Saturday, May 25, 2019

7 Tips for New Bloggers

If you're new to the blogosphere, and if you're like me, you're jumping into it headfirst without doing your research. Because I'm one of those people who likes to figure things out as I go along—for me, blogging has basically been a trial-and-error process. And now, after blogging for nearly three years, do I regret that? Yes. One of the things that really turned me away from research was that I was so overwhelmed with where to start. My amazing sister-in-law gave me a book about blogging, and amazing points for starting my own blog, but in typical fashion, I didn't want to read through an entire book in order to learn how to blog.

So if this is you, let me give you some advice, blogger to blogger, so maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

1. Take your time in naming your blog.
If you suddenly decide to create a blog and just make up a random name so you can get started, you're more than likely to change the name later, causing a lot of confusion. Be patient, make a list of options, brainstorm with your bestie. But be careful and choose a name you know you'll be happy with for a long time. I've thought about changing the name of Twin Thoughts several times; I honestly don't know if it's as catchy as I'd first thought, or if I even like it that much anymore. but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I shouldn't. Because Twin Thoughts has been Twin Thoughts for nearly 3 years. If I wrote an entire blog post explaining why I changed it, that post would just get buried beneath all the dozens of other posts I'd write later, and I'd probably lose some followers over it simply because they don't recognize the blog name and think that they followed the wrong blog by mistake.

So, stick with your title and set your mind on it, or create a new blog. But don't go make a new blog. Because if you don't like the title you have, there's a good chance you won't like your new one a few years down the road. (plus the aforementioned confusion.)

A tip for coming up with your blog's title, though—don't make it long. Twin Thoughts actually started out as Twin Thoughts: The Ramblings of a Country Twin. Catchy, huh? 

Eh, no.

Wayyyy too long. And fortunately, I realized that early on and simply shortened the title to Twin Thoughts, having The Ramblings of a Country Twin as the subtitle . . . tagline . . . whatever you want to call it. Then, of course, I became discontent with that tagline and it eventually evolved into The Writing & Rambling of a Farmer's Daughter. It sums up both who I am, and what the blog is mostly about.

2. Pick a theme and stick with it. When I started, like I said, I had no idea what I was doing. I created a cute-looking blog that I was thrilled with, and it looked much like this one:

But I was so excited about blogging that I wanted to have fun and change my blog's look. So I changed it. And I changed it again, and again. It was so much fun! But the problem is, I kept changing my blog's look a lot. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but you really need a look that captures the heart of your blog, not just what looks cool. A fresh look is nice every once in awhile, but don't overwhelm your followers with an overload of new designs! They might think they followed the wrong blog if you suddenly changed it! ;) Plus, if you're concentrated too much on what your blog looks like, you tend not to pay as much attention to the quality of the content.

So what I'm saying is, no, changing your blog's look isn't bad. But don't make a habit of it.

Speaking of content, if you decide to change that, that's a whole other ball game. Going with the previous point of keeping your title, if you want to change your entire blog—both content and title—then I would say, by all means, make the new blog.

But for Pete's sake, don't be fickle, people!

3. Keep it uniform.
If you're constantly changing the format of the posts, or have different fonts for everything, it tends to give the appearance of a lack of organization, and who wants to read a disorganized blog? That's something I've struggled a lot with on my blog. My header was one font, my gadget titles another, my post titles another, my graphic fonts another. Now, here is where I give you just my personal preference. You don't have to have the same fonts for everything. No, really, you don't! Do I think you should? To some extent, yes. You want your blog to look as neat as possible, right? (if that's not the case, then maybe you should stop reading this post . . . ) If so, then yes, using similar fonts is my recommendation. Do you have to use similar fonts for everything? Well, no, I mean, like I said, this is just my personal preference. Maybe it's just the graphic designer coming out in me, but when I check out a new blog, I like it to look like the blogger has her mind all made up on what her blog is: fonts matching, graphics similar (but I mean, if you make gorgeous graphics, you might persuade me otherwise, like this young lady right here), text breaks the same (if you're gonna use asterisks, great, if you're gonna use an image, great—just don't use both), font sizes the same, etc.

One thing about graphics, though—I wouldn't recommend what I did. I started out with no graphics, then random graphics, then uniform graphics, then a different kind of uniform graphics. My point? I changed my mind. A lot. Not recommended, peeps. Like I said, it tends to show a lack of organization—or at least, in my case, it did. ;)

4. Make your blog reader-friendly.
Imagine if you were a visitor to your blog. What would you want to see? People may want to get to know you a bit better before following you—put up an 'about me' page ASAP. Don't have time to write up an entire page? Simply make sure your profile, or a short bio, is on the sidebar! I would actually recommend doing both, as some people want to know the general idea before taking the time to read an entire page about a person whose blog they may or may not follow. Have a picture with your bio—it doesn't have to be of your face, but simply a photo that gives your viewers something with which they can connect you. A picture is worth a thousand words, and people like visual aids with what they're reading.

(Ha, listen to me, talking about visual aids while having a measly handful of pictures in the middle of my post . . . )

Seriously, though. Imagine what you'd want to see, then apply it to your own blog! Dark colors may look cool to you, and that's great—if you like it, go for it! However, it's a natural tendency for people to be more attracted to bright, cheery blogs rather than dark ones. If it reflects what your blog is about, then by all means, do it! But which are you more drawn to out of these two?

5. Create and stick to a schedule.
There are two main benefits to keeping a schedule. First, it keeps you accountable. If you have a deadline, you're much more likely to keep posting than if you simply post when you feel like it. Keeping a schedule is hard. Very hard. Goodness gracious, I know it—that explains my unexplained hiatuses throughout my blogging life. But keeping a schedule helps you develop self-discipline, as well as forces you to actually be punctual (unlike this person *points to self*). 

The second reason is that people like someone who actually has order in their life—or, at least, looks like they have order in their life. They like to know what they're getting, and when to expect it. Honestly, if a blog doesn't post regularly, I'll sometimes unfollow it, depending on the content.

6. Don't overdo on the labels.
Honestly, I feel like that's one of the biggest mistakes I've made with my blog. I've made so many labels when all I needed was a few—rather than 'About Me, My Family, My Twin, Ramblings,' etc., all I need is 'My Life.' People would get the point instead of trying to wad (or maybe even drowning) through all the labels I have. It keeps things organized, you might say—well, let me say that if there's a whole bunch of labels on a blog, there's no way I'm going through them all. And please, people, don't use Cloud format! I understand that some of you like it, and that's fine. If you think it looks good, go for it. But look at this:

Compared to this:

And you tell me which Label gadget is easier to read.
(but seriously, folks, don't use that many labels.)

7. Participate in the blogosphere.
I can't stress enough how important this is. Sure, you'll gain followers as you go along by yourself in your own little corner. But to really become established in the blogging world, follow other blogs. Comment on them. Make your presence known. A lot of bloggers will check out the people that comment on their posts! Not only will this give you traffic to your blog, but it will also introduce you to people that you can relate to. Getting to know other bloggers is so much fun, and reading others' posts will help you develop your own voice in the community in which you're trying to establish yourself. You want followers? Good, but it goes both ways. If you're participating in any form of social media, you know that the best way to gain followers is to go find others with blogs/accounts similar to yours, and follow them. Now, with blogging, you don't necessarily have to follow as much as comment and interact.

Does it seem like I'm repeating myself? I feel like I keep repeating myself. But seriously, it's true. Ask other bloggers. You don't get followers by doing nothing.
Are you a new blogger or a veteran?
What are your tips on blogging?

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Tagged Twice {the #AwesomeBlogger Award}

As you can obviously tell by the post's title, I've been tagged twice! So, I figured I'd better actually do it this time. ;) Thanks to Molly and Brooklyne for tagging me with the #AwesomeBlogger Award!

The rules:
-Tag your post with #awesome blogger award (done!)
-Answer all the questions given to you
-Nominate at least 5 bloggers and inform them of their nomination
-Give them 10 new questions to answer

Molly's questions:

1. Do you like NASCAR? If so, who is your favorite driver?

Uh . . . no? XD I honestly hardly watch NASCAR at all, soooo I couldn't even begin to tell you who the drivers are.

2. Have you ever been pulled over? If so, why and did you get a ticket and who paid for the ticket?

Again, no. Wow, these answers are starting to get boring . . .

3. What is your least favorite musical instrument?

Um . . . probably the recorder. Unless it's played right. But basically the only experience I've had with the recorder wasn't very enjoyable, soooo

4. What is the silliest/most embarrassing thing you did when you were a kid?
Oh goodness, this is hard . . . I'll have to come back to this one.
*finishes other questions*
Okay, after enlisting the help of my mom and sister . . . I fell off chairs. Really. I'd balance on them wrong, and just fall off. My dad and brothers never let me forget that chairs used to buck me off. ;P

5. What do you do when you're stressed?

Try to keep calm. While giving myself gray hairs a few years early. (well okay, I don't have gray hairs. Yet.) If possible, I like to make out a list of things I have to get done, and it makes all the tasks seem less overwhelming.

6. What was the biggest/most expensive thing you bought that you regret buying?
Well, keep in mind that I'm very much a penny pincher—my father instilled that in all his kids, and some—like me—picked it up more than others (really, the only thing I really spend much money on is books). So I've got two things I regret buying: origami paper and a piano book. I used like, 4 sheets of the 20 in the box, and I quickly advanced out of the piano book.

7. How many houses have you lived in?

Like, as a visit or as in, lived lived? Assuming this means that I actually dwelt in this house for more than five days . . . one. One house. I know, another boring answer, buuuut it's true. And I love this house. ;)

8. What is the item that you most regret getting rid of?

Um . . . I honestly can't think of anything...except my siblings and I got so upset at my grandma for getting rid of our favorite toy. (I mean, it was for little kids, and we were too old for it. But still.) Yeah, I know, it technically doesn't answer the question, but hey, it'll work.

9. Who is your favorite author?

Uggghhh . . . why must these be so HARD?! I'll give you two, because I really don't have just ONE favorite—the struggle is real, y'all. Jeff Strueker and Susan K. Marlow. Now, I've got SO MANY favorite authors, but these two take the cake. (And yeah, I'll probably read this post later and think, why didn't I mention THAT AUTHOR?? But it's okay, I like these two.)

10. Do your siblings stalk your blog and discover who comments on it before you do? (mine do) ;)

Sometimes, actually. But I get email notifications for each one, so usually I catch them before my siblings. But yes, they often check my blog for comments, especially if it's a post they really like.

Brooklyne's questions:

1. What is one thing that makes you sparkle? (what you get excited about...)
Okay, I'm going to sound contradictory and say people. Because while I'm an introvert (an introvert that plays extrovert to make people comfortable, so if you ever meet me and I'm super bubbly, it probably means I'm trying to make the conversation less awkward), I still do need people. I love camaraderie, I love being a part of a group. I don't really like always being the quiet person that gets ignored, but I definitely don't like being the center of attention.

2. After a long day, would you rather watch a movie with your family or read a good book?

Oh, goodness, I guess it depends. Sometimes all I want to do is shut myself away from people and just read. But, other times, I want to laugh my head off with my siblings and watch a movie with everyone.

3. Have you ever tried writing backwards or upside down? Or both at the same time? 
Actually, yes. Backwards for sure. Upside down? I think so . . . both? Don't remember, actually. It's been awhile. ;)

4. What is one sport that you are really good at?
Well, I'm not really good at sports, but I've grown up playing football with the guys, so I'm not too bad at it. I can throw, I can catch, and I can punt. Tackling depends on the person. *smirks*
Actually, now that I think about it, I'm a pretty fair roller skater. ;) I mean, I'm not too bad at bowling either, but that doesn't really seem like a sport to me . . .

5. What is one sport that you better sit out on?...or else things could be disastrous.
Baseball. I love watching it, but honestly, I'm pretty awful. And not knowing all the rules really makes it more difficult.

6. What is one book that you could read over and over again and never tire of it? And what makes that book so memorable?
Punchinello and the Most Marvelous Gift by Max Lucado. It's a children's book, but when I was younger, each of us children could pick a book for our parents to read to us. Kordell and I both always picked this one, and we just loved it so much. I still love reading it!

7. What is a life lesson that God has taught you through a difficult time in your life? 
People are not gods. You can't depend on others for things which they were never created. Your fulfillment comes through Christ, and when you put your trust in anything less than God—especially people—you're gonna end up lonely and confused. Never forget the One who created and loves you, y'all.

8. What is a book in the Bible that you rarely ever read? 
Song of Solomon. Need I say more? ;)

9. What do you love about blogging?
I love interacting with others, and having my little corner of the world. Yes, y'all, even if I never take the time to reply, I read each and every comment, and I appreciate y'all's support. <3

10. And a fun one, if you could create a dessert that has never been made before, what would you create?
I don't know . . . something chocolate. *scratches head* OH! This has probably been made before, but like, a layered shortbread cake with chocolate ganache and strawberries between each layer, and on top, and smothered in whipped cream. *heart eyes*
If you actually read all that, well done! I'm impressed. ;)

I tag: LiviTabby Anne, Faith G.Rebekah A., and Hosanna.

Your questions:
1. What is one thing that make you sparkle? (Something that you get excited about)
2. What is your favorite musical instrument?
3. If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?
4. What is your 'theme song'? (This could be an all-time favorite, or a song that describes your situation)
5. What's your favorite thing about blogging?
6. Of all of your hobbies, what is your favorite and how did you get started on it?
7. Who is your favorite author, and which of their books is your favorite?
8. Which is your favorite book of the Bible, and why?
9. Which of the four seasons best describes your personality?
10. What is one thing that God has taught you recently?

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Cover Reveal Sign-ups {Beloved + Freedom}

Hey peeps! GUESS WHAT. I'm co-hosting a cover reveal with the fabulous miss Faith Potts!! Are you as excited as I am to spread the word and reveal the covers for our WIPs Beloved and Freedom?? Yes? Well, if so, YOU can participate! If you'd like to be one of the first to see these beauties, simply fill out the form below!

Why are we co-releasing our covers? Well, since we're co-hosting a blog tour (Y'ALL WE HAVE A DATE), we decided that we'd release our covers together! Why a dual blog tour, you ask?? (Yes, you were asking. I heard you silently crying out the question in your soul. Don't deny it.) Well, I'm glad you asked! You see, both of our books deal with the topic of suicide. So what better date to release suicide-awareness books than together during Suicide Prevention Week, and specifically releasing on Suicide Prevention Day? September 10th, y'all. That's the day. Are you as excited as we are??

So yeah, first things first. Sign up to spread the news—and the cover pretties! Don't have a blog? No problem! If you have social media, then we want you as a part of the release team as well! Sign-ups close on the 25th, two weeks from today. Cover reveal is June 1st!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

You Might Be a Farmer's Daughter If...{Spring Edition}

Wow, it's been a long time since I've done one of these posts. About time I wrote another!

You might be a farmer's daughter if . . .

. . . rather than everything smelling fresh, spring rains make your yard smell like manure. Very wet manure.

. . . when you hear the words "it's time to start planting corn," you know the relaxed, slow days of the year are gone until winter. (That lil' thing called Summer Vacation? Yeah, we don't do that)

. . . driving in the dark and seeing fire on the horizon isn't horrifying—it's beautiful, and that means pastures are being burned so that fresh, clean growth can spring up. (pun unintended, but you can go ahead and laugh.)

. . . trucks & trailers are a common sight on the road outside your house, hauling cattle out to the pasture.

. . . the perfect place to read is outside with a breeze that doesn't tear your pages.

. . . nearly half of the meals you cook need to be taken outside.

. . . sometimes you think summer has arrived because it's just as hot and busy.

. . . the end of school is bittersweet because on one hand, YAY SCHOOL IS OVER, but on the other hand, days are getting suuuuper busy.

. . . baby animals are one of the best things about spring.
Could you relate to any of these? ;)
(Also how's that for entertaining, Chowboy?)