeping with your two-year-old "baby" that much...) So I am only 4 months postpartum this time, but my wonder-baby has been sleeping through the night for the last week and a half, so I've been super paranoid about my fertility returning, because I'm obviously as fertile as a bunny and not ready for #3 and have been checking everything even though theoretically I'm still safe for another two months. (Run-on sentences, much?)

    I've talked to people who couldn't get pregnant while they were doing any breastfeeding at all, which doesn't see rare. It really varies so much, but from what I've seen, it's based on significant *changes* in breastfeeding schedules/habits. If you decide to do some sort of post or have people who have had several kids and breastfed write about it, I want to read it. I'm definitely interested in help! My mom was whatever you call it when you're not infertile but it takes several years of trying for each kid--I'm not. At all.

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    Replies
    1. Teresa...well, I don't know how much help I can be, but we have 5 kids and have practiced NFP and breastfeeding with all of them. Like you, we've been blessed with mucho fertility. I was working with the first and my fertility started to return at 9 mo. because I stopped pumping at work, 3 months later we were expecting our second and it happened before my first cycle (so it was always fun to answer the "first day of your last cycle" question with "2 years ago", blank stare from medical professional). Since your baby is now sleeping through the night your cycles may come back sooner rather than later.

      I haven't done a post on my blog about it (yet, maybe I will someday) but in the meantime if you'd like more details send me an email at aleggemeyer@gmail.com and I'll get back with you on it.

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  30. Awesome, Grace! I am working with a design company right now helping them develop a blogging bootcamp type of deal. They trust me? Suckers.

    Anyway, always good to hear a bit of Grace thoughts on the matter!

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  31. Thank you, Grace! This is so helpful to me - especially the part about turning off the word verification. I didn't realize how much of a deterrent it is for me until you (and Janssen) mentioned it!

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  32. I love this advice. Thanks for sharing, sometimes it really helps to know what another blogger would do in a certain situation.

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  33. I am so exicted to turn off my dumb word verification! It was so easy, I'm not sure why I never bothered googling how to do it, but I just assumed it'd be hard to do. Thanks for the how to link!

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  34. These are really great tips! I admire your blog so much, especially the effortless way you speak and share pictures. I struggle with making my blog more relatable and fun! Your personality shines through. :)

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  35. What a really helpful and informative post! My main problem with blogging is actually getting people to read and/or follow mine! But I'm continually chugging along and keeping it fun for myself!

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  36. I love your blog and this post really helped me. Thanks for letting those that look up to you know you we're at some point in our shoes.

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  37. WordPress would love to have you ;D

    Signed,
    WordPress Fangirl

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  38. i have a belated question. how may drafts never make it up? do you always know what you're going to publish when you sit down to write? are there ever times when you've started or finished a post and was like, that can't go up...?

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  39. I am pretty sure we'd be bffs if you lived in the north east, either of us had time to get together, and it just wasn't so damn creepy that I even said that. Love your style and candidness. Reminds me of me and my #girlgang (did I really just type that?) from high school after we drink too much wine. Thanks for the tips!

    -Erin

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