Tuesday, June 6, 2017

6 Keys to Help You Be the Boss of Your Blog





I can't quite believe I'm in the midst of my 10th year of blogging.  Sitting down at this keyboard and sharing my heart, resources, and learnings with you has become as natural {and necessary!} as breathing.

And even though I've coached others on the subject of their blogs, I'm still very much a student.  

I don't know anyone who's arrived, and have discovered that when someone seems to be perched near the blog world pinnacle, she often fades off the screen, burns out, finds other creative endeavors to embrace, or has no choice but to move on to focus on more pressing matters.

Like family.  Work.  Ministry.  Life.

It costs something to be out and about online, to produce thoughtful stuff that matters, to share relationship albeit from afar, to be in the place in your head and your soul where there's actually something of value to offer others.  




A few things I've learned ...

1.  Write when you want.
Too many 'experts' seek to inform us on the most efficient ways to hone our craft.  The number of minutes each day to write, what time of day to do so, what days of the week and most profitable hours to hit the 'publish' button.  Calendars and schedules mean well but can burden and bully, leaching away our joy as they attempt to corral our creative energy and our precious hours.
  
I beg to differ.  

Go ahead and write when you have something of value to say.  Write when you can't not write.  Write when there's a fire in your bones that just can't be extinguished.  You'll feel freer and lighter as you discover and embrace your best rhythms and pace yourself accordingly.

You're the boss of your blog.  You get to decide when you pick up your pen.

2.  Write what you want.
Many bloggers have a specific niche, an area of expertise.  And over time that works for them.  They are known for their wisdom and insight on a specific subject and faithful readers regularly head over to their place, knowing they're going to get another heaping portion of good stuff on a particular topic.

Example?  Beth at MessyMarriage.com.  Fabulously wise counsel, godly inspiration, meaningful conversation.  

But if you don't have a niche, no problem.  We're multifaceted beings so it makes sense that our posts will reflect that reality.  Know the needs of your readers and appreciate your own bent to head in a certain direction.  Aim to encourage.  Cultivate and share your own unique giftedness.  The sky's the limit, isn't it.

You're the boss of your blog.  And this is a venue where your creativity and wisdom can morph and soar.

3.  Try to avoid the numbers.
Nothing steals our joy or squelches our creative juices more than an ever-present eye on stats.  Obsession with our / someone else's hits, comments, shares, likes, followers, subscribers can siphon off our exuberance and our ability to relax into what we're producing.

Or fill us with a rather unattractive pride.

Go ahead and be aware of what those numbers are.  But don't let your day rise and fall because those babies will most certainly fluctuate.  Claim the truth that we are not defined by our stats, we are defined by our Savior.

If you want to publish a book, I know that numbers can assist you in getting your foot in the door.  But no matter.  You're the boss of your blog and you, not those pesky lurking numbers, get to shape what defines your online presence.  

4.  Dig into your archives.
It's ok to rustle around through your posts from some years back, rediscover the goodies, dust them off, give them a face lift ... or a total redo.

And then hit that 'publish' button yet one more time.

This tidbit is one of the coolest things about being the boss of your own blog.  Your stuff?  It's your continued call on what to do with it.  I like to link up the new post with the old one.  When you spy the red adapted link at the bottom of a post around here, click on to see the original.  Chances are that there's some significant updates.

5.  Offer relationship when you can.
I've met a number of wonderful people in my online travels and I know you have, too ...  writers, creatives, counselors, ministry leaders, motivators, wounded healers.  I can't begin to tell you how much I've learned from connecting with people just like you.

One feature of blogging is the whole relational piece.  Over time, 'iron sharpening iron' connections develop as you mingle with others.  You meet people who prize what you prize ... and others who make you stop and think hard about issues you hadn't fully considered.  

Hearts connect, we stop by each other's sites on a regular basis to leave encouraging words.  We rally around when the tough times hit and share joy during the celebrations.  We pray for each other, feature each other's work without expecting payback, and applaud each other's successes and accomplishments.  

Because you're the boss of your blog, you get to decide how much of your energy goes to your online friends ... and how much should be going to the real life people that you live and work and do community with.

6.  Don't let FOMO {fear of missing out} be your motivation.
Sometimes you feel like you're back in 7th grade.  It seems like everyone else is hanging out together and you're off in the corner by yourself.  Fear of missing out leads to frustrating, shallow places. 

It's way too easy to run from hither to yon, racing to endless linky parties, looking to connect, to be known, to get others to come visit and leave comments.  But can I encourage you to venture forward from a place of peace, confidence, and joy?  Be your own authentic self.  You've got perspective to offer that no one else has. 

It's a very needful gift to limit your social media presence to the venues that give you joy and are a good use of your valuable time.  And it's always smart to know when enough's enough and not hesitate one single minute when it's time to close down the laptop and move off to fully embrace the real life people that are just waiting for you to fully engage once again.

So go ahead and proactively unplug for a week, a month, a season when you're starting to feel a bit crispy, dry ... maybe a tad anxious or obsessive.  There's an art to being in a place in life that's healthy, sane, and wise ... and it sometimes requires difficult choices.

We do best when 'we make it our goal to please Him' {2 Corinthians 5:9}.  Because He's the ultimate boss of our blogs.  And isn't that a truly awesome partnership?

What's your best blogging advice?  Do tell ...

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48 comments:

  1. I love number 5 and 6, Linda! I've been so enriched by the friendships I've been able to cultivate here in the blogosphere. It's a whole new and much closer world than before the Internet began. But I do struggle with the "being left out" piece at times. Hmm, I guess that means I'm human! ha!

    And thank you so much for your friendship and support of my place. I appreciate the shout out. It's always a blessing to be noted in such a favorable kind of way.

    But truthfully, I struggle with every one of these challenges you've outlined for us--especially as I move toward trying to get a book agent. I see how very important it is to market my platform and not just my book. I fail in this in comparison to so many others. But, I believe, that I can't get caught up in any of that--though it's part of the book proposal process. Oy vey! I am trying daily to focus on the Lord and what He puts before me each day. If I am to get a book deal, then that's where God wants me to be. If I don't, then that's where God wants me to be. I'm learning to accept that uncertain reality because I have a God who is always loving and always in control. Thank you again, dear friend! You're a sweetheart!

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    1. Dear Beth, I admire your tenacity and that of other writers who are in the daunting process of pursuing publishing. When various writing buddies have shared their long, arduous journey, I knew it wasn't for me in this season.

      Maybe a couple of decades ago? But not now. I feel like I've found a rhythm that works for me with being present for my family, my counseling clients, and the blogging.

      But you know I'll be cheering for you from the sidelines as you head in that direction. I've told you before how I wish you gave CEUs out on your post, because you always serve up a substantial meal, yet sharing your personal story in ways that are appropriate.

      I am happy to send all my married readers in your direction.

      ;-}

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  2. All of this is great advice, Linda! I've been blogging for nearly two years now and definitely still have a lot to learn so I'm grateful for the advice that those who have been doing it a lot longer have to share. I agree that keeping our focus right and letting God be in charge of our blogs is important, though not always easy.
    Just today I was thinking about an old post I wrote but I hadn't thought of the idea of adapting it. I might have to dig it out and have a look!
    So grateful to have connected with you here!

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    1. It's fun to dig something out and re-write it ... discovering in the process how much you've grown and changed in the years since it was first posted.

      Can't wait to see what you do with what you found, Lesley!

      ;-}

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  3. My advice, for what it is worth, is for people to ask themselves "WHY am I blogging?"

    Is it as a personal journal for family and friends? Just like a diary? Then your advice above applies totally.

    Or is it, like some people, a Blog to spread the Word of God and offer encouragement and support? If the latter, then it is essential to keep on Blogging as often as one can - at least twice a week. It is also advisable to respond to every comment made AND to visit the commenter on their Blogs and comment there too.

    It is also very important to check the statistics time and again, and to learn which posts attracted the most visitors, what subjects are of interest to one's audience/readership, and what percentage of visitors are return visitors as opposed to new visitors. Without such information, one might as well be Blogging to oneself. Which is OK if this is what one wants.

    Either way: Let your Blog be the one Jesus would want to read.

    God bless.

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    1. You make a very important point, Victor, that most of us are going to wholeheartedly agree on, that we're here to 'spread the Word of God and offer encouragement and support.'

      Absolutely, positively! I love the way we all do that with the personality and gifts God has given us. I've never seen two blogs that are identical.

      I'm with you. I find stats fascinating and informative. It's taken me some time not to be obsessed with the whole thing.

      Your benediction is well noting yet one more time - 'Let your Blog be the one Jesus would want to read.'

      Thanks for weighing in ...

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  4. Your insight into this thing we call blogging is perfect. I adore the friendships I have made and the community I have developed over the years. I count myself as blessed to have such dear online friends. It keeps me coming back for sure.

    I do struggle with balance between keeping a weekly schedule and writing when God says "write." I am getting better at it. The best is when I don't write and I don't feel in the least guilty about it. God has the plan and part of my plan is to invest in others in real life.

    You are wise and leave us with a lot to ponder. I will be mulling over the things you have learned.

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    1. 'The best is when I don't write and I don't feel in the least guilty about it.'

      Love this, Mary!

      And I am so grateful for your friendship. It seems like we've been walking along the same transitional path the last couple of years. Knowing that you're in the same place in many ways has been a lovely encouragement to me.

      You're a hope giver, and a brave one at that.

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  5. Hi Linda,
    I think we all find our own way through our blogging adventures, don't you? And those we encounter are often a surprise (since we had no idea their work existed) and a source of great encouragement. I'm not sure I had any goals when I started since I write for a living in the business world (except one -- to have a guest post accepted at incourage, which came true!) but I love packaging my words and photos and if anyone wants to come along with me on this blogging journey, I'm ever so grateful for the company! xoxo Great thoughts here!

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    1. You sure have a gift of packaging those words and stunning photos, Valerie. You've enlarged my borders in more ways than one as you've taken me on your travels to Europe ... and to the heart of our Father.

      My life is richer because our paths cross weekly. I am grateful ...

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  6. Great advice Linda. I had to change my approach to my blog when I started getting too busy to write one or two posts a day. I write when I am able to do so now. I don't stress over "Oh man, I have to write a post today!" My viewers have definitely gone down and changed over the years but I have enjoyed the online friends (you being one of them) I have met. I now write what I want to say and quit. I used to write 700 word essays. Not any more. Repetition is bad; boredom is worse. My advice? Keep it concise. Be careful of length for length's sake. And write from the heart.

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    1. This hits home for me, Bill -->'Repetition is bad; boredom is worse. My advice? Keep it concise.'

      I'm working on this. I need to use my red editing pen more! I find myself really gravitating toward blog posts others write that are only a few paragraphs.

      I'm going to remember your wise input!

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  7. Wise counsel, My Friend. I am on my 4th blog title and can't remember when I started blogging, but I think around the early years of this century. I have grown and become a better writer, thankfully! Your advice is good to keep in mind. It's ALL about enjoying what you are doing and it NOT becoming a job!
    Blessings, My Friend & Thank you for your consistent wise counsel!














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    1. I'm thinking that you might be one of the first people I met online way back in the day, Lulu! That we're still hanging in there together makes me smile. Wish I could remember how we first connected ...

      But I'm glad we did!

      ;-}

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  8. Loved all of this and will pass along as a "gift" to my 12 guest bloggers - we are closing off a collaborative this week and I will miss them! My tip is simple: keep your blog short! I go back to edit before publishing and sometimes find that it can easily be two blogs! Nice to meet you on Holley's today from CA. welcomeheart.com

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    1. Welcome, Sue! I'm headed over to your place right now to visit you and your 12 friends.

      I find it interesting that you and Bill a couple of comments back are both talking about keeping our blogs short.

      It's a great takeaway for me today and I appreciate you taking the time out to share with us here. And hope you'll be back again soon!

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  9. These are all great pieces of advice, Linda. I do want to be the boss of my own blog, and not driven by trends or numbers or comparisons. Thanks for your example in doing this!

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    1. Trends. That'd be an interesting topic to pursue, Lisa ...

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  10. Fantastic advice for us, no matter how long we've been blogging, Linda. Congratulations on making the 10 year mark! That's an accomplishment, indeed!
    It's funny I should see the acronym FOMO here. A blogging friend, Jean Wise, at www.healthyspirituality.org, redefined it recently as Faith Overcomes Multiple Obstacles. Don't you just love that?
    Blessings to you, my friend!

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    1. Thanks for introducing me to Jean, Martha. I went over to her place and said 'hi.' I love the whole topic of healthy spirituality.

      For sure, we can't be spiritually mature if we're emotionally immature. I so appreciate Peter Scazzero's books on the subject.

      Highly recommend!

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  11. My favorite part of blogging is the relational aspect. I have made many friends, especially you!

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    1. Oh, you're a sweetheart, Sarah. We do go back aways, don't we ...

      ;-}

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  12. I clicked over here from Holley Gerth's linkup. It's so funny -- I had scheduled today to be a day for thinking and planning and figuring out the direction for my blog. I was just about to start brainstorming my posting calendar for the summer, but I stopped to add my link to Holley's linkup first, saw your post, and clicked. It was full of things I needed to hear. Thanks for the reminders that I'm the boss of my blog--not the other way around.

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    1. Oh I'm so glad that this conversation met you where you're at! I'd love to hear how what we're all talking about helped you feel more comfortable in creating your online space.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, for joining the conversation, for letting me know that this hit home.

      So cool.

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  13. Well, Linda, my advice? Since I learned a lot of it from you, I won't repeat it in comments ;) I know longer posts may appeal to some, but looooong posts mean I rarely have time to read them then and can only hope to remember to read them later. Some of that is me and my ADD attention span. I was part of a poetry group for a year or so and got much better at being concise.
    Of course, the same group told me I didn't write poetry, only reflections. I finally quit going after that and hearing the phrase one too many times - "well, I can see this means something to you." which being translated is "Doesn't mean anything to me." But for all of that, I did learn a lot and I am grateful for that experience. Consequently I don't know what you call what I write, but I still do it! And I no longer feel guilty about writing when I have something to write.
    Of course, I also am not pursuing publication....I am like you, at a stage of life where I am not interested in doing all it would require. I suspect I will self -publish for family and friends that will be more than enough to handle I am sure.

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    1. I'm with you on those looooong posts. Unless it's an exceptional writer or someone with an exceptional message, I'm inclined to just scan.

      Gotta admit, I do alot of scanning. And still learning how to edit my own long-winded musings.

      ;-{

      I do dislike how your work / you were treated at that group. So disrespectful. We each express our creativity in our own unique ways. Like snowflakes, no 2 are alike.

      Bye-bye guilt ...

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  14. Hello Linda, As usual I love all things you talk about blogging! I was recently nominated as best mommy blogs in Nigeria! Yes Whoa! Surprised? right? I am too!
    You can check it out here and vote too, ok ;)
    https://couponcode.ng/awards/best-mummy-blog-awards-2017/

    I like this --> Publish when you have absolutely something important to say...Sometimes I go off a whole week...come back with swelling ideas. Type away a series and these days I am enjoying the Bible Studies I am writing on! Calendar or not, I will do it gently as time permits...
    I like the concept of writing books. Stats or not, I will sit and write..By God's help and inspiration and it would get to the right hands, period.

    I should be wrapping up academic research in a few months 2 i think?

    Thank you for not adding to all that pressure ... on blogging life. I find here a safe place to hide and not have some one say do this or that and watch stats grow ;)
    Sometime last year I think, I had to unsubscribe to a whole lot of those mails.
    Ok...too much talk now. Gotta go!!! :)

    God Bless, Linda

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    1. Oh CONGRATS, Ifeoma! You bet I checked it out ... and voted for you! I'm so proud of your accomplishments. And so excited about your worldwide impact.

      God is so good!

      It means so much that you find this place a 'safe place to hide.' The pressure's off, no need for guilt to motivate us.

      Again, congrats, friend!

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  15. Great post! My stats are easy to count, so I've stopped worrying about them and just writing what I need to write. I've never been convinced that what I write is of value to anyone but myself, and I guess I've come to realize the value in that alone. You're always so loyal and supportive of others, Linda. You're kind, helpful, and thoughtful in word and deed. Blessings

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    1. Please know that you continue to speak into my life with just about every post, friend. I find your online home to be beautifully gentle and inspiring. Time spent with you lends me moments where I breathe deep and linger a bit.

      God uses your words and pictures to minister to my soul.

      Really. I'm grateful you're in my life.

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  16. All such wonderful points Linda! And I liked reading everyone's comments. And some of the bloggers here I haven't visited yet would love to! I had to learn that it's okay not to be able to visit everyone! So there are seasons of maintenance where I cultivate the relationships I have, and then seasons of growing, where I work on cultivating new. I still haven't quite got that figured out though as fearful I won't be able to give back to others and keep up like I want to. Then I have to remember that with God, it is not about the mass, but about being obedient to those He has placed in front of me now.

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    1. I'm glad you brought this up, Lynn, because I think this is an ongoing challenge which all interactive bloggers have to figure out ... how to connect, how to respond, how to 'work the room,' how to bless others by our presence on their sites.

      For sure, this morphs and changes over time ... what we do when we're starting out ends up as something very different when you're following 100 blogs or have a number of people that leave comments on your own site.

      I aim for a once a week connect but that doesn't always happen. We do what we can, we give grace, we don't pout in the corner because so-&-so hasn't stopped by to see us.

      And for heaven's sake, we don't abandon our face to face attention to the flesh and blood people who are waiting around for us to close up our laptops.

      I'm glad you put this on the table, friend ...

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  17. Ah, my dear friend, this post was like a cool drink of water! Thank you for all the fresh reminders and encouragement! When we first step into this unique world we can be a mix of trembling at the vulnerability and certain that we have something we want or feel led to share. Week by week, month by month, and year by year we can learn from others, but sometimes what we learn fills us with more doubt and creates a faulty logic about what success in this venue looks like.

    You're right! Advice abounds! The truth is that we are all different because there are so many different folks out there with different interests, values, needs, etc. Have we forgotten God planned that each of us would be unique for a reason?

    It's also true that as we spend time seeking to encourage others, seeking the Lord's voice for life-giving words, those who read may not realize we also need encouragement many times. Our lives get shaky and messy as well and even if we risk writing about it, our readers can often minimize that compared to their own situation out of some sort of assumption that we have it together more than they do since we are writing online.

    Your post and points covered the gamut and were encouraging to me this day as reminders at the 2+ year mark of this venture. The Lord reminded me at the outset that only He would know who I wrote a particular post for and why and that was not my concern, but instead I was to follow Him. I am 100% persuaded He is right, but this human girl can still sometimes wonder!!

    Love you, my friend!!

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    1. You said this and it sure is true, Pam -->'sometimes what we learn fills us with more doubt and creates a faulty logic about what success in this venue looks like.'

      It's easy to feel 'less than' in the social media world. I guess the sooner we're comfortable in our own skin and decide how we want to engage, the more enjoyable the whole scene will become.

      I think there's something about growing into 'a certain age' where we finally embrace who we are and can celebrate it by living out healthy boundaries and knowing when to say, 'no thanks.'

      I am so grateful that you're in my life for you continue to sharpen me and move me ahead in my walk with God. Thank you, friend ...

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  18. Linda, 10 years?! Wow--good for you! :) Thank you for sharing this hard-won wisdom with a relative newbie (2.5 years). I try hard not to conform. To stay in my lane and cheer others in their lanes. Just being honest here -- even though I make it a priority, it's almost always scary to do. The right things usually are the scary things, aren't they? So often it can feel like if I don't do things the way others do them, Ill not be relevant. But, God determines relevance. Love that 2 Cor. verse you shared. Thank you, friend. You bless. ((xoxo))

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    1. God determines our relevance. Amen, amen. He's the One who charts our course, who orders our days, who chooses to bless, who gives us something of significance to share with others.

      If we make it our goal to please Him, 'all these things' fall into place, one by one.

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  19. Hi, Linda. Told you I would visit. 10 years - congrats and wow. I started in 2008, I think. will have to look that us as that would make next year significant. I get too obsessed with numbers so your post was a good reminder. And great wisdom in digging into our archives. I have done that a little but could do more. Glad we connected through Martha!

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    1. How fun to connect this week, Jean. I've seen you here and there online, so this is a treat. I look forward to savoring your writings. A healthy spirituality is my goal, my sanity, my salvation.

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  20. Great post, Linda!

    They only advice I can give is 'be real'. If you're dealing with a distasteful topic, like, say, dying slowly...don't turn away from the things that are embarrassing.

    Someone out there is going through exactly the same thing, and he or she needs to know they're not alone.

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    1. Well ... you're real, aren't you, friend. Living your legacy, going to the dark places, letting us know that hope reigns ... and that we can do some of our best work when we're feeling at our lowest.

      You inspire.

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  21. Linda, your posts are always a blessing, and you share so simply about things that really matter. So very true your words about writing when you have something to say, there is no real formula that works, but you have to find what works for you. For me, it is like fire shut up in my bones at times, I just have to write and share, and other times, there is not much to say, so I let my pictures do the work :) Always appreciate your visits, your friendship, and this wonderful blogging space you have here! Hugs and happy weekend to you :)

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    1. I love what you're saying about the place of photography in our work, Marilyn. You do that so effectively and by sharing your home turf, you've enlarged my borders and let me discover a bit of this beautiful country that I'll probably never see in person.

      And for that peek into God's creation and the dailyness of your home life, I am thankful!

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  22. Wow, these comments are all great -- makes me glad that I'm behind on reading emails and just finding this today. All good advice.
    I don't have much to offer for advice from my home base, except that I've learned I can't be so busy blogging that I don't have time to live life. After all, the whole point is to write from the overflow: lessons learned, observations made, etc. Thanks for getting this conversational ball rolling!

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    1. Writing from the overflow is much more rewarding than writing because it's a specific day of the week.

      And BTW, your overflow is always rich and nuanced.

      ;-}

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  23. Great advice! These are all things I know, but it is so helpful and refreshing to be reminded of them. Sometimes I wrestle with my "hodgepodge" blog and think I should be more professional with a schedule and a niche - but I have always wanted it to be like friends visiting over the fence, so I have to keep reminding myself that that's ok. I love what you said about being multifaceted and therefore our blogs will be, too.

    I've also grown more comfortable with adapting an old blog post to republish. Not all of my current readers were here way back when, and sometimes it does me good to revisit something I learned before.

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  24. Linda, I read this post on Friday, and had to come back today. Thank you so much for sharing about blogging.

    I can certainly relate. I'm in my 9th year of blogging and figured I'd be a lot farther along by now!

    Sometimes I wonder why I keep doing it, but then if I go awhile (like last week) without publishing anything, I feel like I let myself down ...

    I can certainly relate to all your points. I had a tough time figuring out my "niche" but finally settled on being a faith-writer, because everything I write turns out sounding like a devotional anyway. (Ask my daughter about my latest birthday card to her!)

    Love the reminder that we are the boss of our blogs!

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  25. Linda I am loving this... It does get hard sometimes and I find the stats and the should dos and the could dos all bossing me around but I am the boss of my blog-- thanks for that encouragement ♥ One thing I've been trying to do lately is write when the spirit strikes but then mete it out and try and publish and polish on a consistent schedule (easier said than done!) And thanks for the permission to be a little "squirrely" and write what I want from time to time :)

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    1. Don't you hate when all that secondary stuff becomes the boss? How exhausting ...

      Squirrely. I like that word!

      ;-}

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda