Brain Dump: My Unhealthy Work Mindset

It’s one of those weeks. My creative sparks are fizzling out. So, I’ll just write what I know, emptying my brain onto the page, giving it an extra shimmy and shake as we do when we dump the contents from a trashcan. 😉

I’m feeling tired as I write this. It’s been mostly rainy and cloudy this week, but today, the atmosphere has remained a medium grey all day. Sitting next to a big, South-facing window usually provides the light I need to work, but a flourescent overhead light illuminates the room now. I much prefer the warm, orange-y rays of the sun to the kind of artificial lighting that hurts one’s eyes when staring directly at it. But at least it’s keeping me awake.

My phone just alerted me that we’re under a tornado watch. Whew, boy. No wonder today’s weather has been awful; it signaled impending doom…and possibly power outages…please, God, not another power outage.

All the writing I do each week is burning me out. Between video scripts, my job at a biweekly paper, a weekly blog post, bookstagram captions and a weekly devotional (in the place of Sunday school–until it’s warm enough to gather outside again), it feels like I’m being wrung dry of my creative juices. I fret that my blog posts haven’t been as good as they used to be, and I’m generally not writing out the devo until Saturday morning, though I at least meditate on it throughout the week.

I think the solution will be two-pronged: I need to improve my time management and I need to give myself grace. With the former, I’ve started creating a daily to-do list, and it’s helping me to spend less time between productive activities contemplating what to do next or goofing off on social media. Though I’m good at keeping myself busy, I really need to work smarter, not harder. I think I’d be able to churn out better writing in every area consistently if I mapped out when to do what in a way that gives my creative muscle ample downtime.

But I also have to get real. I need to prioritize working out three times a week with my trainer, even if the driving and exercising and showering and what not takes up a decent chunk of my waking hours, because my disabled body will deteriorate otherwise. I need to spend a few hours reading books and blog posts each week, though it’ll take away from the time I worked–for my mental health, for my vocabulary expansion, for my bookstagram posts, for inspiration. I need to be okay with going out with my mom or watching a couple movies with my fiance or hanging out with a friend without the persistent thought in the back of my mind that I could be accomplishing things if I were home and/or alone.

I realize when reading back the last paragraph that my mindset about work is pretty unhealthy. I’ve really got to start giving myself grace. I have to accept that I might skip weeks sometimes with blogging or get videos out late or not make a bookstagram post for weeks (okay, admittedly, I already do that last thing). I look forward to exchanging the written Sunday school lessons for less formal group discussions. C’mon spring!

It’s pouring cats and dogs outside now, but funny enough, the sun is shining brighter through the clouds. It’s coincidentally reflective of how I feel after getting things off my chest. I may just be able to cut off this dang vibe-killing overhead light.

What are your tips for time management and taking care of your creative muscle? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

P.S. Here is my latest video. Give it a watch if you have six minutes; I think it’s pretty funny, thanks in part to my fiance’s editing advice. Thanks a million to anyone who watches. ♥♥

P.P.S. I post videos on a weekly basis, but I don’t always share them here because some are political, and I don’t want longtime readers to feel alienated if they disagree with me. But if you’re curious, check out some of the other vids on my channel!

A Ranty Pep-Talk on Combating “Blogger’s Block”

This has certainly been a thing since writers of all walks of life first created their own corners on the world wide web and began producing regular, bite-sized articles called “blog posts.” But, in the last couple months, *multiple* bloggers I follow have lamented their struggle to open a new, blank post and simply write. For some, this longterm struggle finally morphs into dread (that’s the term someone used in a recent post, for real!).

I’ve been blogging for 3.5 years as of posting this, and this doesn’t generally happen to me (unless I wait ’til the day before my post goes live to start it, as I don’t do well AT ALL under pressure, but that’s more of an anxiety issue…anyways…). So, I’d like to share Retrospective Lily’s two cents. Here we go–

A major reason people experience “Blogger’s Block” (writer’s block for bloggers, if that wasn’t obvious) is because we tend to pigeon-hole ourselves. Maybe it’s a psychological thing; we NEED rules and guidelines to help us navigate our world with relative safety and self-assurance, so we sometimes, even subconciously, give ourselves unnecessary boundaries. So, allow me to ground us with a few important reminders:

  • Most of our regular readers don’t care that much what we write about.
  • Most of us care much more about our blogs than our readers do.
  • Most of us don’t and will never generate (a large amount of) money from our blogs.

Well, that was certainly blunt and controversial. I’ll explain, then you can feel free to disagree on one or more points.

Most of us will gain followers based on how we market ourselves. For instance, a fashion blogger’s followers will likely be interested in fashion, or a Christian blogger’s followers will mostly be Christians. But, for your CORE readers–the small sliver who actually read/like/comment on most of your posts–the main appeal is YOU. The true ride-or-die supporters of your blog won’t stop reading because you deviate somewhat from your main focus.

Not everyone agrees with this; a blogging buddy of mine recently made another site to keep his personal life updates separate from his more scholarly main posts. Maybe it depends on how strict your focus is or how far you stray from that focus. But MOST bloggers will hang on to their core readers regardless of what they do because they’ve established relationships (even if they are weird, distanced ones in which we put forth whatever persona we want).

And to add to that–most of our readers care less about our blogs than we do. Shocking, I know! But we’re the ones slaving over our post ideas, editing, adding/creating images, obsessively reading it again and again. Others see our post, and most skip over it without a passing thought but a few skim it, maybe leave a like or comment, and swiftly move on with their own day and their own life. IMO, it’s silly and perhaps a bit vain to stress over what our readers want and how they’ll perceive us when we’re a tiny blip on the radar of their world.

Additionally, most of us will never make money from our blogs (aside from some chump change, if you host ads). Ignore me if you’re an author or a graphic designer or something. But most bloggers are really doing this as a hobby.

Here’s the point of my rantings: the (blogging) world is your oyster! Write what you feel. The fans you have will likely stick with you, and who knows? You might attract some more this way. Because writers flourish when they lean into passion and showcase their personality.

It’s helpful to keep a list of blog ideas that you add to on the go, and talking about yourself (life updates, something interesting that happened to you or that you observed, etc.) is a reliable back-up when your mind is blanker than a fresh, empty post. But, when I start a rough draft, I just go with the flow–which is how this ended up as a rant instead of the originally-intended, neatly-formatted list of tips.

Funny and semi-related anecdote: my fiancee has an IG account on which he posts daily with pictures of his movie room or film reviews that he writes and I edit (give @garth_riot a follow!). He recently got a comment on a post that irritated him, so he called me to complain (what are best friends for, after all?). After entertaining his rant for over half an hour, I firmly instructed him to channel his passion into a video script (he’s got a YT channel in the works). Within a couple hours, he texted me that it was three pages long and thanked me for giving him that advice.

Do you experience blogger’s block? How do you fend it off? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

3 Things I Wish Other Bloggers Did

As a WordPress blogger for about three years, I’ve been around the block with discovering blogs, making connections, and all that jazz. Over the years, I’ve noticed some things not all bloggers do–but I wish they did! Blogging advice posts tend to be popular because they’re informative and fun. I hope this post pushes you to assess your own site/habits/etc. and is also enjoyable to read. 🙂

Use better titles

This one earns the #1 spot because it frustrates me the most. Why? It’s unnecessarily self-defeating. What does that mean? Using vague titles makes your post less enticing. I feel conflicted on sharing a great post with a not-so-great title because, no matter the quality of the content, most people won’t be intrigued to click on it.

When I write a rough draft, I put a nonspecific word/phrase as a placeholder for the title based on what I intend to write. Once I’ve finished the rough draft and returned later to edit, I have a better grasp on what specifically the post covers, so I can tweak the headline. With my more rambling posts especially, the end result is not always what I envisioned at the start; I just go with the flow and type what I want in the moment. Thus, I need to readjust the title once the post takes shape.

For instance, one of my recent rambling posts was titled, “Striking Balances Without Becoming Paralyzed (Coronavirus & Black Lives Matter).” I initially wrote “Striking Balances” as the title because, though I wasn’t sure where I would end up, I started writing with the general feeling of being caught between a lot of strong viewpoints and hostility. After writing and later editing the post, I supplemented the placeholder title with more info. I know too many bloggers who would’ve just left it as is! 😉 But when comparing those titles, you see how one captures the overall point/vibe of the post more effectively than the other.

Clean up your site: literally & metaphorically

Literally

I prefer reading blog posts in the WordPress Reader where they all look the same. This is partially due to our brains’ general favoritism for familiarity…but another big reason is that many bloggers have eye-sores for websites. Dark text on a dark background, light text on a light background, microscopically-sized text, a cluttered mess of different fonts/colors/images…ugh. Just pull up your own site and really reflect–is this aesthetically pleasing and easy to read? Also, I’m not a huge fan of widgets (basically, little plug-ins you add to your site, usually featured on the left or right side of every page). Though the concept and selection of them is great theoretically, a lot of people feel compelled to use as many as they can. More than a handful is excessive, in my opinion, and can even make your site load slowly.

Metaphorically

When I use the phrase “cleaning up your site,” I also refer to its mechanics, namely menu options and social media links. A lot of (usually novice) bloggers choose a theme (website template) that automatically adds social media links to their site. It’s annoying to visit a website, see the social media links, think to myself, hey, I’d like to see what they post on IG, click the link for their IG, and get deposited at instagram.com because the links are still on their default setting. Please, figure out if you have social media links on your site, and either fill out the links with your info or delete them. I have a blog post on this topic if you’ve no idea how to do that: Blogging Tips on Pages, Menus, & Social Media Links (with Screenshots & Step-By-Step Instructions).

Menus should be very straight-forward. My site has a primary menu (Home, About, Blog, My Disability Story, and coming soon, My Testimony) and a drop-down menu of categories (Christian, Classic Works, Blogging Tips & Tricks, etc.). I could go into all my Christian posts and further divide them into sub-categories, but I don’t have the time or willpower at the moment. Anyways, I don’t like websites with non-intuitive, not-user-friendly menus.

For instance, I might visit a Christian blogger’s website and see these options across the main menu–Bible Studies, Prayer, Scripture of the Month, Living the Faith. I have so many questions. Why isn’t there a “Home” link to get back to the homepage? Why isn’t there a “Blog” link so I can just scroll through their posts chronologically? Shouldn’t “Scripture of the Month” be filed under “Bible Studies,” or could they change the menu option to “Bible Related” then file both “Scripture of the Month” and “Bible Studies” under that?

First off, be sure that basic options like “Home” and “Blog” are available in the main menu. BTW, I think an “About” page is also essential so people know who/what they’re even reading. A “Contact” page could also be deemed essential, but I list my email address on the “About” page, so I don’t have one. Either way, put your contact info somewhere easy to find. Secondly, classify your content in ways that make logical sense.

Interact more

I have over 1,200 followers. Three years ago, I would’ve been jealous of me. But now that I’ve reached this pinnacle, it’s less gratifying than you might think. At least 75% of my followers have never and will never like or comment on one of my posts. Why?! Is WordPress really so overrun with bots and spam accounts? Who are all these people who click “follow” and never engage? I don’t get it. I just cling tightly to the blogging connections I’ve made over the years because I know how hard they are to establish and maintain. I throw in “and maintain” because I’ve watched many great bloggers fall to the wayside over time.

Bonus observation: here’s something that rubs me the wrong way–bloggers who say they don’t have time to read blogs yet post multiple times a week. If the priority is just “writing” rather than “being part of a reading and writing community,” you may as well privately journal instead of blog. Obviously, people can do whatever they want…that’s just my two cents. 😉 Maybe some people have so many fans that they don’t have to reciprocate, but every popular blogger I know is active in the community.


So, there you have it–a few things I wish my fellow bloggers would do. At the root, it all goes back to making it easier for me to support, promote, or get to know you!

Thanks for reading! What do you wish other bloggers would do? Let me know in the comments.

Revisiting Old Blogging Articles: Great vs. Questionable Advice

Of my six most “liked” blog posts EVER (displayed on my website’s homepage), three fall in the “Blogging Tips & Tricks” series. A lot of people are seeking the secrets to blogging success! As I spent several tedious hours last week recategorizing some posts, I revisited my old blogging advice articles. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on them. Most of my tips stand the tests of time and experience, but with some of them…well, hindsight is 20/20. 😉 (Ironic given the calendar year)

[I won’t go through every tip from every post, but I will include my best and worst tips. As it turns out, I’ve shared the best tips more than once in slightly different ways, hence the “X/Y/Z” format of the headings under “Great Advice.”]

Great Advice

Provide worthwhile content/WWIR (What would I read?)

The blogs I’ve seen skyrocket are those that consistently provide touching devotionals, funny life stories, insightful/educational content, or anything that teaches me something, entertains me, warms my heart, makes me ponder, etc. Though I prefer a more intentional approach on my own blog (edited text, highlighted and italicized sentences, headings, etc.), professionalism is just icing on the cake. Many wonderful bloggers lean towards a casual approach. The question that matters above all else: do you have something interesting to say? [Sidenote: While perfect grammar is not a requirement for blogging success, exceptionally poor grammar can be a distraction.]

When looking for direction on what to blog about, it helps to reflect on the acronym “WWIR?” What would I think was helpful or fun or intriguing if someone else posted about it? …I should write about that myself!

Incorporate your personality/Don’t put yourself in a box

What motivates readers to come back again and again, perhaps even more than worthwhile content? Your lovely, unique self! It’s such a drag to read blog posts that are dry and impersonal. I want to feel a connection with you when I read your posts, whether you’re sweet as pie, humorously cynical, or anything in between. 🙂

My advising you not to put yourself in a box flies right in the face of this common blogging tip: “Find a niche.” Rules were made to be broken, right? On Retrospective Lily, you will find everything from faith lessons to societal diatribes to life updates. As far as I see it, blogging in and of itself is a niche. So, if you want to stick with one subject, go right ahead–but don’t feel like you must do that in order to build a readership.

There is one commonality between all my blog posts: they were written by me! (I hope) pieces of my personality shine through all my posts, regardless of the topic. The same should apply for you and your blog, whatever your focus(es) is/are.

Reach Out/Engage with the community/Network with other bloggers

As you can see from the three different phrasings of this tip, I constantly include it in blogging advice articles! If you don’t reach out and follow other blogs + read and comment on other posts regularly, your blog will either never take off or slowly die (depending whether you just started or have been blogging for a while). Seriously, reciprocation is THAT important. Most blog readers have their own blogs. Therefore, you need to spread some love to get love back.

Three effective ways to find posts you like and connect with bloggers:

  1. Look up certain tags. For instance, if you love books, look at the hashtags “books, “fiction,” and “reading.”
  2. Use the WordPress search bar (similar to tags–just search a subject that interests you).
  3. Comment hop (my personal favorite and a tip from an old post). Look in the comment sections of blogs you like. Those users will likely have similar interests, and you know they’re active if they engage with other blogs.

Questionable Advice

KISS (Keep It Short, Stupid!)

Maybe this is actually good advice, but I’m not good at following it, haha. I do honestly try to be succinct, but it’s a rare occasion when a Retrospective Lily post falls under 500 words. While it’s important to stay focused and not ramble excessively (one reason I edit), I don’t think long blog posts are automatically a bad thing. My goal is always to stay under 1,000 words, but even that is sometimes difficult!

A point about blog comments under “Reach Out”

As I referenced above, “Reach Out” relates to engaging the community, which is right on track. However, I mention in the original post that it’s great to leave a blog comment, even if it’s just, “Great post!” Don’t listen to March 2018 Lily! Vague comments that don’t address the post’s content come off as spammy. In fact, I wonder if I’m dealing with a person or a bot when I receive vague comments. May 2020 Lily’s advice: if you’re going to leave a comment, say something that contributes to the topic and/or makes it clear you are an actual human being who read the post. For the record, going beyond just “liking” posts and leaving meaningful comments is something you should do as often as possible to build strong connections with people.


I was kinda hoping this would be juicier, but apparently, I know what I’m talking about! 😉 I stand by almost every tip I’ve ever given. Now, I need to get my ducks in a row for more blogging posts. I have some ideas…

  • Features of the Gutenberg editor I hate
  • Features of the Gutenberg editor you may not know about
  • Trying to use the Classic editor with old posts after using the Gutenburg editor for over a year; why the Gutenburg editor is easier when you get used to it
  • Ways I’m a bad blogger
  • Update on how I keep up with fellow bloggers
  • Blogging advice
  • Basic steps when starting a WP site

Thanks for reading! Did you find something in this post helpful? What is your #1 blogging tip? Got a suggestion of a blogging article I should write (and do you like any of my suggestions)? Let me know in the comments.

Sunshine Blogger Award (Writer’s Edition)

Hi, friends. I’m popping up between regular Friday posts to answer a few fun questions about blogging!

The Sunshine Blogger Award is peer recognition for bloggers who inspire readers by promoting positivity and bringing joy.

Matthew Winters (Honest Thoughts from a Pastor) nominated me for this award. I like his blog because he’s relatable and down-to-earth. Check out his site!

Questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging? I started in September 2017 for a college course. I stayed because I discovered my niche and an awesome community of people.
  2. What is your favorite blog post you’ve written and why? I put my heart into what I do, so it’s hard to determine a favorite post in particular. This is the post with the most views and likes–Self-Improvement From my Disabled, Christian Perspective (on the subject of New Year resolutions)
  3. How long do you edit or agonize over a post before you press “publish”? I edit my posts at least a couple times, but some rough drafts collect dust for months, while others get cleaned up and published a week after I write the rough draft. It usually depends on A) how excited I feel about the post and B) what I’ve published recently.
  4. Writers’ personalities are often different than their writing portrays. How would you describe your personality? Friendly, sweet, happy, kinda nerdy
  5. What is your favorite social media platform and why? If we exclude WordPress, I’d choose Instagram. I like making my little inspirational quote images on Sundays. Pinterest is also fun.
  6. If you are willing to share your social media links/handles, what are they? Facebook Instagram Twitter Pinterest
  7. What tools do you use to “beef up” your blog? I use Unsplash and Pixabay to find images I can use for free, then I edit those images with Canva. [I just bought Canva for Work, which gives me greater access to images and more editing options.] I also have the premium WordPress subscription.
  8. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from blogging? I’m going to copy Matthew’s answer–“Blogging is so much more about the audience than the writer. I love connecting with people through my writing. “
  9. What advice would you give to a prospective/new blogger? Read Blogging Tips & Tricks: Improve Your Blog Posts & Gain Followers or any of my other Blogging Tips & Tricks posts 😉
  10. Have you ever been nominated for and/or won other blogging awards? Yes, though I sometimes forget about nominations–oops!
  11. Are you satisfied with your blog’s progress? Yes. I’ve really honed in on my branding, my posts are improving, and my readership is growing. I’d like to continue that upward momentum! It’s both a lot of work and a lot of fun.

Nominees:

Questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What is your favorite blog post you’ve written and why?
  3. How long do you edit or agonize over a post before you press “publish”?
  4. Writers’ personalities are often different than their writing portrays. How would you describe your personality?
  5. What is your favorite social media platform and why ?
  6. If you are willing to share your social media links/handles, what are they?
  7. What tools do you use to “beef up” your blog?
  8. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from blogging?
  9. What advice would you give to a prospective/new blogger?
  10. Have you ever been nominated for and/or won other blogging awards?
  11. Are you satisfied with your blog’s progress?

Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him/her.
  • Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

Thanks for reading! See ya Friday! 🙂 Question for the comments: what is your favorite topic that I post about (blogging, Christianity, disability, etc.)?

Cleaning Out Defunct Blogs & Tips to Blog Successfully/Keep Going

Hi, friends. I’ve been cleaning out blogs from my followed sites, which got me contemplating why people quit blogging. In this post, I’ll muse a bit on those reasons and follow up with tips to help you succeed/keep going with blogging.

I generally keep up with bloggers by lapping my list of followed sites alphabetized A-Z, knocking out 1-2 letters each day. Every couple weeks, I check out bloggers who have followed me lately to see if I want to follow back. I don’t know if I will ever have a cut-off point where I won’t follow any more blogs because I could miss out on some real gems.

I knew I needed to commence with some spring cleaning when I had followed over 500 blogs. So I scrolled through the list and started unfollowing people.

Why Do People Stop Blogging?

I was amazed to see how many people hadn’t posted in four months, eight months, a year. I asked myself why this was the case and came up with a list of potential reasons–

  1. They no longer have time.
  2. They can’t think of things to write about anymore.
  3. They are discouraged by a poor engagement level.
  4. The work required isn’t worth it/It isn’t fun anymore.

#1-3 are fixable. #4 is broader, and it may or may not be fixable.

Tips to Keep Going/Succeed

Below I am providing some tips that can help with the issues I listed. I wrote “keep going/succeed” in the header because everyone’s definition of success differs; for some, having a few loyal readers equates to success, while others will feel their blog isn’t successful unless their readership continuously grows; some don’t care about their readership as much as enjoying the writing aspect; some measure their blog’s success financially (book sales, affiliate link purchases). So, whatever your metric of success is, I hope these tips (which are numbered according to the above list) help you keep going.

[Obinna at Shards of Bards wrote a similar post called An Open Letter to Bloggers Who Feel Like Giving Up that partially inspired this one. Follow him for quality posts + insightful comments on your posts.]

Prioritize What Matters to You (#1)

Whether the subject is completing some chores or reading the Bible or anything else that requires self-discipline, I’m wary of the “I don’t have time” excuse. Yes, some people genuinely have almost no spare time between work, school, their families, and/or volunteering/extracurriculars. But I happen to follow several SuperMoms who find time to blog once or twice a month…

More often than not, “I don’t have time” translates to “It’s not a priority to me.” It’s fine if that’s how you feel about blogging, but either way, you should take responsibility for your time management and prioritize what matters to you. And if something simply isn’t a priority to you, just own it!

Don’t Put Yourself in a Box (#2)

Life constantly teems with inspiration, and writing ideas should flow abundantly…so why don’t they? I have found that this struggle often arises from bloggers putting arbitrary limitations on themselves (I have to write about these certain subjects, I have to write in this certain way, etc.). Stop doing that and think outside the box! You can do whatever you want in YOUR corner of the interwebs.

Here are a few tips for coming up with content when your brain feels empty

  • Come up with a series; you can fall back on a series post when you have no other ideas. (Some of mine include Classics, Blogging Tips & Tricks, My Disability Experience, Disability Chat, Dueling Poems, Story Behind, etc.)
  • Tell us about yourself; Favorite show, movie, book, band, etc.? Ten random facts about you? Pets? Places you’ve visited? An issue you deal with or experience you went through? What you’ve been up to lately (this kind is always popular when I do it)? When in doubt, remember the saying “Write what you know.
  • Read books, articles, etc. or watch documentaries, videos, etc. about the topics that interest you so you will have more to say about those topics.

Also, if you type a phrase like “blogging ideas” in the WordPress search bar, you will be bombarded with posts that give suggestions.

Provide Worthwhile Content (#3)

Worthwhile content does not have to be intellectual; the “ten random facts about you” post can be worthwhile. But your blog post needs to do something for the reader–make them smile/laugh, teach them something new, help them get to know you, inspire them, etc.

If you haphazardly throw some things together and publish it with little thought, you will probably struggle to build a following because, whether this is true or not, you are sending out the vibe that you don’t take seriously your readers or your own blog. [Sidenote: some people really don’t take their blog or their readership too seriously and just want to have fun, and that’s perfectly fine.]

Engage With the Community (#3)

I sound like a broken record because I bring this up in almost every “Blogging Tips & Tricks” post…so I will keep this one brief. Bottom line: you get what you give.

Reflect on Why You Want to Quit (#4)

In the list I made earlier, #4 was the broadest category. If you feel like blogging isn’t “worth it” anymore, reflect on the specific reasons you feel that way. For many, the root of the issue is one of the first three reasons–poor time management, lack of post ideas, poor engagement level–all of which can be fixed.

However, some things aren’t fixable.

The issue of just not wanting to blog anymore may not have a concrete solution. It might be time to throw in the towel if you–

  • don’t enjoy creating posts and don’t enjoy engaging with the community either
  • still feel “meh” about blogging even if you hypothetically had a large following and lots of post ideas
  • are unhappy with your site yet aren’t willing to exert effort to improve your site (take time to produce better posts, engage more with bloggers and/or promote on social media)

Thanks for reading! What are some reasons you would quit or that you think motivates others to quit? What advice do you have to grow a readership, make blogging fun, or encourage those on the verge of quitting? Let me know in the comments.

P.S. Logo Update

My intelligent, kind, and supportive blogging buddy, Steven at Perfect Chaos, pointed out that logos should err on the side of simplicity so you can shrink them down or enlarge them if need be. Hence, despite its overwhelming popularity, I didn’t pick the flower wreath logo. [I instead chose the purple background mandala.] When I made the flower wreath smaller, it became a blurry mess! Since everyone including me loved the flower wreath, I made a photo with it for my homepage so it could revel in full-sized glory. ♥

Updates: What I’m Reading & Writing, Alternate Logos, & More!

Hi, friends. Today’s post is laidback, and before I jump from my Easter series back into regular blog posts, I wanted to take a breather.

My life is calmer right now vs. a couple month ago. From the beginning of February to the beginning of April, I–

  • made two newsletters and two programs for my district of United Methodist Women
  • gave three sermons in the place of my out-of-town pastor
  • interned with Lay Servant School for two weekends
  • and more!

I won’t have to make any newsletters or programs for a while, and Lay Servant School only takes place once a year. I might deliver the same three sermons to another church soon, but I look forward to that because I get to improve on old material rather than start from scratch!

What I’m Reading

We’re reading a new book in the Sunday School class I teach called The Apostle’s Creed for Preaching, Teaching, and Worship by Rev. James Howell. [The Apostle’s Creed essentially summarizes Christianity.] Rev. Howell examines each line of the creed, providing explanations and reflections. The book has been a pleasure to read and share with the others in class.

My Bibles are far from pristine, ha!

In Bible studies, I continue to chip my way through the Old Testament while lapping the New Testament repeatedly. With the OT, I’ve made it to 1 Kings. I’m progressing slowly because I have a work Bible and a home Bible, and I read the OT and takes notes in my home Bible. I read my work Bible on days when I won’t have alone-time at home. When I read my work Bible, I work on the NT resource list I teased back in my New Year’s post. Truthfully, I’m shooting in the dark with this project, but maybe I will have something substantial by the end of the year.

In fiction, I’m halfway through Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, which is an entertaining story and even laugh-out-loud funny at points.

What I’m Writing

I’ve worked on a variety of blog posts in the last month, as I am a twenty-rough-drafts-at-once kind of blogger, hehehe. Here are a few in the line-up. Titles are subject to change when all is said and done.

  • Addressing Hopelessness in my Disabled Peers + Suggestions of Productive Activities (Disability Chat)
  • Defending Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Classics)
  • Fair Weather Friends With God
  • Clearing Out Defunct Blogs + Tips to Keep Going (Blogging Tips & Tricks)
  • Christian Music I’m Loving Lately–Pop, Rap, Worship, Gospel, Etc.

Other Tidbits

I want to thank all of you who like, comment on, share, etc. my blog posts. I spend a lot of time reading blogs. We all need love and encouragement. So, to people who support bloggers–you are awesome and appreciated!

I broke down and purchased a paid plan through Canva after using the free version for so long. I mostly bought the plan for the “magic resize” function, though I also wanted access to more graphics.

Putting my new subscription to use, I made some potential new logos. Let me know if you like one of the new logos or prefer my current one. I’m still experimenting with them.

I’m also trying to connect with more bloggers on social media, so please follow/like my pages. Comment below if you use social media, and I will do the same!

Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest

Sidenote: I started using Pinterest recently, and all it’s accomplished is making me want to buy things. Am I doing this right?😂

Thanks for reading! How are you doing? Do any of my blog drafts pique your interest? What do you think about the logos? Let me know in the comments.

P.S. Enjoy some Easter pictures!

The New WordPress Editor: Introduction & Basic Functions (with Screenshots & Step-By-Step Instructions)

Hi, friends. Happy New Year! 🙂 Speaking of things that are new…

A new editor has come to WordPress, and while using it isn’t mandatory for now, we’ll all (presumably) be forced to switch at some point. [It’s actually a few months old but new to me.]

Anticipating that, I have been using the new editor for a couple weeks. At first, I hated it, because who likes change? Now that I’m used to it, I like it more than the old one (mostly).

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

The Foundational Difference Between the Old & New Editor

The old editor works like the average text document, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. A blog post is essentially one text document filled with various components. All the options for formatting are arranged across the top. If you want to write a list, insert a blockquote, make a hyperlink, add an image, etc., you find the option in that menu at the top.

The new editor divides a post in blocks. Each paragraph of text, lists, section headings, blockquotes, images, videos, etc.–every different piece of a post is its own block. Rather than the post being one text document filled with various components, the post is a combination of blocks with each block being one of those components.

With the new editor, a whole post is like a finished puzzle, and each part of the post is a piece of it.

Why Move to a Block Format?

Once you get used to it, adding components to the post is actually faster and easier with the block format. The real reason for this change, though, is search engine optimization. As we all hopefully know, search engines are bots, not sentient beings. When a post is organized into separate pieces, algorithms can more easily decipher all the different parts of a post, thus making it easier for bots to assess our posts when matching up searches with relevant articles.

What Are the Basic Differences When Creating a Post?

With the old editor, every option for adding or changing things appeared in the top menu. (Screenshot #1)

old wordpress editor
Screenshot #1

With the new editor, the old menu at the top is gone. Every time you hit “Enter” when creating a post, a plus sign pops up on the left side. If you are simply typing sentences, just type as if you’re using the old editor–every block is set to normal text by default. If you want a section heading, a list, an image, or anything besides normal text, you click the plus sign and pick whichever option you want. (Screenshots #2 & #3)

new wordpress editor
Screenshot #2–The plus sign pops up on the left. Suggestions pop up on the right.
new wordpress editor
Screenshot #3–This menu appears when I click the plus sign.

When you want to highlight, italicize, underline, etc. in a block of text, click the mouse somewhere in the text and a menu appears. (Screenshot #4)

new wordpress editor
Screenshot #4

The menu on the right side now has two tabs. If you click “Document,” you see a menu that’s extremely similar to the old one (scheduling, categories, tags, etc.). The tab “Block” applies to whatever block the mouse is clicked in. (Screenshots #5 & #6)

There is a small menu at the top that includes a plus sign icon, undo, re-do, a “Content Structure” icon with word count and other info, and a “Block Navigation” icon with a list of the different kinds of blocks in the post. (Screenshot #7)

Screenshot #7

I have more to say, but I’ll get around to it; these are just some tips to help you transition. Though switching is not mandatory yet, I recommend that everyone try to get ahead of the curve. Also, don’t we all want more search engine hits?

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts or questions in the comments below.

Blogging Tips & Tricks: Improve Your Blog Posts & Gain Followers

Hi, friends. Today’s post includes some tips for improving your blog posts and (hopefully) gaining loyal followers. My readers with an acute memory might see a few points rehashed from the past, but let’s be honest, do bloggers ever get tired of reading these types of posts? Not in my observation! Let’s get started.

Quick preface: I know that many bloggers I follow don’t abide by these tips or care about increasing their following. This is simply my advice for bloggers looking to grow.

Continue reading “Blogging Tips & Tricks: Improve Your Blog Posts & Gain Followers”