Monday, September 29, 2014

T W E N T Y - N I N E | Blogging Must-Haves

There are only two days left (today and tomorrow) of The Blog-tember Challenge! I don't know about you, but I've had a blast getting to know everyone and following along with those joining the challenge. I can't believe we're nearly finished! Now that I think about it, this prompt should have gone toward the beginning of the challenge to give new bloggers a glimpse into what we do, but oh well. Better late than never right?

Today's prompt: What are your go-to blogging resources? What would you recommend to a beginner?


Below I have included what I believe to be essential to my blogging success. When I say success I do not necessarily mean to get the most followers or to become a "celeb blogger". By success I mean these are the things I have found to take my blog in the right direction, best serving my purpose and mission behind this space and my connections online. 

Vision: I think it is SO important for having a vision for your blog. Some people write mission statements, others look at big picture goals, and I am currently working on both. Funny timing here; after my last blog everyday challenge I changed Anchored in Love Divine to Brave Love, and here I am looking at another blog refresher! Don't worry, the name will stay the same but be on the look out for a new theme and some updates. You'll find more about the vision behind Brave Love soon.

Planning & Practicalities: When it comes to blog-planning, I do this in a number of ways. I keep a running list of ideas on my phone and then plug those ideas into a calendar/schedule throughout the month. I use various sheets from Lauren Hooker, Emily Ley, and Emily Thomas. I recently purchased a blog planner from Heart and Arrow Design (pictured above) which I am eager to put to use!

I'm a Blogger girl through and through, even after giving Wordpress a try and using Squarespace for my portfolio, I recommend Blogger to anyone just starting out because I find the interface to be super user-friendly and the layouts easy to manipulate. It does take some time to get used to when it's brand new, but that goes without saying. 

Look & Layout: When I first started out, I used the standard, simple theme provided by Blogger then hunted down a free template online. After a couple years of navigating the blogosphere I invested in a theme on Etsy; there are plenty of great ones to choose from! I've got a new one on the way for later this week ;) When it comes to setting up your site, keep it simple. Don't use too many fonts, have plenty of white or grey space, and use a text size that is readable.

Keep your sidebar organized with a photo and your name at the top. Your readers and visitors will want to know right away who they are connecting with! A navigation bar across the top is always helpful, and while the coding can be tricky providing a button for snagging is a must-have in my opinion. I also think that your subscription options (e-mail, Bloglovin, and google friend connect) should be towards the top of the sidebar for easy access). I use Photoshop for any and all of my graphics and collages, an old version, but I'm sure Photoshop Elements would have the same functions I require if you're looking for a program to start.

Community: Community is the heartbeat of blogging for me. It is why I do what I do! I am part of several blogging communities and they have blessed me so much. The Peony Project is a growing group of women who seek to know Jesus more and share Him in their blogs and social media, and #fireworkpeople is a community growing from a Tuesday night Twitter chat that is launching creatives into their greatest potential!

I am also headed to a few conferences in the spring, and I cannot wait to connect with fellow bloggers! The Influence Network is an online community not solely for bloggers (nor is the conference exclusive to blogging gals), but many bloggers have joined in over the years. Some of my favorite ladies from the blogosphere are going to the conference next year and I cannot wait to meet them in person! Hope Spoken is another conference coming up in the spring (unfortunately already sold out) that I am excited to attend and meet several ladies I have gotten to know via the internet. 

Community is an aspect of blogging that surprised me, but an element that has now become the core of this area of my life. I highly recommend looking into these areas and pursuing community with other bloggers! It will make all the difference!

Your turn, friends! What are your favorite/best blogging resources?

Brave Love Blog


 

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