Overcoming Obstacles in Life and Business

Recently two of my kids and I went on a road trip to The Paper House in Pigeon Cove, Massachusetts.

I had visited the paper house with my mom when I was a child, but I had not been back till the other day. It was nice to see it looking just as I remembered.

The Paper House was built by Mr. Elis F. Stenman with the help of his family. Work on it began in 1922. It was lived in during the summer months in the 1920’s.

My visit to the paper house got me thinking about all the obstacles he had to overcome in order to complete such a project. It also got me thinking about the obstacles which we have to overcome in life, entrepreneurship, business and blogging.

I have no idea what gave Mr. Stenman the idea or the desire to build a house made of paper but I am fairly certain he had no guide to follow.

Just like so many things in our own lives, I’m sure Mr. Stenman used the process of trial and error, along with some yankee ingenuity to figure out how to make walls of newspaper (215 layers thick). I’m sure he used trial and error and had to overcome many obstacles to figure out how to make furniture from newspaper which could actually be sat on and used and figure out which coating would stand the test of time. 

The walls are made of paper

All of the furniture is made of rolled newspaper

When I entered the words “overcoming obstacles in life” into a google search this list of four points was the first result which appeared (it comes from inc.com).

  1. Embrace Self-Awareness
  2. Use Time to Your Advantage
  3. Commit to Focused Discipline
  4. Engage Your Own Creativity

While I do not disagree with these points, I believe there is more to it… much more.

Let’s look at each point from a Christian perspective.

1. Embrace Self-Awareness:

To me this phrase screams of new-age and humanism. If I were to rephrase this from a Christian perspective I would say “Embrace Who You Are in Christ”.  God created us each unique and amazing. He put incredible abilities in each of us to give us the ability to overcome obstacles when the need arises. That is what we should be embracing; who we are in Him! 

2. Use Time To Your Advantage:

Time is a funny thing. Time can either be a positive or a negative and it all really depends upon our heart and if we have truly given our desire over to the Lord.

Sometimes we start out to undertake a particular project. We push and push the project forward only to be met with roadblock after roadblock, obstacle after obstacle. If we are not in tune with the Lord, we have a tendency to keep pushing, often with an overwhelming, obsessive drive almost as if racing against time. We can even convince ourselves it is of the Lord when in all actuality, it is really of ourselves. Obstacles are often a sign to slow down or even to completely change course. The sad reality is that often when someone is in this situation, they can’t see it for themselves but many around them can.

On the other hand time can also be a positive and can be used to push us on to completion. For example, when we are in tune with the Lord’s plan for our lives and following his plan, a time deadline for a project is often beneficial to bring the project to completion. A deadline can be a great incentive to overcome obstacles.

Don't race time. Be willing to wait on the Lord. Be willing to put your project on the back burner for awhile. Anything pushed forward before the Lord's time will more than likely face much difficulty.

3. Commit to Focused Discipline.

If I were to rewrite this phrase I would say “Commit to Focused, Disciplined Prayer, and then Commit to Focused, Disciplined Work”….I know, it’s wordy. We could also use a phrase which is on a sign in my office which reads “Work as though it depends on you, pray as though it depends on God”.

If you are undertaking any project concentrated time of prayer will not only help you avoid some of the pitfalls but will give you clarity and help you in overcoming obstacles.

4. Engage Your Own Creativity

How about we use “Engage The Creativity God Put In You”. I think that is a good 4th point for our Christian list of ways to overcome obstacles. God has given you incredible gifts and talents which were given to you to be used for His glory. If you are walking with the Lord, are in tune with His plan for your life and your projects, then you probably have the ability within you to overcome the obstacles you will face. Tap into that creativity.

Sometimes tapping into that God given creativity means getting right in the midst of things and figuring out how to do something, maybe learning something new. Sometimes it means that God has given you the ability to tap into the talents of others around you. Either way, He has either equipped you to accomplish what He is leading you towards or He will send the people your way to bring it to pass.

The clock has newspapers from every state capital

Some questions to consider as you move forward in your entrepreneurial/blogging journey:

  • What are the obstacles in your path?
  • Are you ignoring any of the signs which may be meant to help you change course? 
  • What creativity did God put in you and how can you use it to overcome your current obstacles?
  • Have Christians in your life who care about you said anything to you which can either confirm your plans or be warning signs?

What obstacles are your working on overcoming today?

Why You Need To Install Google Analytics: 10 Things to Consider Before Starting a Blog (Part 7 of 10)

Once you decide to start a blog, have settled on which platform you are going to use and have begun to design it, then it's time to install Google Analytics. 

Google Analytics is a powerhouse of a tool which can provide you an abundance of information about your blog. You can then utilize that information to improve your blog or website. 

Best of all:  Google Analytics is FREE!!!

It is important to install Google Analytics right from the start. That way you can track and watch the growth of your blog over time to see what is working and what isn't. When you write and publish a blog post, Google Analytics will let you know which of those posts your readers are responding to the most. Then you can write more posts with similar or complementary content. 

Another reason you want to install Google Analytics immediately is so you have history. If down the road you want to sell advertising on your website, or need any statistical information for any reason, you'll have it. If you wait to install Google Analytics until the moment you need the statistical information, you will have no historical data and you'll regret not doing it right from the start. 

Installing Google Analytics on your website is not a difficult task.

It is a matter of logging into your Analytics account and finding your tracking code and installing it in the appropriate place on your website. This will be done differently depending upon which platform you are using for your blog. 

You will be able to see in your "real time" dashboard on Analytics if your tracking code has been installed correctly. If you are having any trouble with the installation of your tracking code, search in the Google Analytics help section for a step by step walk through. I hesitate you give you any directions because as soon as I hit publish, google will change where things are located on their Analytics site and my directions would be obsolete. 

If you have never logged into a Google Analytics account before, at first glance it can seem overwhelming.

There is a ton of information to be found once you log in.

My advice to you is, make a cup of tea, set aside a good chunk of time and just start clicking. The best way to really familiarize your self with what is in your Analytics account is to simply explore.

Keep in mind as you explore around in Google Analytics, there have been entire courses and books written on how to get the most out of Analytics. Take your time and don't expect to learn it all in one sitting. 

A couple of the things you should track over time are the number of Unique Visitors to your site as well as your Page Views but this is just scratching the surface.

As you familiarize yourself with Analytics, you'll be able to see where your readers are coming from geographically, what pages they are spending time on, what pages they go to from another page and so much more. You'll be able to find out which of your social media accounts is driving the most traffic to your website. This will let you know which social media platform you should be spending the most time on. 

You'll also be able to see how your readers have responded to something such as an Adwords campaign.

If you do not have Analytics installed on your website, go do it today. 

If you would like a form to help you keep track of the information which you gather from Google Analytics we have added a "Website Stats Tracking Form" to the resource library (for FREE). You can access the library with the password which will be emailed to you by filling out the form below. 

If you do have Google Analytics installed, what information do you find the most useful to track on your own website? 

Organizing Your Blogging Business: 10 Things to Consider Before Starting a Blog (Part 6 of 10)


This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click links we may receive some compensation at no additional cost to you.

Organizing your blog business

One of the most important things to consider before you start your blog is how you are going to keep your blog business organized. 

Some of you may not be blogging as a business, I understand, but it would still be helpful to you to get a good system of organization in place.  

If you set up a good organizational system right from the start you will save yourself a lot of headache later. 

Let's take a look at some of the basics of organizing your blog business.

1. Create a Plan

I am a firm believer in the process of planning. Planning has had a huge part to play in the success of our family businesses. Trust me on this, right from the start of your blogging journey, create a plan. You will not regret the time spent on planning. 

There are two types of plans I would suggest you write.

The first is an overall plan for your year. This would include your goals for your blog business but would also include your goals and plan for your family, other work, etc. This planning does not have to take place at the beginning of the year, you can put a plan in place no matter what month you are currently in. If you need a resource to help you with your yearly planning, take a look at our course called "Write a Yearly Plan", it's a faith based yearly planning course.

The second type of plan you should create is a blog plan. You can do your planning with a calendar or other type of planner but if you are looking for a great resource to assist you check out "Epic Blog", it's a one year blog planner. It's a very helpful resource. 

2.  Bookkeeping for Your Blog Business

It is super important to set up a system right from the start for keeping track of your blog business bookkeeping. I personally use Quickbooks and it works well for my needs. In addition, by using Quickbooks, I am ready with all the paperwork needed when tax time rolls around. Whatever you choose to keep track of your income and expenses, get it set up right away. 

3.  Passwords and Logins

Right from the start decide on a system to keep track of all your login and password information. Don't make the mistake of thinking you are going to remember them all and don't make the mistake of thinking you will use the same password for everything...it won't work!  Some password requirements are different than others and require symbols or different number of upper and lower case letters. Just choose a system and use it for every single place you have to log in to. You can use a word document, or open up a notepad. You could even use paper and pen....whatever you choose is fine. Just get it set up. There are also password apps available if you prefer to keep track of passwords electronically. 

4.  Blog Post Ideas

Create a place to capture your blog post ideas. I use a combination of post it notes on a board in my office and I also use a binder. I jot down ideas onto post it notes and put them on the board. Once they become more than a single thought I transfer them to a blog post planner sheet and put them in a binder. Here is a link to read about and access for free the exact blog post planner which I use. If you prefer to keep track of things digitally you can use something like Evernote or even just use your notepad in your smartphone. Even if you use a paper version system for keeping track of ideas it is good to have a plan in place for capturing these ideas when you are out and about and don't have your paper system on hand. When I am out and have ideas I add them to the notepad in my phone. 

5. Files

Set up a system for your paper files. Get yourself a file cabinet and some hanging as well as manilla folders. Set up your system and use it daily.

Then set up a system for your online files and documents. Set up online storage using something such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Organize your online files using folders and create a system which makes sense to you so you'll be able to find things when you need them. 

6. Miscellaneous Stuff

Set up a way to keep track of anything which you would need to find later. For example you may want to create a document in Excel to keep track of importantant things. I find using an Excel spreadsheet works well because I can add a sheet to it for each group of information I want to keep track of. Then I have all my important things together in one document but separated and organized by sheet (page). You can use your Excel spreadsheet to track things such as:

  • Links to websites which have mentioned your blog
  • Affiliate links
  • People whom you've developed relationships with
  • Websites where you'd like to guest post
  • Anything else you want to be able to keep track of

These are just some of the things which you will want to have a system for. Think through all aspects of your blog business and put systems in place for everything. Setting up systems for keeping your blogging business organized right from the start will save you much frustration and headaches later. 

What are some other things you have found important to organize for your blog business? 


If you'd like to read the other posts in this series they can be found at the following links:

To access our members area and the free resources fill out this form. 

Blog Branding: 10 Things to Consider Before Starting a Blog (part 5 of 10)

This post contains affiliate links which means we may be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking on one of the links.

What is your blog brand? What is your blog going to look and feel like?

When someone arrives to your blog the look of your blog should match the content of your blog.

For example, when someone walks into a hardware store, if that hardware store had the look inside of a doctor’s office waiting room, the “feel” would be wrong. The same applies for your website.

If you are a blogger who blogs about gardening and the look and feel of your website is sterile and sleek with minimal color, the feel would be off similar to walking into the above mentioned hardware store.

How do you create the look and feel for your blog brand?

Good question. There are a few things you should consider when branding your blog. Your blog should have its own signature style. When people arrive at your site, they should immediately know where they are. For example, if someone blindfolded you and walked you into a Lowe’s store and uncovered your eyes and asked you where you were, you would not say you were in Home Depot because even though they are both home improvement stores they each have their own signature style, very different from the other’s.

Things you should consider when branding your blog include:

  • The Name of Your Blog
  • Colors
  • Logo
  • Fonts
  • Decorative Elements

Things to consider when naming your blog.

Naming your blog comes easy for some people and difficult for others. Sometimes the difficulty arises simply because the name someone chooses for their blog is already taken as a domain name. But other times it comes about because of just finding it difficult to come up with a name. To help with this a bit there are a couple things you may want to take into consideration as you name your blog

  1. Does the name you are considering reflect the goals and purpose of your blog?
  2. Will the name cause any confusion for your readers?
  3. Will you choose to name your blog a generic name or after yourself?

If you are considering naming your blog after yourself, here’s one more thing to take into consideration.

Many people believe naming a blog after yourself is the best option. I believe this to be true for some people but not for others. For example, if you are a writer and will be blogging to promote your written works, etc. then yes, name your blog after yourself and purchase the matching domain if it is available.

If you are blogging simply for your own enjoyment or for journaling/diary purposes then naming it after yourself would be fine. And if you are growing your blog for a business to earn some income then using your own name may or may not be a good decision.

When is it not a good idea to name your blog after yourself?

If you have as a goal for your blog to grow a business which has equity and you can one day sell it, then I believe it is best to NOT name it after yourself.

As an example, I will use this website (faithfulbloggers.com). I purchased Faithful Bloggers from the prior owner back in January. I am actually the third owner of Faithful Bloggers. If this site had been named “Suzie loves Jesus and Blogging.com” it would not have been worth as much to me because my name is not Suzie. Does that make sense?

If you grow a blog to a point where it is earning income and making profit, then you have created something of value (an asset), at that point you could at any time choose to sell it. You could still sell it if it is named after yourself, I just believe it will be more difficult and may not have as much value. This is an aspect of naming your blog or website which I have rarely seen discussed. 

How do you choose colors for your blog?

Colors:  Thinking back to the audience you are writing for (we discussed choosing your niche in part three of this series "Who is Your Audience"). When you are considering colors, consider if the colors you are choosing are a good match for your chosen niche. Think of other businesses or websites which cater to your chosen audience. Are they using similar colors?  Don’t copy them but you can use them for inspiration, remember your style should be your own, not theirs.

Choose colors which resonate with you but which also match what you are blogging about. Look in the home goods aisles of your favorite store, do you see a comforter set with colors which speak to you? Do you see a mug with a pretty pattern in colors you like? What do you have around your house which has a set of colors on it which you are drawn to?

Another good place to go to explore possible color palettes is www.colourlovers.com. If you visit that website and click on “browse”, you’ll be able to explore color combinations to your hearts content. If you would like to play around with some color combinations visit PicMonkey.com and check out their templates. Spend some time exploring the options and playing around with the tools.

How do you choose fonts for your blog?

Fonts, like colors, suggest a particular style. For example, some fonts are rounded and playful, some are sleek and crisp. Some fonts are serif fonts and some are sans serif. If you have no idea what a serif is, I will tell you. A serif is that little line that is at the bottom or the top of some letters.

These are examples of Serif fonts:

Picture1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

“Sans” means “without”, therefore, sans-serif fonts do not have those little lines.

These are examples of Sans-serif fonts:

 

 

Choose fonts which match the style you are aiming for. Look at other websites in your niche and see what types of fonts they use.

 

Some good rules of thumb are:

  • You should stick to at most 3-4 fonts on any page or website.
  • Don’t constantly change fonts.
  • Don’t use fonts which may be difficult to read.

One of the most important things to do with your branding is to be consistent. Whatever you choose, do it all the time. If you choose one font, stick with it, once you choose your colors, always use them and if you choose to brand your images, do it all the time. Consistency is key.

If any of the blog branding aspects seem overwhelming to you, you have options other than doing it yourself.

PicMonkey Photo editing made of win

You could hire a designer to set up the visual aspects of your blog. If you are looking for a designer you may be able to find one on Fiverr.com. On Fiverr.com you can browse through the portfolios of designers and find someone who's work resonates with you. Or, alternatively you could visit Picmonkey and play around with templates and logos. Picmonkey is what I use to create almost all the images here on Faithful Bloggers. They have a free version which has tons of tools for you to use. The paid version is very reasonably priced.

 Alternatively try out www.canva.com and play around with some of their templates. The templates at those two websites have prechosen fonts and colors to make some of these decisions easier for you. By looking at the templates you can see examples of fonts which will look good together as well as color combinations.

I know this is a lot to think about if you are just starting out your blog. Just take it one step at a time and remember, nothing is permanent. You can change the colors or fonts on your blog any time you choose. Just choose something to start and take it from there.

Happy Blogging.

To see the other posts in this series: 

Blog Posting Schedule: 10 Things to Consider Before You Start a Blog (part 4 of 10)

With you answers to the questions from the first three posts in this series, you can now answer a new question:  What is your posting schedule going to be?

It is a good idea to establish what your blog posting schedule is going to be, right from the start of your blog. Posting schedules for bloggers range from posting every day or even a couple times a day to posting once a week or even once per month. None of those schedules are wrong.

Your blog posting schedule should be just that, YOUR posting schedule, not someone else’s.

If you do online research on what is the best posting schedule for blogging, you will find a wide variety of answers. But the truth is, what may be right for one blogger may not be right for another. There is no “one-size fits all” answer.  What is important is that you be comfortable with whatever you choose for a blog posting schedule.

When you are choosing how frequently you are going to post new blog content here are some things you should take into consideration:

  • Can you come up with new content at that frequency?
  • Can you do that long term?
  • Is the schedule you are considering a good fit for your family?
  • Is the schedule you are considering a good fit for other work/social/etc. things in your life?
  • What frequency would your readers want to hear from you?
  • What frequency would be a bother to your readers?

I have read writing by many people who recommend posting daily. I do not necessarily agree with this. A daily posting schedule works well for some blogs and for some niches but not for all.  

Although I understand why they find this important, I know for me personally that schedule would not work for a number of reasons. First, I think it’s unnecessary, second, it would be just too overwhelming for me and the other things in my life, and third, I don’t think my readers want to hear from me that often. However, I do know there are bloggers who do post according to a daily schedule and it works for them and their blog. Remember, what works for one does not necessarily work for another when it comes to blog posting schedules.

One of the keys when it comes to choosing your blog posting schedule is consistency. You should choose a schedule which you believe you can maintain consistently. You are going to be writing and posting at this frequency for a very long time so choose wisely and then be consistent.

Why is consistency so important?

Consistency with your blog posting schedule is important because you are basically training your readers in what to expect from you. If you post at a regular schedule, they grow to expect that schedule. In addition, when you post on a consistent schedule, you will see the traffic to your website will also be consistent. However, if you post at one schedule and then change it on your readers, you will see that the traffic to your website also changes.

There are two types of changes with posting to your blog which could occur. The first is, you begin with a heavy posting schedule, maybe posting every day. Then you change it and just publish a post once a week. Your readers will see this sudden drop and wonder what is going on.

The other change is the opposite where you are posting once a week and then suddenly you are posting constantly. Your readers will notice this as well and if the thought “Why on earth is she sending out so much information?” crosses their mind, they may unsubscribe to your mailing list. Consistency is key, choose a schedule and stick to it.

Once you choose a blog posting schedule you will have to decide how you are going to fill those posts.

If you think you will have any trouble coming up with content by just sitting down to a blank page or computer screen, here are some ideas for content.

  •    Consider scheduling guest posts
  •    Do some product reviews
  •    Write a blog post series (like this one)
  •    Post a video post.
  •    Post images with brief captions
  •    Record an interview of someone in your niche

These are just a few of the methods you can use to come up with creative content for your blog. If you add some of these ideas from time to time between regular blog posts, the variety will help to keep your readers engaged and it will help you keep your posting schedule commitment.

If you would like some more ideas for how to fill you blog posts, you can download our free tool: 25 Blog Post Ideas for Christian Bloggers, it can be found in our Freebie area along with other helpful resources. Click Here:  Take me to the FREEBIES

Find Your Niche : 10 Things To Consider Before Starting A Blog (part 3 of 10)

This post contains affiliate links, for more information see our affiliate statement.

Who are you writing for? 

This is an important question to ask yourself before you even set up your blog. Finding your niche first can provide you 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 niche will help the ideas flow more freely. 

If you are a Christian blogger, you have tremendous opportunity online to share regarding your faith. 

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 are finding 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 receive a password to access our member area where you will find helpful resources. 

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 'Write a Yearly Plan' 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 receive a password to access our member area where you will find the blog post checklist and other helpful resources. 

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

(UPDATE March 2018: As I expected when I wrote this post, I received some nasty emails from Wordpress diehards. Seriously people? I clearly state in this blog post that Wordpress is a good platform, I clearly state that it is the RIGHT choice for some people, just not for me and maybe not for others. Why people have a need to verbally thrash someone who has a difference of opinion I will never understand. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another...and that's ok folks! Hey, if you love Wordpress, you can still come over for tea.)

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, and it's not the platform for me. 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. Then you can click on "devotions" and that is set up as a blog as well. 3 blogs, all on one website.  
  • 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. UPDATE March 2018:  I moved my email platform to Convertkit.

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  or Convertkit 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 or Convertkit.