one click (or clip) away from free

My soccermom-ish tendencies, as I like to call them, astound me by the day as I find myself doing things I never thought I would do. Point and case: rambling on and on about the thrill of saving money with coupons.

Coupon clipping isn’t too soccermom-ish, is it?

I like discounts. Even more than discounts, I like free things. If you were asked, “Would you like to get this at a discount, or would you like it for free?” of course you would say, “For free!” Who wouldn’t? It doesn’t get any better than free. (Unless of course the seller decides for some unknown reason to pay you. If you learn how to pull off this bargaining trick, let me in on it.)

All this to say, it’s not that hard to find discounts or, yes, sometimes even freebies by searching online and in magazines, newspapers, etc. I’m still new at it, and saved more than $15 at the grocery store this week alone. Oh, yea. (One free bag of wheat flour? I’ll take it!)

the challenge

Start a blog about your money-saving tactics and excursions. Give insider advice on saving money for just about anything. Review coupon websites, tell us the best coupon magazines to subscribe to, lead us to the best stores. What’s the deal with Groupon? How do you double coupons? Is it worth it to join a library coupon swap group?

possible blog names

  • CouponMe
  • CoupForChicks
  • GreyCoupon (maybe if your last name is Grey, or Mustard)
  • GetYourCoupOn
Advertisements

blog posts without any pictures

Right now, I’m camera-less. It’s torturous, nearly. Beautiful summer sunset, new items to sell on eBay, the heightening lettuce in my first garden – I can’t snap shots of any of them. What’s a (at-least-I-pretend-to-be-a) photographer to do? Remind me never to lose my camera again.

But really, it is a time of confession. When I first started blogging, I had my own camera. For a few months. I was always on the lookout for blog-worthy photos to complement my posts. Then I lost it (Take this sentence in every meaning possible.). Ever since, it’s been downhill. Yes, I borrowed my housemate’s camera, but it’s not the same. And recently, I feel increasingly guilty that I haven’t returned it to her yet. I probably should . . .

This all leads me to a little preachiness on the importance of having excellent pictures to go along with your blog posts. I really can’t say enough about it. Honestly, every time I write one of those “the challenge” sections, I end up saying something to the effect of “Include pictures of your _______.” (Fill in the blank with whatever random concept I’m telling you to start a blog about.)

I could say some pithy quote about pictures being worth a 1000 words, but honestly my reasoning is just that people like to look at pictures. Even as adults, we’d rather feast our eyes on books, webpages, instruction manuals, etc. that are filled with illustrations rather than settle for dry, word-only content.

So there you have it. What, did you expect me to include a picture or something?

a commentary on Fresh Pressed

Bloggers are like people. Well, in most cases, they are people when you think about it. At least, I like to think so. There are occasional moments when I stumble across those captivating blogs of seemingly larger-than-life people with extraordinary lives. Or, I don’t know, maybe I’m the odd one out. Does everyone just happen to travel to Norway and Cambodia every day, take breathtaking photos, and then upload them to their photo blog for everyone to drool over? (No offense, Casey Arneson. I really just needed an excuse to sneak in a link to your incredible work.) It sure seems like it when you scroll through Fresh Pressed, doesn’t it?

I admit, sometimes Fresh Pressed makes me feel that my life is hypo-ordinary.

Some bloggers have ordinary or perhaps even hypo-ordinary lives, that is lives that are less than ordinary and which can seem to be made a bit more ordinary, at least momentarily, in experiencing the thrill of coining new words (as was recently demonstrated through my use of the word hypo-ordinary). But what makes a blogger’s life or experiences or posts the coveted Fresh-Press-worthy?

the challenge

Start a blog that is a commentary on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed. Make observations about the posts. Why do you think a certain post made it on the homepage? What are some common trends in posts they choose to highlight? Do they refer to pop culture, feature amazing photography, include corny jokes?

possible blog names

  • FreshPressMe
  • FreshPressDontMess
  • BestofFreshPress
  • FreshCommentary

hunts and finds: the pirate in all of us

everybody, everybody wants to hunt

Whether you take it in the spiritual/metaphysical purpose-seeking sense or the small, everyday practical sense, we’re always looking for something. We all like to hunt (and by this I mean search for things, not necessarily kill them and put their heads over the living room fireplace, which would be especially unfortunate if you, like Elmer Fudd, prefer to hunt innocent yet humorous rabbits such as Bugs Bunny).

A group of some good friends and I used to go geocaching quite religiously. When I would try to explain the object of geocaching to others – to follow coordinates to a specific location where others have hidden “treasure” (aka, usually a pill bottle with a log in it where you sign your name to prove you found the cache) and then keep an online profile recording all your finds – I always felt a little lame. Usually I would finish my increasingly polished spiel, and the person would squint their eyes a little and ask, “So, what’s the point?” I guess it’s one of those things that sounds stupider than it actually is. But geocaching makes perfect sense if it’s true that we like to look for things and find them, especially when they have some kind of value to us.

Three good friends looking for a cache

 

challenge

Start a blog about what you like to find, what you’re constantly on the hunt for. Some posts could be informative. Think American Pickers: they always share why their picked items are valuable, the history of the items, etc. Other posts could be mostly photographic, showcasing recent finds. The blog could be a documentation of sorts of the things you’ve seen, found, collected, or bought/sold. Maybe you want to go ancestral and start a blog that traces your hunt for family background?

possible blog names

  • _____hunter (Fill in the blank with what you hunt.)
  • PirateseekstreasureArr (For pirates.)
  • Ontheprowlforfowl (For bird hunters? Or Jack Sparrow haters.)
  • Searchinforurchin (Now I’m getting carried away, and I’ve overused parentheses in this section.)

my recent find, or the inspiration for the post

What do I like to find? I like to find abandoned buildings and houses, rundown structures, unkept places. After months of passing this old house, I finally took my photo opp.

famous quotes that somehow pertain to the post

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Jesus

“Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.” – Captain Jack Sparrow

first five minutes, or the morning hypothesis

My Theory, or Hypothesis

I have a theory. No, wait. I have a hypothesis. Okay, I have either a theory or a hypothesis. It’s the very idea behind the old adage about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. If someone were to say, for example, “Peter woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” then we would all know that Peter is in some sort of bad mood and we should avoid him at all costs. Right now, he’s probably treating some nice old ladies with eye-squinting evil acts of incharity or running over squirrels with a tractor. (I get carried away sometimes.) Whatever this grumpy Peter is up to, it isn’t pretty. It’s a bad day for Peter.

(Maybe you never understood the expression “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” I think this t-shirt graphic explains it all. From TshirtGroove.)

Now I get it.

So the hypothesis – and I do believe it has to be a hypothesis, since there may possibly have been just as many people to have good days after having good mornings as people to have good days after having bad mornings – is that our waking moments determine much about the day to come.

Challenge

It would be excellent to see a blogger chart the uncharted waters of their first five minutes each day, talking about how they woke up, the first sounds and smells they encountered, their initial thoughts of the day, and then piecing this together with how the rest of the day went consequently.

Possible Blog Names

  • Myfirstfiveminutes
  • Themorninghypothesis
  • Themorningdaysynergy
  • Rightsideofthebed
  • Wakeupandsmell

Personal Note, a P.S. of Sorts to This Blog Entry, Though in the Form of a Letter

Dear readers,

Perhaps you have noticed that I’ve been experimenting with a few things on the blog over the last little while. For example, I’ve strayed a bit from the traditional opening line of, “Someone should start a blog about (insert preposterous idea of my mind’s recent adventures).” I may keep experimenting a bit until the blog reaches the feel I’m going for. Feel free to comment. One feature I’m QUITE excited to introduce is the “Possible Blog Names” section. This should be fun!

I never officially celebrated my three-month anniversary of blogging earlier this month, but it’s true. I’ve been at this for three months! Cheers! So thank you for reading and sticking around. Blog on.

Sincerely,

Me

not everyone gardens and wears dresses (part 1)

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might have noticed it is a bit formulaic, in the sense that usually, my posts begin with the statement, “Someone should start a blog about __________ . . .” (Fill in the blank with whatever random idea I’ve dreamed up of recent, or more often than not, been inspired to write about by friends or fellow bloggers.). Well, this post, as you may have already gathered, deviates from that norm (and is lengthier, too).

As promised, I am embarking on the task to write a post about how to know when you’re ready to start a blog/how to know what you ought to blog about/how to name your blog/etc. So, here goes! (Begin needless disclaimer. Please remember, the views in this post are solely the views of one blogger, namely myself, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WordPress or the entire blogosphere. End needless disclaimer.)

1. Read blogs. Maybe it seems obvious, and you’re probably already reading blogs, or else you wouldn’t be reading this sentence! (At this moment, I feel kinda like an author who names the first chapter of her book “Read Books.”) But there’s a little bit more to be intentional about in reading blogs if you yourself are planning to start a blog. Take note of what kind of blogs you gravitate towards. Bookmark your favorites. There’s a good chance that if you always find yourself reading blogs that focus on travel photography, that you may want to start a blog about travel photography. That’s not always true, of course. I may enjoy reading all those blogs by moms with gardens who live out in the middle of nowhere and wear dresses every day (I really do believe that’s a genre in the blogging world.), but (a) I’m not a mom, (b) I don’t have a garden, (c) Well, okay, I do kinda live in the middle of nowhere, but (d) I only own one or two dresses, none of which look good with tennis shoes (My philosophy about shoes is that you should always be prepared to run.). But still, finding out what kind of blogs you like to read will help in the long run (See. It’s all about running.). Even if you don’t think you could write a blog on the subjects you tend to read about, bookmarking the ones you really enjoy will help you in the next steps.

Break the blogging mold! You don't have to be a gardener (although it's cool).

(It was very hard for me to decide if this next step should be step #1, #2, or #3, but there’s a reason it’s sandwiched between #1 and #3. I hope it will make sense soon.)

2. Write test blog posts. This is possibly the MOST important pre-blog step, and notice it is pre-blog. I strongly suggest that before you ever choose a domain name for a blog or post your first post that you write a few test blog posts. Type them up in a Word document so that they are as ready as if you were about to publish them on to a blog. What should they be about? Anything! Don’t limit yourself. You could possibly look back at some blogs you liked for inspiration, or some topic in the news, or something you recently read or heard that you really liked. Just write about something that you believe you would really blog about. The number of test blog posts isn’t set in stone. I believe five might be a good number, but how many ever you choose to write, you’ll want to have enough material to help you out for step #3.

3. Analyze that. Finding out what kind of blogs you like, bookmarking them, and then writing some of your own test posts allow you to have a body of resources to refer back to when you start considering what kind of subject, format, and style you’d like to have for your blog.

After bookmarking blogs for a week or so and then writing your determined number of test posts, look back at the blogs. What kind of similarities do they have? You might ask some of these questions: 

What are these posts about (subject matter)?

Do they have a similar genre?

Are posts one short paragraph, or the size of a novella?

Is the format fairly simple, or more complex?

Are there lots of pictures, or is there more of a focus on the text?

Do the posts tend to be more light-hearted, or more philosophical?

Is it fiction, or non-fiction?

What’s the purpose? To entertain, teach, criticize, tell jokes?

Once you see similarities of this nature in the posts you enjoy reading and writing, you may be able to tell what kind of blog you’d like to write. This is a question of subject matter, style, and genre.

These steps can help you in the long run.

These are only steps one through three, and wow, I didn’t know it would take this much space to say all that! I hope you’ll come back for part 2 where I’ll wrap up the practical aspects of starting a blog. Thanks for reading.

blogging: when you hit month two, you sometimes wish you could start over

Two months, my dear readers. Two whole months have I been writing on this one blog! It’s certainly a record. (Well, I suppose it’s safe to say that since my first month was a record, then every month thereafter will be another record. But remember, it’s the small victories, right?) Think of how far I’ve come since my compulsive-blog-creator days! That isn’t to say that (honestly) every time I come up with a post idea, I don’t wish with all my heart that I could start a blog about it . . .

It’s true. Over these last two months, I’ve had so many ideas. I’ve come to see what I’m passionate about and tend to write about. When you hit month two, you sometimes wish you could start over. Maybe I would have created a photography blog instead? Or a blog about Canadian dancing (which I know nothing about, but it would have been one of those learn-as-you-go-bildungsroman type blogs, yea?). But then I remember that through you, my dear readers, I can start these blogs and more!

The world's an open field. You may rove it, run through it, or roll in it. But please, write about it.

I must once again give a big “thank you” to everyone who has peeked at, read through, commented on, spammed up, and even (what!) followed the blog. Thank you to my friends and family who encourage me and often (whether you know it or not) inspire me to write. Thank you also to the bloggers who read and share; I’m just as often inspired by you.

In celebration of this momentous occasion, I’ve decided to do a post on “how to know what you should blog about” (although I hope to come up with a more creative title for the post by the time it’s written). I’ve been throwing out ideas, and I know I’m not the only one who struggles with the question, “What do I really have to say to the world out there?” or the question, “What can I write about consistently enough to name a blog after?”

So that’s what’s coming up next. Stay tuned. Keep blogging.