A record of my journey as a new blogger
Ifeel like I’ve kind of been in a holding pattern. I’ve been reading everything I can about how to do this blog thing better and I’m picking up a lot of good information, but I really am just so distracted by school right now. Baby steps. I’m working on my time management, which is crucial because I was flying by the seat of my pants, which–I’m not gonna lie!–doesn’t work. at. all.
A contact form goes missing
So I discovered that my contact form was missing, which wasn’t the end of the world since no one wants to contact me anyway, it seems. But what if someone, on the very day or two that I had no contact form, wanted to write me a message with some really great insight into what my potential readers want? Ugh! You know, sometimes it just feels like if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
Fortunately, it was a really easy fix. There was a plugin I decided I didn’t need because I never used it. Turns out I was using it. It was my contact form. It didn’t take long to find a simple plug-in that is just for forms (I think the other one was an email list plug-in, but because I’m using ConvertKit, I didn’t need it). It’s called WPForms and it’s pretty straightforward. Someone fills out the form and I get an email so I can respond. That’s all I need for right now. Now all I need to do is wait for the messages to roll in…
A framework needs the proper skin
You know how I tried to switch to another theme that was gorgeous but it didn’t work and then it totally messed everything up when I reactivated the previous theme I was using and then I had to spend all evening trying to put my blog back the way it was? Well, that was all for naught because I discovered that if you’re using the Genesis framework by Studio Press, which I am, you have to use a WordPress child theme with it or it’s like you’re not even using it.
The reasons one uses the Genesis framework are myriad. It’s well supported and well coded. If you need help, you enter a ticket and you get help. Good help. Or talk to the Genesis community. You can get answers to your questions. Genesis is always compatible with the latest version of WordPress so when WordPress updates, you don’t have to worry about losing all your formatting and settings. The child themes work perfectly on mobile phones and the basic “formula” for how to make your website exactly how you want it are the same from child theme to child theme (as long as they’re compatible WordPress child themes).
Child themes. That’s something that was a bit of a mystery to me. I’d heard that term thrown around, but what in the world is a “child theme”?? A theme with big letters and a bright, Crayola color scheme? Nope. It just means that it is a skin that lays over the Genesis framework (or parent, if you will). Genesis makes your blog function like a blog should and your skins make it pretty. When you make changes to your skins, though, that’s where the changes stay. It’s like painting your house. The siding has gone from white to blue, but the studs and foundation are still just…studs and foundation.
So anyway, I discovered that child themes need to be Genesis compatible. Since I wanted my framework to be Genesis, which I’d paid for and everything (although it’s really stinking inexpensive), I went on the search for child themes that would work with Genesis.
In love with my blog theme
I wound up discovering this great company that makes very feminine, beautiful themes. They’re called Restored 316 and they’re wonderful. They have a large variety of themes to choose from and there are loads (and I mean LOADS) of tutorials and FAQs on their website so any question or problem you have, you can find the answer to it. I contacted them for something and got a very personalized answer back right away. And did I mention the themes are beautiful? I’m in love with my website right now!
A chance to learn from the best
I have learned so much about blogging from so many wonderful bloggers! On a couple of blogs, I read that Ruth Soukup’s book, How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul was highly recommended. So I got it and have been reading it in the mornings while I’m riding the shuttle bus from where I park my car to the hospital where I work. I have gotten a lot really amazing tips and information and ideas from her and have even put some into action (paying closer attention to my titles, for instance, and making my featured image Pinterest pinnable). I subscribed to her newsletter and took a couple of her free bootcamps and workshops, which are well-made and full of really helpful information for new bloggers like me.
And then I did it. How could I not?? March 5th was like, the following week! That was the day she was opening her Elite Blog Academy to a new wave of bloggers and I signed right up. “Wait!”, you’re saying, “Aren’t you feeling overwhelmed with school and student teaching and work and family and life right now?? Why would you sign up for yet another online course?”
I know. I KNOW. But I need to do this. I want to really make an honest-to-goodness go of this blog thing! I want to be successful. And it’s a finish at your own pace course anyway, so I can put it aside when school trumps blog. I’m putting real effort into doing this course and giving it my all. So far I think it’s great and a lot of fun! When I was in Norfolk, I spent some time in my hotel room making notes about who I am writing for and what I have to offer. That was a good exercise, but now Elite Blog Academy is making me look even deeper inside myself to understand why I want to blog and how I need to proceed.
Onward and upward
Despite having ups and downs, I know I’m on the right track. It has been less than two months, for crying out loud! I’m so hard on myself for not knowing everything there is to know about blogging already and for not posting twice–or even once–a week when the reality is that right now, I need to prioritize family and school over blog. Wasn’t it the tortoise who won the race? I’ll get there, one baby step at a time.
If you have any questions at all about what I’ve learned thus far on my blogging adventure, I’d love to share my experiences and insights. I know for a fact that my contact form is working now because I filled it out myself and the email arrived safe and sound! 😉 Drop me a line, leave a comment, ask me anything. Talk to you soon!