Friday, January 18, 2013

7 Tips for New Bloggers

Hey y'all!  Thanks for coming to my 2 year bloggiversary party!  Oh, what?  You didn't know it was party day?  Well surprise!  Hope you're wearing something fancy.


Anyway, in honor of this here blog becoming a toddler and probably getting ready to start a lot of trouble and maybe flush some socks down the toilet or something, I thought I'd share a couple of tips for anyone who juuuuuuuuuuuuust started a blog or has been thinking about starting one but hasn't yet.  (pre-tip: do it.  So. FUN.).
These are super basic because, as I said, my blog is only a two year-old.  I'm not, like, a pro blogger or anything.  Alright, initiate party sequence!

(1)
Make sure you blog address and your blog title match. I don't know about starting a blog in Wordpress (or any other platform), but when you start your blog in Blogger, the first thing you do is find a web address.  Well, the first 700 things you check will already be taken and you'll be tempted to stick with the title you originally came up with but just have a different web address because by golly THE TITLE I JUST CAME UP WITH IS SO GOOD!  Don't do this.  Your readers will be confused, it will be harder or them to find you later, and it will ALWAYS bug you.  then years later you'll be so sick of it, you'll have to do a whole crazy switch that will stress you out.  Just ask Charlotte.

(2)
Speaking of Charlotte- that is her real name.  And I like it.  Not only her name but the fact that I KNOW her name.  See, the thing about blogging, the best thing, is the relationships.  People simply won't be able to develop a relationship with a blogger named Busy Mama or That Girl.  Don't blog anonymously if you want interaction and are trying to develop relationships.  If the idea of blogging with your real name scares you then maybe starting a blog isn't the answer to whatever question you have?  Or, maybe you're not blogging for relationship but rather just to keep a journal and you don't care about interactions?  If that's the case,  y u no stop reading this post!?!?!??  

(3)
So you start your blog and you sign your name and you say "Okay!  Ready for comments!".  And no comments.  Why?  Probably because you've got captcha verification on.  You know those insane letters combined with the blurry numbers that make you feel like you're on a psychedelic journey through a ghetto apartment complex?  Yeah.  Get rid of those. No captchas on your comment forms! It's hard enough to do those things on the computer, but if your readers mostly use their phones you can forget ever getting comments from them if you're using comment verification.

(4)
Okay- blog? check! Name? check! Easy commenting? check!  Where are your readers?  Well, have you told your friends and family about your blog?  Ah.  I see.  You're embarrassed.  Well all I can say to that is: ain't nobody got time for that!  You've got a blog!  It's like an extension of your living room!  If you want people to visit, they have to know it exists.  If you keep it a secret, no one will come see you.  So you gotta pick- hop out of your comfort zone and tell people about it and get visitors or keep it a secret and don't get any visitors.  Now, don't constantly inbox-bomb people.  That's just annoying.  But go ahead and send a message to people you know will be interested.  Share it on your facebook page.  Shoot out a little tweet.  You see where I'm going with this.

(5)
Speaking of sharing on facebook!  Here's the deal.  If you don't put any images in your post (oh my gosh.  Put an image in your post), facebook will give you a selection of images from your sidebar to choose from.  If you didn't take the time to put an image in the post, I'm guessing you won't take the time to select an image from your sidebar, which means that every link you post on facebook will look exactly the same.  And even though they say different words, people don't read words first.  They look at pictures first.  If they're seeing the same image over and over again, they won't be clickin'.  They just won't get that it's a new post each time.  So put an image in your post.  Even if it has nothing to do with what you're writing.  Like this:

check out those thighs, baby! nom nom nom nom.





It will make your blog more fun to read and seriously- people need fun.

(6)
Are you ready to level up?  Heck yes you are!  Now it's time to not have one of those stock templates on your blog.  Because here's the thing- there are 2 or 3 stock blogger templates that everyone picks.  You know, the one with the books in the back, the one with the grass growing at the top, and the one that's dark blue with the polka dots?  Yep.  I think I used all three of those before I realized "Hey!  I can get free blog templates from special websites devoted just to free blog templates!".  Seriously.  Google "free blogger templates" or "free wordpress templates" and differentiate your blog from the other zillions out there.  Plus, it is so fun to do.  I'm warning you- messing around with your blog's design might become an obsession in and of itself. Oh man.  It's fun.

(7)
And above all, be authentic.  People talk about key words and search engine optimization and all this stuff, but following a crusty old formula that stilts your natural voice takes away from the you in your writing and therefore limits the potential for true relationships to form.  And also...it sounds stupid.  Can you imagine if you came here and the first sentence you read was "Blogging is an exciting hobby and blogging can be a great way to make friends so if you've thought about starting a blog you've come to the right place because blogging is the thing this blogger is about to talk about...".  Um.  Vomit.  Ehow anyone?  So painful.  So don't do that.  Or the 5 paragraph essay.  Don't do that either.  Just chat with us.  People love a good chat!

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 203)

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74 comments :

  1. I wish someone told me about those free backgrounds early on. I may have been guilty of using the grass one. Heh.

    Hello baby thighs!

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  2. Happy bloggiversary! You've definitely found your groove in blogland with your honesty, humor and unique voice. Great tips.

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  3. I would have sworn you've been at this longer than 2 years!?!?!

    Happy Blogiversary, my 5th is coming up this month :)

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  4. I can't tell you how much I agree with all of these- but particularly no. 2 No matter how lovely and readable and insightful and etc. etc. a blog is, if the person is trying to chronicle their daily lives but using pseudonyms, I can't get past a feeling of odd doublespeak. The writer is sharing details of her life like a friend, but not trusting her friend enough to use her people's real names. And the ones that have their family's actual faces, but still use nicknames? I understand the desire to protect privacy, but then I guess it begs the question- why are you including these private details?

    Of course, I am fundamentally wired to not be able to keep things to myself, so don't listen to me.

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    Replies
    1. I don't really see it as an issue of "not trust." I know my husband would not like to have his name and at home doings easily googled, he has so unusual a name that I believe he is the only one in this beautiful country with his first and last combo. But neither would he wish to deny me learning the art of chronicling our life. I solved the dilemma by just shortening our last name. And also, seriously, teenagers in da house. They and their friends and their friends' friends google everything. And make fun of everything. That alone kept me from blogging for two years until I says to myself, "Self! Get over it, just lose the last name!"

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    2. I think this is part of why I don't talk about my husband too much, either. Mostly just things that make him look good ;)

      Anyway, even a fake first name would do the trick I think. Just "something" that your readers can cling to. A face + name = accountability

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  5. I just reached my 400th post on one of my blogs, wish I would have had this info when I started! The first 2 years, I have a total of 19 posts each year, but those posts chronicled weeks. And no photos. I cringed when I went back to read the first few posts. Ugh!
    On the other hand, I can see the improvement in my blogging skillz. Still room to grow, but tons better than I was!

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  6. One of the reasons I always enjoy your posts is that you are so brave about really putting yourself out there (and hilariously funny, too!). Happy Anniversary to you and your blog!

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  7. Yes. Yes. Yes. Wish I would have read these last year when I started my lil blog. I especially agree with the pseudonym one. Use your real name people and spare your last if you're worried. No one will be able to find you. Promise. :)

    Happy Blogaversary.

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  8. I used the one with the books in the background!!! LOL. I love this post and it's so true. And you know, my blog is 2 years old, too...but I totally didn't celebrate my blogoversary! Boo on me!!! :)

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  9. Oh and happy blogaversary, too. One thing I just thought of for another tip, if you want to share someday...go find really active blogs and comment on them...those bloggers will typically visit your blog when you comment and then...wha-la, you get another comment. :)

    (of course, I am always wishing I got more comments...so maybe my tactic doesn't always work...)

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  10. "the blurry numbers that make you feel like you're on a psychedelic journey through a ghetto apartment complex" - Hate. THem. but love this description.

    I have the hardest time with number 7. I question EVERYTHING I write and am so afraid I'm going to offend people because I don't tend to always put things in the most lovely way. Or I'm just a jerk. Both. And also I'm not the greatest writer to begin with. So then stuff gets lame or just not written at all.

    Now you need to write a post for blog READERS. With tips like "follow publicly" so that certain bloggers don't develop complexes wondering why she has a bunch of readers but so many people follow privately. ARE THEY ASHAMED OF ME??? Ahem. Also, if you find someone through Pinterest (or anywhere) and you use their tips or advice or whatever, LEAVE THEM A COMMENT AND THANK THEM, DARN IT. Huh. Maybe I should write this post.

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  11. Oh, I am a culprit of #1. When I started I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going with the blog. I just picked a name because I didn't think it mattered. Now I have the annoying responsibility of reminding people of a name that doesn't match my title. I kick myself all the time for it.

    Great tips!

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  12. Ooh!! One more!

    Turn your dang email thing on so people can email you back on comments. It super helps with the whole building relationships thing.

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    Replies
    1. Oh yeah can someone elaborate on this one??? I'm so confused...

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  13. #3 - Amen, amen, amen, amen!!! Preach it sister! ;) Happy anniversary! My 4th is coming up in May...can't believe it has been 4 years. So many of my closest friends are people I have never even met! I know that sounds weird, and I have had the absolute privilege of meeting some of them and hope to meet more soon, but truly for me - blogging is about the relationships! I love all the tips.

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  14. Umm..that was me above...obviously, it would help if my comment was linked to my actual blog. :)

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  15. Amen to the captcha!
    There have been SO many times I've written a comment and just ended up leaving the blog when the captcha showed up. I seriously hate that.

    I love your post, especially your commentary on being authentic. I have a hard time with that, since I'm not really funny, I'm not a fabulous writer with great wisdom and insight, and my parents read my blog. But, I'm working on it. I've been blogging for 10 years, and every time I try to step away from it, I miss it. So, here I am... The relationships are so key.
    Also, I owe you a FB message. Coming atcha soon!

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  16. Can I also say when you are picking a name, don't do something dumb like me and pick a blog name with a word people universally can not spell.
    It's a BIG reason I changed my blog title.

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  17. Phew. I'm glad I just redid my blog design and I have never had a captcha. I HATE those things. It takes me an average of 3 times to get it right and it's sooooo not worth it.

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  18. Happy 2 Years Blogging!!! I always love to read, even though I comment rarely, you can count on me reading all your posts. :-) I hear you 100% on the word verification! Drives. Me. Nuts!
    I would also say getting followers by commenting on blogs you read works ... worked for me! My family & friends don't know I have a blog. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Also ... thanks for the info on the free blogger templates! I will just have to check that out!

      Delete
  19. Happy Bloggiversary!

    #1 blogging tip should be "Don't use Blogger" :-) I can't tell you how many times I'm leaving a comment and, because I'm using my iPad, I tap elsewhere in the comment box to fix a typo, or alter a word choice, or my thumb just slips... the whole comment box freezes. I can't even copy the text I've already typed for easy pasting. 90% of the time, I just give up. In fact, I actually put my iPad down and came upstairs to use my computer to type this comment for that very reason.

    Also, there's nothing wrong with pseudonyms, and plenty of actual reasons to prefer it. I use one because there are a million Salazars on the internet, and while they aren't all gargantuan white wimmin, it's still a tad difficult to distinguish oneself from the pack in a google search. We can't all be Dorian Speed.

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    1. Ah, I have no "i" items, so no experience with those combox struggles!

      As for the name thing, for me it's not primarily about popularity but about relationship. Jen Fulwiler's name is Jennifer and she's still managed to cultivate such beautiful internet friendships. If she didn't have a name I could think about and pray for and refer to, it would be much harder to think of her in terms of a real person who I could really be friends with. But then from those relationships springs popularity. :)

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    2. Well of course it's about relationships. But it's hard to build relationships with people when you have trouble figuring out exactly which one of many similarly named individuals around the web left that sweet/thoughtful/mean/trollish comment for you. Well, for trolls, that's probably an advantage actually.

      But I'm from the early era of the internet where everyone used a handle, so the idea that one interferes with forming a relationship with the person behind it just seems... weird. They were a layer of formality between you and the internet at large, the equivalent of using Mr/Mrs/Miss, and not a mask. I'm old fashioned, and I don't like being addressed in an overly familiar fashion offline either.

      And that's actually what made using GeekLady as both a pseudonym and blog address easy, because I've been GeekLady on the internet for a long, long time. GeekLady @gmail and .com were scooped up in the early period of name squatting (and I lost GeekLady on Flickr during the Yahoo transfer) but most of the rest are me.

      Having a handle was a big help because I didn't know what my blog title was for a long time. I had to write my way to it, and that was bitter work.

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    3. You are way more advanced than these tips! Definitely loads more experience than I have :)

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    4. But you're the better writer, so I think we're square!

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    5. My iPhone does that freeze-up, too. I don't know if it works for the Pad but I have to minimize my keyboard by pressing Done and then call it up again to reactivate the comment box. So obnoxious.

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    6. Oh, thank you for that tip! I had no idea there was any way to unfreeze that *redacted* comment box!

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    7. Oh my gosh. Stupid blogger. Frustrating!

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  20. I luh dis Dwija!
    (just trying to keep with the theme of you meme)

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    1. AH!! And happy blogaversry!!! Where would the world be without your blog presence?!?!

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  21. Love all of these! I'm totally guilty of the generic template... but I do want to change! I just have to devote the time to actually... you know, doing it.

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  22. I know this is a personal preference and I hope I don't upset anyone (just lil ole me and my 2cents - which isn't worth much anymore) but I really prefer when the top of every post doesn't greet me with a box that says "Follow me/Subscribe/Get me in your inbox!" I just want to read what you've got to say not see a billboard that's trying to drum up stat numbers.

    Which is the #8 I would add - Don't worry about stats. Write because you want to write and don't be concerned about feeling popular.

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    1. Agreed. Sometimes subtle is better.

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  23. Happy Blogiversary Dwija!! You are so insightful for your two years. I've been at it five and just learned a few things reading this post. lol. Now, I'm contemplating the whole template change thing but freaking out.
    I found some templates, but then that means I won't have my personalized header? Where did you find a template you loved. Still looking out there for a good one that is "me". And, how do you all get the tabs on top? Heck, if I'm gonna work on template and spending time making changes, might as well rock the whole darn thing. Can we say possible weekend project??
    I have so loved to "meet" so many wonderful women I may never actually really ever "meet" through blogging. My kids think my cyber friends are a hoot because I talk about them all the time and there's no telling if they really exist. ha!

    Thanks for your insight and loads of laughs in yoru posts. They always make my day!! Hope you are celebrating big for your blogiversary!!

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    1. Well I just hopped over to your blog and it looks like you have a special template up already! Another option is to just have a plain colored background or upload your own background in combination with your personalized header, and not use a template at all.

      For the tabs at the top, there are different ways you can set up the blogger portion before you apply the template- tabs at the top is one of the options but I think blogger calls them "pages" :)

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    2. Thanks Dwija! Here I was thinking I didn't have a special template and I was just some plain old blog. :)
      I'll have to look into the tabs.

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  24. New blogger, here. Thanks for the tips. As soon as I read #3, I immediately clicked back to my blog and turned off "the blurry numbers that make you feel like you're on a psychedelic journey through a ghetto apartment complex." Love that description by the way.

    Also, those chubby little thighs and the sweet baby they are attached to are absolutely precious as is the red-nosed toddler.

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  25. Congrats! And thanks for the tips! Number seven is why I started to blog. I am not interested in doing much with my blog other than use it as a place where I can learn to hear my voice again. I used to write for fun back in the day, but as each child was added to our family, the less and less I would write, all the way down to nothing. I started to see that I no longer had any authentication in my words and realized that to get it back, I would have to practice, practice, and no, not practice, be accountable. To realize that someone, anyone, be it friend or mean stranger, might read your words, it is an incentive to get your act together. And figure out what your voice once sounded like!

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  26. Oh, Dwija, I hate captcha with a fiery hatred. It's the one thing I dread about our weekly link-up. I try to leave people comments and then, well, you know.
    It's not bad enough that it makes you type those things. But they are blurry. You have to prove you are a non-robot with good eyesight. Unfair.
    Love your tips.
    XOXO

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  27. Yes! This is perfect :) I always say keep it short and tie in your readers too. People get so busy that they love to read quick things, and then they get bored if all you do is talk about yourself without connecting to their lives. Even just asking questions like, has this ever happened to you? That's what I like :)

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  28. Dweej, You have dragged me into the light, and forcing me to treat with reality and finally ditch the book background on my blog. (The *first* to be called out!? Really!? Sigh.) I know you are right, of course. I've known as much all along, but have lived in denial. I told myself I'd earned the cliche with so *bookish* a title (slim volume... ba-da-bum.)

    Excuses, excuses. Thanks for the intervention! Tonight I shop for new background. It will be fun! (Right?)

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    1. You're not the first to be called-out...only the first to publicly admit in so entertaining a fashion! Yay! 10 points for you.

      But it is fun. It really is. I could spend all night messing around with blogging stuff. Not that...you know...I ever have or anything. Ahem.

      Delete
  29. Happy Bloggiversary! These are great tips. I am getting ready to embark a a little redesigning (gulp!) so I will definitely check out those free templates. I am all about the free.

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    1. Girl, you know that's how I roll! Especially when starting out. Gotta get your feet wet before you commit financially. Or at least that's how it was for me.

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  30. Dweej, you've only been blogging 2 years and you have 1.3 trillion followers?? I will be employing all your methods so I might become like you Sensai.

    Happy blog'versary!

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  31. Um, are you hiding in my living room? I started a blog LAST NIGHT after much hemming and hawing about the whole thing, and woke up to this perfect post in my reader! I then spent a shameful amount of time hunting down a "custom" header and now feel very fancy (even though I have a million more improvements I want to make to the blog at some point. Oh, and maybe post something other than "Hi!" as well.) Happy 2 years!

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  32. Thanks for all the tips. I am a new blogger and am doing it simply for the sheer fun of writing. I enjoy writing. I do want people to read, but it's ok if that part grows slowly. At this point, I only write once a month...well, because that is what I can seriously actually do at this point! So when I do blog it takes an insane amount of time for me to dicker around with the template, the design...etc. Do you want to give a dummy's tutorial to fixing one's blog...maybe a short series? Seriously! Like with my last post, I signed up for Google + and was lost in google land for over an hour and a half. I still do not have a real handle on exactly what I did and what it will do for me. My next goal is pictures and sharing on fb...but I am happy to have begun and am satisfied to be reflecting on my life and all the joys that come with being a mom.

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  33. Also, I keep thinking I should participate in one of these link ups...but as I said, I get busy and then can't spend a lot of time figuring it all out. I'll get there. Look for me on a "What I wore to Mass..." -- that looks fun!

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  34. Happy Anniversary Dwija! I can't believe that I started my blog before you did (by 12 whole days), because you are so much better at it than I am. I did venture out and get a different background than the template one, but that's about as tech-y as I can manage.

    But, it is fun, and I have enjoyed the new friends I have made (especially YOU)!

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  35. Happy Bloggiversary Dwija! As a relatively new blogger, I was sort of reading each one and then giving out a sigh of relief - whew! didn't fall for that rookie move. Other than the background thing - I have a stock background. Might be time to scoot around and see what else the internets have to offer... There goes my night. :)

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  36. What a great post. I'm an old blogger (my 5 year anniversary is coming up) but I'm trying to straddle both worlds by having my blog semi-anonymous. Although I've got a great social network in my neighborhood, I don't tell any of those people about my blog because I write about real and personal things and I just don't want the random neighbors or the moms at pick-up knowing about that.

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  37. Happy, happy bloggiversary! Great list - I am bookmarking this to pass along to people.

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  38. well i have been blogging for 6 years. But, then I get tired of it and start over. I have started over 6 times I think and then all my people get deleted or don't follow me over to the new one. I have used all the free templates and had original ones too but I got bored of those too.

    But if you use a picture or something thats too large it takes too long to come up and freezes the computer sometimes...

    But as far as tips... all the blogs I read, over half of them have my name, Kim. But, if you have a name like yours its memorable!

    I agree about the captcha--WHY?

    I also agree about real names...it makes it feel like you are hiding something otherwise...unless you have good reason to use fake names when some things are truely private and would embarrass the person but if its just "oh my child drew a cute pic" --why not use the real name.

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    Replies
    1. I always say that when blogging becomes stressful or boring (and I'm sure that day will come), I'll stop. You have enough stuff to worry about to have a hobby become a worry too, right? Definitely don't do it if it makes you crazier than it makes you pleased :)

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  39. Yep this post was definitely written for this newbie:) Thank you!

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  40. Ahh... see #4... so scary... because then people I see in real life might judge me, right? Or is it because I had to hide my first blog from my parents because I was in high school and supposed to be doing hw (so lame) instead of writing out my thoughts for my friends I saw every day at school... hard to say. I share my posts with my real-life friends every once in a while, but for real... so scary. :P

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    Replies
    1. I know! I know! But I think it helps to keep us authentic, increases our courage, and helps us cultivate empathy. Knowing that my pastor might read keeps my crazy in the right kind of check (IF YOU CAN EVEN BELIEVE THAT).

      p.s. I think keeping a blog should trump homework any day ;)

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  41. Mwah!! Dwij, you're awesome! I've been blogging for (quite) a while, but there is still stuff to learn from this. Just turned off the word verification thingy on my blog, for starter. And authenticity: Amen, sister!

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  42. Happy Blogaversary Dwij!

    love the tips! Thanks for the help! You are AWESOME!
    Someday maybe I will invite my Homeschool coop to read my blog, but that could be scary ;{

    Megan @ www.growingagardenofgirls.blogspot.com

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  43. soo...hi, i am elisabeth! :) our blog address used to be my husband + my name. And then we adopted from foster care twice. I just did not want to be googled. so, I have actually taken a step back from that and usually go by B&B for the sake of the www..but you know, elisabeth. hi. :)

    #5. blog started out for family so heck yeah it was shared with them, far and wide....and then
    #7. I started being REALLY honest. :) leads to some interesting family conversation. hmmm, therapy over dinner, anyone?

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  44. Happy Blogaversary (or however that is spelled because I'm pretty sure that isn't even the made-up-but-right-spelling)!

    I'm so going to have to finally do #6 and get rid of grassy template... because I've been meaning to do it for a while, but was to busy to even google to figure out how (although I think I'm still in the "new baby excuse for everything phase" that I'll use to excuse that. But now that you told us what to google... and that it should work... I have no excuse.

    Goal for the day... avoid the freezing outside, keep the children from killing each other, and get a new blog template!

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  45. So Dweeja, I have to say THANK YOU SO MUCH!! You could not have had better timing for this post (at least for me). I have been reading your blog for a couple months now and was contemplating starting my own. This post was the push I needed...so here it is: http://findingmyselfinmyforties.blogspot.com/
    So #1 check; #2 check; #3 check; #4 working on it; #5 next time; #6 TBD; and #7 will do my best.
    By the way, you are mentioned in my first post (along with others) and thanks again for encouragement AND Happy Blogiversary!!

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    Replies
    1. Yay! I'm going to hop over and visit right now.

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  46. Didn't even know I had a captcha thing... Pretty sure I've turned it off now.

    Yay for help for newbies like me!

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