10 Things To Consider Before Starting A Blog (part 3 of 10) Who is Your Audience?

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Who are you writing for? 

This is an important question to ask yourself before you even set up your blog. Knowing who your audience is can provide direction when it comes to naming your website or blog a name which will resonate with your readers. It can also help guide you in your decision regarding the colors and branding look which you choose for your blog. In addition, when you brainstorm a list of potential writing topics for blog posts, knowing your audience will help the ideas flow more freely. 

When people arrive at your blog or website you want them to stay awhile.

The best way to do that is for your site to have a clear purpose. There must be something there which resonates with them in order for them to stay. If you are a gardener who also loves fashion and cooking, these three things may be too disconnected in the mind of your reader for you to write on all three topics. for example, if someone who is seeking gardening tips arrives at your website but the page they land on has an article on the new dress you purchased and how stylish it is, you will probably lose the reader.  

However, if you choose to write about your gardening adventures and you also include cooking and recipes using things you've grown in your garden, now you have an attentive audience.

You could even throw in an article or two on the latest gardening hat to protect gardeners from the sun while gardening. This way you are adding in your love of fashion but still keeping it focused on gardeners.  

How to find your niche audience.

When choosing your topic, one very important thing is that you be interested in it. You will be writing about the topic for a very long time and it will get boring quickly if you don't like the topic. Narrow down your audience. By this I mean, don't just write to computer geeks, write to computer geeks who play games or computer geeks who build websites. Don't just write to moms, write to Christian homeschooling moms. Don't just write to those who have lost a loved one, write to those who have lost a child, or who are single after the loss of a spouse. Narrow it down and then write to that audience. 

Make sure when you narrow it down, you don't narrow so much that there isn't enough to write about. 

If you are not sure who you want to write for begin by making a list of the things which you love. What are the things which resonate with you or which you enjoy doing in your spare time? Your hobbies and interests are topics which you would probably enjoy writing about. They are also the topics for which you would probably have the greatest ease coming up with content. 

If you need ideas for possible niches there are many places to go for ideas.

Take a trip to your local library and browse the books. Go to the non-fiction section and notice how the books are broken down into categories on the shelves. All the computer books are together, all the business books are together. They are even further broken down into business start up, business funding, business marketing, etc. As you browse through the books, notice the topics you are drawn to, those are good potential niches.

You could also visit a store which has a large magazine selection. You'll notice magazines are written to niche audiences. Home magazines are written to southern home owners, or owners of barn homes, or to those who like DIY projects at their home. They are also written to those who like the cottage look, or those who like victorian style, or those who prefer contemporary style. Magazine niches also make good blog niches.

Another thing to think about as you choose your niche is that a niche is solving a problem.

For example, for the above magazine readers the problems might include "How do I decorate with cottage decor?", or "How do I do that DIY project?". The problem a person might need solved could be as simple as "What is the next knitting project I'm going to knit?" (and you'll provide the answer), or "What can I cook with all this zucchini from my garden?" (and you, the expert gardener, will provide the recipes). 

Another way to explore possible niches is to visit www.amazon.com and browse through the categories. Read book reviews. If a book topic resonates with you, explore what other subjects that author has written on, maybe they have a niche they write for. 

Take a look at article websites such as ezinearticles.com. You will see that their categories are further broken down into subcategories. These subcategories are all possible niches for your website or blog. 

Things to consider as you choose your niche

There are a few things you should consider as you choose your niche audience for your blog. One thing you must take into consideration is the answer to the question which we asked you in the first post in this series "Why Do You Want To Blog?" If your answer to this question was that you are blogging for a hobby or for personal enjoyment then your niche won't matter a whole lot. However, if you are blogging for profit, or to grow a business or ministry, or even if you are blogging for a hobby but would very much like to grow a following then choosing a niche is important. 

  • If you are blogging in hopes of making any money from your blog, you will need to choose a niche which can be profitable and for which you can produce ongoing content. Explore how much demand there is for your topic, then explore how much competition you'll have.
  • Can you produce amazing content on the subject? As of 2013 there were 152 million blogs on the internet. If you want to be noticed you are going to have to put out some pretty amazing content. Competition can be fierce, but it can also be a good thing if we allow it to push us on to excellence.
  • Are you giving yourself enough flexibility? As I mentioned before, don't narrow down the topic to the point of not being flexible or not providing enough possible content. 
  • Am I going to love this topic forever? Or, is this hobby I'm currently enjoying just a passing phase?

I hope your gears are turning with thoughts of possible niche audiences you can write for. Go visit your library or book store and write down possible ideas. Then once you have chosen a possible niche spend some time brainstorming a list of potential topics you could write on which fall under that niche. If you can brainstorm a decent list of topics, then you may have found your audience. 

To read the other posts in this series:

(part 1 of 10) Why do you want to blog?

(part 2 of 10) Which Platform Should You Choose? 

Happy Blogging!

To receive regular tips and downloads to help you in your blogging journey, sign up below. 

In addition, when you submit the form below, you will be emailed a password to access our member area where you will find helpful resources. 

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50 Devotion Topics and Ideas

As bloggers and writers we all face it eventually, the blank computer screen or paper.

Devotion topics can sometime be difficult to come up with when we're in a dry spell and the words just won't flow. 

We have heard from many of our readers that having some resources to help with overcoming writing block would be helpful. 

As part of our ongoing quest to encourage bloggers, writers, and anyone else who is passionate about sharing their Christian message, we have a brand new resource available, and it's FREE!

50 Devotion Topics and Ideas

This resource will help you brainstorm devotion topics in those times when you just seem to be coming up dry. We hope you enjoy it and it is a blessing to you. Please let us know in the comments what you think and if you would like more resources like this. 

For the next four days this resource will be available here for download. After that time, the first page will be available in our "freebies" area and the entire resource will be available for free (along with other free resources) in our members area which you can access by signing up using the form below. A password will be emailed to you.

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Christian Haiku Group Writing Project - with Downloadable PDF

Haiku Group Writing.jpg

Today is Haiku Poetry Day. In honor of Haiku Poetry Day, Faithful Bloggers issued a group writing project challenge to write Christian Haiku, 22 people accepted that challenge. (You can read about the challenge here)

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry which originated in the 16th century. It is a pattern of 3 lines of poetry. The three lines contain specific numbers of syllables, the first line has 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables and the third line has 5 syllables. 

I'm sure you will agree as you read the submissions, they are all beautiful, each in it's own way.

It was enjoyable for me to read them because they were so varied in the emotions which they conveyed. They ranged from one author using big words which expressed the unfathomableness of God, words like; indispensable and inexplicable all the way to another author using Batman in hers, I love that.

I love that our Christian faith can be expressed in that variety of ways because, that's just what living a life of Christian faith is actually like, deep and serious at times, lighthearted and friendly at others.

One day God is my sustainer, my strength when my heart is breaking, another day He's providing fresh joy in the morning and laughter on the wind. 

Thank you to all those who contributed, your submissions were beautiful. You all seriously rocked the Haiku. 

If you would like to download a copy of the Christian Haiku there is a link at the bottom of this post. After you read through them, we'd love if you would share your thoughts in the comments, it would be a blessing to those who contributed.

Here is the link if you would like to download a copy of the PDF of the Christian Haiku.

 

 

 

Directory Participant Spotlight - Damsels Digress

Christian Directory Spotlight

Faithful Bloggers exists to help Christian blog and website owners get the word out regarding their ministry or business. We have a directory to help with that purpose, we recently announced a new benefit to those who are listed in the directory; the Directory Participant Spotlight. Those who are in the directory are welcome to submit a request to be spotlighted. We have had many submissions and chose the first spotlight randomly from the submissions using the random number generator.

We are proud to announce our first spotlight and ask that you stop by their website and support their work, tell them we sent you. Here's a bit about them, in their own words. 


It’s no secret that most women like to talk. And what’s wrong with that? Life as a Christian can get complicated, and sometimes, you just have to talk stuff out. Or digress, as we call it. Whether it’s mulling over the church’s aversion to a healthy discussion of sex, detailing how culture has corrupted the biblical meaning of judgment, giving advice on how to talk to a grieving friend, or just listing our favorite fictional couples, Damsels Digress has been an online forum where young Christian women express themselves since 2014. We strive for honesty, because if we’re never honest about where we are then we’ll never understand what we must do to grow. We hope our digressions will challenge both you and us to live a life dedicated to becoming more like Christ in our speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. 

In addition to reading our blog, you can watch us digress on: 

to stay updated with our latest content.


If you are listed in our directory and would like an opportunity to be spotlighted, you can fill out the form for the Directory Participant Spotlight.  

 

 

Christian Haiku Group Writing Project

It has been a while since Faithful Bloggers hosted a group writing project so we thought it was about time for one. 

Christian Haiku

Announcing the Christian Haiku Group Writing Project


Why Christian Haiku? Well, Monday April 17th is Haiku Poetry Day. In honor of that, we are seeking writing submission which are Haiku but are also Christian in content. 

We will be compiling all the submission of Christian Haiku into a downloadable book (PDF) which you can share with your readers. 
This PDF will be hosted on Faithful Bloggers for download but if you are a contributing writer, you are also welcome to make this available on your own site (for free only,  this can not be charged for). The purpose of this book is to share the Word of God in a manner which is a bit different than you may have done in the past. Having something on your site for your readers to download creates increased engagement. This is a good opportunity for you to have something for them to download at minimal work on your end. It's also a good opportunity to stretch yourself and your writing. 

If you are asking, "What exactly is Haiku?" well, we're glad you asked. 

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry which originated in the 16th century. It is a pattern of 3 lines of poetry (that's all, not so hard right?). The three lines contain specific numbers of syllables, the first line has 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables and the third line has 5 syllables. Here is an example from
Tom DiFrancesca III of http://www.4u-lord.com

Immeasurable
Like snowflakes falling quickly
God's grace pouring down


There are many examples of Haiku available online if you need more examples. If you would like more Christian examples, there are some links at the bottom of this post.

How to submit for the Christian Haiku Group Writing Project:

  • Send an email to admin(at)faithfulbloggers.com.

  • The subject line must read: "Haiku Submission".

  • You are welcome to submit up to 10 Haiku.

  • If you want us to include a link to your website in the PDF, you must include it in the email submission. If it is not in the email, it will not be in the PDF. 

  • All submissions will include the name of the author unless it is specified in the email that you wish to remain anonymous.

  • The deadline for submission is Wednesday April 12th at 10:00a.m.

  • If you want us to include a link to your website in the PDF, you must include it in the email submission. If it is not in the email, it will not be in the PDF. 

  • We reserve the right to refuse any submission we feel are innappropriate for our readers. 

  • By submitting to the Group Writing Project you are giving permission for your submission to be distributed free of charge here on Faithful Bloggers as well as on other contributors websites. 

We will turn all submissions into a PDF and will send an email on Friday April 14th for you to access the PDF so you can promote it on International Haiku Poetry Day (April 17th). 

So get busy writing those Haiku, we can't wait to read them. 

UPDATE:  The Haiku PDF Download can be found here

LINKS TO CHRISTIAN HAIKU:

Consider Christianity Week

Consider Christianity Week

This week is Consider Christianity Week. It's a perfect time to write a post for your blog discussing your testimony, or the powerful impact a relationship with Christ can have in the life of a Christian. Why not share about the freedom and forgiveness which can only be found in Christ.

I created this graphic (image) for Consider Christianity Week. You are welcome to take it and use it if you are writing about Consider Christianity Week (not sell it). I intentionally left off the www.faithfulbloggers.com text which I normally add across the bottom so you can use it for your own blog post if you desire and you are even welcome to add your website text at the bottom.
If you do write about Consider Christianity Week, please leave a link to the post in the comments.

Do You Want to Increase Your Online Exposure? We Can Help.

Christian Blog Directory Spotlight

We are excited to announce a new feature to help you increase your online exposure.

"Directory Participant Spotlight"

We will be spotlighting in a post here on the site, people (and their websites) who are listed in the Faithful Bloggers directory. 

This will be an added benefit to you if you are listed in our directory. Now, not only will you have the benefit of links to your site from your directory listing but you will have the opportunity to also have a post about you and your site with additional links. 

We have been busy going through the directory and making sure all the links are working and that everything is current. 

If you would like to be chosen to be spotlighted, you will have to apply using the form below. We will choose who to spotlight at random from those who apply to be spotlighted. There will be no regular set schedule for the frequency of the "Directory Participant Spotlights", they will be posted when we feel it's time for another one. 

Your spotlight post can be either written by you or by us. In your spotlight post you will have opportunity to tell us about yourself and your website. If you have a product you would like featured, we can do that as well. 

The "Directory Participant Spotlights" will be shared on our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Requirements to be spotlighted:

  • You must be listed in the directory. If you are not already listed in the directory you MUST do that FIRST. Here is the link to JOIN THE DIRECTORY
  • Your website must contain the link back to Faithful Bloggers and it must remain on your site as long as you are listed in the directory
  • If you have a blog we ask that you share on your blog regarding your spotlight at Faithful Bloggers and include a link to your spotlight post. 
  • all other requirements listed on the directory sign up page must be met
  • We reserve the right to refuse any entries for Directory Participant Spotlights.

If you are listed in the directory and would like to be "spotlighted" fill out this form to apply. Once the form is received, we will add you to the pool of those who are wanting to be spotlighted. If chosen, you will be notified via email and we can then begin the process of getting your post put together for publication. If you are not chosen, your name will remain in the pool for future spotlights.

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The Year of Commitment is available!

You Don't Have to Feel Overwhelmed or Stuck - Find Out How You Can Have An Amazing Year

With the end of March comes the end of the first quarter of 2017. The end of a quarter is the perfect time to evaluate how the year is going so far.

Have you ever wondered how some people can accomplish so much in life? How would you feel if I told you it wasn’t all in their abilities?  If you could have similar results, would you want to learn the techniques?

Imagine having a healthy work / life balance and not feeling overwhelmed by all you have to accomplish in life.

I, like you, wanted those things too, that’s why I created The Year of Commitment.

The Year of Commitment will help you

  • put a plan in place for a great year
  • take steps to put action to your dreams
  • create a work/life balance
  • get unstuck
  • set aside time for the important things in life (relationships, time with the Lord, etc.)
  • set and obtain goals which are honoring to the Lord but also are in alignment with your priorities

The Year of Commitment is a workbook, along with other materials which will walk you through the process of planning out your year and setting goals. Many successful people the world over regularly go through the process of planning. This is what one well known author has to say about planning.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

— Alan Lakein

What’s included you ask?

The Year of Commitment comes with:

  • The 21 page Year of Commitment Workbook
  • Video: For the Workbook
  • BONUS ITEM: Weekly Planning Worksheet
  • BONUS ITEM: Bible Study 'What Scripture Says About Planning' by: Shelley Howland

Who am I and why did I develop The Year of Commitment?

I once felt stuck too. I used to feel overwhelmed by all I had to accomplish. I use to wish I knew how to find time in my busy schedule to do the fun things, the little things like have lunch with one of my kids, or to write for my blog, or even to pursue dreams.

At one point, I said, "enough is enough" and then, over a ten year period of trial and error, I developed The Year of Commitment. This is the exact same planning process which my husband, myself, and now many other people use to put their ideas, thoughts, and dreams into action. This is the exact same planning process I have used every year for the last ten years to grow a company into having over $1,000,000 in revenue.

I know you may be thinking, “But, I’m not starting a business” or “I’m not after big, huge dreams and goals.” 

That’s ok! Up until this past September I was a homeschooling mom (for 20+ years). I used this same planning process for

  • setting goals for our homeschooling
  • my household projects
  • and any ministry projects in my life

I also used it to set goals for how many times a month I wanted to take one of the kids out for lunch and other small, but important things like that. The Year of Commitment will meet you wherever you are in life and guide you to set plans in those areas.

When you have completed The Year of Commitment workbook, you will have set goals in each area of your life, and you will have a plan in place to make those goals happen…that’s a good feeling, trust me.  

It doesn’t matter if what you want to do with your life involves starting a business, blogging, working in a ministry, homeschooling your kids, or anything else, you’ll have a plan. You will also have committed your year to the Lord. I have used many different versions of yearly planning material and I have yet to see one which approaches planning from that starting place. I believe this is of utmost importance in the life of a believer. This is how you create a healthy work/life balance.

To access 'The Year of Commitment' go here:   https://faithful-bloggers.teachable.com/p/the-year-of-commitment-yearly-planning

Don't Forget Your End of Quarter Review

With the end of March comes the end of the first quarter of 2017. It's time to evaluate how your first quarter has been. Are you happy with the direction your year is taking?

As my husband and I sit down to do our quarterly review as we do each and every quarter of the year we ask ourselves the above question as well as: Are we on track for the plan we set? If we are, what adjustments might be necessary? If we're not, do we need to adjust the plan or adjust the actions in order to get back on track? 

Planning and reviewing are excellent practices to put into place in your life. Planning and reviewing help you to:

  • get unstuck 
  • make time for important things in life
  • move things forward with purpose
  • and so much more

If you've ever wondered how some people can accomplish so much in their life and yet you seem to remain stuck, they are probably using the practice of planning. Planning is purposeful. It is purposefully putting a plan on paper and creating steps to help you accomplish your goals. 

With the end of this quarter I want to encourage you to consider how your year is going and if you haven't written a plan for the year, go ahead and write one. The end of the quarter is the perfect time. Writing a yearly plan can taken place any time during a year, not only at the beginning. Next Tuesday we will be launching a new product called "The Year of Commitment", it is a faith based yearly planning tool. It will only be available for a limited time. This is the exact planning tool my husband and I use to write our yearly plan. 

In addition, if you'd like to join us, we will be talking about planning and our individual progress both on the Facebook page and in the Facebook group. Here's the link to the group https://www.facebook.com/groups/faithfulbloggers/

So, I encourage you to get busy either conducting your review or writing your plan. If you need a resource to help you accomplish that, watch for the release of "The Year of Commitment" on Tuesday. If you would like to read more about it you can visit this page: "The Year of Commitment"

 

Are You Using a Blog Post Checklist?

blog post checklist.jpg

Last week I wrote a post called "Why You Need A Blog Post Planner". Today I'm going to tell you about the second tool you need for publishing a blog post, it's the 'blog post checklist'.  As I mentioned in the other post, a planner is your tool for planning your post, but the checklist is used to make sure you included everything in your post prior to publishing. It also helps to ensure you complete all the tasks you need to complete as you publish your post. The checklist helps you to remember all the things like, adding meta tags or descriptions to photos, publishing to social media, resizing photos for quicker load times, etc.

Both the planner and the checklist are tools you can use in your blog planning. Watch for our planning tool called 'The Year of Commitment' to be released soon which can help you in planning all areas of your life including your blogging ministry or business. 

Watch the video for more information on blog post checklists. Fill out the form below to join the list and download the checklist.

If you missed the post on the blog post planner go here: 'Why You Need a Blog Post Planner'

 

When you submit the form below, you will be emailed a password to access our member area where you will find the blog post checklist and other helpful resources. 

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Why You Need a Blog Post Planner

Why You Need a Blog Post Planner

If you have not been using a blog post planner, boy are you missing out.

But a blog post planner is only a part of a larger system. With just the planner the same thing happens. You sit at your desk, you take out your blog post planner, you begin to plan a blog post aaannd…nothing. You are blank. So, I want to show you how I use a blog post planner.

Read More

Why We Moved from Wordpress to Squarespace

NOTE:  I am not being paid by Squarespace or Wordpress for this post. 

Moving to Squarespace

There have been lots of exciting things going on behind the scenes here at Faithful Bloggers. We've been planning and prepping but in addition to all that, we've been super busy with moving. By moving, I don't mean an actual physical move, I'm talking about a move from one web platform to another. We moved from Wordpress to Squarespace. I have moved (physically) a great big number of times and although a physical move has it's challenges, a web platform move has it's own unique set of challenges, none of which are any fun at all.  As you all have read, Faithful Bloggers changed ownership. At the time of purchase, Faithful Bloggers, Faithful Devotions, and The Faithful Bloggers Directory were all on Wordpress. I wanted to make that work, really I did. But I just couldn't. I know I'm probably about to get a bunch of you upset with me, but before all you Wordpress diehards get all hot under the collar, hear me out and read this entire post, because I really do believe Wordpress has a place, just not for me. And I think it may possibly not be the best choice for many other people, depending upon what they are looking for. You also should know, this was not my first experience with Wordpress, I've been there before. 

I know there are about a bazillion websites on Wordpress, I know it's a great platform, but it is not the only platform. I believe it really depends on what you are looking for whether Wordpress is the place for you to call home. Below is a run down of the pros and cons of the two platforms, so if you are just starting out, you'll be able to make an informed decision. And if you are dealing with any frustrations with either platform, you'll have an idea of what the other offers. Please note: Any time I mention Wordpress, I'm talking about a self hosted wordpress site. 

So why did I move?

Basically it boils down to the fact that I want to write, blog, and create great products, not work on a website. Squarespace allows me the luxury of doing just that. Let me explain further. Here's a few of the reasons I moved:

  • Squarespace has an incredibly clean, clutter free interface. It's also easy to use. Like any sort of software it does have a learning curve, but it's click and drag format is generally user friendly. Also, if you are just starting out, you should know that there will be a learning curve on either platform, but I feel it's fair say, you will have a longer learning curve on Wordpress. 

  • Live Chat!  I love this about Squarespace. When I have questions, I can just hop on live chat and get assistance immediately. Granted, their live chat is only available during daytime hours (eastern time zone), so you 3:00a.m. bloggers may not find this a benefit (unless of course you're a 3:00 a.m. blogger around the world from the eastern time zone). 
  • Domain, Design, and Hosting all in one location. I cannot say the transfer of the domains to Squarespace or the transfer of the entire site to Squarespace was the easiest thing I have ever undertaken (it isn't even in the top 10 easiest things). In all honesty, I didn't have to move the domains to Squarespace, that was a choice I made to have everything in one place, taken care of by one group of people. I know, Wordpress is free, but hosting is not and I'm paying similiar for Squarespace as I was for self hosting with Wordpress. The other thing that is not free (if you are considering Wordpress) is if you need someone to fix code or anything else for you. With Squarespace you are a paying customer, so unless you've monkeyed with the code on your site, they are there for you. If your Wordpress experience has been to email on a regular basis with your hosting company to get things fixed, you'll probably love Squarespace. I tried to recall if there had ever been a time when I had to email Squarespace, and although I can't say for sure, I don't remember any. I have used their live chat a few times. 
  • I HATE CODE.  I mean, I REALLY hate it!  Some people love it, some people tolerate it, some people hate it, I'm definitely in the third group. I have no business playing around with the inner workings of my website, nor do I want to. With Squarespace I don't have to deal with code. There are times I may have to copy and paste a portion of generated code into a code block but other than that, no code. This does not mean that those people who love code, can't access coding on Squarespace. If you are of the "I Love Code" camp, you can code to your hearts content on Squarespace. Here however is where I think Wordpress has a place. If you are the type of person who absolutely has to have the ability to manage every detail of your website, and you love that stuff, Wordpress will probably feel like home. But if what you are looking to do is write and blog and not have to deal with code hardly at all, you might want to consider Squarespace. 
  •  No 3rd Party Plug-Ins. There are about 5 million plug-ins (I might be exaggerating just a little) available on Wordpress. They are used to get your site to do just about anything you can imagine, there are probably plug-ins to get your site to do your laundry for you. Having so many options has it's positives and negatives. On the one hand, you have options. Options are good. Except at times, I found the options overwhelming. On the other hand, Wordpress is an open platform and anyone can author a plugin and make it available on Wordpress, this too is good and bad. Once your Wordpress site is up, you are going to load lots of plugins on your website, because you need them to do things like add forms to your site and numerous other tasks. These plugins are all authored by different people and they all need to be updated. If you overlook updating them, this is where issues occur. This is the open door hackers use to hack Wordpress sites. When I purchased Faithful Bloggers, it had been hacked and neither myself nor the prior owner, Tishia, were even aware of the hack till I started poking around in it. 
  • To some people, these next two things might seem nitpicky, but I'm creative and very visual so these were big for me. There were a few things design-wise in Wordpress that drove me batty. The first is the themes. Even though there are thousands of them, you read the description and it says "custom color", but then you load the theme and begin the preview and by "custom", they meant you can choose from, blue, red, pink or green (or some other limited selection depending upon the theme), that's not "custom". Granted, there are some which offer true "custom color" but why on earth do I have to go through the process of loading them and begin the preview process in order to know that for sure. The other design thing that drove me nuts is when I was choosing a font in the theme, which you can't do in all themes, the drop down menu just had the names of the fonts, all written in the same font, not in their own font. So I had to actually try the font in order to see what it looked like. I know there are premium themes which you can buy on Wordpress and they probably offer more flexibility, but it seems to me that out of thousands of choices, there should be a couple that don't drive me nuts. Wordpress does offer tremendous flexibility, if you know code or are willing to pay someone to make the changes you are wanting. Squarespace uses templates as well, and there are many less templates to choose from, however, I have found they are much more customizable for someone who doesn't want to deal with code. The font on any part of my website can be any font I want it to be and the color is truly customizable. I need to have the capabilities to do these things myself, to do them quickly and efficiently, and without having to play with code, Squarespace offers me that.
  • It's Just Easier. Less monkeying around with back end stuff frees up more time for writing and blogging.  As I said before, I'm looking to write and blog, not play with my website. When you write a post on Squarespace and you need to insert anything, a form, code, a calendar, a map or a whole slew of other options, all you do is click to add it right there in the text. You don't have to go to a plugin to get your form. See this videofor more details.
  • I have another site on Squarespace which I have had with them for 7 Years. In that time, I have never had my site go down, and I've never had an issue with messed up code. It's also never been hacked. I know there are first times for everything and I may just have been fortunate but it's a pretty good track record.

A couple other things you might want to know about Squarespace.

  • Your website doesn't have to be a blog. This wasn't important for me for the Faithful Bloggers website but it is for the other business my family owns, and it might be for one of my readers so I'm including it. On Squarespace your website can just be a website. Our family business website does include a blog but it has a non blog front page as well as many other pages. If you'd like to check it out visit www.homecareNHME.com.  You may notice it has a similar layout to the new Faithful Bloggers site, you should know this was intentional, not required, there are plenty of other templates. I used the same template for simplicity for myself. I felt that because the sites were so unrelated industry-wise, no one was going to say "boy your site has a similar layout to the Faithful Bloggers site", (except, all of you now). I also could have made that same template look very different. One other thing you may find useful to know is that on Squarespace you can have more than one blog on your website. If you want to see why anyone would want or need that, take a look at this very website. The main Faithful Bloggers website is set up as a blog, but if you click on the "Directory", that is also set up as a blog. 
  • Just because I discuss the ease and simplicity of Squarespace, does not mean that a Squarespace website can't have all the bells and whistles. You can build a very dynamic and professional site on Squarespace (again, see the website I mentioned in the prior point, it has pretty scrolling images on the front page).  

A few things about actually making the move.

  1. I mentioned earlier that the move was not easy,  but don't let that scare you. If you have a straight forward blog with minimal things which would make a move challenging such as signup forms, etc., then if you decide to move to Squarespace it will be relatively easy and straight forward. The things on the Faithful Bloggers site which made it difficult were things like the forms, and the directory and a few other challenges like that.  

  2. If you decide to transfer your domain to Squarespace (which is not required), you should know the  transfer can take from 1-15 days, my tranfer took 6 days (I'm not very good at waiting).
  3. If you have a mailing list, Mailchimp integrates better with Squarespace than Aweber or other email services. You can use the other services with Squarespace but Squarespace is set up so you can automatically connect to Mailchimp when you load a form. I moved  the entire mailing list from AWeber to Mailchimp which made the move more challenging.

In summary:

If you are the code loving, website fidgeting type I would recommend Worpress for your platform. To go along with Worpress I would recommend MomWebs.com for hosting (their tech support is very quick to respond). I also recommend AWeber for your mailing list. 

However, if you are the, "I just want to write and blog and not monkey with the backend" type, I recommend Squarespace, and for your mailing list, I recommend Mailchimp.

Blog Survey Results Are In ....And We Have a Winner

The blog survey we sent out last week proved to be even more informative to us than we had hoped. The results gave us invaluable insight as to what our fellow bloggers are thirsting for. As a result, going forward, we will have more direction and be able to help you in more specific areas and with more intentionality.

Among other things, the survey showed us that many of you are struggling to balance your work/life/blogging schedules. It seems, finding time to blog can be a frustration rather than an enjoyable part of your routine. Blogging should be something you look forward to...not a burden. See my last post to read more on this topic "Blogging For Ministry or Business - Be Yourself".

With that in mind, keep an eye out during the next few weeks for resources geared towards helping you plan and schedule your time so that your everyday routine is approached with more intention and a clearer mind.

In return for your help with our blog survey, we promised a gift card to a random participant. The winner is Lou Ann Keiser. Congratulations Lou Ann!!! Lou Ann blogs at https://intheway-lk.blogspot.com. Here's what she has to say,

"My blog, “In the Way” explores many themes from a biblical viewpoint. I'm a pastor's wife, mother of two, grandma, teacher, author, and blogger. I live in a quaint little village in the beautiful Basque region of northern Spain"

Be sure to stop by "In The Way" to say hello and offer up some congratulations.

Thank you all for your help. We look forward to putting the survey results to good use.

Blogging for Ministry or Business - Be Yourself!

Blogging Ministry

Our recent survey showed that the largest percentage of our subscribers are blogging for ministry purposes or to share testimony. This, among other things, stood out to me and I want to thank those who took the time to participate. The survey results have been immensely helpful to us in getting to know you all. Because we have to contact and confirm the winner, the winner will be announced sometime next week. I'm sure you can agree, it's incredibly exciting to think about all that work being done for the Kingdom.

In the survey, many of you expressed feelings of "overwhelm" from trying to maintain balance in your life or from trying to keep a consistent blogging schedule "like the experts say you should".  

I get it, I really do. I've been there. Why do we pressure ourselves like that? Why do we compare what the Lord wants to do through us with what He is doing in the lives of other people? We think "I should be doing this or that because they are", when, in reality, what we should be doing is what the Lord leads us to do. God has a plan for your life which is completely different than the plan He has for the life of the "experts". I know and understand that there are guidelines for best blogging practice to increase traffic whether blogging for ministry or business. However, if you are experiencing feelings of "overwhelm", it might be time to get back on your knees and give the whole thing back to God till you have clarity.

Let me tell you a little story. A number of years ago the Lord laid a ministry on my heart. He told me to do some prep work, writing and such. When I completed that portion, I felt it was time to move forward with it. So I attempted to. I experienced one road block after another, along with all those feelings of "overwhelm", just like some of you expressed. I eventually gave it back to the Lord and He told me to wait. It hasn't been easy, the waiting. At times my flesh has wanted to move it forward. But I waited. Recently a number of things changed in my life and I found my schedule opening up some. I asked the Lord for guidance in moving forward and He said "now".

Around this same time, I saw that Faithful Bloggers was up for sale. My husband and I felt it fit well within the plans the Lord was showing me, so I contacted Tishia (the prior owner). I have to tell you God is not only an amazing connector of people, but when you wait for His "now", those feelings of overwhelm are greatly reduced. There have definitely been frustrations (glitches with the transfer of ownership, etc.), but I can beyond a shadow of a doubt see the Lord at work.

I'm telling you this to encourage you in your blogging ministry or business, but that's the point, it's YOUR blogging journey, no one else's.  Maybe the expert you're reading says you should be posting daily, or 3 times a week but after prayer God tells you 1 time, then 1 time it should be. Don't try to be someone else, be who God created you to be. You are incredible, unique and have your own story to tell the world. It's your story, tell it in your own way. Be yourself. If God can part water, heal the lame, and drive out the powers of darkness, then He can certainly use your once a week posting schedule to do mighty things.

When the timing is right to move your project forward, you can find many resources here at Faithful Bloggers to help guide you and teach techniques for driving traffic, or increasing followers, etc. These materials are meant to assist you in your Kingdom work. We hope you find them useful on your journey.

Where are you on your blogging journey, clarity or overwhelm? How is the Lord directing you today?

Happy blogging.

Shelley

63 Emails Later...

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Wow, it's been a whirlwind of a week. As most of you have heard The Faithful Bloggers Family of Websites is under new ownership. It has taken a tremendous amount of work to get the ownership transferred. Over 63 emails have gone back and forth between Tishia, myself and the hosting company in one week. And that number doesn't even include the emails to other places such as Aweber, and other places that had to be involved. There have been many details to work through and we are not quite done yet. We're excited about moving forward. Here's a peak at some of the things you will see in the near future:

  • We've been busy putting a plan in place for Faithful Bloggers and have been charting a course. Over the next couple weeks we'll be sharing with you the planning process we have used for that.
  • We'll be sharing some resources to help you with your own planning.
  • I will be writing a review of some resources to help you in blogging journey.
  • I will writing an honest list of thoughts and suggestions on purchasing an existing website and all that is involved.

Stay tuned for all that and more as we move forward. Don't miss out on the updates, sign up (over on the right) to receive our emails.

I can't thank you all enough for your prayers, support and patience during this transition. We have received numerous warm welcomes in our email and we thank you for each and every one. If you sent Tishia an email wishing her well as she heads in new direction, please know she did receive it. Let's all cover her in prayer for her new adventures.

What have you been up to this week on your blogging journey?

Happy New Year!

happy-new-year
happy-new-year

Welcome to 2017!

I'm excited to see what this year and God has in store for me. Last year was a pretty good year, minus a few bad things. In the past, I would always be one of those people that couldn't wait for a year to end if anything bad happened and looked forward to a new year with only good things to happen...of course that's not how life works - it's never always just 'good' things that happen.

Each year is and will probably continue to be full of ups and downs. But now I have a different perspective and it makes going into a new year even more exciting because I know that no matter what comes my way, I CHOOSE my attitude and how I react to every situation - good and bad. (Sadly, it took me quite awhile to 'grow up' and realize this!)

Here we go, bring it 2017!

7 Days of Kindness Challenge

Faithful Bloggers 7 days kindness challenge
Faithful Bloggers 7 days kindness challenge

It started with one person - one random act.

Hot, humid, sticky...and impatient!  That's how I was feeling (hot, sticky & impatient) one recent sunny Northern Michigan summer afternoon. Let me back up a little and explain.

All I wanted was a Diet Coke, but not just any Diet Coke - it had to be a fountain pop (call me crazy but there is a difference in taste between a fountain drink and a canned/bottled one!). And in my small town there's two options - the gas station or McDonald's.

Thinking it would be quick (and well easy - no getting out of the car, going in, etc.) I opted to go through the drive through at McDonald's. The line up of cars to order was a bit long and I could have chose to drive away but I didn't. Instead I got stuck in the line of traffic and found myself getting hotter and more impatient and irritable as the time ticked by.

Once I made it to the window to pay, I was irritated that it had taken so long. I wanted to pay, be grumpy and get on my way. But something happened that immediately convicted me of my poor attitude. The girl at the window was grinning from ear to ear and bubbling with excitement as she shared the news - the person in front of you paid for your order.

And she got even more excited and more animated as I handed her cash to pay for the person behind me. She went on to tell me the story:

It started several cars ago - a person paid for the car behind them and told me to tell them to have a great day and to pay it forward. And they did and so did the next person and the next person and the next person and so on. You are now making the person behind you car #7 that has had the pay it forward experience!

It gave me goose bumps and a huge attitude adjustment. And good grief - why was I choosing to be irritated and impatient when I made the decision to stay in the line in the first place (knowing it was long and not moving very quickly!).

I'll never know how many pay it forward experiences there were that day but I still get goose bumps thinking about it. And now every time I go for my Diet Coke - don't judge ;-) - I continue to pay it forward.

[tweetthis display_mode="box"]Isn't it time to be more like Jesus & love those around us regardless of race, religion, & more? [/tweetthis]

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Since that day I've been thinking about all the things going on around me (the horrible acts of violence, racism, and more) and how we all need to see and be a part of more kindness. Maybe we can't change the horrific things going on in the world, but we can still make a positive impact around us...one small act at a time!

7 Days of Kindness Challenge 

That small act of kindness at McDonald's did me in - I can't stop thinking about it and how I just want to show others around me love, kindness, and that they matter. So I decided to create a 7 day challenge for myself and got so excited about it that it made sense to invite others to participate too!

We don't have to do some over the top large gesture to impact the lives of those around us. In fact, sometimes it's the little things (like smiling at some one, holding a door open, etc.) that mean the most. So this challenge is all about doing small random acts of kindness.

Why 7 days? 

I chose 7 days because in the grand scheme of things, committing to do something every day for just 7 days isn't that big of a deal! Everybody can find time to commit to a seven day challenge.

I want in! 

Ready to be a part of the action to? Simply enter your name and email address below and for the next 7 days you'll receive an email from me that will give you a suggested act to do for that day. (remember - I'm just giving you suggestions, you're more than welcome to create your kindness acts!)

count-me-in-red
count-me-in-red

JUST ENTER YOUR NAME & EMAIL ADDRESS BELOW: 

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//forms.aweber.com/form/25/1916542125.js"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, "script", "aweber-wjs-4w3653iz8"));

Can't wait to hear all about your experiences over the course of the 7 day challenge!

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. -Colossians 3:14 (NLT)