Recently I managed to find again a bit of a groove — both in blogging and running.
What if these two ‘hobbies’ were much more similar than I thought?
Yes one is physical, the other one is more intellectual.
One gets you active, while the other lets you sit on a chair for hours… But:
9- Most times, it’s painful to get started, but the end results will almost always give you a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
8- It’s a lot more fun if you don’t do it alone — friends are the best reward on this journey! (Heck, why don’t you pay a visit to Jessica or Maureen!?)
7- Only VERY few make money at it — no matter how much the sweat.
6- Those around you who don’t share the same hobby simply don’t get it!
5- It does not take much money to get started but it can help transform you deep, deep inside.
4- A little bit once in a while is always better than nothing.
3- The barrier of entry is virtually non-existent but it takes hard work, strong will and commitment to stick with it. Oh yeah, and a great deal of motivation (see friends statement at number 8 above).
2- You try to stick with a routine but it does not mean it’s easy.
1- It takes a lot of time!
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I hate what you’ve done to us. You want us to believe that we’re closer than we’ve ever been, more engaged than we thought our busy schedules could allow it, and that our freedom has reached yet another level.
Am afraid it’s all the contrary, you see.
Facebook, you’ve confined me to my desktop screen, mobiles devices and other sources of insanities, to catch up on the latest feeds of updates covering a virtual wall – if only for 1 minute or so, cause 97 of my other closest friends are about to say something — where was I?
Oh yes, the wall.
But do you hear yourself talk, Facebook? Since when do you put a wall between friends?
And is it how you tell friends how much you care, with as many clicks as you can between a load of laundry and a run to the grocery store, Like this, Like that.
Things have changed, I now find that mere acquaintances (remote coworkers, even!) want to be my friends (how awkward, now, come on!); I don’t want to hurt their feelings nor do I want to share my first baby’s pictures with them. I thought that’s what I was supposed to do all along, create my own community, exchange with my close ones, keep in touch. Not let everybody in on my close circle because they “found” me.
More than awkward, is darn right outrageous. You, Facebook, have the audacity to suggest new friends to me? What’s wrong with my current friends? Why are you making me run in a popularity contest?
You know what else?
I can’t do it because I’m not funny enough; the conversation I’m seeking is just not there (hence my blog, ehehe); how lonely do you think that makes me feel, Facebook?
Look, I’m sorry but it’s not going to work between us. Considering our current status, it’s obvious we can’t just be friends.
I took down my picture several weeks ago, to show that I’m subtracting myself from that non-sense. Not from my true friends. But of course, they will recognize themselves when I say I’ve decided my time is better invested with them. When I can see them, talk to them, sometimes touch them. Having my family across the ocean is not always easy, but we manage just fine with the phone, and the occasional video chat.
Most times, pen on paper can achieve true miracles, you should try it!
At the end of the day, I know you don’t need to know what I do, where I go and who with — Facebook, I just hope you’ll never use what you already know against me. Hopefully you’ll find there are many other fish in the sea…
So this is it.
I hope some day you’ll understand.
I thought blogging was like an online journal, but I can’t write what I don’t want to share. So it would be more accurate to call blogging an open journal. For all who care to look for it WILL find it.
I also have to admit something. I can’t blog about decluttering because I am struggling with that. I am no hoarder, just a regular Jane who’s got a hard time purging her life of the unnecessary crap Target, Macy’s, Staples and Bed Bad and Beyond thing you MUST own. Not even talking about old correspondence I can’t part from, it’s just too hard. Including bank statements that are over 3 years old. Ya know, just in case! Still making progress, but nothing that deserves front and center stage here, on Franco-American Dream.
All this time, I’ve been thinking. And I finally admitted something. Some topics are off-limits because, well, there is no privacy in this world and the last thing I want to do is hurt myself or anyone else by accident. It’s nothing new, but it’s something I needed to write down for myself. Note for later: It’s okay to be selective, it’s my blog.
Most of the things I’ve been thinking about lately are related to cultural habits and perceptions; how different things are, yet how well one can adapt and forget the way “things used to be”. I find this aspect of life across different countries so fascinating!
And of course the shaping of a new life is forever intriguing. I am thinking about my son, whom I’m raising bilingual with my husband (me, in French; him, in English). Great writing materials!!
A note of warning that may disappoint my loyal 25 subscribers: I must switch the email delivery of my posts from Aweber to a free alternative; since it has not been used very much (one post every… 3 months now??), I can’t justify the $19 per month. Just wanted to warn you before it stops.
And once I figure out what’s wrong with my feed, there will be another way, promise! Though, it’s certainly presumptuous on my part to think you may still be interested in reading me considering I’ve left you down for so long.
On the upside, I’ve worked on so many topics inside my head, I will make it up to you.
Proof of my newly found enthusiasm?
It’s past 2am, and my brain was bursting at the seams, I could not sleep! So I came down to post an update and make peace with the growing silence that was haunting me.
Turns out, I’ve been missing you lately.
I lost track of time, just like that. In between my old and my new job. Then technology lost me.
Though I tried logging on from my new laptop while I was away on business travels; but I had forgotten my access codes to post to my blog! At home, they’re “saved” so I don’t have to worry about it. On my old work laptop, they were “saved” too.
And then my new VPN access hasn’t been working well so I end up leaving my laptop at the office these days.
At home, I signed out of Tweetdeck a few weeks ago because I was getting tired of the pop-ups distractions. And forgot to log back in. And then I got scared to look again, except on my smart phone where it’s slightly less overwhelming. I have not looked at my reader in weeks and the more I wait, the less compelling it is to “catch up”.
I feel pretty disconnected from the blogosphere, yet I am more in touch with the people around me. That’s a trade-off I will take ANY day.
I will confess. While it’s addicting — beside hanging out with some special friends (and they will recognize themselves and not be upset by what follows) — time spent online is an abyssal waste of time. There are times we learn, but the rest of time… is wasted. That’s how it feels for me.
Not that watching nearly 3 episodes of Bones back to back isn’t wasted time (what can I say, a girl needs some alone time when hubby is traveling!). But there is absolutely no denial there.
I am the kind that gets easily side-tracked online, I lack discipline; a little bit like in my Declutter Challenge, where I am not gaining much ground, because sweating the small stuff is not fun, so instead of cleaning or sorting or organizing, well… I do the other things I’d rather do.
It’s all right, I will try again, but not tonight. Tonight, I am going to bed before 10pm, because my legs are still recovering from a brutal half marathon (yo, Richmond, it was freezing!) and I need to wake up insanely early to take care of myself, the baby and the dog before I head out the door.
But the excited news of the week-end was? I got my new running stroller, and as soon as I can fit a run when the sun is up (probably this week-end, the sun ain’t coming back until March as far Monday through Friday goes!), I will give it a try… soon there will be NO excuses!!
The routine of a working mom that is also trying to work out. It’s hard enough as it is, please don’t come and ask me when I’ll work on #2, we aren’t there yet.
What is the question you aren’t ready to hear these days?
This third month of blogging has been rather interesting all circumstances considered…
Not surprisingly, I have slowed my posting cadence. The pressure was not sustainable, and I remembered my everyday life is my real life. That of play with my son, work to make money, love to make me whole, drive like a maniac to keep me completely honest.
I coined a term for the extreme blogging behavior I experienced for the first 2 months. Bloggimia. Read more here: The Bulimic Blogger.
My emphasis this month was definitely on quality connections vs. quantity. I am so thankful for the few good friends I’ve already met. And for your time, dear reader. Thank you for supporting my blog.
Let’s dive into the numbers, in a new format this time, so we can look at trends. Numbers are so much fun, aren’t they?
Oh and I don’t like the term “visitors”. I’d rather call them “pedestrians”. You may not ask why, because I don’t know the answer.
Blog Stats 1st Quarter (July-Sept 2010)
Here are my notes:
1- The number of visits this month has not soared like I saw in month 2. That’s a direct consequence of my “sustainable blogging” approach. (Read: not posting every day, not promoting every post and being more low-key in general).
2- Number of pages per visit is down from the second month, but not as bad a dip as the second month saw. I believe this is due to the fact that most of my visitors are now repeat pedestrians, they have seen many of my prior posts, are familiar with my blog and the average is now between 2 and 3 pages per visit. This also explains why less time is spent on my site.
3- The bounce rate is going slightly up, and I’m willing to bet it’s due to the diversification of traffic sources — with search engine visits growing steadily.
Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.
I’ve read a bit about bounce rates; the lower the better, we’re told. I believe for blogs, no more than 50% is best. But for high frequency updates, that does not make sense ; the very essence of such site is to offer new content on a single page each day (or so) — if your loyal reader gets just what s/he needs, then why would she/he not exit on the page s/he got done reading and move on with his/her day?
4- Just added Google Friends Connect (GFC) but don’t ask me (yet) how to easily review the blogs I’m following (they’re supposed to appear in my Reader… Hmm, that did not happen), I have not really used it myself, but it’s a popular option for others to follow your blog. So it’s now on my blog by popular demand! If you have not yet joined, please do so now! (Look left)
5- This month I also created my Facebook page, which you should like. Please. Will you?
Click to the left of this post (if reading this post on the blog) or go here. 46 people are liking me. It’s wonderful to be “liked”. But if you don’t “like” me, I will get over it. I think.
Facebook is a great tool because it allows for easier conversations, in particular polling (if your “liking” friends reply of course) than on Twitter. I have not used it a lot yet, but I’m finding it’s another good method to expand my reach. And to catch other bloggers’ posts I may have missed otherwise. I am already “liking” 60 other Facebook pages, essentially from bloggers.
6- Alexa rank is way up. I think this is not really based on traffic though. There is no way my blog is amongst the top 446K sites in traffic. Or is there? Well, a girl can dream, but there is something to be said about the Alexa toolbar raising your rank. I will let you Google that and draw your own conclusions.
7- Referring sites is a fascinating subject. At the beginning a new site relies on a handful of friends, therefore it’s very common to see the main traffic source be “direct traffic”, i.e. people who know of your page and type the URL in their browser or use a bookmark.
Over time, things change. Search engine traffic starts to pick up. I’ve seen a steady growth from referring sites (these are sites that lead to your URL, such as Facebook, Twitter, but also discussion boards you may be active with). Though last month was a bit down from the prior month, again, a factor of me not promoting as much. I cannot spend 3 hours a night on Twitter, Facebook and The Blog Frog. I’d like to at times. But it’s not necessarily the best idea…
8- No surprise in posting frequency, closer to 4 a week vs. 7 post a week originally. That’s a conscious choice of a grown woman with a job and a baby
9- Yay for guest posts! I had the opportunity to publish several guest posts of varied subject matters this month, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Let me take a moment to say “Thank You” to Jackie, Cate, Expat Explorer and Nichole. I am very honored they accepted to host my words.
10- Getting money through my blog (“monetizing”) is not a goal. I’m just playing around with AdSense, trying to understand it better. Learning by doing. I doubt advertising will ever pay for my hosting, but again, that’s not the point. The point is, mommy ain’t blogging for the money…
How did I do?
Did any of these stats help you understand the performance of your own blog?
Be careful what you mean with the title “mommy blogger”
For the most part, bloggers with children will at times include their parenthood-related tales in their posts; that does not mean their blog is about their kids. Yet there is a widely-used term coined for these reality bloggers that generates lots of debate: mommy blogger.
It consists of bloggers who often reject the label all together. Because they aren’t just that.
Maybe we just need to think this through a bit more with this read: Top 10 Misconceptions About Mommy Bloggers (Mashable, Jan 16, 2009)
After I posted about the typical blogger struggle in my recent guest post The Bulimic Blogger
, I saw several bloggers comment that this post was about them! It’s clear we all put a lot of our time and soul in this blogging business. (And I mean business as “busy-ness”, we aren’t all in it for the money.)
Many stories are encouraging us to “blog and profit” and some are compelling enough to keep the “mommy bloggers” dreaming a little longer, and so we continue reading and nod: Why Top Mom Bloggers Have Greater Earning Power
(Sept 16, 2010)
When the best blogging comes out of those who get fired
A typical success blogging story (though not ultra common, don’t get me wrong!) looks like this: Working Mom Saw Writing on the Wall and Blogged to Financial Freedom (Sept 16, 2010)
This is also true of Pat Flynn, a proud dad whose passive income experiments are blowing my mind and are definitely worth following. None of this would have happened if had not been laid off.
Meanwhile there are many others who actually lose their job because of their blog — for example 7 People Fired For Blogging (May 29, 2008) – getting fired does not necessarily put you on the road to success; but occasionally, it helps.
To wrap it up
Mommy bloggers often dream of generating income from their blog. But they have too many responsibilities to take miscalculated risks. Those of us who are working outside the home must keep the bill-paying jobs. Those of us who are blessed with homework (stay-at-home mom or dad) can’t possibly find enough time to focus on their venture.
However, while we continue to spend many hours moonlighting on our blogs, the money we are never going to see will not replace the new friends we find!
And sometimes? Blogging is just about supporting one another, like this wonderful project, Band Back Together initiated by Becky whose writing will give you chills.
All of this? For free.
There, you’ve got your money’s worth.
Do you make money from your blog? What have you gained from blogging so far, beside money?
If you are unsure what a plugin is, then you’re most likely not a blogger. Let me educate you.
A plugin is a little piece of program that you can download and install on your blog platform to “pimp it” with a special feature, sometimes hidden (things happen in the back scene), others visible (cosmetic changes for example).
It’s a little bit like an app’ for the iPhone. Actually, it’s a lot like an app. Every time you think of something you’d like to have for your WordPress blog, a quick search will reveal: there is a plugin for that!
(There are also plugins for other platforms, such as Blogger, but because I am not familiar with them, I will stick with what I know for today!)
For instance, every time you comment on my blog, you will receive an email with my response so you do not need to check back and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see my response. This is achieved with a plugin called Comment Reply Notification — it works very well and I really like that feature.
I wanted to highlight 3 plugins today; three little life-savers that offer me the luxury of time and convenience:
Lets you add Creative commons licensed Photos to Your Posts from Flickr.
Photo Editor Icon
Instead of opening a new tab to search for photos to insert on your blog, just click on the small icon (see it in the upper right corner, on the above screenshot?) and enter your keywords to conduct a search as usual. All is left to do is select and insert! Voilà!
Very fast caching plugin for WordPress.
Taken from the web site, because I would not have said it better:
WP Super Cache is a static caching plugin for WordPress. It generates html files that are served directly by Apache without processing comparatively heavy PHP scripts. By using this plugin you will speed up your WordPress blog significantly.
A plugin which formats your site with a mobile theme for visitors on their touch-base smart phone.
Pretty straight forward, if you want to try it out, visit my blog on your smart phone and hopefully you’ll like what you see.
That’s it, my recommended plugins for WordPress bloggers, concluding the homework for Week 1 of Back to School, Back to Blogging!