Friday, 29 May 2015

5 things I've learnt from Blogging Every Day

Today's prompt what have you learnt this month? Blogging every day can be hard work. What lessons have you learnt?
This month has been good for my blog and I. I've really struggled since last October to feel passionate about blogging, but setting myself the challenge of blogging every day again has really helped find that spark again. Maybe I should challenge myself every month?

I confess that I've been watching my analytics a little obsessively this month - while the numbers aren't everything, it's interesting to try and figure out what it is that I've done to make those numbers happen. And how to keep that growth happening.

But even more than that, knowing that the well of stories hasn't really dried up makes it easier to remember why I love blogging in the first place. So, in no particular order, here are five things I learnt this month
  1. comments matter. Life is busy, so I've been slack on the commenting front for far too long. But taking the time to comment on other blogs lets them know you're still reading along, even if it's only once a week.
  2. people are generous with their stories. Even people who didn't write blog posts for each prompt still shared their stories. People want to share their story and claim it for themselves.
  3. images set the tone for the story. Using my own stock photos sets the tone for how people read the story. Images are the first thing that draws the eye when reading a blog post, and people make assumptions about the story they're about to read based on those images. Make sure your images enhance your story.
  4. numbers only tell part of the story. My page views this month have grown by almost 200%. That's phenomenal growth for any blog, but especially for me. But those numbers don't tell the story of all the effort I've put in behind the scenes - commenting on other blogs, taking photos and editing them, even paying attention to the daily happenings in my life. I've started carrying my camera with me again, to try and capture those moments, and I'm inspired to try and remember how to actually scrap them.
  5. I can stick to the goal. I have mentioned over and over again for years that I don't finish anything. I pay for scrapbooking classes, but let them pass me by, I start projects that I never finish, I procrastinate. But at the end of the day, I come back again and again to my mantra. I finish the important things. (Maybe that means I need to change what the important things are?)
 If you've read along this month, what have you learnt?
Tomorrow's prompt share links to you in other places Sometimes as bloggers we forget to tell people about the other spaces we occupy. Today, tell your readers about your social media spaces, and any other places you can be found.

{life behind the purple door}

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Thursday, 28 May 2015

What do you collect?

Today's prompt what do you collect? everyone has something that they collect when they go new places, besides photos and memories. What's your thing?
When I was a kid, I collected spoons. My grandparents collected them, and I loved looking at their collection hanging on the wall, so I started collecting them. I think my parents liked the idea, because it wasn't toy-tat like my brother and sister collected. My spoons have moved house and state with me for thirty years, in the same ratty shoebox they've been in all my life. Currently, they're stuck in the bottom of the linen cupboard, away from prying fingers.

As I've got older, my interests have changed. I sometimes wonder what will happen to all my stuff when I'm gone, whether it will mean the same to the kids as it does to me. I think about how much space it takes up in my life, and wonder if they will allow the same space in their lives.

And then I stop pondering those thoughts, and start looking for postcards. Back in 2011, Shimelle ran a class called Explore. It's another one of those classes that I dipped in and out of, reading and trying to play along (it came at the perfect time, just as we were heading off to Melbourne) One of the suggestions in the class was to buy postcards wherever you are, and write about your day on it, then send it off in the post. I thought this was a great idea, although I've never actually managed to mail them to myself (we've never stayed away long enough to hunt down stamps.)

But I still collect the postcards. (And I collect mugs, too)

What do you collect?

Tomorrow's prompt  what have you learnt this month? Blogging every day can be hard work. What lessons have you learnt?
{life behind the purple door}
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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Day in the Life

Today's prompt wordless wednesday Share photos from a day in your life
The sky was gorgeous while Natalie was walking the dog
I wanted to see how well the Olympus photographed in gloomy first-morning light
Get my breakfast started, then check on the kids
Drinking milk from the bowl
Lunch box production line
Off to school
Walking downstairs
On the bag rack
Riley's is the blue one at the front
We remembered library books today
The view on our walk
Fresh muffins for morning tea
Finally watching the planner class
Sophie is awake

Tomorrow's prompt  what do you collect? everyone has something that they collect when they go new places, besides photos and memories. What's your thing?

{life behind the purple door}

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Why you NEED your own stock photos NOW

I've been sitting on this post for months. In light of Bec from The Plumbette confessing her mistake at the start of the month, I decided it was finally time to publish it.

One of the things I didn't write about during October was photos. Mostly because, as a personal/lifestyle blogger, I tend to use my own photos. But last week I heard a story that I wanted to share.

Imagine you've decided that you want to stay home with your baby when he's born, and to make that happen you start an online business. You're savvy enough to know that images have always been important to readers (although your business started before pinterest), but as a small startup, you can't afford to buy stock photos, and while you're great with words, you take pretty awful photos.

One day, as you're pondering this dilemma, you stumble on a website with free stock photos. Bonus! Hours later, you find the right image for your post, finish and publish and head off on your merry way to build a business.

Four years later you get a letter in the mail from a big law firm, demanding payment of $600 for the use of a photo on your blog. There's also a link to the original source of the photo - Getty Images. You go and check the post, and the place you got the photo from, and the Getty Images link, and it's all the same photo. What do you do?

Well, if you're my friend, you quietly meltdown to your friends on facebook, ask a lawyer friend if it's real (it was), and pay the fine.

Visual Images are Gold

Visual content is HUGE at the moment. Videos are everywhere on facebook; we pin and repin for hours on end on pinterest because the photos look great; and blogs rely on images to tell the story and get their posts pinned. Pinterest is littered with posts from bloggers with lists of free (or almost free) stock photo websites, and people are using them

But here's where I see a problem occurring

*everyone* is using the same images/canva templates/picmonkey fonts/wordswag backgrounds. Sure, these tools have seen visual marketing come a long way in a short amount of time, but... And it's a big but... The people that are standing out in this new visual marketing world are the ones who aren't using the same images/templates/fonts as *everyone else*

{the irony of this post is that I used a wordswag image when I started writing it, then changed to my own image before publishing, when I realised my mistake}

You need to stand out in the crowd

Have you read By Regina yet? If you're like me, you probably stumbled over her graphics on pinterest before you had ever heard of the actual blog. Because, at the time, no one else was creating such stark, eye catching graphics. {I've seen many imitations in recent months, though} And once you stumbled on her blog, you hung around, because her words meant something to you. But those images captured your attention first. That's what you need to be doing with your images.

How do you achieve an individual look?

  • look at your keywords - are there topics that you post about again and again? If you've mentioned in a post that the beach makes you happy, when you're writing about happy things, can you  use a beach photo?
  • If you have certain fonts you use in your header, keep using them on your images. PicMonkey makes it easy to do that these days.
  • learn how to take clear photos. Any camera can take "good" photos, but the user makes the photos awesome.
  • keep your stock images separate from regular photos. This is something I haven't set up for myself yet, so I'm constantly hunting for images, save yourself my heartache, and set up a file from the beginning.
Do you have a photo look you could use as a stock image?
Linking up with Essentially Jess
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Monday, 25 May 2015

Hello Monday

Today's prompt say hello to Monday what are your goals for this week?
hello crazy big ideas. A couple of weeks ago, someone linked to the Secret Bloggers Business 5 day eproduct challenge. Being a sucker for learning everything I can, I signed up. And this post from By Regina was timely.

hello mistakes. I made a couple last week, and they cost me more than I realised. And in a situation that was almost farcical, I fixed the problem, and got told off for that, too!

hello winter. I think we can safely say you have arrived in Queensland.

hello camping. Just twelve days until our first winter trip since Sophie was born. We're all counting down.

What are you saying hello to today?

Tomorrow's prompt  remember when share a memory from your childhood, your story is important to tell, too

{life behind the purple door}

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