Why Living Unabridged? Blog Advice

Biography of a Blog

Here’s a little secret (that most of you already know): I used to have a different blog.

It’s true.

Living Unabridged is not my first internet home. I blogged for eight years at my other blog.

Why did I leave it behind?

living unabridged blog adviceWhen 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.)

DeathtoStock_Creative Community7The Blog Advice I Took:

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).

office-583839_1920Why Living Unabridged?

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 already had some fun successes. Like when my 4 Things Children Don’t Need post went viral.

when your blog post goes viral

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.


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Words on Wednesday: Family Forms Character

I’m sharing another quote from Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic today:
the family is the core character forming institution
Last week I mentioned a related quote about family:

Because the larger culture has drifted away from the traditional norms of family life […] mere persistence in those norms is becoming a countercultural statement.

So much good food for thought in this book! I plan to share a habit formation related quote that my Charlotte Mason loving friends (you know who you are) will love the next time I participate. (It may not be next week because next week is our church camp.)

But anyway, my fellow parents and countercultural co-belligerents, this is the thought I want to you take away today: your work matters. Character formation is not for the weak. Family is important.

Recently Finished

Other than Levin’s book, I haven’t actually finished a book recently. But I’ve made some progress on my stack.

Recently Added

And then I undid my reading progress by doubling my stack’s size. This week I’ve added:
Fever is a novel by Mary Beth Keane about Typhoid Mary. It was recommended to me because of some other books I’ve enjoyed. I haven’t even cracked the cover, so please don’t take this as a recommendation from me.
Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye combines Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes into one mystery. And once again, I haven’t started it yet.
The Plantagenets by Dan Jones is another one my library recommended for anyone who loves “Game of Thrones”. I’ve read some of the GoT series and I can assure you I do not love it (ugh), but I do love British history so I’m willing to give this a chance.

Current Read Aloud

Last night we started Five Children and It as our bedtime read aloud. I had the girls vote on our next read aloud and this was the clear winner. Probably because they loved The Railway Children so much. (Honestly, I think they keep choosing British fiction so I will have to keep doing various British accents.)

Current Book to Review

My latest review was Give Your Child the World.

Current Kindle Deals

I was doing some online research and shopping for our upcoming school year and stumbled on these:
Beowulf (3 translations) for $0.99.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Jessie Weston for $2.99.
The Complete Works of Saint Augustine for $1.99.
Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin for $0.99
Famous Men of the Middle Ages for $0.99.
King Arthur Collection including Le Morte d’Arthur, Idylls of the King, and a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court for $0.99.
I count vouch for the quality of these Kindle editions, but I may end up ordering a few for my daughter’s kindle. I prefer to own paperback copies of the books we need for school, but a Kindle edition is better than none.

What are you reading now?

Linking up with:
WWW ladydusk

Dover Books

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Give Your Child the World by Jamie Martin

If you read homeschooling blogs on a regular basis, or you’re active on Instagram and homeschooling related hashtags, I know you’ve seen “Give Your Child the World” mentioned or pictured.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review program. I was not required to write a positive review.

This book by popular Simple Homeschool blogger Jamie Martin , has been critically acclaimed (LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow!) and promoted. So I was excited to receive a copy for our family’s personal library.

What you’ll find in Give Your Child the World:

The first section is part memoir, part practical advice for “raising globally minded kids”. The Martin family is diverse and their experiences are varied.

This book isn’t about a surface only “Multiculturalism”. It’s about truly appreciating and understanding the fascinating world we live in and the people who make up that world. This includes learning to appreciate our own countries in a deeper way.

The second section is the heart of the book: extensive reading lists to help “Give Your Child the World”. This is where this book earns a place on your shelf.

These lists are divided by areas (Multicultural, Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle East, North America, Latin America, Australia and Polar Regions) and by recommended ages for reading. Short briefs for each book help explain why each particular book deserved a place on the list.

What I Loved about Give Your Child the World:

Books about books are one of my favorite genres. I have several on my shelves already. (I’ll share a few of those at the end of this post.)

What makes this particular book so incredibly valuable is the fantastic resource of indexes at the end of the book. I’d almost call these the third section of the book. You can search by author, by country / region, historical times from ancient to modern, and by title. So, whether you’re putting together a geography or history unit for a co-op class, or your child just really wants to learn about Peru right now (anyone else watch The Middle?), these lists are going to help you out.

And here’s the thing: you don’t have to be a homeschool parent to appreciate this book. Any parent (or grandparent) or teacher will find this a helpful resource.

Why Give Your Child the World is Timely:

Children learn through story. Story is still the best way to help your child love any subject. And stories are one of the best ways to learn to appreciate differences and similarities in others.

The one thing I wish this book included would be book covers. I understand why they weren’t included, though. I’m sure printing cost and legal permissions would have been prohibitively expensive.

Which is one reason why I’m enjoying following along (even though my family isn’t participating) with the Read the World Summer Book Club. Each week is a new emphasis and there are maps, music, videos, and more to help “give your child the world”. It’s not too late to join the party so go check it out. (This week is North America.) Be sure to use the appropriate hashtags on Instagram, too – it’s a great way to get a mental image of what the suggested books look like.

Have you read Give Your Child the World? Are you participating in the summer book club? I’d love to hear about your family’s experiences!

give your child the world

If you’re looking for more books with great booklists, you might like these:

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