Blogger Inspiration

5 Quick Tips How To Revive A Dying Blog (Hint: I’m Using #5 Right Now)

how to revive your blog with branding

 

It’s time for a mea culpa here.  

Bless me, for I have committed one of the cardinal sins of blogging.  

I’m an inconsistent blogger. 

And what makes that even more embarrassing is that just the other day, I wrote a halfway decent post (I think) about blogging consistency over at Social Solutions Collective.

Ouch.

It’s the classic what not to do for someone using a blog to build a business, I might add.  If you want to earn money consistently, your blog (aka your online storefront) has to be fresh and up to date (aka have new content regularly).  Otherwise, you risk angering That Large Search Engine Which Shall Not Be Named, not to mention that you just don’t look as relevant to the people who manage to stumble upon your website.

It’s not as if I’ve been sitting around eating bon bons.  For starters, I don’t even like bon bons.  But in all seriousness, I’ve found myself busy with client work and the work of raising 4 wonderful small children ages 9 to 1 while their daddy, aka my husband, has been off saving the world courtesy of his work with NASA and the US Air Force Reserve.  I’m not sure if I’d call it that I have any kind of balance; most days it feels like I’m juggling chainsaws.

(I know, for other work from home moms who manage to keep up with blogs, that sounds like an excuse.)

But when I’m immersed in kid learning and not making sure I read or listen to something to keep myself learning, admittedly, it’s really, really hard to pull a meaningful blog post out of nowhere.

What can I say… it’s almost Lent, and I’m feeling all introspective and stuff.

Forgive me.

But I know I’m not the only one who has to figure out how to come back from the blogging dead, so to speak. I know there are other bloggers who have started with the best of intentions, only to become one of the vast majority of blogs that fizzle out due to lack of fresh content.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Just because you’ve had a lapse in posting doesn’t mean you have to give up on your website entirely.

Really, if you look at the number of large businesses out there that manage to stay alive without fresh content regularly, you’d see it’s entirely possible. Here’s how to revive a dying blog.

How to Breathe New Life Into Your Dying Blog

1.  Time for a vision check

No, don’t go hauling out your phone and calling your eye doctor (unless your visual issues really are interfering with your content production).  By vision check, I mean, it’s time to give your website a little tough love.

Is the reason you’re having trouble being regular with your content because your focus is too wide or too narrow?

Do you know what value you bring to your readers?  Do you know what action you want them to take (becoming subscribers or customers)?  Does your blog speak clearly to your ideal customer?

If you’re having difficulty blogging, it could be because you’re not 100% clear on the value you provide for your readers.  Get clear on the vision for your blog, and you might find that your stubborn case of writer’s block clears up nicely.

2.  Commit to blog regularly

It sounds simplistic, but one of the best things you can do to jump start your blog is to make the mindset shift that blogging isn’t a negotiable item.  Decide how often you’re going to post and make a commitment.  Write it on your calendar.  Just like you wouldn’t accept a job and then not show up, this isn’t up for debate.  If you are serious about choosing to restart your blog, make that choice.  Say it out loud.  Tell people you meet, “I am a blogger.”   As my writing professor used to say, “a writer is one who writes.”  Well, a blogger is one who blogs.  Period.

3. Feed your brain

Writer’s block is one of the hardest hurdles to overcome as a blogger.  I get it.

But every time I mentally “go there,” I can hear the aforementioned writing professor’s voice declaring that “writer’s block is another word for laziness.”

Ouch.

But I think he’s right.  I’m sure he’ll be relieved that I finally gave him my approval.

If I can’t think of what to write, it’s because I haven’t somehow given my mind enough quality content to interact with.  (Ideas do not come out of a vacuum. It’s a metaphysical law or something like that.)

The key to avoiding writer’s block is to feed your mind quality content on a regular basis, and give yourself time to think it over before sitting down to write.

4. Plan your content

One of the ways you can make starting a post easier is to have a content calendar.  A content calendar is nothing more than a plan for your blog content.  There are a ton of great templates out there.  

That said, ideally, your content calendar includes your social media content so that you can deliver a more focused, consistent message between your website and your social media postings.  (Your social media is nothing more than an avenue or channel for you to share the value of your brand…so it makes sense to have consistency between your web content and what you share on social media!) 

5.  Get started.

What time is it?

Writing time.  Not research time.

Plan when you will write.  Make it a date with yourself.  Sit down (unless you use one of thosecool standing desks).

And then write.

When you sit down to write needs to be writing time.  If you need to do some research for your blog, do so at another time.  (See point above about reading in your niche and then letting it percolate a while in your mind.)

I know a lot of people are going to resist this. But what I’m encouraging you to do is to make sure that you have as few ways as possible to distract yourself (in the name of “research” ) while you write.

Turn off social media and email.

Really, they’ll wait.

Unless you choose to outsource, this is the step where the rubber meets the road.  But if you’ve completed the steps above, I promise, it won’t be as painful as you might think.

Need MORE creative ideas to get out of your rut and Revive Your Blog?  Click here to receive my checklist: Revive Your Blog created just for you!

How to Stay Motivated Even When You Feel Like Giving Up

Last week my family and I went camping for a week to celebrate my youngest daughter’s first birthday. I can’t believe that she’s already 1! It’s amazing to think how fast this year has flown by and how much she’s grown. It’s equally amazing to realize that it means I’ve been in business as a content marketer and blogger for a year. Truly – time does fly when you’re having fun, and working from home is a form of fun (and chaos) I wouldn’t trade for the world.

building a successful business online

I blogged about our trip a little bit a few days ago – it started with a bang. Literally. The door next to my second-youngest daughter – my 2 year old – received a rock through the window from a passing rock hauler. Glory to God, she was unharmed, and thanks to a fast acting insurance company, we were back in action in no time at all.

Apparently that set the tone for the entire trip!  The night we picked up the trailer to head to the campsite, both of the little ones were in the throes of teething molars, and we experienced some unusually low temperatures for the end of May. Translation: our 2 year old and our 1 year old were awake all night long.

Given that our final destination for our camping trip (the Northern California coast) was set to be even colder and more damp, we made the difficult decision to scrap the camping trip altogether. A few hasty phone calls later, we had a place to stay with friends who were delighted we’d called.

But between you and me, I felt like the world’s crummiest parent. I knew we’d made the right choice (to paraphrase a common saying, if a 1 year old and a 2 year old aren’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, right?)  But it felt like we’d completely let our kids down, along with blowing our 1 year old’s special birthday celebration.

Yep. I pretty much felt like giving up on the concept of having a fun family trip, and it had just begun.

But something amazing happened in the experience of being flexible and going with the flow.  At first our kids were totally bummed by the change in plans – we’d planned this trip for the past year. But when we explained where we were staying – and that yes, we’d still be able to roast marshmallows (the standard by which every campout is judged), they dove right in to the experience and had a blast with some friends they hadn’t seen in a year.

And this has since been judged The. Best. Family. Vacation. Ever.

When you’re working on building a successful business online, it can be tempting to give up when times get tough. Especially when you’ve worked on something for a long time and it doesn’t go anything like you’ve planned, staying motivated is tough.

The key to building a successful business online and staying motivated when things don’t go as you’ve planned is flexibility and a determination to find a way to keep on moving forward.

And the key to being able to be flexible is to have a plan and to know what your goals really are.

Sometimes when building a business – online or a brick and mortar business, you can get so caught up in the process you’re using to reach your goals that you forget that it’s just that – a process. It’s the vehicle that’s getting you from here to there. It’s not the goal itself.

When my family and I planned our camping adventure, the goal wasn’t really camping itself. It was to spend quality time together without the everyday distractions. It was to reconnect. And it was for each of us to refresh our souls.

By all accounts, even though our trip went nothing like we’d planned, it was a 100% success.

Question: How do you stay motivated when your business goes nothing like you’d planned? 

Leave a comment – I love hearing from you!

How To Write a GREAT Blog Post Using Stories

My brand new iPhone 5 (less than a week old) is sporting a new set of scratches on the back of it

Can you believe looking at those scratches makes me smile?

how to write great blog posts using stories

This week my family and I are on the road to celebrate my youngest daughter’s first birthday. We decided to go camping at one of our favorite locations, Eureka, CA.

During the course of our drive, we passed many different kinds of cars and trucks, much to the delight of my 5 year old son who is a fanatic about naming the makes and models of each kind of vehicle we pass. We passed a variety of passenger vehicles, trucks carrying produce from one end of California to the other (lots of loads of garlic and onions), and trucks hauling gravel as well.

We had a full load in our own pickup, so we kept our speed moderate – 67 mph, to be precise, in an attempt to maintain the best fuel economy possible under the driving conditions we were in.

Of course not everyone likes to drive that slow, so on occasion we were passed by various vehicles.

One of the vehicles that passed us, a truck hauling gravel, had an unsecured load. And as luck would have it, upon passing us on the left, a rock bounced out of his load and hit the window next to my precious 2 year old daughter, shattering it in an instant.

Navigating off the freeway and into a safe area to park is somewhat of a blur in my mind, though I remember making at least one turn without being fully aware of whether the intersection was safe to enter.

Upon stopping and viewing remains of the window, I prepared for the worst as I opened the rear door.

And much to my surprise, though there was a substantial amount of glass on the floor, my sweet daughter was 100% unharmed by the experience.

I fought the urge to cry. My oldest daughter, a 9 year old, is old enough to understand the implications of what had just happened, and she started sobbing.

Before too long, we arranged a fix via the insurance company, and I had the fun of watching my husband man up, pull on a work glove, and knock out the rest of the glass as he rigged a solution to get us on the road again. And then, as I had my iPhone in my palm while trying to find an app to distract the kids just a few moments longer, my husband walked by and brushed my palm with his elbow, knocking it to the ground in a pile of broken glass, scratching the back of the phone but thankfully, not the display.

An incident that could have been so much worse, had the glass hit my sweet daughter’s face, neck, arms or hands, ended with merely scratches to my phone – to the back, no less – and with no true injuries to speak of.

I look at those scratches, and I am reminded of the miracle we experienced.

Glory to God!

From that perspective, I can live with a scratched iPhone, know what I mean?

*****

How to Write a Great Blog Post Using Stories

Using a story as part of your work how to write a great blog post can happen one of two ways.  Often it’s a matter of finding a story that illustrates a specific point you’re trying to make and telling the story in a way that is compelling and not just self glorifying.

But on the other hand – sometimes something profound happens, and in reflecting on the event, you notice certain lessons or themes emerge that are related to the valuable content you provide your readers on a regular basis.

When this happens – it can be magical.  It’s usually the result of having written over time, and it usually happens more often after you’ve written regularly.  Sometimes it happens daily, sometimes every few days. But the point is this – the more you create great blog content for your readers, the more you begin training yourself to notice these moments in your day. The moments that are ripe with the possibility of providing benefit for your readers if written in a compelling way.

The best way how to write a great blog post using stories is to pay attention.  Make a note to help you remember to write about them later (if you’re not able to write about them right away). The more often you develop the habit of writing about them, the more likely you’ll be to notice them in the future. It’s a cycle, really.

You’ll want to make sure that if you’re including information about other people that either they approve or you’ve kept the information vague enough so that you’re not embarrassing anyone now or in the future (especially if it’s about your kids). If you’re a mom blogger, especially, it’s important to know what your boundaries are when it comes to that.

What kinds of stories do you like to use in your blog posts and content marketing? Leave a comment – I love to hear from you!

God Grant You Many Years!

I nearly forgot my baby girl’s first birthday.

the mom-astic life sarah birthday

Actually – it wasn’t necessarily that I almost forgot her birthday, not exactly.

It’s just that I nearly forgot that it was this week. This is my precious baby girl’s last week of having an age measured in months.

My 5 year old son likes to say that she is zero.

I know he means that she is not yet 1, and on a kindergarten number line, the number preceding one is zero.

But my sweet baby girl isn’t a zero.

Our church community has a tradition of singing a special blessing song to people on the Sunday before their birthdays, and when our priest made the normal announcement at the end of the service while looking right at me, I wondered what on earth he was talking about, since my birthday isn’t until December.

And then it hit me in my pre-caffeinated state that I was holding a very wiggly baby who was quite ready for the Liturgy to be over.

And her birthday is, in fact this week. Oh, the hamster wheel of every day life, and its ability to distract us from awareness of the moments that matter.

I walked her up to the front of the church, and in the midst of my sudden dose of sadness that the chapter of babyhood is nearly over for her and maybe over for our family forever, I was consoled by the words prayed over her.

The words of our priest and of our church community resonated deeply as I held my sweet daughter.

The priest begins the blessing, “Grant, O Lord, a prosperous and peaceful life, health and salvation, and the furtherance of all good things to your servant Sarah and preserve her for many years”

And then the choir and community sing in response, “God grant you many years!

It is the same song of blessing sung to every member, from the youngest baby to the most elderly.

And while it’s easy to see it as just a Christian version of Happy Birthday, it is that – and so much more. It is a prayer for a long life, yes, but not just for its own sake. It prays for the blessing of many years spent in cooperation with God’s saving work in our lives.

For me, there is a comfort in knowing that the community prays for my children in the exact same way they do for the adult members of our community.

It was especially profound given that my children and I were just received into this community just a few short weeks ago at Pascha (Easter in the Eastern Orthodox Christian church).

I admit – I’m still processing the profoundness of the whole experience. It’s been a 2-1/2 year journey since discovering Orthodox Christianity, so the experience of finally being received into the Church is still quite powerful. I mentioned to my godmother that my goal now is to make it through the Liturgy without crying – the words of the ancient prayers and hymns from the early Christians are just that powerful.

But in the meantime – I cling to the prayer for my daughter, praying it for her and myself as well. May God grant you many years, sweet Sarah, to discover His goodness and learn each day how to live more in union with Christ.  

A Mom Blogger Meets A Manly Blogger!

This weekend I had the delightful experience of meeting a fellow blogger – though one much more well known than I am for sure.

art of manliness picture

Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness came to Seal Beach, CA, for a book signing event at the Tankfarm and Co. flagship store located there. And while attending an event about a blog dedicated to all things manly with 4 small children (including a 2 year old and an 11 month old) while my husband was away for work might seem a bit incongruous, it was a wholly fun and rewarding experience for all of us, young’uns included.

The men and women who came for the event (book signing, manly haircuts and free beer to boot) were amazing in their kindness toward me as I attempted to keep my four small people from melting down with the long wait in line. It’s as if they were indeed motivated by an internal code that invited a kind of respectfulness and chivalry that are often absent in trying situations these days.

And for the record – not only is Brett an insightful writer, but he’s every bit the consummate gentleman. He stood to greet each person who waited in line to meet him and took the time to converse with each one, getting to know each person as an individual before signing his or her book. I’ve been to a number of book signings in the past, and hands down, Brett has been my favorite author to meet for his ability to be truly present with each person he met, just as engaged with the last as with the first.

As background, my husband and I simultaneously discovered Brett’s blog and podcast about 6 weeks ago, though for very different reasons.  Carl found it organically – he has an interest in history, virtue, and discovering authentic masculinity. Brett’s podcast, blog, and books indeed cover those topics. And with over 100,000 subscribers, it’s clearly a topic that resonates with many readers.

My discovery of the blog was less pure in intent – I went looking for blogs related to personal development to scout out some potential guest blogging opportunities, and when I found this one, I just couldn’t stop reading!

A Mom Blogger at a Manly Booksigning?

Let me say – while it’s about manliness, The Art of Manliness is absolutely a great read for anyone interested on discussions of what it means to be manly – or womanly – in today’s world.  While my own worldview is shaped by my identity as a Christian woman, I admit that I was pleased to discover that the Art of Manliness does not rely on religious materials as the foundation for the discussion on manliness and masculine virtues.  It offers as an example men like Teddy Roosevelt, perhaps the last manly hero America has had. But because it doesn’t rely on religious examples, its premise can be discussed with much less emotional charge than might otherwise happen.

Admittedly, the experience of meeting Brett and exploring the blog that he and his wife write has me thinking about being a woman, and how I might explore the art of womanhood in writing. My 9 year old daughter asked as much when she wondered why there isn’t an “Art of Womanhood” blog.

It’s a subject that largely gets ignored in secular settings.  On one hand, from a Christian perspective, the woman in Proverbs 31 is often held up as an example. On the other hand, from a secular perspective, there’s a mythical idea of a superwoman who juggles career and kids flawlessly, and outsources much of the domestic sphere (child rearing, homemaking/cooking, and care of the home).

There are a number of resources for learning some of the skills of domestic life and feminine appearance, from HGTV to Cosmopolitan. In a way – this is but a caricature of womanhood, a gross exaggeration of a single part. Because while these explore some of the skills of womanhood, neither approach is an exploration of the essence of womanhood – the interior life of woman.

I think the subject is avoided because on a cultural level, we’re largely uncomfortable with the divergent opinions on the subject. Exploring any one idea of womanhood seems to be too challenging, too threatening for many in our popular culture. Somehow, even though differing opinions on manliness are certainly as plentiful, discussing these ideas isn’t as wrought with fear as it is when we discuss what it is to be a woman.

With respect to womanhood – there’s a polarity – you’re either a traditionalist/conservative or you’re a feminist/liberal. And ne’er the twain shall meet. And the discussion of the interior essence of womanhood ends there.

And in my mind, I believe our society has lost something vital as a result.

It’s an interesting time to be mulling the thought of reflecting on womanhood as I’m in the process of rebranding my blog. With having partnered with Liz from Assist Social Media to provide full service content marketing and social media services, I’m shifting my blog focus to more personal and reflective pieces. It’s very likely that as a result of having discovered the Art of Manliness, I’ll include a category sharing what I’m learning and thinking about the art of authentic womanhood as it has been historically expressed and as our society, in my mind, sorely needs today.

I love it when something I read causes me to think deeply and examine my own values. It’s ironic – and fun – that it’s such a well-written blog on the Art of Manliness that has done so. I’m so grateful to have had the chance to meet Brett, and I look forward to being a fan of his and his wife’s for years to come.

Work at Home Mom Strategies When You Have to Change Focus

work at home mom change candle pic

What’s a work at home mom to do when an amazing new opportunity arises?

It’s so amazing to be in a place to have to answer this question!

I’ve had an incredible opportunity open up recently, but for several weeks I wasn’t at liberty to reveal it, which put me in an awkward position as a blogger!  On one hand, I wanted to stay regular with my blog; on the other hand – it’s tough to keep writing when you know your blog is about to need to change its focus – dramatically.

As many of you know who follow me on my social media channels (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn), I’m in the amazing position of having been offered a position with the Boom! Social team, headed up by none other than Kim Garst.  I’ll be creating and managing content marketing materials and processes.

I couldn’t be more thrilled – talk about the chance of a lifetime!

But by necessity, it means that my own content marketing services will be coming to a close.

As a result, I’m transitioning the focus of my website. It’s an effort that’s been in progress for a few weeks now, and yes, the rough look for a couple of weeks was the results of my attempts to modify it myself.  I’m definitely a word nerd and not a web geek!

I’ll be shifting gears to focus on some of the common concerns of work at home moms, adding in pieces related to spiritual matters (especially when it comes to raising kids in a faith tradition), and maybe even a few articles that don’t fit in to any one category very neatly.

Work At Home Strategies for Life Transitions

Whether it’s a happily anticipated change or a surprising – or devastating change, the strategies for keeping your life balanced during a time of transition are similar.

1. Decide what is essential – and what isn’t.

Not everything has the same urgency, and this becomes quite obvious when there’s an unexpected event – be it exciting or tragic. Make a prioritized list of the must-dos. This gives you a way to outsource anything critical when someone offers help.  (And when they do offer, pick up your list, give them a task, and let them help!)

2. Make a routine.

When you are overwhelmed with trying to learn something new or simply gather the courage and energy to get through the day, being able to function on autopilot is a merciful tool. It doesn’t require much thought – you just have to “do.”  After you’ve figured out what is essential to you personally and professional, write a short routine for each section of the day (morning, mid day and evening) to get it accomplished.  Don’t skip writing it down; there is no shame in it whatsoever. Pilots run checklists before every flight to make sure nothing is skipped – feel free to give your life the same careful consideration!

3. Break down complex tasks into manageable, 15-minute chunks

If simply getting started seems difficult, take something that seems complex and pick a starting point.  It doesn’t have to be the perfect place to start – it is just a place to begin.  Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus for just those 15 minutes.  You don’t have to get it all done, you just have to work for those 15 minutes.

You might be surprised with what you can do in that amount of time!  Be willing to give yourself a break at the end of that time too.  It makes it easier to try it again the next time when you know you’ll honor your need for breaks as needed and that you don’t have to finish it all in 15 minutes.

 

In my own life transition from building my own business to participating in a team building a larger business, I’ve had to figure out how to refocus my piece of internet real estate called PaulineMagnusson.com  I’ve decided to focus on my interest in the mix of working at home, parenting, marriage, and the spiritual life that’s my everyday existence.

I’ve renamed this effort The Mom-astic Life, because while life in a monastery sounds attractive from time to time (especially during a multi-kid meltdown), the truth is this – we are all called to recognize the holiness in everyday life, whether we live in the world or in a cloister.  These walls, my home business, the endless piles of laundry, and even the Lego blocks stepped on in the middle of the night are exactly the means that God has given me to bring me closer to Him.  This crazy, chaotic life stuffed full of love and laughter is my monastery.

And for that, I say, “Glory to God.”

If these topics might interest you, I’d love to see you stick around.  Grab a cup of coffee, post a comment, and let’s get started getting to know one another better. If this isn’t something that you’re interested in, peace be to you as you depart; know you’re in my prayers.

Be blessed!