Have You Ever Wondered: “Do I Want to Start a Blog?” (updated)

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Have you ever thought about what your life will be like once you kiss your day job goodbye? Maybe you want to transition to something you can do from home. If that’s the case, you may have asked yourself, “I wonder if I should start a blog?” This post will walk you through the different types of blogs, reasons blogging may be for you, and free and paid resources to consider as you start your blogging journey.

Do I Want to Start a Blog?

 

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The time will come for all of us when we want to get out of our day job. We may be burned out, physically unable to continue doing the work, or bored. But for whatever reason, we’re ready to chuck the whole 9 to 5 routine.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that we want to quit being mentally active though and it certainly doesn’t mean that we can quit working.

When I left my job in education, it was time for a life change. My last child was  headed off to college, I was ready to get things in place so I could  see to my dad when the time came, I was tired of the hassles (including car wrecks) of city life, and I badly needed something ELSE to do (anything else, actually).

Jungle Jim and I had been talking for several years about what we wanted to do when I was able to quit my job. I’ve always liked to read, I enjoy writing, and I was already writing some fiction when I was at home.

You may be looking down the road and wondering what you’ll do when you leave your day job. Or you may have already quit your day job and are wondering what on earth you’ll do now that your days are less structured. You may be contemplating packing your parachute and telling your boss….well, what you tell your boss is up to you. Or you may have some passion that you’ve always wanted to share with the world and you just weren’t sure how to make it happen.

For any of these reasons, starting a blog may be just the thing you’re looking for.

The great thing about blogging is that you can write about anything…and I mean that literally. It seems that blogs tend to fall into several categories though. There is probably one that appeals to you.

Types of blogs

Hobbies – Do you have a hobby that you enjoy? Perhaps you’re a master at restoring old furniture, knitting, or decorating. You may love art, jewelry, DIY projects, gardening or playing Bingo. If you do, then chances are that you’re learned things about your hobby that someone else doesn’t know yet. So you’re able to grow tomatoes anywhere – there’s a new gardener struggling with the basics. Your hobby may have given you the exact information that someone else needs.

Opinion – Do you have strong opinions? Do you get fired up about politics, current events, celebrity news, fashion trends. Do you love sharing your thoughts and opinions with others? You’d be surprised at the like-minded friends you’d meet online. And if you love a good argument, you’ll certainly find plenty of people who love a good discussion and will happily trade verbal spars with you. There are people looking to interact with people they agree with, and with those they don’t.

Special Interests – Do you know more about music than anyone around you? Do you know the history of every comic book character? Maybe you can talk for hours about how Yoko didn’t really break up the Beatles. The point is that there are folks out there who have spent a lifetime learning about some particular topic and they know it inside and out. Put that knowledge to work for you! You know things the rest of us don’t even have a clue about.

Expertise – Perhaps you’ve spent your life in a career and now you have expertise running out your ears. Are you good at organizing? Is financial planning second nature to you? Could you advise someone looking to renovate their home? You may have spent your career honing these skills and you’d like to continue putting them to use. Not everyone who walks away from a day job is sick of using the skills they’ve acquired.

Advocacy – Feel strongly about a particular cause? Perhaps you’d like to share your concern for saving the planet, your love of animals, or your religious beliefs. You may feel strongly about the education of special needs students (or education in general), or bringing awareness to some issue. The world needs people who are willing to help advocate for others. Yours may be the voice that provides the answer someone is searching for.

Women’s InterestsOkay, I know I’m beginning to stereotype here and I apologize. I’m really not into gender stereotypes and am just categorizing here in order to make a point.

Author Blogs – Are you a budding or established author? The publishing industry has changed and authors are becoming more and more responsible for handling the publicity and promotion of their books. Authors who go the self-publishing route automatically know that they’ll have to become their own publicists. But even if you’ve signed with a traditional publisher, unless you’re Nora Roberts or James Patterson, you’re unlikely to have your publisher handle those things for you. (And if Nora or James reads this PLEASE leave me a comment because I’m a huge fan!).

Are you a great cook? Do you have experience that would help someone else in the role of caretaker? Perhaps you’re an ardent feminist or you’re a working mom who has tips to help others balance the demands in their life.

Men’s Interests – Lots of men have blogs. (I’m speaking to that man who has stuck it out and has read this far – or to his wife who needs to encourage  him to find something to do.) Do you love to hunt or fish? Perhaps you collect something (guns and cars come to mind). You may have special skills. A former boss was an excellent wood worker and he could talk for hours about the tools he had and techniques he’d learned. Trust me, someone somewhere is looking to learn what you know.

Do I Want to Start a Blog?

Why I choose to blog

Every blogger has their own set of motivating factors. When it came time to look for a second career, these were the criteria that were important to me.

  1. I want something that I control.
  2. I want flexibility and freedom in my work schedule.
  3. I need a creative outlet.
  4. I want a job I can do anywhere. I don’t want to be bound to a specific location.
  5. I want something that is not at the mercy of an employer who decides my fate.
  6. I have a message I want to share with others.
  7. I need and want to stay mentally active.
  8. I enjoy interacting with others who share similar interests.
  9. I enjoy learning from others.
  10. I enjoy the feedback and discussion from those who visit my blog.
  11. I like the challenge. I can honestly say that I’ve learned more about technology in the past year than ever before in my life. Blogging has so many components that it’s a continual challenge to learn and master them all (and I’m definitely not there yet).
  12. It’s something I can do with Jungle Jim – it’s a shared pursuit.

Blogging resources

One thing I’ve learned since starting blogging is that you can drown in information! I mean that seriously – you can get overwhelmed before you realize it because there is so much you have to learn.

The other thing you learn very quickly is that everyone wants to sell you something. Unfortunately, just because they have something to sell doesn’t mean it’s worth your money.

But there are some things I’ve used (both free and  paid) that I do think are helpful. Keep in mind that there are tons of resources out there and that you may find other resources you prefer.

Inspired Blogger’s University

I have paid money for other courses, and I’ve joined a multitude of Facebook groups, but I fell in love with Tabitha Philen’s Inspired Blogger’s University. I first discovered her Facebook group (the Inspired Blogger’s Network) and felt immediately at home there. Unlike another big group I’d joined, this one was drama free, friendly, and Tabitha  herself hangs out there quite a bit. It’s not uncommon to ask a question to the group and find that Tabitha is the one who replies with the answer. Trust me, you don’t find that in every group and it made me a fan (I’ve told Tabitha that she makes me feel like a real person instead of just an open wallet).

When you go to Facebook, you’ll find that Tabitha runs several groups there. Some of the groups are specific to different courses she’s teaching and a couple of the groups are for paid members. She’s active in every group she sets up!

Tabitha offers lots of different courses and products and she’s continually updating them as things change. That’s something I appreciate and right now I’m going back through some courses since things I’ve now been doing this just long enough to understand things that were Greek to me in the beginning.  She also offers membership packets (full disclosure – I am a lifetime member because I like her stuff so much) to those who are interested.

She also offers a great blog planner – the Blog Success Planner. Having some structure to help you when you’re first getting started is a humongous help to newbies!

The Blog Success Planner is the one I’m using right now. It is stuffed full of information and it comes in a digital version that you can print out and use over and over again. Check it out and check out the Inspired Blogger’s Network on Facebook and hop over to the Inspired Blogger’s University website to take a look at all her offerings. .

Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing

Since I mentioned Facebook, Brittany Ann from Equipping Godly Women, has probably written the definitive book on making Facebook work for you. I am currently working my way through her course (very slowly) and it’s definitely helping me. Facebook can be a huge driver of traffic and it is in every blogger’s best interest to figure out how to leverage this platform. Facebook Strategies Worth Sharing has both a book and a workbook available for purchase and she’s added a self-paced course. Facebook has been such a mystery to me that I needed someone who has had a wildly successful page to help me figure it out.

Building a Framework

I got access to Abby Lawson’s Building a Framework master package when it was included in the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit and I have to say WOW! It was probably my favorite thing in the whole bundle. Not only did I get her book, but the master package had tons of videos and interviews that I watched over a period of several weeks that were really helpful. Every one of her other packages offers good information and her Facebook group is one that I really enjoy (and I’ve already said that I don’t like all Facebook blog groups). And I have to admit that I was stunned one day to see that Abby had responded to a tweet of mine – I was pretty stoked about that! I was so excited you’d have thought that Bruce Willis himself tweeted me. (For the record, I have a major crush on Bruce Willis. But hubby knows so it’s okay.)

Abby has recently updated her book and packages so that they’re aimed more at the newbie blogger – a genius move in my opinion!

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

This course on affiliate marketing is a little pricier than some of the others but is worth it. And Michelle Schroedner-Gardner  runs discounts from time to time so those are always worth watching for. But there’s no doubt that the lady knows her stuff. Her course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is one of the most popular courses out there. One thing I really like is that she emails you whenever she adds a new lesson to the new course so even if you’ve already been through it, you’ll know when you need to go back in for new information. I would suggest that you consider this course after you’ve got at least a few months of blogging under your belt though.

Women Winning Online

This site and Facebook group are run by Jennifer Snyder who also has a course called Find Your Tribe Online. I have just scratched the surface of this course and am anxious to get further in. Her Facebook is also one of the groups that I didn’t decide to get out of. Her group has a weekly sharing thread where you can share your latest posts and she regularly does Facebook Live videos on various topics. She frequently has a Facebook Live Q&A in which  you can ask the questions that have been bothering you. It’s a very laid back session with no hype or sales. She’s one that I actually make a point to tune in to and watch.

The Art of Better Blogging

This is the other Facebook group  and site that I really like. You’re probably wondering, “How many Facebooks do you follow?” Well, before New Years I followed quite a few. But over the holidays I decided that I just didn’t have time – or patience – for them all and I opted out of probably 30. I decided to remain a member of only a few (the ones I’m discussing here). Jennifer Smith (my other Jennifer!) is in and out of her group all the time and if I can’t catch her Facebook Live videos, I make sure to save them so that I get to them later in the day. She offers courses and coaching and I was lucky enough to get a free coaching session with her as part of a package. It was fantastic! I am still in the process of implementing the thing she discussed with me in that 30 minutes. As soon as I’m able to add a coach, Jennifer will be my girl!

Sweet Tea LLC

Kristen over at Sweet Tea LLC has some great podcasts and posts to help you master the different skills that blogging requires. She Speaks Blog is a podcast she does alone and she co-hosts the Blog Fuel Podcast with her friend Erin.I just discovered her recently and am really enjoying working my way through her podcasts. She’s fun to listen to as well – you’ll like her.

Erin Sheebish

Speaking of Erin, Erin has her own podcast, Live Made Lovely and a set of videos on You Tube. Her videos and podcasts make you feel like you’re just chatting with your best friend. I like that.

Blogger Smarter

Blogger Smarter is the new venture of my friend Cathy over at My Side of 50. Cathy was one of the first people to take me under her wing. I have enjoyed her posts and the fact that she’s a little farther down the road than I am helps me see some paths I need to explore. She has a great Facebook page and if you subscribe to her newsletter you’ll get weekly blogging tips. Cathy really is great so go check her out.

Mostly Blogging

Sometimes I discover awesome resources later than I’d like and want to kick myself. Janice’s site, Mostly Blogging, is one of those that I wish I’d discovered sooner because it would have saved me SO much time and frustration! If you’ve got questions, she’s got answers.

The Blogger’s Lifestyle

The Blogger’s Lifestyle is just what it says it is – a site to help bloggers maintain a healthy lifestyle despite the fact that we sit in front of a computer for hours at a time. Kathleen helps you maintain your physical and mental health while growing and developing as a writer and blogger. Pretty important stuff in the grand scheme of things.

Life Wise Lady

At lifewiselady.com you’ll find general business help. And if you’re serious about blogging, then it IS a business and you need to treat it as such. From day one. I started seeing Jen in Facebook groups and was always intrigued with what she had to share. No matter what it was, I always learned something. Granted, I’ve got a lot to learn, but she’s got a lot to teach. It’s not all aimed at online entrepreneurs, and there’s plenty there for the woman who is in the traditional 9-5 world, but it’s all outstanding.

 

Expenses with blogging

Now I’m not going to lie to you – blogging is not free. Even if you go with a free site (and there are pros and cons to them) you’ll have to pay for hosting. You’ll likely want to pay for a few plugins or services to help you with social media scheduling. But frankly, the expenses aren’t horrible. And here is my take on the expenses:

  1. You are either interested in turning your blog into a career, OR
  2. It’s a hobby and outlet for you.

Either way, it’s natural to spend a little money. Obviously, businesses cost a little money to get off the ground. But even if blogging is simply a hobby, the fact is that most hobbies cost a little money too. I’ve never known anyone who didn’t spend some money on their hobby – and were happy to do it. My friends who knit and make jewelry don’t bat an eye when it’s time to buy supplies.

CoSchedule

One blogging aid that I love and could not live without is CoSchedule. This is a subscription and plugin that allows you to schedule your post sharing to sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, and Instagram. CoSchedule saves me tons of time and keeps me from being tethered 24 hours a day to the computer or my phone trying to schedule everything by hand. It is a LIFESAVER!

And I just have to brag on the CoSchedule team a little. Any time I have ever had a problem (which are few) or a question (which are many), they respond to me ASAP. I’ve never – ever – gotten the runaround or been frustrated by their service because it is top notch! They also have tons of posts and other helps to keep bloggers on top of what’s new. I love these guys!

Modern Social Magazine

Another resource I love because it’s an investment in my own education, is my subscription to Modern Social magazine. Modern Social started out as iBlog before undergoing a transformation to its current digital-only format. Each issue is packed with information aimed solely at the blogger and social media/online entrepreneur. The quality can’t be beat!

I am an information junkie – and I learn so much from this magazine every month. But you know what surprised me the most? I had a hiccup with my subscription and I have to admit that I fired off an email that wasn’t as “nice” as it could have been. Yes – I was rash and probably overreacting to a minor issue (okay, definitely overreacting).

I’ll be darned if the CEO and Founder, Matt Cherry, didn’t respond personally to my email! You could have knocked me over with a feather. He answered my questions about the change in the format and was absolutely a pleasure to deal with. I figured that my email would be passed off to a flunkie if it was addressed at all. Matt was the nicest, most helpful person I’ve ever dealt with. He has even initiated several follow up emails to inquire ask how things were going, to ask whether I was satisfied, and to let me know of upcoming information.

Satisfied? I will sing their praises loudly and tell anyone who will listen that customer service – and manners – are not dead. Well, my manners might have taken a vacation when I initially fired off that email, but Matt and the team at Modern Social have me as a customer for life! And Matt was even too much of a gentleman to address my initial – and abrupt – email.

If  you’re serious about blogging, you need this magazine!

Finally – Techie Help

Lastly, there is always the possibility (a strong possibility) that at some point you’ll need help from someone who is tech-savvy. Whether you’ve had your site hacked, need help with converting to https, or need someone you can consult with, my recommendation is MaAnna Stephenson over at blogaid.net. She’s got lots of free information through her posts and videos so you can start your techie education on your own. But she’s also got several courses you can take as well. And if the time ever comes that you need to hire someone to help clean up a mess, MaAnna is great. She’s got a Facebook page as well so start tuning in and learning from her.

So, Is Blogging for You?

There’s a lot to learn if you want to venture in to the world of blogging. I’ll be  honest, some days there is more to learn than I think I’ll ever be able to master. But it’s an opportunity to try something new, build your own business, express your creativity, pursue a passion, and build new relationships.

I can honestly say I’m glad I took the leap and jumped in. If you think blogging might be something you’d enjoy, I’d encourage you to read about some mistakes I’ve made as a newbie blogger. Maybe it’ll keep you from making the same ones. And if you’ve wondered if blog linky parties are something you’d like to participate in, be sure to check out 8 Lessons I’ve Learned from Blog Link Parties.

If you found this post helpful, I’d love for you to pin it to your favorite Pinterest board. I’d also be thrilled to have you join the weekly newsletter. I send out content that’s not on the blog as well as other information and updates.

 

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