Jamin's Blogging Basics

November 11, 2008 at 8:28 am (Uncategorized)

I frequently get asked for advice on how to start or maintain a blog.  So I thought a post on what I have learned about blogging is in order.  First off, I am not expert.  I have not studied or read a lot about the how-to’s of blogging.  Like most things in my life I just found blogging appealing and jumping into it with both feet.  Here I am almost 3 years later and I can barely imagine my life without my blog.  Here are a few things I have learned along the way.

Privacy


1. Protecting my families privacy has been important to me from the start!  Yes, there are plenty of people who read my blog who know who we are.  But, those are real life people we have met and know.  I don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry to be able to find my family.  That is why I blog annonymously.  I have no way to control who reads my blog and I don’t want to ever do anything that could risk the safety of my family.  Yes, I could have chosen to use our real names and then not post pictures.  But, I LOVE pictures and since this blog is also a journal I am keeping for my kids for the future I wanted to include pictures.

2.  There is another type of privacy I also protect.  I try really hard not to post anything that would embarrass someone.  Yep, there are plenty of stories I DON’T post because I know in the long run they might embarrass one of my kids and I would never want to do that.  If I am posting about a friend or family member I always let that person know in advance.  I usually write the post and then send it to the person to make sure they are okay with me posting it.  I don’t post a lot about my husband because he is a more private person than I am.  If I do post something about him I have him read it first.  There have been times he has corrected me in the details of a story.  In other words he keep me accountable.

Having a Goal


The goal of my blog is to share our homeschool adventure, keep a record for my kids and to support other homeschoolers in their homeschooling adventure.  My key verse for my blog is:

When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say things that people need – words that will help others to become stronger.  Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.  Ephesians 4:29

This verse is always on my mind and in my heart when I write on my blog.  Before I post each entry I ask myself. Is this post harmful to anyone? Will it help others to become stronger?  Will this post do good for others?  If the answer to any of these is no, them I delete the post.  it is not always that the topic is bad, but many times that I just didn’t get my point across properly.  It may be that I was too whiny or feeling sorry for myself.  Not everything I write gets posted! (As a matter of fact I frequently write posts I have no intention of posting.  I just need to think through my fingers and this is my place for that!)   Sometimes I am just venting and I write a post I KNOW I am NEVER going to post!  LOL 

With my goal of fulfilling Ephesians 4:29 in mind I am also mindful of the responsibility I have to the people who read my blog.  Right now I average 1000 to 1200 readers per day!  (This is a combination of subscribers, and blog visitors.)  The church we attend seats approx. 1000 people.  I frequently look around on Sunday and think "Wow, this is about the number of people I speak to every day from my blog!"  That is mind boggling considering that the pastor I am listening to has spent years studying in order to reach this group every week.  Here I am a "nobody" who gets to reach the same number of people every day!  It’s mind boggling and a responsibility I take very seriously!  Everything is prayerfully considered before it is posted.  This is not to say I have not offended people and mis-spoke on my blog.  But, my intention is to always remember that words have power and I want to use that power for good and not evil! LOL

Another goal I have is to post on my blog 5 days a week.  M-F.  One way I keep up the pace of posting 5 days a week is to write ahead.  When I have an idea for a post (Like this one for instance.)  I go ahead and write it.  Then I hang on to it until a day when nothing blogworthy happened at our house.  Every night before I go to bed I post my entry for the next day.  That way my readers have something fresh to read M-F when they wake up! :^)

Building an Audience

Post consistently is the best thing you can do to build your audience.  Whether it be daily, weekly or even hourly people will get use to hearing from you on a regular basis and they will know when to return for your next post.  No one wants to click over to visit a friend and realize you have read their last post 3 times already! 

Find your voice!  Know what your blog is about.  Who is your audience?  My audience is primarily homeschool mom’s.  But, I get a fair number of other students and teachers that find my blog through google searches.  When I first started out my blog was just a journal of my kids schooling.  Over time I realized that God was using it to share ideas and projects that we have done with others.  He has also allowed me to have a hand in mentoring other homeschool mom’s through my blog.  I never dreamed of such a thing when I started this blog!  But, over time I have realized that is part of my voice!  (A part I enjoy very much and feel blessed to have in my life!)

Be transparentPeople I know frequently tell me that when they read my blog posts it’s just like talking to me!  LOL  (Hum..Maybe they are really saying they can’t get a word in edgewise?)  I am pretty much the same on my blog as I am in person.  This is not an act.  This is a forum for me to spill out all my thoughts and passions.  It’s real.  Some days it’s funny, some days it’s meloncholy.  Everyday it’s ME! 

Be ready to serve othersWhen you put yourself out there for people to "know" you are going to find opportunities to serve others.  I feel so privileged when someone asks me to help them with questions they have about a curriculum.  I feel so honored when a reader asks me to pray for them!  I never dreamed I would be able to serve others through my blog.  But, that is another gift God has given me through blogging.  Isn’t God AWESOME! Sometimes it take awhile for me to get to the emails people send me.  But, I always do my best to answer them all.

Be ready for controversy if you post on controversial issues.  I personally steer clear of controversy as much as I can.  I am not hear to argue.  This is my place to "think through my fingers."  But, if you do chose to post about controversial topics, be ready!  People will be there to challenge you!  Even if you don’t purposfully post about things that are controversial you will still post things that push people hot buttons!  I have learned a lot over the last 3 years about what makes people tick!  I have had some of the most nothing posts to me, inspire great passion in others!  Be ready!  You never know what someone else is thinking.

Take charge of your blog. 
Ultimately this is my space.  I love getting comments and sharing dialogue that is meaningful to me.  But, if someone gets nasty or links to something offensive to me.  Bye-bye!  I am all for free speech, and if someone wants to speak freely I encourage them to go start their own blog to do so.  But, don’t get mad if you say something offensive in a comment and I delete it.  This is my "home on the web."  Just as I wouldn’t allow someone to come into my home and bad mouth me or my kids, I don’t allow it on my blog either.  No, it has not happened a lot.  But, it has happened.  I have certain posts that get nasty comments more than others.  (These are not things that come from other homeschoolers, but from people who find my blog through random google searches.)  So, if you call me or my kids a name..bye-bye!  Homeschoolblogger has this neat little feature that allows me to block IP’s from my blog.  And I HAVE used it!

HAVE FUN!


Most of all HAVE FUN with your blog!  If you love to write blogging is a great way to get your daily dose of writing!  If you start a blog and find it a burden, then quit!  It’s not supposed to be another thing you HAVE to do.  I look forward to blogging everyday!  The time I spend writing my posts is the most relaxing this I do for myself on a consistent basis!  For me it is therapy!  The fact that anyone else reads it is all icing!  If I ever stopped enjoying it then I would be outta here!  (Although I don’t see that happening anytime in the next 100 years or so!  LOL)

I hope this has helped to answer some of the questions you all have about blogging.  I don’t really  know if this is what others wanted to hear when they ask "What advice do you have for me about blogging?"  But, these are the things I have learned.  Many are the things I wish I has known when I started this process three years ago. 

So best wishes and good luck on your blogging endevours!

Happy Homeschooling,

Jamin

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6 Comments

  1. kkocher said,

    Thanks – this is GREAT information! I have already failed the "privacy" test…. I have a page on http://www.thehomesschoollounge.com and have continually used my children's names – as do most of the women on there. Perhaps because it feels safe being only visible to the members there. I have also told everyone what state I live in. OOPS! Oh well, too late now. ha What I do want to ask you now is about this website. I am having a dilly of a time figuring anything out. So far all I am able to accomplish is posting my ramblings. No luck getting pics and I have no idea whatsoever how in the world everyone gets all the extra "stuff" down the side margins, all the links, etc. Do I need to hire someone to do all this or is there some magic trick? LOL I am about as inexperienced in computer stuff as they come. I have a Mac so maybe that is the issue I don't know. It is brand new with Firefox etc. so I know it is very up to date in terms of software etc. (If that even matters..haha…what do I know?) Well, for now I guess I will have to be content with my ramblings. Talk to you later Jammin!

  2. Anonymous said,

    Jamin, I get so many great ideas from your blog! This post finally inspired me to get started on my own blog. I want to document our homeschooling journey for my kids. Thanks for being an inspiration. I hope you stop by and check out my blog too. http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/openmeadows.

    AF Wife

  3. dianmcharp said,

    Thanks for sharing your tips. I had wondered how to have enough to write each day. I liked the idea of writing ahead.

  4. EllaSmit said,

    Hi! Thanks for this! I have (eventually) subscribed to your blog after visiting many times. I have also started blogging and typically now have two blogs within two days!!! LOL! Thanks for all the info on your blog. I started lapbooking because of it! God bless, Elmarie

  5. Anonymous said,

    Hi, I just found your blog when a friend at church told me to look up lapbooks. Never heard of them before :o) Anyway, I just started reading and am thankful for all the great information you have on your blog. We are new to homeschooling too, so I appreciate your wisdom. God Bless!

  6. atthecape said,

    Hi Jamin: Thanks for the tips. I started my blog a few weeks ago and I just remembered reading your post a while back. I plan on rereading it every few months. Your blog is awesome. I use many of your ideas with my 3 guys. I have been hsing for 8 years, Math u see, love lapbooking, Sonlight, Prairie Primer. Your love for your kids and teaching blesses me. Keep it up. ~terriG
    http://accidentallyhomeschooling.blogspot.com/

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