Hello Again

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Last weekend I really wanted to blog again and I was inundated with work instead. Today’s my first day off since then and I’m once again sitting in front of my laptop-my comfort zone-with my coffee nearby. I feel complete again.

I haven’t written for awhile. About anything really. That’s not entirely the truth-I write every day for work. At work I write and edit dozens of news releases on any given week and I’m working on putting out a publication right now that’s in its final stages. I’m telling the story of an organization and I’m loving it. But I haven’t “written” like this for awhile. And I’m so excited.

The last time you’ve heard from me was probably near the beginning of my relationship. I didn’t want to blog about our new relationship. I really wanted us to work. For some reason I felt like I’d jinx it if I wrote about us, and I’m sure life doesn’t work like that but part of me really enjoyed keeping what we had private. Away from the public, away from ex-boyfriends, away from scrutiny or nosiness. Just behind closed doors. Which for me was really important in a lot of ways because in our year and four months we’ve had a lot of amazing moments but a lot of bickering too (which is normal, I hear). My friend’s husband calls the bickering stage the “early marriage stage” which is apt. We’re not married, but we moved in together and had to sort through our quirks and our personalities and what bugs us. We’ve had to give and take and learn to communicate. And none of that is easy. It’s not a fairy tale.

What I wanted to keep most private was our amazing moments, though. I know enough about the scrutiny of the internet that even when things are amazing, trolls (and “friends”) will make you feel horrible for it. I didn’t want to chance it with that. What we have is really great; great in a way that’s special for us and probably wouldn’t work for everyone. But it’s what I needed and wanted for a very long time. And my long time readers know that. And some of you want that. And most of us have felt at some point that we’d never find that. I sure didn’t think I’d ever find it.

I think what’s interesting is that I always felt so out of place being unmarried earlier in life and now I regret nothing. I talk to friends who settled down and had kids earlier and a lot of them wish they experienced more; a lot of them wish they’d experienced what I did. For me, there was something so important about discovering what I loved, traveling, writing, living alone, sometimes even being alone, dating different people, and just really solidifying who I was as a person. I think that’s really important and for me, I feel more happy and secure. Which isn’t to say you can’t feel happy and secure at a younger age; it just means that happiness and security isn’t prescriptive. It happens through different means for all of us.

The #1 Skill Most New Bloggers Overlook

The following is part of my Blogging Better series.

I’ve been meeting a lot of new bloggers in forums and Twitter over the past several months and there’s a shocking thing I’m noticing. Many new bloggers overlook a skill that is essential to their success and it’s preventing a these bloggers from moving forward.

Every day, thousands of new blogs are started and every day, thousands of new blogs die. Not every blogger who starts a blog will still be going in four, five or even ten years from now. Let’s face it, blogging is a lot tougher than we make it look.

What’s the skill that so many new bloggers overlook and why does it prevent a lot of bloggers from moving forward?

It’s simple.

Resourcefulness.

Being resourceful is key, whether you’re creating a first time blog or launching a business, largely because blogging is such an independent activity. Being resourceful is more than just the ability to use Google in a productive way and the ability to gather enough information to get through your issues as a blogger. It goes beyond this. It moves into what you do with the information you gather and how you put into action the answers you find.

But what I basically mean is, are you the kind of blogger who asks everyone else to pave the way for you or do you set out to educate yourself? 

The instincts of a blogger are important. The other day I had a conversation with another blogger who was saying she wanted to take her writing career further. I told her just to be careful where she submits (as not all opportunities will help your career as a writer) and then I said, “I think you’ll be fine. You have good instincts.” What I meant by that is that she had done research and enough reading to know where to place her work initially.  The first place she submitted to was very close to her niche and was very reputable. She had good instincts and knew where to start with her career because she’d been resourceful.

You can’t teach instincts for success.

Or can you?

We all need to start somewhere and I believe you can lead people toward success. Of course not everyone is going to do the hard work to get to where they want to go, but you can point them in the right direction. I’m going to share my philosophy on blogging with you below. This is how I worked as a new blogger and what helped me get from point A to point B. You may think I’m a bit harsh sometimes, but you’re going to need to find mentors who will cut the crap and tell you the honest truth.

  1. First, you need to commit this to memory: blogging is all about self-education. The key there is SELF. As bloggers, we are students of technology, social media trends, business etiquette, marketing and public relations and community building and since blogging is still relatively new in many ways, you’re responsible for creating your own lesson plans. There’s so much to learn isn’t there? Of course. The key is to always be learning and always growing professionally. Above all else: be resourceful. It’s not any other blogger’s job to teach YOU.
  2. Bloggers need to keep in mind that just because there’s a tutorial out there with a pretty “pin-able” image on it, that doesn’t mean it’s the best method to follow. Some people just write crap and to make matters worse, sometimes these bloggers are endorsed by people or brands who make them seem competent. I spend dozens of hours wading through hundreds of articles online before I find something I want to share with my fans. Likewise, you should have a discerning eye when taking advice from bloggers. Look at their credentials carefully before you take the advice of someone with a huge fan base. Test what they’re saying to industry standard advice. Look for leaders in the community, not followers.
  3. Good bloggers become professional not by the amount of money they make or how many views they have, but by how well they are able to master tough concepts and trends and still stick with the job (in an ethical way). Good bloggers become professional because they conduct themselves as professionals and find a way to stand tall on their individual platform and keep their integrity in place when they get to the top.
  4. As a blogger you need to master writing, editing, SEO, technology, web hosting platforms, social media trends, billing, contracts, pricing, client relations and more. How do you do that without being overwhelmed? With a step by step plan. Take things one day at a time, one subject at a time. Good bloggers have a plan to improve and are committed to it. They seek out expert advice, read books, scavenge for information and continually improve their plan until they are confident they’re on the right track.
  5. Need help? Good bloggers aren’t afraid to hire someone to coach them and aren’t afraid to read a book (or five) to master a concept.
  6. Good bloggers are entrepreneurial enough to be flexible when needed. If something isn’t working, they change it.
  7. And the number one skill most new bloggers overlook: Good bloggers are resourceful. They don’t expect seasoned bloggers to hand them over anything: pricing, tutorials, details about their income, or where to find things on Google. The other day I overheard a conversation between a new blogger and a seasoned blogger that went like this:

New blogger: I need a tutorial on how to price my sponsored posts. Do you have one?

Seasoned blogger: No, I Googled that when I needed it but it’s been awhile.

New blogger: I’m really surprised you don’t have a tutorial for that. We all need it.

Seasoned blogger: Mouth gaping open in shock.

As I overheard this conversation, I was initially shocked at how entitled the new blogger was, but then I realized good bloggers (and bloggers who will last) are resourceful first and foremost. They take their job seriously and they read vast amounts of blog posts, articles and research until they find the answer they need.

Bloggers who aren’t resourceful simply won’t last.

Now it’s your turn. Join us for the Blogging Better link-up below:

Once a month, I’m co-hosting a link up on blogging resources called Blogging Better with Julie DenOuden. We would love it if you linked up your best blogging resources below. Our readers are new bloggers, mid-level bloggers, hobby bloggers, professional bloggers, small businesses and social media managers. Our link-up will go live on the last Tuesday of every month. Join us on Twitter using the hashtags #bloggingbetter and #blogbetter.

About Your Hosts

GOTM-about-me-260x300 Julie DenOuden is my co-host and a fellow Southern California blogger. Julie blogs at Girl on the Move, a blog about traveling, cupcakes and social media resources. She started blogging just over two years ago and truly has some of the finest organizational skills you’ll ever see. Julie is a great resource for social media tips and her 31 Days to Create a Social Media Plan is a must-read for any blogger.

FOLLOW JULIE ON TWITTERFACEBOOKPINTEREST

headshot If you’re new here, my name is Lisa Kerr. I’m a veteran blogger of more than four years whose work has been featured on the Huffington Post TED Weekends, HuffPo Live, NPR and more. During my four years of blogging, Oprah’s network contacted me and the CW developed a pilot TV show about my first blog, so I’ve learned a lot about the business side of blogging, blogging beyond monetization and protecting your intellectual property. I now advise companies about how to connect with their clients by creating a compelling story and building community and I also work with new and mid-level bloggers, teaching them how to manage their social media communities, tips and tricks for WordPress optimization, and how to create a professional writing portfolio that will further your career.

FOLLOW LISA ON TWITTERFACEBOOKPINTEREST

I hope you’ll find the tools and tips we share here helpful in developing your blog, and as always, we’re here to answer any questions you may have (either by email or comments) in future posts.

To join the link-up:

Visit at least 2 posts from below and comment on them.

Follow your hosts on social media:

FOLLOW LISA ON TWITTERFACEBOOKPINTEREST

FOLLOW JULIE ON TWITTERFACEBOOKPINTEREST

Sign up for future Blogging Better email updates here.

 

My Holiday Vacation Bucket List

My parents are very into traveling and I’ve reaped the benefits of this all my life. We’ve gone on cruises to Alaska, spent Christmas in Hawaii and flown over a snow-covered Arizona in my dad’s airplane. We’ve made memories and visited some of the prettiest places in the world together.

As Charlie and I start talking about next year (and admittedly, I find myself more and more in love with him), I find myself thinking about vacation time we’ll need to take and of course, my mind first goes to dream vacations. If you’re going to plan something, do it big, right? I love staycations and this writer probably needs to take some time away just to write, but why not plan my dream vacation?

I don’t have a holiday bucket list, really, but I have a holiday vacation bucket list. I love putting up my Christmas tree, watching holiday movies, and making hot chocolate at home. I usually drive around town looking at Christmas lights (which is even more fun in New Mexico because of their tradition of luminarias). But one thing I’ve done around Christmas that I would love to do more of is travel. I’ve been to New York at Christmas and have seen Rockefeller Center all decorated. I’ve been to Disneyworld and Disneyland during the holidays, Vegas, New Mexico, and Hawaii. But I haven’t been to Germany during Christmas (which I’ve heard is amazing) or my newest dream spot: Quebec City, Canada.

No one seems to enjoy Canada in the winter (even Canadians), so I love that it’s not everyone’s first choice. A few years ago when we went on the cruise to Alaska, we stopped in Canada and I fell in love. After that one trip, I decided I loved Canada so much that I would keep going back (or maybe buy a vacation home there). So of course, when I was starting to plan my holiday vacation bucket list, I had to include Canada and that’s when I found Quebec City. Not only is Quebec City in Canada, but it has a Winter Carnival and it’s very own hotel made out of ice. It looks magical and even has a reputation as being one of the most romantic vacation spots.

From the photos below, I’m sure you can see why.

Quebec City

Source 
Quebec City, Canada Source
Quebec City view Source
Quebec City, Canada
Source
Quebec City, Canada Source
 
 See more on my Vacation Planning and Winter Wonderland Pinterest boards.

12 Days of Christmas

Twelve days of Christmas I’m doing something totally different this year at Christmas! Since I’m such a huge fan of Christmas and Hallmark Channel holiday movies, I’ve teamed up with 11 bloggers from my #BlogTribe this year to bring you 12 Days of Christmas #MerryBlogmas style, with a whole bunch of giveaways at the end of things.

Christmas is my favorite time of year but I’ve never really dedicated so many days to blogging about it. I’m looking forward to it, mostly because this year I’ve gone Pinterest crazy and have about 16 boards dedicated to Christmas. I even have a dream vacation board for winter vacations which I’ll be writing about on December 1st.

Each day during the 12 Days of Christmas, we’re going to be posting about a different topic and you’re welcome to join along with your own posts about the topics below. If you do have a Christmas related post, on the 16th of December we’re going to open the floor up to YOU to link-up your posts.

Dec 1 – Creating a holiday bucket list
Dec 2 – Gift ideas
Dec 3 – Craft
Dec 4 – Movies
Dec 5 – Recipes
Dec 8 – Christmas Kindness
Dec 9 – Traditions
Dec 10 – Home tour/décor idea
Dec 11 – Hosting or Traveling
Dec 12 – Kid Friendly Christmas
Dec 15 – Health/Fitness
Dec 16 – Link Up Christmas Extravaganza – Anyone can link up any Christmas related posts

Today, my boyfriend, Olive and I are sitting around the living room, snuggled up in blankets. He’s watching James Bond and I’m blogging. Olive is guarding her bone. Later this weekend or next week, we’re hoping to go grab a fresh tree and we’ll be spending some time decorating our first Christmas tree together. How romantic is that? (I think Christmas is one of the most romantic times of the year.)

If you want to get a head start by checking out my fellow bloggers, feel free to visit them here:

Alyssa from Babies, Bloodhounds and Booze | Amee from Inspired Housewife | Ana from Mommy’s Bundle | Cajun from Blooming in Bedlam | Denise from StL Motherhood | Joanna from Motherhood and Merlot | Josi from American Mama | Julie from Girl on the Move | Lauren from Twin Tested, Pin Approved | Lisa from Goofball Mommy | Phyllis from Verified Mom

Blogging Better #2: 100+ Blogging and Social Media Resources for All Levels

Last month on October 28th, Julie and I launched a monthly Blogging Better resources link-up. In the spirit of #BloggingBetter, I thought I would share some of my favorite blogging and social media Pinterest boards that highlight resources from around the web for all levels of bloggers, authors and small businesses. I’ve taken a lot of time to cultivate these and I think they’re the best blogging Pinterest boards out there. I also want to give you something to read before the next link up, since so many of you have been interested enough to sign up for email updates and RSVP’d to the Facebook eventGoogle+ event, or Eventbrite (you can still sign up for next month’s link-up on those sites).

But first I want to get to the heart of why I’m doing this link up and why I’m focusing more on the subject of blogging. First of all, I’ve met some new bloggers recently and I find that quite a few of them are stressed over small things: that their stats aren’t big, that they aren’t making any money, or that their social media isn’t growing quite fast enough.

If you’re going to be blogging for a long time, you need to stop stressing over those things. Do they matter? Yes. But if your blog is under a year old, keep doing exactly what you’re doing and keep moving forward.

 These are important aspects of a blog’s authority but they aren’t the only way to be a successful blogger and over the next few months during Blogging Better, I’m going to give you insight into my blog stats and successes and show you how to build a blog that can bring you opportunities most bloggers dream about. One of the keys is to stop getting so caught up in your stats, monetization and the real key? STOP doing what everyone else does.

In blogging, there are a lot of followers and very few leaders. Most bloggers are afraid to lead the pack. They’re afraid to be different. They’re afraid to give advice that differs from what other “successful” bloggers suggest, so they never end up with opportunities of a lifetime.

They do the same damn, cliche thing everyone else does. And no one cares about their opinion.

They aren’t influential.

Sure, many followers have large numbers. But you and I aren’t stupid. Think about it. Anyone can get followers. Sometimes it’s a game of follow/follow back. But in reality, that means next to nothing. It doesn’t mean people are reading your blog. It doesn’t mean you’re being heard. It doesn’t mean much at all.

I tell new bloggers all the time: numbers aren’t everything and as I just said above, successful blogging is about influence, not numbers. It’s about leading the pack; having a strong voice. I was contacted by an NPR affiliate station for an interview when my blog was very, very new. It was 6 months old and I probably had 200-400 unique pageviews a day. But this was one of the defining moments in my career and I had the chance to interview with world renowned experts who had real history to their research.

It was amazing.

It’s still a highlight in my career, and many bloggers with millions of views per month will never see these kinds of opportunities because their blog has devolved into spam for advertisers. I’m not afraid to say that I don’t have millions of views. I absolutely don’t blog like other bloggers. I don’t buy content. I don’t participate in gimmicks. I carefully select advertising and I only publish advertisements on rare occasions because my content matters.

I write. I blog according to what I want to say and I’m focused on making my blog work for my career. I think this has worked well for me because two years into blogging, I was contacted by the CW TV network through a production company. The production company interviewed me and made a pilot TV show out of my blog and the work I did there. Two years in. Guess how much traffic I had? Not much more than 15,000 unique views per month. For many bloggers, they don’t see these kinds of opportunities until 4-6 years in.

And it was because I was strategic about standing out and it was because my blog was unlike any other blog that was out there at the time.

You’ll find that bloggers who have a singular focus: making money and getting thousands of “junk” fans and junk pageviews lose their integrity really quickly. Not to mention, no one wants to read a Walmart ad. That isn’t to say that all bloggers who have a lot of fans or pageviews don’t have integrity (Absolutely not! Some huge bloggers are up there on my list of favorites.); it simply means when a bloggers focus is solely to make money or earn fans, she loses out on big opportunities. It also means when you follow a big blogger, you should take a look at their platform more closely. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. Anyone can get 100,000 followers on Twitter, but 100,000 junk fans won’t do anything for your career or credibility. Learn how to be critical of others’ platforms so you can judge who to follow and who not to. (On a related note, today Julie is talking about increasing interaction on your blog in an authentic way.)

My point is, there’s a lot of crap out there and you need to be careful who you emulate and who you look up to as you grow. Amazing things can happen to you as you blog if you let yourself be unique, if you stand out from the crowd and if you create excellent content. There’s no substitute for quality and no amount of inflated fans or pageviews will earn you credibility in the blogging world, especially if your content sucks (or if you buy it).

What ultimately matters is that you find your voice and stick with it. Don’t copycat someone else’s voice, style, etc. Don’t blog about recipes or DIY/crafts just because it seems popular. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t blog about those if they’re your life or your dream is to be featured in Martha Stewart magazine (but you should only write about that IF it leads to your dream career), or that you shouldn’t write about something popular. The key is, you need to stand out and the only way to do that is to be YOU.

On that note, show some personality. No one cares what you’re wearing or what you’re reviewing. Readers follow blogs because they see a human being behind the blog. It’s that simple. (Not to mention, unless you’re a fashion blog, you shouldn’t be focusing on fashion and unless you’re a junk blog, you shouldn’t be doing free reviews of products.) Show some personality. Stop asking your readers questions and start telling them what YOU think. Write about something that pisses you off. Be human. Be vulnerable.

That’s how you gain readers.

I could write all day and night about blogging and social media. I love both topics and they’re two things I’m passionate about and do professionally. There’s no way I could possibly write about every single topic related to blogging, which is why I rely on really great articles to pin on Pinterest. I take my time cultivating my Pinterest boards and I read through articles before linking them so I can make sure the posts give really great advice. I recently introduced a handful of other bloggers to collaborate with me and share their own resources on a few of these boards. The great thing about having awesome collaborators is that they’re vetting the resources with their experience as a blogger, too, making for a list of trusted resources that will be useful.

If you’re looking for the best blogging Pinterest boards, take a look at these boards and browse through the articles linked. Some of them belong to me, but they’re in an easy to find place, and some of them belong to my Pinterest board collaborators who have a lot of experience blogging. There are 100 plus invaluable blogging and social media resources here for all levels of bloggers, authors and small businesses and it’s constantly growing. 

100+ blogging and social media resources for all levels

The Business of Blogging

Follow Lisa Kerr’s board The Business of Blogging on Pinterest.

Blogging Tutorials

Follow Lisa Kerr’s board Blogging Tutorials on Pinterest.

Blogging Tips

Follow Lisa Kerr’s board Blogging Tips on Pinterest.

Blogging: Media Kits

Follow Lisa Kerr’s board Blogging: Media Kits on Pinterest.

Social Media Management

Follow Lisa Kerr’s board Social Media Management on Pinterest.

Social Media Tips

Follow Lisa Kerr’s board Social Media Tips on Pinterest.

Or just follow my profile: 

Visit Lisa Kerr’s profile on Pinterest.

Visit the Blogging Better archives: 

Blogging Better archive posts

Check out my Blogging Resource Center:

Resource center for bloggers

Now it’s your turn. Join us for the second Blogging Better link-up below:

Once a month, I’m co-hosting a link up on blogging resources called Blogging Better with Julie DenOuden. We would love it if you linked up your best blogging resources below. Our readers are new bloggers, mid-level bloggers, hobby bloggers, professional bloggers, small businesses and social media managers. Our link-up will go live on the last Tuesday of every month. Join us on Twitter using the hashtags #bloggingbetter and #blogbetter.

About Your Hosts

GOTM-about-me-260x300 Julie DenOuden is my co-host and a fellow Southern California blogger. Julie blogs at Girl on the Move, a blog about traveling, cupcakes and social media resources. She started blogging just over two years ago and truly has some of the finest organizational skills you’ll ever see. Julie is a great resource for social media tips and her 31 Days to Create a Social Media Plan is a must-read for any blogger.

FOLLOW JULIE ON TWITTERFACEBOOKPINTEREST

headshot If you’re new here, my name is Lisa Kerr. I’m a veteran blogger of more than four years whose work has been featured on the Huffington Post TED Weekends, HuffPo Live, NPR and more. During my four years of blogging, Oprah’s network contacted me and the CW developed a pilot TV show about my first blog, so I’ve learned a lot about the business side of blogging, blogging beyond monetization and protecting your intellectual property. I now advise companies about how to connect with their clients by creating a compelling story and building community and I also work with new and mid-level bloggers, teaching them how to manage their social media communities, tips and tricks for WordPress optimization, and how to create a professional writing portfolio that will further your career.

FOLLOW LISA ON TWITTERFACEBOOKPINTEREST

I hope you’ll find the tools and tips we share here helpful in developing your blog, and as always, we’re here to answer any questions you may have (either by email or comments) in future posts.

To join the link-up:

Visit at least 2 posts from below and comment on them.

Follow your hosts on social media:

FOLLOW LISA ON TWITTERFACEBOOKPINTEREST

FOLLOW JULIE ON TWITTERFACEBOOKPINTEREST

Sign up for future Blogging Better email updates here.


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