not everyone gardens and wears dresses (part 2)

As you may be able to tell from the title of this post, this is a continuation from an earlier post. As promised, I am embarking on the task to write advice on 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. Although the first post was only published yesterday, I must admit that I have in some small ways put off writing part 2 (in other words, I came up with 100 ideas for posts that would enable me to avoid writing the rest of this entry) because this is such a daunting task, no? But make sure you’ve read part 1, and here we go . . .

4. Narrow it down. Step 3 was to analyze the kind of blogs you enjoy reading and the kind of test posts you write (for the blog that doesn’t exist quite yet). Now, step 4 is the big dog. You have to take what you’ve learned about yourself and narrow it down to a concept for a blog, which I believe consists of two things: subject matter and style, or personality. I can’t overemphasize the connection between subject matter and style/personality at this point.

Subject matter is the meat of the message. What’s the actual topic of the blog going to be? Sports? Teaching? Learning a language? Your collection of fanfiction pieces? Your daily experiences working at an aquarium?

Style, or what I like to call personality, is the way you approach your subject matter. One way to find out what kind of personality you’d like to have for your blog is to ask, “What’s the purpose of my blog?” and “What do I hope my readers feel about my subject?” Are you hoping they’ll laugh about your daily attempts to feed a tank full of sword fish? Or would you rather they were wiping tears from their eyes after reading your alternate ending to The Notebook? It’s more than okay if your blog elicits different reactions at different times, but it will still be very helpful for you to kinda choose a niche so that readers know what to expect. (This also helps with choosing a blog name.)

So this is the moment of truth! This is when you just gotta do it! You gotta narrow down your subject matter and style. You have to make a choice of what your blog is gonna be like! You can do it.

(As a brief intermission of inspirational quoting, I’d like to remind you of something you’ve probably heard at some point in your life in the context of choosing a career or a spouse: choose the one you can’t live without. Do the work you can’t not do. Marry the person you can’t not be with for the rest of your life. I know those are kinda major life decisions, so how can I even draw a comparison? But I truly believe that a good blog does become part of your life, helps you make sense of things, follows your life. Of course, divorcing a blog is not as big of a deal, so don’t take this analogy in the opposite direction and convince yourself that you can never make a blogging commitment. The point is, blog about what you can’t NOT blog about.)

5. Pick a name. Take a deep breath. All the hard work is behind you. The good news is that your blog name depends very much on your subject and style, so the decisions you’ve already made will make this smooth sailing.

Simplicity is key. Try to keep the blog name easy to remember and related to what the blog is actually about. You can get fun and creative or go with something straightforward. The possibilities are endless.

Just one of many great examples is Themiddlestsister.com. This blog is a web-comic written and illustrated by the blogger and based on her memories of growing up with sisters. She’s one of five siblings, thus, the “middlest.”

Dear readers, I hate to prolong this entry once again, but I know you must be tired of reading. All that’s left is to choose a blogging community and to start blogging, so come back soon and we’ll wrap up this whole starting a blog thing, k?

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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.

portraits and how they define their subjects

Someone should start a blog about portraits and how they define their subjects . . .

I recently told some friends I’d love to just follow someone for a day and take a lot of good pictures of them that they would like. My friends say that’s called being a stalker. I defended myself, explaining that it would only be if I were commissioned. It wouldn’t be that creepy, right?

I love taking pictures of people. For me, if someone uses a picture that I took of them for their Facebook profile picture, they might as well have just made me queen of seven countries. I’m on top of the world. I like to see it when someone truly enjoys a picture I’ve taken of them.

A good portrait of a person is one that defines them, in some way. Of course, it’s impossible to define the entirety of a person by just one photograph, but the point is to capture just one image, one glimpse, one accurate portrayal of who this person is. (I liked this recent post from another blogger, entitled “Faces Tell Stories.”)

It would be cool for someone to start a blog about portraits and how they define their subjects. This would be a great blog for a portrait photographer, or just someone who (like me) enjoys taking pictures of people for fun.

So, I’ve collected some of my favorite portraits I’ve taken (of my friends and family members, and a dog):

a blogging milestone!!

Readers, I did it! I’ve kept a blog consistently for an entire month. This truly is a blogging milestone for me!! I’m so happy that I must celebrate! I ask you to choose some way to celebrate today, too. Whether it’s shaking hands with a bear statue (See below.), chugging three cans of Coke, or running around your house screaming, “Hooray!”

If you've never shaken hands with a bear statue, then you're in for a real treat.

If you’ve read the “About” page on this blog, then you know that I am a blogger (formerly known as a compulsive blog creator) who struggles with commitment. Over the years, I’ve started maybe a dozen blogs, but always had a new idea, so I’d abandon the old ones (But don’t let me sound so noble. Many times, I just stopped writing a blog altogether.).

Well, as of today, I have kept this blog for a month, consistently. Each week, I’ve blogged at least two times. Many times, I wanted to blog more than that. As we speak, I have a whole list of future posts I hope to write. I hope you’ll stick around to read them.

Well, I have to give credit where credit is due. Some of my ideas come from interactions with you guys – my readers and friends! I would like to say a special thank you to EVERYONE who has given me positive feedback, or casually snuck in a little “I like your blog!” into our conversations. So thank you Wendy, Matt, Kathy, Grace, Marta, Lucas, and Hannah. Thank you, fellow bloggers. And, hey, I’d even like to thank all of you spammers who made spam comments on my posts (one of which was in Russian), because even that lets me know that somehow my blog is on the radar.

In conclusion, I welcome comments always. Please feel free to use the ideas presented in this blog to start your own fantastic blog! (Hmm. Starting a blog. Someone should start a blog about that . . .)