Monday, July 28, 2014

Lessons :: What's Your Advice for a Brand-New Blogger?

Kyleha asks,

"I just started a blog myself that is inspired by how you run your blog. I love everything about how you write what you want. I was wondering if you have any advice about how you started out. Right now my biggest problem is finding time and topics to write, and also scheduling how often to post. Any pointers or constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated."

Hey Kyleha! Thank you so much, I'm flattered. You hit a few different areas with this question, so I'm going to give you my ideas for each. I know the blogging world can be overwhelming, especially if you're just hopping on the bandwagon now, so hopefully when you're done reading this post you'll have a head start. I've been blogging for a long time but I'm still learning every day, and I love it. So, here we go!

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How to find time: The bloggers I know are some of the most hardworking women in the world. We all have other stuff besides blogging that we do, whether it's a full-time job, running a side business, raising kids, going to school, or any of the other personal and professional things that fill our days. After having a day job for years and blogging on the side, I now work from home full-time, but it can still be difficult to squeeze everything in especially with a baby on the way. This is when keeping an editorial calendar or planner comes in. After analyzing your current schedule and responsibilities, come up with a consistent posting schedule. Be realistic and make it something you can stick with so that you don't let yourself down. You can always change it later if need be! When you're purposely scheduling time for posts, it will be a lot easier to keep up with your blog instead of letting it fall by the wayside.

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Coming up with topics: Since you're just starting out, you have the luxury of experimenting. Come up with a few main categories that you'll never get sick of, and concentrate on creating ideas for those. If you find yourself running out of ideas after a month or two, maybe you need to pick a different topic. Focus on what you naturally love and know about. In the past I've tried posting about all kinds of things but the ones I ended up enjoying the most had to do with helping people in some way, whether it was through offering tips, advice or a personal essay about my own experiences. I still like putting together outfits or visually inspiring posts but I don't pressure myself to publish them if I don't feel like it. I have also included categories like movies, music, and recipes but I choose to leave them out now even if I still enjoy them in "real life" sometimes. You can't be everything to everyone and you'll only stress yourself out if you try! Also, be sure to carry a journal with you everywhere (or use a note-taking app on your phone) because my best blog ideas usually arise when I'm NOT blogging.

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How often to post: This is absolutely up to you. What I always say is that it doesn't matter how many times you post per week or month, just make sure it's consistent. It's totally fine to only post once a week but I would suggest scheduling it for the same day and time each week (like every Monday at 8am) so your readers know what to expect. If you want to post once a month that's fine too, but I wouldn't expect to get much traffic (though if that's not your goal, don't worry about it). From what I've noticed, most bloggers post 2-4 times per week. The ones that post every single day are either full-time bloggers or insane overachievers, or both (like myself, ha). The ones that post multiple times per day usually have at least one other writer or a team of people helping them (such as Elsie and Emily). What I'm trying to say is, don't post more than you can or want to. It's easy to compare our blogs to others and put pressure on ourselves to do just as much, just as well, but if you can't that's okay. Write down what your personal goals are for your blog and refer back to them whenever you feel as if you've gone astray. Focus on what you CAN do and not what you can't, and HAVE FUN!

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*For more inspiration and motivation, check out my book or the one-on-one consulting services I offer. I'm here to help! Photo credits: one, two, three, four.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Loudstagram :: Week in Review

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This week obviously got pretty personal with posts devoted to loving myself and loving my man. I guess you could say there's been a lot on my mind lately, and I'm so grateful that I have all of you to share it with. The support system I've found through the blogosphere since starting TLL has been incredible.

To be honest, I wasn't in the mood to take many pictures these past few days, hence the low amount of 'grams. I've been allowing myself more sweet, quiet moments in order to make up for the rough patches.

One thing I've realized is that, even when we think everything is going wrong, we're actually right where God wants us to be. When we see something as "wrong" it actually just means that we're not getting what we want, when we want it and it really is "right" for us even if we don't understand it. When we feel as if our prayers aren't being answered, it could just be that the answers we're receiving aren't the ones we expect. Or, the answers are coming and God is working behind the scenes. We only see one side of the story. We can do our part and meet God halfway, but we need to allow Him to do the rest.

I'm not sure if any of that makes sense, but just wanted to share a little thought that gives me hope in chaos. I hope it helps you too. :) Many thanks to the following people who made my week special... Lauren + hubby for meeting B + me at the movies, Jen for yummy eats and girly chit-chat at her place, the nice lady at Vanity Fair for sending me awesome bras (reviews coming soon), and anyone who has donated to my Indiegogo campaign so far (you rule). Also, Jacquelyn is hosting a small shower for me with some former co-workers today and Megan is documenting the whole thing -- can't wait!

PS: Be sure to follow Baby Loudmouth on Bloglovin' if you haven't yet. I've been posting pretty frequently over there, too! Thank you for all the positive feedback. It ain't your average mommy blog!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Links :: Fun Tips, Helpful Tricks + Thought-Provoking Picks for Your Weekend

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Quite possibly my longest link roundup ever... enjoy!

"For me, I LIKE taking selfies. Why? Because I'm a human and when you feel good about yourself you want others to see it too. Because when you mastered a winged eyeliner after a bajillion attempts and those bad boys look on point, you want to capture it. Why post it, why not just say 'damn, you look good Chelsea' and get on with my drive? Because at 28, I don't love everything about myself or the way I look but I'm proud of the person I am and certain qualities I portray. This may come across as vain, self-centered or egotistical but after two kids one can get down on themselves and their bodies." More here.

I really want to do this list challenge and this Instagram challenge in August.

Are you an intentional friend or a convenience friend? See also: friend breakups, relationship lessons after 30, and why being nice isn't always a good thing.

How one blogger quit her day job (parts one and two), and why you don't have to. Another blogger celebrates her quit-iversary.

What's the difference between writers and bloggers, and how has the blogosphere changed in recent years?

How to live with less and why you're already rich. Plus, living with intention and living simply.

A journey from extrovert to introvert, and networking tips for introverts (or anyone).

The truth about Los Angeles and how to work from home when it's way too hot.

Which would you rather read about on social media -- the negative or positive parts of life? "I think ultimately, there is responsibility in the hands of both the content creator and the viewer. As content creators, it’s our responsibility to be true, authentic, sensitive, and to post with pure intentions and motives. As viewers, it’s our responsibility to first and foremost, guard ourselves against content that brings out the worst in us, and secondly, to look inward at our own weaknesses and not blame others for them. I also think it’s the viewer’s responsibility to not hold content creators to the same standard of a real-life friend. Some people are simply not comfortable being vulnerable online with their heartbreaks and struggles, and we can’t expect them to change for us simply because it makes us feel better about ourselves. While I think it’s perfectly okay to approach a real-life friend about a lack of vulnerability, I don’t think we can approach strangers on the internet in the same way." More here. Also, this guy took a whole year off from the internet!

What color is your mind? Mine is blue!

When you should trademark your blog, how to write an e-book that sells, what to do during technical difficulties, how to promote your blog without being annoying, and how to build trust with your clients.

On the importance of having space to be creative, and what to do when a project has failed.

"Never have I lived with anything as bewildering my own soul." More here.

How to move on when you're in mourning and how it feels to change as a blogger in front of your audience.

The perfect at-home manicure, how to sell clothes from your phone, and more reasons to use coconut oil.

It's refreshing to see that there are still so many people who wait until marriage to have sex (um, oops).

One blogger's journey to happiness, how to squash negative thoughts, and reasons to embrace who you are.

If you don't like doing something, maybe you should just stop doing it.

My friend Chris has a new web series called The Writers Room. Check it out!

Oh, and just in case you missed my announcement on Twitter last week... Megan was the e-book giveaway winner! Congrats, lady!

*Photo credit.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Life :: There's No "I" in Team

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I love these pictures. They're blurry and awkward, but I love them because I love us, and I love him.

I'm trying to cherish every moment with B before BL comes along. Not that we're dreading it, at all. In fact, I find myself wishing that the next two months will fly by. I want to fast-forward to October when we're settled into our new home with our new family member. Life is so strange and uncertain right now, and I'm longing for normalcy. I'm longing to seeing our son's face and know that it was all worth it.

But I know I'm going to miss these short minutes, these fleeting memories, especially the silent ones, when it's just him and I in the car before a date, or napping on a lazy afternoon. I usually end up just laying there, studying his face, with one hand on my belly, thinking of both my boys until my heart feels like it might burst with gratitude.

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The other day, one of our roommates said, "I never hear you guys fight." That's because we don't. We have had maybe three fights, ever, and they were more like arguments or debates, nothing major. We don't raise our voices, we don't yell, we don't accuse or insult. It's just not what we do, and I don't want to. There's no need. I respect him too much. We both had plenty of experience with the opposite sex before meeting, but neither of us had experienced a relationship this easy before.

I'm not saying neither of us has been hurt by the other, but it's accidental, and it's rare. I'm also not saying that there was something wrong with our exes, or something wrong with our former selves, but I do believe in The One and those other ones just weren't it. They weren't meant to work out.

People say, at some point, we'll get sick of each other. We won't be attracted to each other anymore. We won't get along as well. They say it'll be different after we get married, and the first year of marriage is the hardest. But, you know what? I'm not worried. Maybe we're doing this whole thing backwards, but I think that raising a kid together will bring us even closer, and our healthy foundation will be even more solid. I know it won't be perfect, but nothing ever is. Some might say we're doing it wrong, but we're doing it our way, and what could be more right than that?

I know he's going to be an amazing husband and father because he's taken care of me so well. Being pregnant has forced me to let go of my pride and allow someone else to lift heavy boxes, wipe my tears, and make 7-Eleven runs when I have a craving. If I ever feel like I'm alone in this, which I do, a lot, he gently reminds me "there's no 'I' in team." Sometimes it's not so gentle, sometimes it's firm, because sometimes I still don't understand why someone would volunteer to deal with a pregnant lady. I suppose that's what you would call unconditional love, and I'm so thankful that I get to experience it, with him.
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