Thursday, February 20, 2014

Celebrating One Year of Blogging and Sharing What I've Learned.

That's right, I've officially been a blogger for a year this week... is someone popping the champs yet or what?

That's what I thought.


Well, kind of a year I should say. I got my first post up on 2.17.2013 and then took a month off to contemplate whether or not I really wanted to have a blog. I had a few fears that I'm going to address a couple of times here.

I'm writing this post because it's something I wanted to read when I was trying to figure out if I wanted to start a blog. I wanted someone who wasn't a "professional blogger", or photographer or a graphic designer... But instead just a normal ol' person wanting to share great ideas. Someone to let me know that you don't need to be perfect or crazy knowledgeable on the computer in order to blog.

Back to my fears... In a nut shell I was freaked out about putting my personal life out there for the world to read, I'm pretty all-or-nothing so I knew if I was going to have a blog- personal things were going to get shared. I was also freaked out because I'm a perfectionist and doing things online is NOT one of my perfections. They more lie in hot gluing, home decorating, cleaning, crafting, sewing... Anything other than things having to do with the computer- (except cooking). So I doubted myself a lot in that month while weighing the pros and cons of truly starting the blog. I asked myself questions like, "Will it look the way I want it to?", "Will I know how to do updates on my own or will I get myself in to a money pit trying to maintain it?" I'm going to answer those questions and a few more for you in a bit- so hang tight.

First before we get there, let me tell you what I'd dreamed up early on for my 1 Year Blogiversery- a term pretty widely used in the blogosphere (another bloggy word for you). I had visions of the 1 Year Blogiversary having a huge Mutli-Blog Giveaway and me throwing giant fistfuls of confetti and shouting from roof tops, that I- Kenna O'Brien- Miss Party Mom- managed to grow a blog following for One Entire Year. I figured I'd be so overwhelmed with joy and pride that something like a Giveaway, and lots of shiny confetti, would be well... Obvious?

But here's the thing. I don't feel like that at all anymore, a year in to blogging. I just realized tonight that I'd been blogging for a year and I celebrated with a nod of the head and a smirk. I think the reason is because the blog has become a part of my life, my routine- it's my journal in a sense. It is not something I think about in terms of being successful or making X amount of money a day or tracking how many entries I've done this month- or how long I've been blogging, how "established" I am as a blogger.

When I started monetizing the blog (we'll get there) I checked the financials daily, I checked my page rank weekly... I DID very much care about all of these things. And then I just sort of realized that I'm not doing the blog for those reasons. I thought I was! But at the end of the day- on the days I made .03 cents on add banners- I still wanted to blog. It had become a part of me, like a best friend- as odd and definitely borderline whak-o as that sounds. A place I could go unleash any feelings and at least while I'm writing them- feel no judgment. A place I could write and feel less anxious. A place to process feelings about things I don't quite feel like verbalizing. A place to make friends who like the same things I do- who sometimes feel closer to me than my actual real-life friends. I mean, I can definitely understand how people fall in love over the internet, just sayin'!

The blog is always right at my fingertips when I need it. After a while I learned not to let stressers like posting a certain number of times a week get to me. Because that really zaps the fun from it, quickly. A friend once said to me when I mentioned I was taking a break from blogging that, "It will always be there when you decide to come back"- great advice that's been so true.
And of course- a lot of people are blogging to make money- some for a living and that's awesome! But at the heart of this blog is a simple no-frills mom (except for actual frills) with no specialty in web design or degree in English... But just a party planner trying to navigate through motherhood while keeping creative, going back to school, being the wife of a youth pastor- whatever it is I'm doing in life- that is my blog. If it makes money awesome. If it doesn't- I'm not too concerned.

Blogging has taught me that I like to write and that I am a pretty decent at it! I discovered that little bit of info at 32 years old. I found that I enjoyed sitting down and downloading my life on to a computer screen after a long day of chasing kids. Call it therapy.

Blogging has given me opportunities for press on NBCNews.com and in May I'll be showing off my party planning tips on the NickMom show Take Me To Your Mother. They didn't find my website, they found my blog- that's pretty priceless I'd say!

Being a blogger has introduced me to friends and provided me with a support system I couldn't have imagined.

So after sharing my reasons for blogging, I'm going to break down 5 fears/challenges that I faced a year ago that maybe some of you who have wanted to begin a blog for a while have. I learned this simple Fear/Affirmation model I'm going to use below in my business class- so no, I'm not a genius.

Fear/Challenge #1
I'm not good on the computer.

Affirmation: You don't need to be! Blog domains like BlogSpot pride themselves on how easy they make it to start a blog. When you get to a place where you can't figure it out- finding someone to help you get the design you're going for is as easy as hopping on Fiverr.com or Etsy.com

Fear/Challenge #2
I'm not sure I want to be so open on my blog.

Affirmation: Not everyone has to be an open book! Blog about whatever you want to- whatever you're good it- be it parties, baking, sewing, etc. You don't have to blog about that fight you had with your husband. But if you do, please link it to my Facebook.

Fear/Challenge #3
I don't want to go broke starting a blog!

Affirmation: I had my blog graphics and set up done for less than $200. I'm talking my illustration profile pic, banner, avatar, favicon, etc. If you are a learner you can figure all of this out on your own via You Tube... If you're like me, you can get started with $50 and an idea of what you want.

Fear/Challenge #4
I don't know Photoshop or Illustrator.

Affirmation: Hey, I don't even know PicMonkey! There are all sorts of blogs- you don't have to have a Photoshopped blog. Do they look beautiful? Sure! Is it a necessity? NO. In one year I've grown my rank from a 0 to a 3 without the help of any photo editing software- but instead just focused on what I'm good at: content.

Fear/Challenge #5
There are already other amazing blogs out there writing about the very things I want to write about.

Affirmation: This was a huge hang-up for me. And then as I started blogging I realized that my voice was different than anyone else's- and yours will be too! There is room for all of us in the blogging world! Try and keep in mind that no two blogs will be alike because no two people are alike!

Monetizing Your Blog:
 
This was a big scary subject for me where I had no clue how to make it happen but I wanted it so badly. And now- in a sense I have access to it- and I don't want to put in the time that a monetized blog takes. I just want to write out of passion- not because I'm being paid to talk about some new cell phone promotion... (And trust me, I have. If you're a regular reader you remember it.) But I wasn't passionate about those posts and even if they added $25 to my bank account I didn't feel proud of the work. So you have to ask yourself those questions and find the right balance for you.

The easiest way for me to go about making a small amount of money has been through Google AdSense. It took me about 5 months to build up enough traffic to even be approved for AdSense. I know a lot of bloggers who love BlogHer as well. I am SO not the expert in this area... as I mentioned already- I came to a point where I decided the "pay-off" was more in the community & opprotunities it's provided me, as well as the release it's given me to do something creative- yet different for me.

Content:
 
For me personally, I don't want to ever be known as a "Mom Blog" or a "Party Blog"... I just want to share my life and if people relate- well then, awesome. The thing about being a "lifestyle blogger" (oh how I hate titles) that's nice is that your content is ever flowing- if you let it be. Now am I saying you should blog about changing a poopy diaper? No, I'm not saying that. But if you're interested enough in blogging- this probably means your life is somewhat interesting. I draw my content from life, feelings, occurrences... And really great epiphanies.

One thing I've subconsciously done (if nothing else to keep my mind from thinking about the same subject for too long) is to rotate between posts that are: encouraging, controversial, Pinterest-worthy (posts that will get clicks for their amazing pics), how-to, etc. This will only work if you're not trying to have a specific blog. Like if the popular party blog: Kara's Party Ideas started blogging about her marriage- I'd be freaked out! So stay true to who you are/want to be as a blogger. And if you don't know (I didn't!) DON'T WORRY- it will define itself as you start blogging. I decided I wanted to be an eclectic writer and always keep my readers on their toes... But I only figured that out after writing about only parties for 2 months and being so board with myself I couldn't even finish my own posts. The blog will evolve and figure itself out- just give it permission to!
OK- So this post didn't involve confetti flying out of your computer (Blogger Fail) to celebrate the big ol' MPM One Year BLOGIVERSERY or a crazy Giveaway- but I'm hoping if you've ever considered blogging- this gave you a little insight on how to get past the initial intimidation of it.

One thing I'm totally sure of is that if I can do it- YOU CAN DO IT. Just trust me.


xo Blog or Die xo
kenna

4 comments:

  1. Such an inspiring read! Congrats on your first year. I'm sure you have so much good stuff ahead of you! :)

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  2. Very inspiring Kendra! I like you love to write so thanks to your post I may just start doing more blogging.

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  3. Congratulations Kenna!! you were meant to this and you know it as well as we do. We enjoy your work and your blog, continue the fabulous work and much success to you for going after what you truly love.

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  4. Great job with blogging- truly important for any event management Singapore company or party planner =)

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