A year ago, I began looking into how to start a blog. It was something I had been thinking about for a while. My husband was on an extended trip out of the country. My kids were back in school, and I was looking for an outlet. I finally had some time to do what interested me. After some online research, I decided I could do it. My Cup of Cocoa was born. There have been ups and downs on my blogging road. But I am still enjoying the journey.
First, let me say that I am not a technical wizard. I don’t know how to code and am not familiar with building websites. But thanks to WordPress, I don’t need to. In fact, the technical challenges of creating a blog have been some of the smallest I have faced. There are some challenges that never seem to go away. These are my biggest blogging challenges. They are probably the three challenges that all bloggers face.
Deciding What to Write About
One of the biggest challenges I have is deciding what to write about. There are days when deciding what to write about it really easy. I love those days. But, just as often, there are days when the topics just don’t work out. Sometimes, I think of a really good idea, but the words don’t want to come. I look for ideas everywhere: news programs, books I read, other websites and blogs, social media, and my everyday experiences. When I’m out and about, I take photos hoping they’ll lead me to ideas in the future. I also put notes into my phone for future use.
I keep a list of draft ideas on WordPress. My draft folder currently contains 30-plus ideas. Some will sit there for months before I finish a post. Some will sit there for months and then get deleted. On good days, I can have an idea, write a post, create media to go with it and finish it up too. Too bad not every day is a good day.
Lately, I’ve been thinking I need to do more research on topics that pertain to my interests and go from there. I am always looking for new ideas and am always interested in how other bloggers find their ideas. If you have any information to share on this, please contact me via the comments or through my contact page.
I’d be willing to bet that most bloggers go through something similar. In fact, most writers would tell you they do. Some people say the trick is to write every day, even f it doesn’t turn into something publishable. That leads me to my next challenge.
Being consistent in my writing habits and posting schedule has been another one of my biggest blogging challenges. Consistency is the key to many things in life. It is also a challenge many people have in many areas of their lives. I try to write three to four days a week. I try to post at least once per week. My goal is twice a week. But life often has other plans for me.
I have had some health issues since beginning my blog. As a result, I do not always feel well enough to write. I have struggled with migraines for years and lately they have been kicking my butt. It is really hard to write a blog post when you’re lying in the dark with ice packs on your head, trying not to throw up. So there have been weeks when I get very little done on my blog.
Sometimes it seems my life is one big distraction. It takes me in many different directions. With so many draws on my time and energy, the blog can get pushed aside. Here are some examples:
- Being a mom – My middle daughter leaves for college next week. I have been busy getting her ready (and my own emotions ready) for her imminent departure. My oldest lives at home, but also begins classes soon. My son is a busy middle school student with challenging classes of his own. He is also involved in scouting and sports.
- Being a Pet Owner – I have a neurotic dog who whines and cries whenever I leave her, even if it’s just to go to the mailbox and back. I adore her, but she takes time and energy that I don’t always have to spare.
- Being a Teacher – I work part-time teaching art and history to elementary and middle-school children. These are two of my favorite subjects, but coming up with lesson plans is still work. I also substitute for my colleagues at the elementary school I used to work at. In the past two weeks, I have taught kindergarten, first grade, and third grade. It’s loads of fun, but also exhausting.
- Life in General – All of this is on top of keeping our household running (groceries, cleaning, cooking, etc) and dealing with my health challenges. Sometimes, my energy levels and my desire to write and post consistently are at odds.
Summer vacations also hindered my consistency in writing and posting for the blog. I think many bloggers can relate to this one. Traveling, sleeping in, socializing with family and friends are all fun things to do, but they can be distractions too. I have been trying to turn those experiences into blog posts, but I haven’t always been consistent in doing so.
Growing My Readership
Unlike finding topics to write about and being consistent in my efforts, growing my readership is something that I can’t do on my own. This blogging challenge requires the help and support of other people. I have some consistent readers (thank you!) and it feels great to get support from friends, family, and fellow bloggers. But my readership is not where I would like it to be.
Social media is filled with ideas on how to gain readership. A quick search on Pinterest nets hundreds of links to blogs promising to teach you how to grow your blog’s subscriber list, tell you why your blog has so few readers, and the steps you “need” to follow to be more successful. Many of them will also sell you a handy e-book or on-line class to help you out. I haven’t taken any e-classes or purchased any e-books. I have read many posts and pinned more to read in the future.
My philosophy on gaining readers is to write quality content, be myself, and reach out to fellow bloggers when and where it’s appropriate. Slow and steady wins the race. I did not start my blog to have 100,000 followers or to make $10,000 a month. I did it to share positive things. Sure, it would be nice to know those positive things are reaching far and wide, but I am content to share them regardless of how many people read them. In fact, I think if I get too caught up on readership numbers, that will detract from my messages of positivity. Gaining readers and making money must come second and third in my priorities if I want My Cup of Cocoa to be sincere.
Helping Each Other
We all have challenges in life. Some are small, like my blogging challenges. Some are much bigger. Whatever your challenges are, one of the best ways to overcome them is by reaching out and working with others. There is strength in numbers. There is power in working together. I love the quote: “We rise by lifting others.” Sometimes the best way to face our challenges is to help someone else with theirs.
If you have any advice for me regarding my blogging challenges, please let me know. I will continue to work on them on my own, but it is much nicer to work with friends. If you have a challenge that I might be able to help you with, let me know. I’ll give it my best try.
Thanks for reading and please share.