Biography of a Blog
Here’s a little secret (that most of you already know): I used to have a different blog.
Living Unabridged is not my first internet home. I blogged for eight years at my other blog.
Why did I leave it behind?
When I started blogging back in the dark ages of 2007 *cough* I didn’t even really know what a blog was. I got started because I was active on a frugal living message board and they started a blogging platform.
So I started a blog with them.
And then I started reading my fellow frugal living bloggers. And they were linking to other blogs, bigger blogs, including some names that you’d probably recognize. They were taking part in weekly themed link ups that I wanted to take part in.
The original platform I was on was too clunky for me. I wasn’t sure how to use it.
And I was doing some other things that I realized I didn’t want to do, the biggest of which was using our real names. A real life friend who doesn’t live near me found that blog just by searching for my name.
Which – though I loved my childhood friend – creeped me out.
Starting Over (for the First Time)
So I started over with a new blog on Blogspot. I gave my kids cute pseudonyms. I learned how to customize and a bit of HTML. (A “bit” might be an overstatement. I am still not a coder.)
It was mostly my home where I participated in my favorite link-ups and where I told funny stories about our life (at least, I think they were funny) and where I vented about what was going on in the world. (SO MUCH VENTING.)
I didn’t realize that people could actually get paid for blogging. I had no idea. I didn’t know why some bloggers became almost celebrities, at least in the blog world, and others didn’t. I didn’t know you could plan what you wanted to write about. I had no idea what a “niche” was. (We did buy my domain name and there were some expenses associated even with my tiny blog.)
But as I continued blogging I found out about those other things. And I wanted to become a better blogger. Not a celebrity. Just a good blogger, with good, helpful content beyond whatever the link up of the day happened to be. (I also wanted to drop the cutesy nicknames for my kids and be more thoughtful in what I shared about their lives.)
I felt like I needed a new blog home for that. A fresh start. A clean (blog) slate.
Starting Over (for the Second Time)
So I chose a new blog name, paid for a new domain name, paid for WordPress, and Living Unabridged was born in August 2014. (Yes, it’s almost my blogiversary. Which is totally a thing.)
Write good content.
Of course, some content here at LU may be better than others. But I wanted to move away from using my blog to react and move toward putting out useful, original advice and encouragment. This is the one I work at the most. There are so many great blogs and bloggers out there. And I want to be one of them. (I’m not saying I’m there yet, you understand, I’m saying I’m working at it.)
Monetize from the start.
No, I am not making a full-time income from blogging. Not even close. Not yet. See, the thing is: blogging costs money. Domain names and hosting and so on aren’t free. And blogging takes time. My time is worth something.
So, while I’m not making big bucks (yet…), I also don’t feel guilty about sharing some sponsored posts (only for things I love and use), some affiliate links, and some ads. No one is surprised to find those things here, because they’ve been here from day 1.
Write for an audience.
I’ve been a writer since I was a teenager. I think best with a pen in hand. I write on scraps of paper. I have notebooks full of stories, anecdotes, character names, prayers, frustrations, ideas (SO MANY IDEAS), etc. I will always write. But not all of that writing is, or ever will be, for an audience. To be a “real” writer, I have to write something that other people can read. And here you are.
Living Unabridged is targeted mostly at people who are similar to me in significant ways: Bibliophiles, probably Christians, probably homeschooling, probably parents, probably women, probably know their Myers-Briggs type, people who are generally curious about the world at large. I say “probably” because I happen to know that I have some readers who aren’t those things (for instance, I know a few men sneak in here from time to time).
Network with other bloggers.
First I was invited to join a mastermind group. That group is less active now, but it was incredibly helpful when I was making some of these decisions (and I still appreciate each member and the friendships that have developed there). I’m also a member of a blog network that offers advice, sponsored posts, and other opportunities.
The Blog Advice I Didn’t Take:
Have a niche.
I just couldn’t narrow my blog focus down to only one topic. So many things interest me. I want to be able to write about books, family, homeschooling, and anything else that I need to write about. Even if I could just write about one of those topics, for instance: homeschooling, I’m not sure what my niche would be. My husband says it would be Homeschoolers Who Are Generally Classical But Don’t Like Other People Telling Them What to Do. He’s right, but that niche is probably too narrow.
Grow a list.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, giving blog advice says you have to have a subscribe option and send newsletters or your posts directly to people’s inboxes. The reasoning is that you “own” your list, whereas other social media where people connect with your blog (places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, etc.) are subject to the vagaries of those platforms. I get that. But I still don’t do it. Why?
Two reasons: 1.)I hate getting those emails myself. I unsubscribe to anything I accidentally subscribed to (probably in an attempt to get “free” stuff) and 2.) They cost money to set up and maintain.
Of these two reasons the first is the real reason. I just don’t like blog subscriptions. I use a Blog Reader to keep up with the blogs I like (although I still miss Google Reader, may it rest in peace) and I like a streamlined inbox. Does this mean I’ll never start a newsletter option? No. It could happen. But it’s not happening right now.
Use every ad possibility available when you monetize.
NOPE. Here’s what you won’t ever find on Living Unabridged: pop-ups or autoplay ads. Why? BECAUSE WE HATES THEM, THEY BURN US. Want to get me never to come back to your blog? Run auto-play music or videos. Have so many pop-ups I can’t see the post content. Have ads that scroll down when I scroll down. (WHY?)
So monetize? Yes. I love affiliate ads and sponsored posts. I don’t mind other bloggers using these tools. Have some ads in your sidebar or in your posts. Write e-books and e-courses and promote them as you wish. But monetize with all the flashy things that make content hard to find and only ever write sponsored posts without an original thought? No.
Put up fresh content constantly.
Some sites have to have fresh content daily, some hourly, and some almost by the second. This isn’t that kind of site.
I knew that trying to have fresh content five days a week would be too much and not the quality I wanted to share with you. So, I aim for three days (M,W,F) plus a weekly links roundup on Saturdays. I try to schedule out my content ahead of time. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t. Life happens, and you all know that (which is one reason why I love all you faithful readers).
I want to share my favorite books with you. I want to share advice and encouragment to my fellow Christians and homeschoolers. I want to be authentic in what I write and what I post on social media (that’s where “unabridged” comes in). I want to live this abundant life to the best of my ability.
I’ve written some dud posts that don’t have content I’m proud to share. I’ve learned more about making graphics (still weak on that, but learning!) and availing myself of the tools of the blogging trade. I’m still learning to network and I’ve actually started meeting some blog friends “in real life.”
I have so many things I want to write and so much more life to share with you all.
We get one earthly existence and the Cliffs Notes version is just not good enough. So really, we’re all living life unabridged here, folks. Thanks for living mine with me.
Once I have an image or design I use:
for photo editing, making pins, making collages, and so much more!
But of course the easiest (and the site I personally use the most) is still: