Are The Blogging Rules Robbing Your Authenticity?

Don't give up your passion, your voice, for the sake of following the blogging rules. We need your authenticity.

People crave to see others like themselves. They long to find a sense of “normal” among those they also consider “elite”. But when it comes to blogging and making yourself known and heard, the blogging rules can start robbing your voice and passion.

When I first began blogging, I didn’t know any blogging rules. I just wanted to write what was on my heart, and I did. I remember reading some of those early posts and being shocked that I wrote them. But as time went on, people grew successful in gaining an audience and they began to share their tricks.

Over time, blogging evolved from sharing your passion and stories to putting many voices in a box merely to reach the masses. We needed to write in a certain way, in a certain format, in order to attract many people.

But should that really be our goal? Because when we strip ourselves, our voice, our passion away in order to reach the masses, we lose our authenticity.

Do we really want to write another “7 Steps to a Better Life” post? The majority may want to hear that, but is that what we really want to write? Can we truly have a “better life” in seven steps? Further, is that really the life we want to encourage people to live? Not only do we sell our voice, we sell our principals.

As a Christian, I am called to lose my life for the sake of Christ. As a writer with a Christian audience, am I conveying this same message to the few who will grab hold of it? Because let’s be real…not many people want to be told they need to lose their life by making major sacrifices of themselves for others. This is not a popular message.

Remember the old days of blogging that were more about story telling then offering advice? I can’t tell you how many readers have talked about missing those days and those blogs.

Many people don’t need another “how to” post. They need to hear from people who are living lives according to His Word, not the way some self-help book has it laid out. 

And the beautiful thing about living out God’s Word, is we can all do it and it will still look different—that’s the power of the authenticity of God! He made us each unique, with different experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives, with one Gospel that unifies us all.

Friend, use the voice God gave you—don’t allow the blogging rules to cut out the most passionate, authentic parts of yourself just to reach the masses. I am not saying this is true of all bloggers who made it big — hello, Ann Voskamp. But Ann doesn’t follow the blogging rules, far as I can tell. Her posts are long and often require a bit of deciphering. They require careful thought. Whereas the blogging rules say, keep it short, to the point, and plain as day.

Throw out the blogging rules…allow your voice and passion to be free to be YOU.

Curious — do you miss the days of blogging when there was more story-telling and less “how to” posts?

Interview with Sophie Hudson {Book Club Wrap-Up}

This week concludes our Book Club and we’re so excited to present this chat between Logan and Sophie!! Grab your favorite drink and check it out!

Click here to watch video if viewing in an email.


 

The Eighteen Year Old Syndrome

A Season of the Carefree Life

Sophie talks about her first taste of working from home and relishes in the fact that she could do it in her pajama’s.

At 18-years old, she was doing far better things than I was at that age. Yes, 18 was my year of “rebellion”. Finally an “adult”, who bought her own car, I decided it was time for me to call the shots. It’s not that I went off the deep end or anything, but I did hang out with a less-than-stellar crowd I called my friends. Many of them were several years older than me, and most were male.

I called myself a Christian, but didn’t always do the “Christian thing”. I sometimes set my convictions aside so I could be part of the gang. Not that I want to put out the wrong message here, but they were little things, such as smoking cigarettes and drinking liquor; not things that completely changed the course of my life. Except maybe in the right direction.

The more I suppressed the Spirit, the easier it became to compromise. I definitely was in the middle of an identity crisis, not to mention a relationship crisis with my boyfriend/fiance’ [who’s now my husband]. There was a short season when we were not together and I decided to explore other options.

Needless to say, I didn’t like the other option. I mean, you could call it a crush, a rebound, whatever. But the “other option” didn’t have an interest in marriage — as in, ever.  As a girl who grew up without her dad at home, I guess I was pretty eager to start my life. I wasn’t interested in wasting my time on flings. Not to mention he had no interest in God. No, the grass isn’t greener sometimes. Sometimes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Sometimes, you think you know what’s good for you but you don’t.

Sophie made mention of that when dealing with accounting in her sister’s business. She didn’t do well with numbers. She thought it would be fun to move to Atlanta simply to spend the summer somewhere other than her hometown. She didn’t take into account there was work involved in agreeing to help with this business.

Eighteen-year-old’s are funny like that, aren’t they? They want all the benefits without sowing and believe there are no consequences to making poor choices. But, we both learned valuable lessons during that year of our lives, so that has to count for something.

This is when I learned Sophie and I are about 10 years apart. Our childhood’s don’t look anything alike, even though I remember so much the 80s. Yet, we still learned some of the same lessons, just in different ways. That just shows me that God can work in any circumstance, even when we are a hot mess at eighteen years old.

So, when my boyfriend/fiance’ and I decided we were better off together rather than apart, we decided to push our wedding up. You see, we were quite literally engaged when I entered my senior year of high school. He proposed before having a ring, but then spent all summer saving up to pay for one and I bore that pretty ring on my left finger all throughout my senior year of high school. Other than my circle of friends, I didn’t draw attention to it because, really, I knew people wouldn’t believe we were serious.

There were a lot of reasons we got married so young. (By the time we’d gotten married, we had been together three years.) But my housing situation needed to be remedied and since we planned on marrying anyways, we just pushed it up and planned it in 3 months flat. With our own money. Today, we joke about how redneck it was in some ways.

We married in a park, had our reception in that same park, with picnic tables covered with dollar store, plastic table cloths. We also had BYOB on our invitations. You know, Bring Your Own Beer, because we weren’t even of legal age to consume it and if people wanted it, they’d have to bring it. We weren’t concerned about impressing anyone, that’s for sure. We wanted a simple wedding that didn’t break the bank.

I was nineteen when we exchanged our vows and I have never regretted marrying when we did. Yes, we both went to college and worked full time, but we managed. It may have been what helped us build such a solid foundation in our marriage. If we could survive that season, why not have lots of children and and a few pets, too! (Side note: we have seven children, 3 dogs, and a parakeet).

What do you remember about being eighteen? What stands out the most?

Home is Where My People Are

 

Broken Pieces From the Past

Broken Pieces from the Past

But that’s what stinks about the parts of us that are broken and hurting. We try our best to keep all the pieces and shards gathered and contained, and we trick ourselves into thinking that they’re not affecting other people.

Eventually, though, our need to feed what is broken starts to overpower everything else, and those hurting places make us careless and reckless. Before we know it–and sometimes after it’s too late–we look around and see that the people we love the most have been wounded in the collateral damage.

This quote really stuck out to me in Chapter 4. And I think this tells me a lot about myself and some of the issues I face today because I came from a broken family. My parents split up when I was six years old and I have felt the ripple effect of that for years to come. That’s the reason The Rink was such a place of refuge for me. That’s when I got to see my dad. On the weekends.

My husband feels it and so do my children. There’s just no way around that type of change. Some people are better at [appearing] to hold themselves together through it all. That’s me.

But after awhile, an unraveling begins to take place that you cannot stop because it’s been piling up for years. It shoots out like a hose, all over those you love. It’s hard to contain once it busts out.

Now, I wasn’t a child of 70s, so I couldn’t relate to everything Sophie shared from those years, but I used to watch That 70’s Show and that helped me be able to nod at some things. 😉  Still, a few things did carry over to the 80s, such as the telephone lines being connected and your parents being able to listen in on your conversation using the phone in the other room. Yes, remember phones with cords, and dials?

I love how Sophie’s book invites us to remember these things together! I don’t know about you, but I’m having a blast! Her telling is helping me remember.

Do you ever have people do that? When they talk about something and it reminds you of your own “something”? Isn’t community a gift? Truly.

She mentioned in chapter 5 (her list of activities) that she enjoyed perfecting her royal blue mascara and it reminded me that I used to wear a smokey blue mascara. It almost looked like a chalky color. That stuff was all the rage, though you wouldn’t be catching me wearing that now. In fact, I don’t wear much of any kind of make up now! I rarely have the time to put it on!

If you have read chapter 6, you probably died with [sympathetic] laughter at Sophie’s experience with a tanning bed. I wanted to just reach in the book and give her a hug! Or a pat on the head so I didn’t hurt her! She’s such a brave soul to share such a sensitive part of her life that none of us would have ever known had she not been so bold to share! If you haven’t read it yet, take my word for it and go read it.

What one moment do you remember from growing up that has shaped who you are today?

Home is Where My People Are

Where is Home?

where is home

The opening of Sophie’s book enlightened me to a few things. She was right when she talked about how lucky she was to grow up in a church that was so family oriented and didn’t care that she would play the organ while her mom lead an aerobics class each week. It’s a rare gift that children can touch much of anything in a church that isn’t located in the nursery. That’s not to say children should run amuck and be out of control. But what if more churches welcomed children as a blessing rather than a nuisance?

I just love Sophie’s warmth and wit throughout these pages. I found myself laughing out loud in public places and feeling the awkward stares. Oh but it is worth it!

I didn’t grow up in church, well at least not the conventional way. My family wasn’t Christian, but God had a way of finding me. I was a church hopper. Any opportunity I could find to attend church with a friend, I would take it. He drew me in. So, although I didn’t have a solid church that I could call “home”, Sophie had me seriously thinking about what places I did call home as I was growing up.

And there’s no doubt; it’s the place my dad worked when we were growing up. The place I considered a refuge and reprieve from my daily life at home. It was a roller skating rink. Not exactly a church, but it definitely served as a kind of sanctuary for me.

Dad at Rollerdrome

{My Dad, the Head Honcho and DJ}

I spent the entire weekend there, along with my brother and sister, hanging out while my dad worked.

Most of my friends came skating near every weekend. My childhood best friend, whose parents also worked at The Rink (that’s what we called it), was there and I LOVED skating. It was my favorite pastime — I still love it when I can get out to do it.

Me and best friend

{An old newspaper story: Me on the left and my childhood best friend on the right}

We always had the best New Year’s Eve parties there. My brother and sister and I used to help him set up for the party by using an air tank to blow up hundreds of balloons which we would then store in bags on the ceiling until midnight. We spent hours filling these balloons, only to have them fall to the ground and watch all the skaters pop them with their skates in about 90 seconds. But it was worth it! For 90 seconds, The Rink sounded like bubble wrap on a large scale.

My best friend and I used to make up skating dances for the employee Christmas parties each year. And who can forget the time I [accidentally] broke my little sisters leg. Yea, I’ve never lived that one down! This is the place I had my birthday parties, loved racing with other skaters, learned to “funk skate” (although not very well), and was allowed to chastise other skaters for breaking the rules, because, well, “my dad is the manager.”

But in 1994, shortly after I had turned 13-years old, The Rink was set on fire on a Sunday afternoon in April. The previous night some teens or very young adults were removed from The Rink for fighting, (back then we called it “kicked out”).

My dad received a phone call the next day, early afternoon, from one of these guys, asking if they could return that day. They already had a plan. My dad replied, “No”, and about an hour later, I smelled smoke (which I described as burnt marshmallows) while I was playing video games (you know, the big arcade type you stand at). Turned out, the storage room that was near the arcade games had a fire in it–set from the outside.

Rollerdrome Fire

After everyone was evacuated I walked to a safe distance to watch (across the street). We were later told the smoke could be seen for miles.

It didn’t hit me until the CO2 tanks from the pop machines in the snack bar blew that this fire was doing some serious damage. Damage that would never be rebuilt.

Rink on Fire

I lost a home that day, and I felt the effects of that loss for years to come.

My brother, sister, and I used to sit around and talk about, “If The Rink was still up…” scenarios. I had dreams about it for years.

But then I think about where I am today and maybe it would have been different had The Rink not burned down. Was it a tremendous loss? Definitely. But, maybe a necessary one.

I love how Sophie’s book got me thinking about my own childhood, because I don’t go there often, simply because I don’t find it necessary. But it was so sweet to ponder back on these memories. It was almost as if her words, without saying so, simply invited me to reminisce with her. She told me her story and I quietly pondered my own.

What about you? What is one place you called “home” when you were growing up? What made it a “home” for you? Feel free to either leave a comment, or write up a post of your own and share your link below. 

Home is Where My People Are

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Book Club Begins Next Week!

I just want to send out a quick reminder that the Book Club with Sophie Hudson’s book, Home is Where My People Are, begins next week.

To avoid any confusion, ANYONE is welcome to join the book club, whether you received a free book or not. We invite you to join us! I am so excited to dive into this book with you.

You can purchase a physical copy here (there’s still time!) or the e-version here.

Also, don’t forget to check out Tyndale Rewards and sign up for FREE books & Bibles!

Home is Where My People Are

If you’re planning to join us, drop us a line in the comments below!

Sign Up for Tyndale Rewards

Home is Where My People Are

So, last week I shared our schedule for the upcoming book club being hosted here on the Allume site. I am so excited to see how many of you are hosting your own clubs with Sophie’s latest book, Home is Where My People Are. Y’all cleaned us out of books before the morning was over! I love that you’re on fire for some fellowship and community!

HIWMPA3

I also want to give you a quick reminder to check out Tyndale Rewards and sign up so you can start receiving some free goodies! We’re talking free books and free Bibles. You can keep them for yourself or give them as gifts. So simple and so fun!! Come sign up here!!

Oh! One more thing! Allume tickets go on sale Sunday, March 1st at 8am!! The first 50 people get early bird pricing so set your alarm! (We’re getting too old to burn the midnight oil)!

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{Official} Book Club Announcement and Schedule

Home is Where My People Are
I am so excited to announce, officially, the launch of the Allume book club, starring Sophie Hudson’s, “Home is Where My People Are”!

 

I have been reading this and, seriously, you do NOT want to miss out on this opportunity to gather with some friends for some laughs, and some serious, southern comforting words.

 

Now, I admit, I am not from the south, but I feel like I could be. If it weren’t for my Michigan drawl, that is. But seriously, I love a lot of things deemed southern and when I read Sophie’s book, I nod in agreement and wish that things were more like that here in the Midwest!

 

I’m excited for the coming weeks and want to invite YOU to form a book club of your own. You can do it on your blog or within your church or local community.

 

We are giving away 200 books to the first 200 people who sign up for one HERE. 

WE ARE ALL OUT!

{Please note, only the first 200 people who sign up will receive a book, so don’t wait!}

 

And if you have never heard of Tyndale Rewards, you just have. They give you free books and Bibles — yes FREE! So be sure to go check them out and sign up for some free goodies!

 

Here’s the schedule for the Allume Book Club, hosted right here:

March
11th: Week 1 – Ch 1-3
18th: Week 2 – Ch 4-6
25th: Week 3 – Ch 7-9

 

April
1st – Week 4 – Ch 10-12
8th  – Week 5 – 13-15
15th – Week 6 – 16-18
22nd – Week 7 – 19-20
29th –  Close – Logan and Sophie Web Chat

 

Will you join us or host your own book club?
Home is Where My People Are- Alume Bookclub

Sneak Peek: allume Book Club

We are excited to give you a little sneak peek of what’s ahead in the coming weeks. Here’s a hint:

Coming Soon!

Want word when the news starts trickling? Sign up here to receive our posts in your email.  I promise, you won’t want to miss this!

Also…are you following us on Instagram? Yep, we just launched ourselves there and we’re giving away some pretty fun prizes! Follow us here.

Meet-Up’s and Roommate Link Up!

Another year of hard work, and in just a few days, the fruit of our labor comes alive in all of the faces gathered together for the 2014 Allume Conference. Frozen names and avatars will erupt into lively squeals and hugs.  Online relationships come alive, and our opportunity to impact the world for the Kingdom of Heaven increases.  Instead of dots haphazardly scattered across a map, we become a line of linked arms with the power to sweep a nation for Jesus.  We are better together…better in community.

SO let’s get ready to gather!

We love our informal meetups!  They give you a little more intimate look into some of the communities that feed into and out of Allume.  We are hoping you make the time to join at least one:

Friday – 5:30 – 6:30pm

  • Food4theHungry – Think Tank: Come and learn more more about the ministry of Food for the Hungry at their fhblogger meet up (www.fhbloggers.org). How they provide more than Food to the world’s most vulnerable. How they provide hope to those in need and how you can be there voice as a person of influence online and in your community. Join many other bloggers such as Kristen Howerton, Alli Worthington, Logan Wolfram, and many more amazing women that have visited Food for the Hungry communities all over the world and learn more of how you too can be a part of helping be a voice of the voiceless. We hope to see you there!
  • Seed Company Blogger Meetup – Prayer Room:  Come learn more about the work of the Seed Company and hear from their team of Bloggers.

Saturday – 5:00 – 6:00pm

  • Compassion – Think Tank:  Come hear more about Compassion Bloggers from Shaun Groves and Bri McKoy. This is also a time to meet some of the trip bloggers and get to know other people in the Compassion Bloggers Network!
    God Sized Dream: Crepe Myrtle: God-Sized Dreams, an on-line community of encouragement and inspiration for dreamers, is excited to host its first Allume meet up to welcome contributing writers, guest posters, and members of the God-Sized Dreams community.  Please stop by to visit with fellow dreamers and share how we can pray with you as your dream changes and grows.
  • hope*ologie: H: Whether you’re a member or just a Hope*ologist at heart, come join sisters Emily P. Freeman, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) and their parents, Gary and Brenda, for some laughs, a high-five and some hope-filled conversation. There may or may not be a ukelele.
  • Over 50**Teal : Many women think approaching the big 5-0 means their best days are behind them. At The Consilium, we prove that our best days are ahead! We laugh, cry and pray together, and encourage one another through the challenges that come with being the “sandwich generation”. We invite you to celebrate this season of life as we walk in community, knowing God will use us to increase His Kingdom.

And as a community, we want you to have the opportunity to get to know one another.  Life happens in relationships, and we want to help you build them even before you arrive.  In the past we have done a link-up for attendees to get to know their roommates, so if you want to post a “10 Things My Allume Roomie Should Know About Me” then we welcome it.  If you’re like us and up to your eyeballs getting ready for the conference, then link up your “About Me” page from your blog.  The point is, we want to get to know you…and other attendees do too.

Photo Credit: Kim Deloach

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Adoption: A Partnering Opportunity

Slade Adoption Travel

I have been so incredibly blessed by our surrounding family, online and church community. Many of you may know that we are adopting two girls from Ghana, West Africa. We started the process two years ago. I can’t believe it has been that long already! There was one particular part of the process that kept us stuck for 13 months without movement. It was a very long and hard time.

There was much uncertainty looming on whether we would even be able to bring our girls home. Two weeks ago we finally were granted approval in order to move on to the next step, the final step before we fly out and bring them home. God has taught me a few things during our long wait. I learned the meaning of the verse Proverbs 13:12,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

I was heart sick. Literally, my heart ached. I didn’t even know that was possible until this season of waiting and longing for our family to be together. My husband and I have struggled through the most difficult season in our marriage.

And each week we talk to the girls, their hope has waned as we have continuously put off when we will be back, because we simply did not know. Now we are just weeks away from bringing our family together but we need your help! We are in the final phase of fundraising so we can travel back and bring them home.

We need just $1,317 to complete our fundraising which will pay for the total of $7,500 for all of our plane tickets. Pure Charity has been such a wonderful partner in this. Once the funds are ready, they go directly to our travel agency. All donations made through Pure Charity are tax deductible.

When you give, you aren’t just giving money. You’re investing in the future of two precious girls who long to be with their family. You’re investing in a brand new life for them, with a hope and a future.

There are no gimmicks here. Money is simply a tool we need to use sometimes to make dreams a reality. This is one of those times. Please partner with us and help us bring them home. Click here to make a donation if you’re reading in email and cannot see the donation widget below.

Writing What’s Needed, But Not Popular

Beautiful tulip bouquet over garden bokeh background

There is a lot of content tailored to the wants of our audiences. We want to offer what people want, right? But what about what people need, too?

Sometimes, we don’t always take what we need. We don’t necessarily go looking for it because we may not want it or realize how much we need it.

When God spoke to me about writing to moms to challenge them to get in the Word daily, I resisted.

“God, no one is going to want to hear about that, let alone share it. It’s not a popular topic. Furthermore, people don’t like to be uncomfortable.”

Who likes to be uncomfortable? I don’t.

The first time God laid this on my heart, I thought I was to create a whole new website and have contributors. So I bought a domain and began a Facebook group for contributors. As the whole thing was unfolding, I got stuck. The vision got clouded and I couldn’t see what God wanted me to do next. Contributors began to back out as I was in the interim process of just waiting on Him and eventually the whole idea was shut down.

God didn’t want me to build a new website, He wanted me to build a relationship with Him and encourage others to do the same. Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make us know God or have a deep rooted relationship with Him. That really requires intentional effort.

So, a year later, this same idea tugs at my heart. It’s birthed out of a desperation in my own life and I knew I couldn’t be alone.

That’s it.

I am not alone in struggling to read the Bible everyday, and who out there really wants other people to know that? Moms are some of the most susceptible people for neglecting the word. Why? Too busy and/or too tired.

For myself, any excuse is unacceptable.

So, I started a community on my blog to encourage moms to get in the Word daily, and it’s a bit of accountability for me.

It’s called “Moms in the Word” and it’s meant not only to encourage moms to be in the word, but to challenge them in the Word. It also includes a link up that is a sad story, let me tell you. This week I broke the all time record of getting THREE people to link up. But you know what? Those three people matter.

Moms-in-the-Word-Tuesdays

We work through a study and each Tuesday I post something to challenge us all to walk out something we read throughout the week. This week, we talked about striving and pressing on in our faith.

Why is any of this relevant here on Allume? Because as Bloggers, you have influence. You are a leader. You are a teacher. All of these positions require a higher standard of living. I’m not talking perfection. But when you are in a position of influence, people are following your lead. It’s a sobering place to be.

Sometimes we need to make the decision to write about things that are not popular. Crazy as it sounds, Bible teachings aren’t as popular as some of the juicy news stories out there or as comforting as learning a new home decor technique.

But it’s something that’s needed the most. And I’m not saying that everyone is called to write on Biblical truth straight up…this is just one example. God may be calling you to write your hard story for others to read. Someone out there may desperately need to hear they are not alone and your story may be the means they hear from God.

Jesus never sought out what was popular. He always gave what was needed, and He gave in various ways. That’s where the body of Christ is unique in it’s functions. It’s also where our blogs can offer various functions. Are we willing to write what’s unpopular in order to reach the one who needs to hear from God?

What is God nudging you to write about?

 

Speaker Interview: Preston Yancey

Preston Yancey

Preston Yancey is a author, painter, baker, and sometimes scholar particularly interested in the dialogue between Christian theology and the arts. He also gets to speak at Allume this fall. Woot! Today Preston is sharing some fun facts with you about himself.

 

1. What chore do you despise the most?

Folding laundry. I have an inexplicable, psychological aversion to the process of successfully transferring clothes from the dryer to my closet or dresser or even, let’s be honest, the middle of the bedroom floor. My fiancée informs me this will be an untenable position to maintain in our future. We’ll see.

2. If you could learn to do anything what would it be?

I would learn how to actually use Evernote. I’m not kidding. “I will learn how to use Evernote” is my version of the “I will read my Bible all the way through every day this year” New Year’s resolution. Every time I open the app on my computer or my phone I end up just staring at it in bewilderment and panic and then shut it down. I am convinced that I won’t be awriter, italicized and everything, until I learn how to use it.

(I suppose I was supposed to say something like “to speak Spanish” or “to parallel park” or “to not always have to have the last word” but, this is raw honesty.)

3. If you could pick anyone as a mentor who would you pick?

Madeleine L’Engle. She’s one of my patron saints, at least I think of her as a prayer of my prayers with me when I ask God big questions about vocation and work and whether or not to click publish on my latest blog post. Her journals taught me how to tell truth and her fiction taught me how to discern the difference between truth and fact.

4. What do you do with 30 minutes of free time?

Complain about how little free time I have, then watch the latest episode of Veep, Modern Family, or Parks and Rec while menu planning or catching up on all my Voxer messages.

5. What do you want to be when you grow up?

A keeper of my children’s confidences.

6. If gifted an all expenses paid vacation to anywhere where would you pick?

Bali. I’ve had the opportunity to spend a summer in the East before and it was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. I’m aching to go back to that side of the world and sit in the stillness of the beauty there. And the food. Good Lord, the food.

7. If I was coming to your house for dinner, what would we have?

There’s a lot of sun out these days, so let’s pick things up and go sit out on the roof of the apartment building and listen to Juliette Gréco on a record player and drink Greek wine—too white and too bright but light and free.

We’ll have an appetizer of grilled eggplant sliced thin and stuffed with manouri, mint, and baby heirloom tomatoes; salt and bay leaf crusted grilled lamb chops, a salad of watermelon, feta, and black olive, piles of salty roast lemon potatoes, and some homemade pita. For desert, a glass of Campari — or strong Greek coffee, if you’d prefer — and some almond baklava with rose water and orange blossom and honey from the local farm, cut into small bites to savor.

Basically: come over. There’s always something in the works and always room in the apartment or on the roof or in the park or wherever.

8. What are your 5 favorite books?

Right now? Let’s go with right now:

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-1992 by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Check out Preston’s blog here.

Join the Allume Facebook Community

We know that many of you are looking to connect with the Allume community through Facebook and we want you to know we have an Allume page where the entire community can connect with each other.

We are going to be livening it up with connection points and questions to encourage you to interact with one another. We will continue to update the page with conference news, announcements, sponsor opportunities, blog posts from Allume, 2014 speakers and community writers. The best way for you to connect is by interacting on these posts. Feel free to come to the page any time, ask a question, look for a room mate, look for other newbies or alumni–we’ll connect you!

Logan in Uganda with Sole Hope

This week we’ve had the incredible privilege of sharing Logan and Carey’s journey to Uganda with Sole Hope.

Logan and Carey with Sole Hope

Sole Hope was one of our 2013 sponsors and is coming back for 2014 and, not even having been to Uganda, I cannot tell you what a blessing Sole Hope is to the children there. This is one of the many things you will see coming from our Allume Facebook page. So, if you haven’t already, go here and “Like” us so you can be and see community in action!

Finally, I encourage you to follow Logan and Carey through their blogs as they work with Sole Hope through the weekend and into next week.

You’re Invited to (in)RL!

You're Invited

Wait, what’s (in)RL?  (in)RL stands for “in real life” and it’s coordinated by the wonderful women of (in)courage, but hosted by YOU.

It’s the gathering of women in community, in real life. Check out this video, and you may want to grab some tissues. {Click here to view on the blog}.

As I watched this video, I saw so many women pop on the screen that I have had the privilege of hugging and connecting with face to face. The online world is a great place — but in real life deepens those connections even further. And let me tell you, these women have some a-mazing stories.

We want to encourage you to share your words; to share your stories. Someone or many someones out there needs to hear them.

Today, (in)RL registration is OPEN and you can register for FREE. This conference is local and online. You can either sign up to host a gathering or you can look for a gathering in your area to join. Anyone who registers today, January 15th, will be entered  to win an Allume 2014 pass. Woot!

Here are some details of (in)RL, and I encourage you to pop over to their site to get even more acquainted with this amazing community.

  • Registration is FREE, but there is an opportunity to give to one of their 6 awesome projects through their Giv(in)g Projects. {This is such a gift to be a part of and watch unfold. Trust me.}
  • (in)RL Online Webcasts kick off on Friday, April 25th followed by meet ups, Saturday, April 26th.
  • Everyone who registers gets a free backstage pass to all (in)RL content from 2012 & 2013! {access expires April 24, 2014}

On behalf of Allume, we invite you to enter into (in)RL community.

 (in)RL - We need your stories

 

Allume 2013 Conference Link-Up!

We want to hear your experience at Allume!

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We want to hear your stories. We want to hear how Allume has changed you, equipped you, empowered you. Link up your specific post below.

Allume Attendee Link Up!

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This year, rather then making an attendee page, we want you to link up your ABOUT page. Then we can come and visit you in your space!

If you don’t have a blog, link up your Facebook, Twitter, or other social profile. Let’s see the faces of Allume!

So, if you’re coming to Allume, link up below!

{If you’re reading this in a reader or in your email, you can click through here to link up}

Head Shot Sign Ups!

If you have been to a past Allume, you know we set aside some time to snap a shot of some beautiful faces! Now is the time to sign up for that. Here are some examples from last year.

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Head shots are $20 and you will pay the lovely Kim Deloach at the time of the sitting. Kim took Logan and Laura’s latest head shots. She is amazing and you all will LOVE her!

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However, spots are limited so you  must reserve your spot by signing up here. Pay close attention to the time and date you are signing up and mark it down somewhere in your Allume schedule so you do not forget to show up! :) Make sure you sign up for a slot when you KNOW you will be available and not risk a late flight in, etc.

First come, first served. Once they are filled, there are no more. Ready? GO!

SIGN UP HERE

Sign Up to Receive the Allume 2013 Conference Newsletter!

The Allume Conference is approaching quickly!! We are working hard behind the scenes to make this year spectacular!

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will need to get information TO you and get information FROM you. But in order to best communicate with attendees, we send out any conference news through a special newsletter set up specifically for that purpose. Because we have new attendees every year, we create a new newsletter every year.

Conference Newsletter

So, even if you attended last year, you will need to sign up for THIS YEAR’S conference newsletter. This newsletter will only be sent when we need to share conference news with you, so you don’t want to miss out on signing up for this!

SIGN UP BELOW

The Writing Life

Writing and life. The two are not mutually exclusive. If you are a writer–one who enjoys writing–writing is a part of your life. Not something that exists outside of it. Many things you do, see, feel, and experience will shape your writing. Furthermore, many things we write will shape our lives.

Writing is Who I Am

For me, personally, writing helps me organize my thoughts. It helps me process life. It allows me to savor moments and share reality with people who think they are alone in motherhood. Writing teaches me lessons just as other activities in life do. Writing keeps my mind working just as life keeps my hands working.

Writing is part of life for me.

It’s as much a part of me as using my hands to do laundry and make meals. It’s as in ingrained in me as talking (just not as often). Writing is a way of life.

I loved Tricia’s post yesterday about the myth of balance. Balance isn’t exactly what we think it is. It’s not about spending so much time on this, and the same amount of time on that. Like anything else in life, every thing has it’s place. Meals have their place. Routines have their place. Entertainment and fun have their place.

So it is with writing.  Writing has its place. Writing happens as life happens. It begins with some scribbled out notes scratched on paper throughout the day. It includes a pause in the day to make those notes into ideas and expressions. After dinner those ideas may need a bit of editing and tweaking. Maybe something sparked further inspiration to reword or add more description.

Once the children are in bed, writing continues. While some choose to spend their time watching their favorite television shows (which is perfectly fine!), I choose to write. I don’t have any favorite television shows because I’m not a big fan of television. I have favorite movies that I enjoy with my family. But daily TV watching just isn’t something we do. Not because of some “super spiritual” reason. Simply because we have interests in other areas. I choose to spend my time writing. When I’m not writing, I’m reading.

I have made writing a part of my life because it’s in part how God designed me. That doesn’t mean it won’t have the potential to consume. Anything has that potential. God designed us to eat, but food can still consume us. God designed us to rest, but we can rest too much and become lazy.

It’s not necessarily about balance, but about prioritizing. Some days laundry and cleaning out your kids’ room takes priority while other days a writing deadline might be looming and you order Chinese take-out. Just as some days I need a break from life; from routines and demands and cleaning. Some days, I need a break from writing; from thinking and creating and editing. It’s the ebb and flow of life.

Writing isn’t just something I do; it’s who I am. 

I’m a child of God; I’m a wife, and mother, and keeper of my home. I’m a writer.

 

Focus Your Efforts and Set Limits Online

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There are so many things pulling at our attentions online. We aren’t sure what to spend time doing online that will be most effective for our ministry or business. It seems everyone has a different answer and many successful bloggers share their experiences. Before I go any further I do want to clarify–there is no “one size, fits all” for blogging. Some people have broken the “rules” of blogging and been very successful. Some have followed all the rules and have struggled to reach out further.

It’s important we each listen to the heartbeat and pulse of our own communities and follow their needs. They will be different, requiring that we tweak some of these said rules to fit within our communities.

It is very important to know your goals for your blog. This will be vital in knowing how to best spend your time online. Many of us don’t have a lot of time to spend online. So it’s helpful to know where to invest it.

Where to Focus Your Efforts

There is a lot of information telling us how we should be utilizing every social media outlet out there in order to be effective. I find that is not always the case.

Some say you have to spend lots of time reading and commenting on other blogs. But how many? How much is enough?

What about networking and blog work and maintenance and writing? All of this stuff takes time. How can we fit it all in? What is most important?

Here are the elements I have found to be most effective as a writer, blogger, and encourager to my online community.

Writing

I can’t get a message out if I don’t spend time writing it. Writing is the backbone of my entire ministry. If I don’t write, I don’t have anything for my community to grab a hold of when I’m not actively online. Nor will anyone have anything to share if they want to encourage someone with my writing. Writing posts and eBooks helps the message I have publish publicly, even when I’m not around.

However, my writing cannot stand alone, either. Somehow I have to get the message out there for others to see–and share.

Engaging

If I’m not engaging with people in an authentic and casual way, sharing my writing will only look like spam to most. I need to spend time connecting with people through social media.

How much time should I spend on social media and where should I focus my engagement? 

We actually do not need to spend our entire day engaging on social media. Choose one or two (at most) avenues that you enjoy, and focus your engagement there. That doesn’t mean you cannot utilize other social media avenues if you choose. But unless you’re working as a full time blogger, being present and active at the top 5 social media platforms is going to burn you out and zap time away from other important things you need to be focusing on.

I spend my most active times engaging on Twitter and Facebook. I still utilize Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+, but I do not invest in much time in them as I do my main two.

You could easily get away with spending 30 minutes a day, on your top two social media picks and still be effective–pending your engagement is focused, not random, and not all promotions. Then spend 5-10 minutes a day on the remaining social media sites to maintain a presence.

Reading

Another important and very personal way to engage with people is to visit their blogs and comment. This is simple and straight-forward. But many people wonder how much time should be spent doing this each day. It’s easy to get sucked into reading blogs and link-hopping.

If you consistently read and comment (daily), you really don’t need to comment more then a couple of blogs per day. That’s 10-14 per week; and 40-56 per month. They add up! And that consistency will follow you.

Research and Educating Yourself

It is very important for a writer/blogger to continuously educate themselves on what’s current in blogging and social media. If you want to publish a book one day, it’s also important to stay up to date with the latest publishing news.  We need to read to improve our skills as writers and bloggers. There will always be room for improvement and part of growing a ministry or business requires that we, ourselves, grow.

If you’re looking for answers, spend a little time researching.

Know Your Limits

There is only so much we can do in a day. It’s so easy (so easy!) to get sucked in to social media. We must know our limits and stand by them. We are wives, mothers, daughters, and friends outside of the online community as well. The internet is an awesome tool for making connections and creating ministry to reach places we wouldn’t otherwise be able to. But we cannot completely disconnect from life to advance our endeavors online.

It’s like anything else that we indulge too much of — it isn’t good for us or anyone around us. Know your limits.

How do I set limits?

Create a schedule. This helps to focus on the most important tasks, knowing you have to fit them in a time slot on your schedule.

Set a timer. This is especially helpful when you get on social media. It requires you to stay on task because you know you only have so much time to make the most of it.

Unplug regularly. This is such a refreshing way to refocus and actually gain new ideas. Stepping away once a week, once a month helps keep things in the right perspective.

What area listed above could you use more information in? I’d be glad to help answer any questions you have–just leave them in the comments.

Joy in Christ,

Christin Slade

 

Write For Your Children

Use Your Writing

Writing is such a gift. It is a gift to the writer, and it’s a gift to the reader. I love to offer up my writing to others. I enjoy being able to encourage other moms and other bloggers. I firmly believe, and I have been told, God has given me the gift of encouragement.

The one thing that I noticed, however, that I have lacked, is using this great gift right inside my own home, amongst my own family. I tend to be a better writer then speaker. I convey things better on paper (virtual or otherwise), then I do with my mouth, typically. Writing also helps me stay focused, which is why I keep a prayer journal.

But, in what ways could we use our writing to bless our children?

Prayer Journal

I have written before on how I keep a prayer journal for each child, that I try to write in each one weekly. The purpose of this is to show our children the power and glory of God in their own lives as they were growing up. Most likely, this would be a gift for them once they are older—how about a wedding gift? This would be a priceless keepsake and legacy indeed.

Letters Journal

Why not have a journal for each child that mother and child write back and forth in? Did you ever do that in high school? You know, you keep a notebook between just two or three friends that you would pass around throughout the school day, writing letters in it to each other? OK, well, maybe I’m the only strange one who did that! But it’s also a nice keep sake and a way to consistently encourage your child at the end of the day or week.

Personal Journal

Keep a personal journal on the life of your child. Now, if you have a lot of children, this would be quite a commitment of time. Obviously that’s not a bad thing! But you can certainly consider other options if you have a lot of children. But if you have one or two children, keeping a journal that records major milestones and beautiful moments in their life would be a prized gift for them as adults.

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Encouraging Cards

Leave encouraging cards for your children spontaneously, in different places. Their pajama drawer. Their lunch bag. At their place on the breakfast table so they find it in the morning. It doesn’t have to be super long, but a few encouraging words can go a long way. Get some cute, blank cards and put them to use!

Special Occasion Letters

Use special occasions like birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to write specific letters to your children.

Write a birthday letter about how much they’ve grown over the last year, in their spiritual walk, in maturity, maybe draw out some key moments that you can touch on. On Mother’s Day you can write a letter about how happy you are to be their mother and what you have learned growing as a mom, something specific your child has taught you over the last year.

Even Father’s Day can be used to write to your child and completely brag on their daddy–what a wonderful father he is and simply talk him up as a daddy. What a gift to your children to see you loving their daddy in this way.

Be intentional about setting time aside to write for you children. You don’t need to do all of these ideas!! Start with one and branch out from there if you feel lead. But do share your writing with your children.

Our children will one day see the time we devoted our love for writing to bless them. It will be come a tradition that maybe they will pass down to their own children. It will become a memory as they grow old, how their mommy loved them through her writing. It will become a treasured keepsake.

Writing is a gift that keeps on giving. It really is. It’s one of the best ways to capture life in the moment so it is not lost. Capture pieces of your children’s childhood through your writing for them.

Joy in Christ,

Christin Slade

The Smaller Bloggers Series is Returning

Embrace the Influence

I am so excited because we’re bringing the “Smaller Bloggers” series back. Woot!

For those of you who are new to the Allume blog, the Smaller Bloggers series is a series dedicated to those who consider themselves a smaller blogger. Being a smaller blogger is not a bad thing. Not at all.

The point of this series is to cheer you on and encourage you that the world needs smaller bloggers.

This series will offer you tips on how to build content, comment etiquette, the right kind of growth and more!

And this is your opportunity to share what you would like to know about blogging or express your frustrations with us so we can address issues and encourage you on your journey! We have a beautiful group of writers here who have a heart for women, community, blogging, writing, and Jesus!

So, leave a comment and let us know what you want to learn!

Joy in Christ,

Christin, Joyful Mothering

When Inspiration is Overrated

If I were to wait for inspiration to strike before I wrote anything, I would rarely write. No doubt inspiration can play a role in writing, but it shouldn’t be the only time we write.

Writing has many facets–it’s freeing, yet it requires a bit of discipline. It can also be painful, depending on what you feel the need to release. Sometimes our lives feel less than inspiring. Sometimes they may feel murky, messy, and even mechanical. But someone out there needs to hear that story for encouragement in their own lives. 

In order for us to become better at writing and teach the words to flow, we must practice. It’s like a muscle–if you exercise it, you will strengthen it. 

On the other hand, good writing requires that we step away from writing and live, so our words will ring true for us and others who might read them. We cannot fully express the beauty and reality of our words if we do not first experience the reality of living. Nothing can convey through the written word truth of feeling and expression quite like authentic living.

In addition, good writing begs us to read others with excellent writing. It entices us to read books like On Writing Well, to learn the best mechanics and writing practices. It calls us to inspiring reads such as A Circle of Quiet, where we enter into the minds of great writers as they walk us through quiet inspirations. 

Writing is a life long journey. Publishing a book doesn’t mean you “arrive” and not publishing doesn’t mean you are not established. Our writing may never get passed our own blogs, but it is out there, published for all to see. It is right where God wants it, for His purpose.

Your story might be one of pain, rather than inspiration. Allow God to redeem that pain and use it for His glory. What is He whispering to you today, friend? Is He asking you to step out in faith and trust Him with your words? 

 Is He calling you to embrace the writer in you without guilt or fear? 

Joy in Christ,

Christin

Making Disciples Where You Are

We are about four weeks out of the Allume conference and many of you have gotten back to your normal routines and normal life, while some of you are still picking up the pieces of the disaster hurricane Sandy left behind. I pray that wherever you are, God is using the words of the speakers you heard to spur you on, challenge you, and encourage you in your everyday life.

These past few years, each Allume conference has carried with it a running theme throughout the speakers messages. Although these themes weren’t preconceived by conference planning, God was very much a part of putting these themes into place to reach the hearts of us.

The first year, speakers spoke mainly on not neglecting your family for the sake of your blog. Crystal Paine spoke of having boundaries and not neglecting your husband–especially in the bedroom. “If you don’t have time to have sex with your husband, you don’t have time to blog.” Oh yes, she went there–because it’s something we need to be reminded of! Sally Clarkson spoke passionately and encouragingly of blogging with integrity. If you’re neglecting your family for blogging, you’re not blogging with integrity.

The second year, speakers spoke of not seeking fame in blogging. They said it over and over again: ignore the stats, don’t seek your worth through your numbers. Ann Voskamp really hit it home in her key note as she spoke about letting go of the fame-seeking because Jesus never sought fame. He had just 12 followers! She encouraged us, though, to rumble the web with thunder and watch as God brought the lightening. God would light up the Internet if we would bring the offering–our stories. Our brokenness. Not sermons, or preaching.

This year? The theme was to reach the people who are right in front of you. While it is similar in nature to not chasing after fame, it still has a more narrow focus. The message was that if we are ignoring those people who need ministering to right in front of us to go out and chase numbers, we are failing to recognize the ministry God has placed before us.

Something that’s also very important that we need to be aware of is this: people may not comment on your writing, but they are still reading. You may not even realize that there is a broken woman reading your words on the other side of the screen; a woman who doesn’t know the love of Christ but finds hope through the words you share because they illuminate Christ. They draw her in, yet we have no idea because she has never commented.

All of these themes speak to one central message: discipleship. We are called to make disciples. All of us. Not just certain people. It begins in our home but it doesn’t end there.

We reach the people right in front of us.

Through missions you can help reach those across the globe as well, by being a sender.

But let’s focus for now on your blog, if you have one. Minister to those already coming to your blog. Don’t ignore them to chase after more people. Reach the heart and pour into the few.

In Luke 16:10, Jesus says “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…”

Let us be good stewards of who is right in front of us. Let us minister to the one person. Let us tell our stories for the one who needs to hear them. Because that one matters.

Joy in Christ,

Christin, Joyful Mothering

Does Your Husband Ever Feel Like He’s Second To Your Blog?

Hey everyone!!

We are going to be having a marriage and blogging panel at the conference featuring four couples (Tsh & Kyle, Nester and Chad Smith, Crystal and Jesse Paine, & Jessica and Jordan Heights) on Saturday. They will be discussing questions that YOU ask, with regards to marriage and blogging and how it all fits in the balance of life.

This is an opportunity for you to ask any questions YOU have regarding this topic. But we need your questions now.

So, if you have a question you would like answered during this panel, please leave it in the comments. Thank you!!!

photo credit

Spending Information

Do you ever notice when you’re out driving, walking or biking, the other people passing by? Do you ever soak in their face and wonder what their life is like?

A man walking down the street carrying a back pack.

A woman out for an evening run.

Despite the obvious fact that we know nothing about them other then they are just people, do you ever pause to consider what they might need?

I was sitting and pondering last night on my way to the library this very thing. As bloggers and writers, let’s be honest. We tend to spend quite a bit of time in front of the screen.

I admit, Sarah Mae’s post on Tuesday got my own wheels spinning. It also made me stretch my own thinking a bit further.

Our Responsibility

As readers, or consumers (who consume information put out by others), we have a responsibility with the information that we learn. It isn’t to merely stuff it into the back of our brain as we nod and say, “Oh this is good. So true. Yes, I totally agree”, and leave it there. What good is that?

As writers, we have a responsibility to be authentic and write with integrity. We can’t tell other people what they should be doing if we aren’t doing it. Certainly we can learn with others and grow as we write, but we should never write about things that we aren’t doing or aren’t willing to strive for ourselves.

We also have a responsibility to guard our time.

We can only write {well} what we’ve truly lived. We can only live if we’re not constantly writing.

Furthermore, bouncing around the net, reading and absorbing massive amounts of information that we do nothing with is useless. It doesn’t do us any good whatsoever.

What have we gained? Did we act on living a more disciplined life after reading that post on being disciplined? Did we act on how to make a menu and save money after reading that post on menu making to save money?

Take an idea, and work it into your life.

Spend That Information

Those people passing by on the street? God knows them. He wants us to know them, too. Those children over in Africa who are starving to death? They need food. Plain and simple. They need education so they don’t grow up to raise a family in poverty, too. The people of Asia? Some of the most remote parts of the world, and they have never heard the name Jesus Christ. Ever.

What do we do with that now that we know about it?

There is something for everyone. There is plenty of need to go around. How are we going to spend the information we have gained?

Those of you who are wives and/or mothers, those needs stare you in the face every single day.

What are we doing with the posts that teach us how to disciple our children, using these wonderful resources or those free ideas?

The bottom line is this: Take a little encouragement, or a little information, and go out and use it; spend it. Make it a reality in your own life.
Live your life. Don’t simply read about everyone else’s life. A little goes a long way.

My goal here is to challenge you, not shame you. Hear my heart. God’s purpose for you is greater than what’s in front of the screen. The screen is a tool, not an escape from your reality. Use it wisely.

Information doesn’t become revelation until it causes transformation.

By Christin, Joyful Mothering

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Become Part of a Community

 

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Many of us can find it difficult to jump in and become part of a community–whether it’s in a new church, the city or neighborhood we live in, our children’s school or the homeschool community–and even the blogging community.

Often, it can seem as if some places are too closely knit, or appear as cliques, to get in. (And sometimes the cliques actually exist).

I’ve learned three ways to jump in and become part of a community

  1. Be helpful. This is no secret–esp. in the blogging world. But, typically any community you want to be a part of will embrace someone who’s willing to serve–in any capacity. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God designed us to serve. 
  2. Be vulnerable. This is tough. Really tough. However, I noticed that when we allow ourselves to open up about our life, even just a little at a time, we learn we aren’t alone and form deep connections with the people around us. People recognize they aren’t alone and have a desire to connect, thus opening up and sharing, too.
  3. Be committed. You get out of something what you put into it. If you enter into a community and aren’t intentional about being committed to “show up”, it’s not going to be what you need it to be.

I’d like to apply these principles specifically to the Allume community, since everyone reading this is a part of it.

We’ve touched on commenting in a previous post , but this is a large part of how community happens; engagement. If you never comment, how can we know you? How can we visit your blog? If you do comment and have a blog, be sure your link is included on the comment form so we can come back to your place and stop in for a visit. There have been countless times I’ve wanted to follow someone back, and they didn’t include a link back.

Another place is via social media. For Allume, it’s particularly the #Allume twitter stream. People converse and share blog posts that people can relate with. We share quotes and funnies that we can laugh at. We share accomplishments and prayer requests. Come be a part, even if you don’t fully understand Twitter. Sometimes we need to just step out and meet people right where they are. (If you prefer to converse on Facebook, let us know! We’ll step out and meet you there!)

I know many of you are attending the Allume conference in October and you’re apprehensive because this is a new experience for you. Some of you have never been away from home since you got married or had children. You’re anxious for the unknown; you don’t know what to expect.

What if I don’t connect with anyone?
What if no one recognizes me?

What if no one wants to talk to me because my blog is tiny, or I don’t even have one?

As someone who has asked all of these questions, let me assure you, it’s most likely not what you think. Sure, we will all have our own perspectives on what we experience, but chances are high you’re blowing it up in your mind.

The women of Allume, they don’t look for stats posted on someone’s forehead. No, they recognize how much in common they have with other women because Christ is the center of it all.

People come, and get way more then they bargained for.

So, what can you expect from the Allume conference? Kindred spirits.

 

A Very Important Reminder {For All Bloggers}

I have been mulling over whether or not to continue the Smaller Blogger series. I wasn’t sure if there was still interest nor if I had any singular topics that had enough “beef” to write up.

Yesterday on Facebook, I put out an informal poll to get a feel for interest and it seems very strong still. So as I pondered throughout the day what I would write on, the minutes and hours slipped away. I remembered I had promised my husband an evening of just the two of us here at home; you know, once the children are in bed.

The dilemma was, though, that I still hadn’t written a post for the smaller bloggers series yet.

Then it hit me, the number one thing we as bloggers need to remember. When our family has a need {for us}, we must set aside other things. For me, it’s not a permanent “set aside”, rather it’s a temporary one. A day. A week. Or simply an evening.

Often, we may not realize how deep the need goes for us to meet that need. Does that make sense?

So, having said all that, I took the evening off to be with my husband. This has been a very busy month as we have gathered adoption paper work and gone to home study visits and doctor’s appointments.

 If you haven’t read the other posts in the series or want to re-visit them, you can do that here.

Feel free to leave some topic suggestions in the comments so we can keep this series rolling!

Photo Credit

When You Want to Quit Blogging {Smaller Bloggers}

I wanted to quit.

Over the weekend I was so tempted to just give up blogging. It seemed so much easier to not have to be burdened with coming up with content and taking the time to sit down and write out the things God wanted me to share.

The thought briefly crossed my mind about how much easier my life would be if I didn’t have to worry about blogging.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want my life to be easy. I don’t want to quit something just because it’s not easy. God didn’t call me to live a life of ease. He called me to live for Him and share His glory with others.

I love writing. So the thought was fleeting. But it’s important to understand that writing takes work. It requires sacrifice. And it’s OK to take a break. Just don’t quit.

I’ve quit at least seven blogs previously. Seven. Sometimes there’s a reason to quit, but you have to know when that reason is valid.

Remembering why I blog.

Quitting because it’s too much work isn’t valid (at least not for me). Quitting because you’re not getting as much out of it as you’re putting into it may not even be valid. This is a place to check motives. Who are we blogging for? 

I think it’s important to blog for both yourself and other people. But everyone will have their own perceptions about this. Since I can only speak for me, here’s my stance for myself:

If I blog just for me, the whole endeavor is just too selfish for me to justify. In fact, if I were blogging for just me, I probably wouldn’t be very good at it. I’d be inconsistent, I wouldn’t seek to grow (not in numbers, but in maturity). I simply wouldn’t aim high.

Blogging for others is what keeps me going. Knowing that there’s someone out there who may need to hear what I have to say pushes me to write it. That’s not to say I’m looking for an audience. It just means I know people are searching, and if they happen to land on my blog, I want them to find something encouraging or useful, and current.

I’ve always had this bad habit of quitting when things get too hard. I don’t want to continue this cycle.

What about you?

So if you’re thinking (or thought) about quitting your blog because it’s too hard, I pray you reconsider. One day, I might stumble upon your blog and need to read just what you wrote that day.

If the technical aspects of blogging are too daunting, I encourage you to learn; a little here, a little there. Amy of Blogging With Amy has the best site for simple tutorials I’ve ever come across.

If social media overwhelms you, start small, but engage. But don’t give up because it’s too hard. Press on. Learn.

Have you ever wanted to quit blogging? Why?

Photo Credit
Linked with: Life in Bloom

Putting It All Together and Adding Design {Smaller Bloggers}

Recap

We’ve talked about building a tribe and serving other’s through blogging and social media. We’ve also touched on commenting and honing your writing skills. All of these elements help to build community (or a tribe). In order to maximize your efforts, the goal is to be active in all aspects.

The tricky thing about blogging is, if you aren’t writing something that’s worth reading, the community efforts can be in vain. People want to rally around leaders who have something of value to share. Time is such a precious commodity these days because everything is screaming for it. How can you earn the time of a reader? What makes it worth it for them to stop and read what you have to say?

You don’t want to just slap anything down on the screen simply so you can get a post out there. Creating content and putting it together in a unique way takes time. The question remains, are you willing to put that time in?

Something important to keep in mind is that your ideas don’t need to be original, they just need to be uniquely you. They need to be told from your perspective.

“Do people really want to hear from me, what some other blogger has already written? Does what I write really matter?” Yes! Because those who are reading your blog want your perspective; your experience.

Design

I want to touch on design just a bit. I’m not a designer, despite the fact that I designed my own blog and business site. It’s too tedious for me and very time consuming. I don’t know design programs well enough to utilize their tools to the fullest.

However, I have learned what’s important to know about design and blog lay out.

Keep it simple. Too many colors and too much busyness is an eyesore and takes away from your content. A blog design should invite the reader in and be an enhancement, not a focus.

This also includes elements/widgets in your sidebar. Less is more. Display only what is most useful for your readers.

It is recommended that your subscribe button/form be above the fold. Above the fold is simply the part of your blog that is visible before you scroll down. It’s the first thing your readers see when they come to your blog.

You can go to this neat stock photo site called Fotolia and purchase graphics and backgrounds inexpensively. Or you could hire a professional designer.

Whatever route you choose, keep it simple, yet unique.

What design woes or questions do you have?

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Trusting God’s Voice Alone

This last month has been a month of trials, tests, and lots of trust.

When you go through such seasons, do you ever stop and think about how God is working in your life at that moment? Maybe He has asked you to step out in faith and explore something new. The moment you step onto the path, something jumps in front of you, seemingly blocking the way. You cannot pass until it moves, or you simply push pass it.

In June we began the process of adoption. It wasn’t long before the attacks began. Oh yes. Satan will throw those darts to try to veer anyone off the path God has set for them. You better believe it.

In the last few weeks alone, my husband was on the brink of losing his entire career. I went through a week of the possibility of being pregnant (which would not be good for adoption, I’m afraid). And my husband injured himself at work, which could have potentially put him out of work for a season, forcing us to dip into adoption funds.

When you’re in the middle of facing a trial without knowing the outcome, you have two choices:

  1. Panic  or
  2. Trust

Most often our first reaction is to panic.

I think sometimes we mistake the trials that come from following God’s will to not be God’s will. We believe that if it’s in God’s will, it should come with ease. Oh this is so not the case.

There is an enemy out there working against us because God is working for us. He does not want us to succeed and he will aim at the heart of our own fears in order to stop God’s work. It’s so important for us to recognize this work.

I have clung to the promise God has made to us throughout each attack and prayed accordingly. Each attack, if it were carried through to completion, could have destroyed our ability to adopt.

It’s so important to know what God has spoken to you specifically because that is what you will stand on and trust as you work your way through the trial. Do not look at the things that are seen, but trust the unseen. This is a faith that doesn’t come without battling prayer. Flesh and self want to come in and reason and use logic and it may appear sensible; but it’s simply not what God has told you.

Mary DeMuth says it beautifully in her book, Beautiful Battle:

Spiritual warfare has more to do with the state of your heart before a holy God than a list of things to do or avoid. It involves interaction, sometimes confusion, falling down, getting back up. It involves your willingness to look foolish, to take crazy steps, to trust God’s voice. While there are principles to know and practice, it’s your ability to trust God’s power and authority that will bring about the victorious life.

 (Disclaimer: God’s voice must line up with His word. He will not contradict what is written in the Bible). 

When God speaks to you about stepping out in faith, keep your eyes and ears only on Him. Stand firm on what He has told you and ask Him for confirmations to be certain you’re hearing Him.

You can read more about our adoption here.

If you’re interested in helping to support our adoption, you can buy Avodah coffee and a percentage of it goes to help fund our adoption. Thank you for your support and prayers!

Note: Only the link in this button will be counted toward adoption support. Thanks!

 

 

 Affiliate links present

How to Keep the Writing Flowing {Smaller Bloggers}

Writing isn’t just for blogs. Writing isn’t just for others.

Writing is for you, too. Some writing, should be done in secret. Not because you have something to hide or can’t necessarily share. But writing in secret is the place that you can write the most raw, {and with the most grammatical errors}. It’s where you work out the pain so you can share the joy. It’s simply a place where no one else can see you working behind the scenes.

Writing in places other than your blog can be a way to spark a flame that will later spread. It sparks ideas and helps you understand your own thoughts better. It develops your writing further.

Writing in secret is also about practice. It’s about not worrying about the mistakes but just writing for the sake of writing; and getting better with time. It’s like getting ready before a big game.

This is where many growing pains take place that most will never see or know about (unless you write about it).

This is also where some topic ideas for posts may be birthed. I recommend having a little moleskin journal or the like handy so you can jot down these ideas.

Keep that same moleskin in your purse or easily accessible throughout the day so you can jot down other ideas that you come across.

Your life shouldn’t be centered around blogging; rather your blogging should be centered around your life. Life needs to be lived in order for writing to come alive.

Blogging shouldn’t stand alone. It should be a branch of something bigger.

Another great way to keep writing is to always be reading. Great writing comes from lots of reading. Reading brings forth fresh ideas and inspiration.

You don’t need to invent brand new ideas to share; you simply need to give new angle, voice, and inspiration to ideas already out there.

Do you have a journal for your secret writing?

Building a Tribe {Smaller Bloggers}

Everyone wants a place to belong. Even us introverts. We want people who have the same ideas as us to converse with and share with. Most of all, we’re looking for someone to lead us.

Seth Godin says

“We are drawn to leaders and to their ideas, and we can’t resist the rush of belonging and the thrill of the new.” –Tribes

What is a tribe? A tribe is simply a group of people who are connected by the same ideas and a leader. It doesn’t matter how big or how small. There are big tribes and small tribes. I’m willing to bet all of you have a tribe of some size.You are all also part of other tribes.

I’m part of several tribes myself.

–>I’m part of a Ghana adoption tribe

–>I’m part of a blog mentoring tribe

–>I’m part of the tribe surrounding my blog, Joyful Mothering

When it comes to your blog, you want to be the leader who builds the tribe surrounding it. Your job as a leader is to inspire, encourage, and motivate your tribe. You can do this through your blog and through other forms of social media, such as Email,  Facebook, and Twitter.

The catch is, it’s up to you to build your own tribe. No one can do it for you. Your tribe needs your vision and passion. It’s a choice only you can make.

How do I build a tribe?

You lead from the bottom. You take what you know, and inspire other people. Then, you go out and learn more and do the same thing. People are always hungry for more.

You don’t need to be a bigger blogger to build a tribe. You just need to start right where you’re at.

A tribe isn’t merely about building numbers, it’s about building loyalty.

We do this by telling our stories; stories that “sell” and stories that spread. This is how we engage. It’s what today’s marketing looks like; making connections.

Making connections means being real and relating with real people.

It’s also about leading. People are looking for someone influential  to follow.

How do I create influence?

You get around influential people and engage with them; learn from them.

Contact them.

Yes! Get in touch with people who are influential and ask to guest post or ask them to guest post. Ask to do an interview. Ask them to endorse your eBook. Just ask.

Share your ideas with the world and watch the ones that spread.

The secret?

“We don’t need more information. We need better information. We need compelling reasons to believe in a cause worth following. And those sharing them will be the leaders of tomorrow.” –Jeff Goins

So, friends, use your voice and your stories to create better information, and watch it spread. Sometimes this doesn’t happen over night. It takes dedication and commitment to learn new ways to communicate.

Are you willing to put the work in to get there; to build that tribe?

 

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Soul Nurture

PhotobucketGod knows the deep places of woman; He created them. But He still invites us to enter in and share them with Him, freely.

When we open the raw, He presses mercy into the pain; the failure; the shame. He doesn’t want us to stay there. He wants to heal us and free us so we can live for Him. He created woman with longing and desire, but often these are wasted on the wrong things; in the wrong places.

After the fall, God said woman’s desire would be for her husband (Genesis 3:16), and while that might be true to an extent, having the redemption of Jesus has changed that.

I remember while I was dating my [now] husband and even in the early years of our marriage, I depended on Him for everything. Even things he just wasn’t capable of providing; that deep desire for constant connection.

I would get upset if he wasn’t with me as often as possible. He couldn’t fill the deep places because they weren’t his to fill.

He simply wasn’t capable of such a constant need in my life. That desire was only something God could fill.

Likewise, other things cannot replace the deep desire for God that we have. Our soul longs for the nurture of our Maker and nothing else will satisfy. Nothing can penetrate that deep place the way the Father can.

Sometimes we don’t even know what it is we need.

When I feel conflicted, I write. In my journal, I write in the raw and it’s there that I dig deep enough to find what it is my soul longs for, and I always find myself in the same place: Jesus. That paths may look different, the needs may vary, but the answer is always the same.

How do you lose yourself in God?

You chase hard after God. Hard. You’ll know what hard means when people start saying things like, “Now, don’t get too crazy about this ‘Jesus thing'”.

Your life will permeate Him and your face will shine His light. People won’t understand the decisions you are making because they are based on the things of God; on the eternal, and not on the ways of man or the things of this world.

Lose yourself in God. Go to the deep places where desire is only fulfilled by meeting with Him. It is there that you will find yourself. Maybe that sounds cliche’. It’s only cliche’ if we speak truth without living truth.

I encourage you, today, make time to go to that place with God.

{Smaller Bloggers} Creating Content

Morondava anchor, par Franck Vervial

Content is the anchor of your entire blog. It’s the thing that either keeps people coming back, or deters them from ever returning. As such, your writing should always be evolving. In other words, you need to be proactive in learning to be a better writer all the time.

I was going to talk about the mechanics of content, such as formatting, but decided instead to talk about the heart of content.

There are several elements that make up the heart of your writing; every single piece. But different people will bring their own unique voice.

Your story, the one you’ve lived and the one you’re living (which are one in the same) is yours to tell. It’s an unfolding and unveiling of the glory of God, but it can only be revealed through your sharing it.

Sharing your story should show the reader, not tell. This is something I am still learning. It’s important to be very descriptive in order to bring the reader along with you in your story. You want to write in a way that allows them to step into it.

I remember during the writer’s workshop at Relevant last year, I was in a small group lead by Lisa Jo, and she had us do a writing exercise that described a memory. Here’s what I wrote:

It was a sunny day; an ordinary day. I was talking with friends–watching one play this driving arcade game. Then I smelled it. But it was fleeting–burnt marshmallows over campfire. Normally a sweet smell, but not today. Frantic employees and hidden panic on faces. I asked what was wrong and she replied firmly, “The rink is on fire. Don’t. Tell. Anyone.”

We’ve been evacuated and I’m walking away from the building, down the hill to a restaurant. I then venture across the street as smoke billows from the roof. The roof explodes and I huddle on the ground with a friend crying–watching my favorite place to be as it is consumed by a blazing and hot fire. I walk by, across the street, and I can feel the heat. People line the streets, sirens in the distance and flashing lights surround.

Your writing shouldn’t stop there. Once you share a piece of your story, then you explain what lessons you learned and how the reader can be challenged or encouraged by it.

For example, when you share the story of having a bad day, share how you could have responded to that bad day. Describe for your readers how they could respond during a difficult day. Each writer will have her own style, her own voice on how she conveys this message. You simply want to make it clear for the reader what the lesson is; what the point is.

People read your stories when you tie in how it can relate to them. Every story will not relate with every reader. That’s OK.

Your goal in telling your stories is to help others. It might help someone simply by knowing they are not alone. Some might feel hopeless or lost and not know what to do.

People are searching. They need to know they are not alone and there are solutions out there they may not have thought of.

Use your stories to bring hope, encouragement, and practical help to people. Although your story is important, it does not stand alone.

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Bible Study Coming in June!

 Dying Candle

Allume is about shining our light for Jesus and in large learning about Him  is foundational to walking this out.  Learning more about Him in community has so many wonderful benefits.

  • We can share our strengths and weaknesses. We can learn from one another and lift each other up; encourage each other and pray for one another. The Bible talks about bearing each others burdens.
  • We can share our testimonies. This is how God’s glory is made known! We must share with each other what He’s doing (or has done) in our lives. Testimonies also offer hope to those who feel hopeless. If God can work in my life, He can work in yours!
  • We can sharpen each other. We can learn from one another as we study the scriptures together. If any of you are in a Hello Mornings group or Good Morning Girls group, you know this to be true!

Allume is your community! I have seen you make it your own. You all have blown me away with all your wonderful comments, your encouraging one another and challenging each other. As children of God, let us spur one another on in Him in the same manner.

We are so excited to bring you all a special treat from Katie Orr. Beginning in June, Katie is going to take us through a 6-week study on the book of 1 Peter.

Katie has created a Bible study series called Focused15, which emphasizes focusing on God’s word for at least 15 minutes. The 1 Peter study will be set up to follow this structure. Next week she’ll introduce the study to you and offer a downloadable outline.

I really want to encourage you to join in on this study, especially if you aren’t currently doing one right now. This is such a great opportunity to gather as a community and dig into His word.

Another wonderful resource that I personally recommend is Savoring Living Water: How to Have an Effective Quiet Time. Excellent and practical advice in this book.

So who’s in?

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{Smaller Bloggers} Blogging Is Not About the Money

Contrary to popular belief, bloggers don’t blog to get rich. At least, the ones I know don’t.

Bloggers blog because they like blogging. The money? It’s a perk. If it were about the money, there wouldn’t be any money.

Let me explain.

Blogging is not a mindless, no-skills-required activity. It requires quite a bit of technique and know-how. Those who are blogging just to make money, aren’t making any money. Why? Because they don’t really like to blog. They just want to make money. As a result, they are not doing what it takes to learn about blogging, better their writing skills, and spend time connecting with people on social media.

Money comes as a result of loving what you do. Since blogging is very much an entrepreneurial job, it requires a kick start to get going; and no one can do that for you. It’s something you must do yourself.

I’ve heard many “big bloggers” share their story of how they got where they are now, and most will tell you, it happened unexpectedly. It happened as a result of just doing what they already loved to do. This isn’t the story of every big blogger, but it is for many.

The bottom line is, you have to love blogging before you can make money from it. The two go hand in hand.

If you’re waiting for opportunity to come knocking, you’ll likely be waiting a while. You need to go out and grab it. You need to be proactive in all aspects of blogging. Start with what you have. If companies aren’t ready to advertise with you yet because you don’t have the traffic, go out and get it. Sign up for affiliate programs; they don’t require specific traffic amounts.

Since you are your own “boss”, you have to be disciplined to do things. There’s no one there to tell you to do it.

When I represent a company on my blog, it’s because I already love that company. I believe in what they’re doing and I want other people to know about them. I will not promote a company I do not agree with.

One thing we need to understand as bloggers and readers of blogs: blogging and money {together} are not dirty words. Unless you’re selling your ideals for a few bucks, there is no reason why a blogger shouldn’t receive money for advertising for a company. Money is simply a tool. We make it and spend it to live on and/or help others simply live. I hesitate calling blogging a “job”, though it is for many people. Again, most people who blog and make an income with it, love it from the start.

Blogging certainly requires work, but it’s much more then merely a job.

What about giveaways?

I know many bloggers worry about doing giveaways because they’re afraid people will think they are doing it only to drive traffic to their blog.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know whenever I see a giveaway, I have never thought that way at all. Seriously. Even when I first started blogging, the only thing I would think is, “Oh cool! I’m entering that!” I never thought to myself, “Wow. The only reason they are doing a giveaway is so they can get more people to their blog. That is so shallow.” Not once did I think anything like that.

Now, being the one offering the giveaways, I don’t do them because I think they will bring more traffic. I do them because I think, “Oh, I get to bless a fellow mom!”

My advice? Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of what your motives might be for doing something. Do what God has called you to do.

On a side note, if you are looking for a company to sponsor you for Allume but you don’t know how to approach sponsorship or pitching to a company, come on over to Joyful Living Media as I share a series that will answer your questions surrounding sponsorships.

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{Smaller Bloggers} Comments & Comment Etiquette

Comments tend to be as measured as stats are. Although, it is difficult to consistently write without any sort of feedback–from anyone.

Don’t base your impact on the number of comments you receive. I have had countless people tell me later that a particular post impacted them so deeply but they just never commented for whatever reason. Their reasons are usually that they didn’t have time or they got distracted and forgot, etc. It happens and we just gotta roll with it.

Only a small percentage of subscribers actually comment on posts. Many are reading through email or a RSS feed and then move on. If you were to go around and take a little survey of comments to subscribers ratio, you’d see it’s much the same across the board; about .7% to 1.5% of readers actually comment. So if you have 50 subscribers and you get 1 comment on your post, you’re within the normal ratio of comments to subscribers.

Still, one of the most common questions for bloggers is

How can I get more comments?

It’s good to encourage comments in order to build community.

One way to do this is by having a “call to action” at the end of your post. Basically, you ask an open ended question that invites the reader to comment. Try to make it personal for them.

Make sure your comment system is user friendly. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to post a comment on someone’s blog on Blogger, and couldn’t because they didn’t offer a Name/url option. I had to have a Blogger account and be signed in. I moved on. I didn’t have that much time to play around with trying to leave a comment. It’s important that you make it as easy as possible for readers to comment.

I highly recommend getting rid of the CAPTCHA code. This is just more time the reader has to spend trying to leave a comment. If spam is an issue, it’s just another of many reasons to move to WordPress. (That’s for a whole other post, though!) :) Unfortunately, these are real hindrances.

Respond to the comments on your blog. Even if you don’t have time to respond to all of them, take time to respond to some from every post. Readers want to know you are engaged with them, not that you simply had something to say and “left the room”, never to return. Answer questions, encourage others. Blogging is about community (you’re going to see me write that a lot). You don’t get a platform by standing on one; the platform comes only by the invitation of those you serve. It’s not a right; it’s a privilege.

Comment on other blogs. You can’t expect people to comment on your blog if you’re not willing to comment on others. It’s just the way it goes. Blogging is a give-and-take community; not a take-take-take community. Comments should add something of value to the reader and conversation as a whole; not merely be a “good post” trail. Be thoughtful and insightful. Do not spam with links.

You don’t need to comment on 20 blogs per day. You simply need to be consistent about it. A little everyday goes a long way.

Don’t miss the point.

If you’re commenting solely to receive comments, you’ve missed the point. The point is to step outside your own sphere and reach out to others. Encourage them in their own posts with your comments. When you are genuine in connecting with people, they will want to follow you back to your blog.

Today, seek out 5 blogs and leave thoughtful comments on each one without any thought of return. Hint: choose people who leave a comment on this post to help build community. Make sure you leave your blog url in the comment form. 😉

Here’s one to get you started: Lisa from Stop and Smell the Chocolates has a wonderful series called “Encouraging Bloggers“. Go check it out for more insights and encouragement. Offer up any tips you might have as well. Work together.

Quick FYI: I have just launched a very inexpensive blog critique & consulting site for any who want to invest in one on one mentoring concerning their blog. You can find it at Joyful Living Media.

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Smaller Bloggers: Let’s Talk Stats

Many of you have asked me what defines a “smaller blogger”. There really is no “formal” answer of what defines a smaller blogger. But many people define themselves by their stats. So what constitutes a “smaller blogger”?

The mindset of the blogger.

When we play the comparison game, there will always be someone to stand against who has more readers, more likes, more follows then you do. Unless you’re Michael Hyatt {who is a terrific leadership mentor, by the way}. He’s also been blogging for 13 years.

When we define ourselves (or others) by stats, we do several things that create barriers in different areas. We put up walls and create stereotypes based on stats. We may not even realize we’re doing it! Yet, what happens is we start to make assumptions about people based on their stats. We also think less of our ministry when our stats don’t mirror someone else.

Take a moment to watch this video that helps illustrate well what I mean. Click here if you’re reading in email or a reader.

Yea, wow. Right?

Until we can look past our stats, all we’re going to see is stats. We are going to miss the ministry God has placed in front of us because we are too busy chasing after what someone else has.

There are many factors which lead to why stats look the way they do for different people. Some examples include:

  • time invested
  • goals/mission/vision of blogger
  • God’s vision (!!!)
  • unique gifts
  • reach
  • education (and I don’t mean a college degree, but willingness to seek out and learn)
  • consistency of blogging

Oh and these are just a few things, friend! My goal today isn’t to overwhelm you — in fact, an overall goal for this entire weekly column is to keep the information simple and straightforward. The last thing I want you to do is throw your hands up and think it’s hopeless based on this list. It’s not!

My goal, however, is to make you aware of the elements involved in what creates these stats. The one thing you need to know about “bigger bloggers” is that they were once “smaller bloggers”. So when you see them write or hear them speak on topics like stats, they are doing it from a position of experience, not arrogance.

Jeff Goins scrapped a blog after 5 years of writing on it because he felt like he hit a wall. It was time to move on and start fresh. That’s when his blog, Jeff Goins Writer was birthed.

If you think you’ve hit a wall, don’t waste anymore time running into it. This means, if you’ve done all you can and you believe you’re getting nowhere, it might be time to think about starting fresh.

If, however, you simply need the right tools to get you moving forward, I would encourage you to start there.

It is important to understand that building a blog and extending your reach takes dedicated, consistent work. It requires that we stretch beyond what we know and be open to learning new things constantly. We must be willing to grow if we want our blog to grow. Growth involves more then merely stats. It includes the development of your writing, and your willingness to learn beyond the basics. It requires a bit of investment.

This week, I want to challenge you to break the barriers of defining yourself and other people by their stats.  Blogging is not a popularity contest; it’s a community where we work together.

Subscribe to the Allume blog so you won’t miss anything in this series–by email or RSS.

For the Small{er} Blogger

Coreopsis Bud

Are you a “smaller” blogger and need a cheerleader? How about a community of cheerleaders? Trina from Trina Holden dot com and I will be sharing some things with you that bloggers with a smaller following may face. We want to equip you, encourage you, and cheer you on.

Join us here each Thursday as we cover these topics and more:

  • blogging myths
  • your influence
  • your unique passion {and how that effects your blog}
  • numbers and how they create barriers between bloggers
  • what’s really required to be an intentional and deliberate blogger

We’re going to introduce you to some influential people who blog and we also want to bring you face to face with the reality of your own blog.

Blogging is not simply writing on a website and hitting “publish”. It is so much more involved than that. The problem is, when we fail to see that, we will not understand why we are not moving forward and connecting with more people.

If your goal is to reach people, then you need to recognize that blogging is less about you, and more about helping others. We need to first check our motives, check our focus and make sure they are in the right place. If you focus on numbers, it’s going to rob you of your creativity and authenticity. If you only talk about your family life and never relate to your readers how your story can be helpful to them, they may never connect the dots and will stop reading.

As a writer, you need to make those connections plain for your reader to see. Yes, share your stories with us; but also share your encouragement and “how to’s”.  Tie the most important parts of your story in with how it is relative to your reader.

Before we get started there is something you need: to be teachable. There’s a saying that goes like this:

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. –Susan Jeffries

And another…

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. -attributed to Albert Einstein

If you are interested in moving forward, you need to be willing to make some changes and to press beyond the surface of typing and hitting “publish”.

We want to address your concerns as a small(er) blogger, so we invite you to leave them in the comments. What is your greatest challenge when it comes to blogging? What are some smaller challenges that seem to hinder your blog or hinder you from pressing on?

If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment, you can email me at christin at allume dot com with your questions.

 Photo Credit: Coreopis Bud