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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Behind the (Blogging) Scenes


Alright, ladies and gents…I think it’s time that I let you know the ins and outs of my blogging behavior.
behind the blogging scenes - On The Banks of Squaw Creek
I have been blogging regularly for 3 years now, and have learned a lot about what works for me and my blog along the way.  These “secrets” are not the keys to having the most popular blog on the block and they probably will not help you become a professional blogger.  But neither of those things are really my goal.
My goals are:
-to share positive information about agriculture – specifically about my farm and other farms like mine.
-to connect with those who share a passion for home décor.
-to share what I have learned about children (and teaching and parenting) through my experience and research, in order to make other moms’ lives easier.
And now, without further ado, the methods to my madness…

The Writing Process:
With those three broad topics in mind (kids, farming and home) I am constantly thinking of blog post ideas.  I do a lot of “mental prewriting” where I rehearse the post in my head while showering, snuggling my munchkins, driving, etc.  When I finally get a chance to sit down at the computer AND I’m in the mood to write, I usually start a few rough drafts and save them.  At any time, I have 5-15 rough drafts sitting and waiting for me, and a few more ideas floating around that I haven’t even drafted. 
Later, I sit down with the intent to finish a draft and get it posted.  This involves editing and revising my writing, as well as editing and inserting photographs.
I think my blog took a turn for the better when I realized last spring that I am a writer.  I started using the good old fashioned writing process more and taking myself more seriously.  Not only has my writing improved, but my confidence has as well.

The Technical Process:
I use three main software programs to get my ideas out of my head and onto the blog.
1.  Windows Live Writer: I downloaded this a couple of years ago and use it to write my blog posts.  I use blogger and am happy with it, but writing posts online just about made me crazy.  I could never get them formatted correctly and get my photos where I wanted them.  Windows Live Writer came to my rescue.  It’s a free download, and you connect it to your blog.  It makes inserting photos and formatting blog posts 10,000x easier and even offers you a preview so you can see exactly what your post will look like on the page.
Windows Live Writer
2.  Memory Manager: This is a photo editing and organization program from Creative Memories that I absolutely love.  There is absolutely no way that I could keep track of my photos or have them looking so good without it.  I have done a few posts on editing and organizing photos using Memory Manager, but I need to update them.  A new version came out and it is even better than before!
Memory Manager by Creative Memories

3.  Storybook Creator Plus: SBC+ is another Creative Memories program that is meant for digital scrapbooking, but it is super flexible, so I use it to created all of my graphics (including my header, facebook profile photos, photos with titles for pinterest, etc.)  I also use for my printables and word art, like the Laura Ingalls Wilder art found here.
Digital scrapbooking/ Storybook Creator Plus

I have learned many technical things about blogging as I went along.  I learn the most by looking at other blogs and then googling. :)  For example, when I started noticing all those pretty facebook, pinterest, etc. buttons, I googled to figure out how to put them on my blog.  It’s a lot of work to make a blog pretty and user friendly, and I know my blog could use more work, but not right now. :)

The Creative Process:
My blog is about things that I am deeply passionate about and I truly believe that is what has kept me going for 3 years.  I have had slumps where I don’t post often, and times where I have so many posts that I have them scheduled for two weeks out.  Creativity ebbs and flows, and I have learned to just go with it.  My blog had the most traffic and pageviews when I was posting three times a week and really promoting it a lot through twitter and linky parties.  But at this season in life, I don’t have the time or motivation to keep that up, and that’s okay for me.  If my goal were to be a professional blogger, I would have to be much more disciplined about it, but that just doesn’t work for me and I’m okay with that.
Three main categories is probably too many by most popular blog standards.  Most narrow in on only one or two.  But again, that just doesn’t work for me.  My interest and attention to those three topics ebbs and flows, too, and I have learned to work with it.  Whichever topic seems to be dominating my life at the time is the inspiration for my writing, and I’ll often draft several posts about parenting all at once, or several posts about the house, or several posts about the farm.
I have learned,through my blog and reading others, that I need to have a creative outlet to stay sane.  Sometimes, writing on my blog IS my creative outlet, and then you may see more posts that are quite wordy, like this one.  Other times, décor and the home is my creative outlet, and you’ll see more posts about the house (or not, because I’m too busy working on it to take a break and edit photos!)




I love blogging…the whole process.  But without such a deep passion for farming, kids and houses, my blog would feel like work and I try to avoid that at all costs.  The best part of blogging, though, is something that I have little control over – my audience.  I love the people that I have “met” and the interactions we have over common interests and shared knowledge.  I know that without that interaction, I never would have continued blogging through my “slumps” and my blog and I would not be what we are today.  So thank YOU for your role in my blogging behavior – you have no idea how much it means to me!

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