5 tips to get you going on your blogging adventure

[The numbers postcard set by alicia bock is a nice photo to represent this post.]

my friend attended Blog Out Loud a few weeks ago and she was inspired to finally start her blog. after choosing a name and going with the Blogger platform, she's all registered and ready to go. i asked her how her blog was going the other day and she told me flatly...nowhere. Aside from the standard template itself being a bit overwhelming (how the hell do you change the banner or widen the post window? more to come on that), she didn't know where to start from a writing perspective. Here are a few things we talked about..

1) Keep your blog set to private as you start. Only you can view your blog so have fun and start writing. When you are ready and feeling good about the content, change the setting to public.

2) Not sure how to find your focus for your blog? Let's say you want to blog about daily musings. Pick 1 thing that inspired you that day and share your story. What was the impact and how did you feel? Choose to make it personal or keep it more surface, just write it out. A few posts later you will slowly see your narrative shaping itself. And check out what the panelists from our 1st event had to say about this.

3) Gather imagery that relates to your posts that you have started writing. You'll start navigating toward certain images, colors and textures and can create your header. I think I am on my 7th or 8th header for loving. living. small. and I am about to completely redesign the logo. The fun thing about a blog is you can change it whenever you like. Sure, your readers get used to a certain header and title logo but it's ok to change it up. I recently did and asked my readers their opinion.

4) Start bookmarking your favorite blogs - I am sure you'll see a pattern. Set up your sidebar full of links that you love that both relate to the content of your blog and also things you personally love (hey, it's your blog, you can link to whatever you want) my blog is about small spaces but I link to paper goods. why? because I think these blogs are inspiring and full of great products that all small space dwellers can pull inspiration from + I enjoy checking them out. I also use my sidebar links when I am looking for fab inspiration for my own posts.

5) Build a photo library and inspire yourself. Screengrab (shift + command + 4 on a mac) tons of photos and save them in folders on your desktop with the link and credit info. You will use these 2 ways - either to compliment a finished post or inspiration for an unwritten post. I wrote this entire post without a photo and knew I wanted something colorful. I am a big fan of Alicia Bock and I had this photo saved that she took of the typewriter. As soon as I was done writing, I went straight for it since, to me, it represents writing and inspiration. There are times I have found a gorgeous image that I had to share so I wrote a post inspired by it.

Hope some of these ideas are helpful for you. It's blogging, it's fun and try to enjoy it! Let us know how you are doing - we'd love to hear from you!


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modern icons enchance a blog.

in the fast paced and fun world of social networking, designers are coming up with {free} fresh and cool icons that represent the social sites. (see Blog Out Loud's own twitter and facebook buttons) loving this cute bottle set found here. for a bigger round-up of icons, check out Blog U.
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>>a big thank you to desire to inspire for including Blog Out Loud in their WINKS.

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Next Blog Out Loud event | San Francisco, CA | August 2009

>>details soon

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5 free ways to promote your blog online

Save your $$$ and promote your blog for free!

we talked about networking and promoting your blog at the Blog Out Loud event a few weeks ago. when you are ready or already have rich content on your blog, get the word out about your blog and, in turn, your company. i found this great article over at Blogtreprenuer that highlights 5 free promotion ideas you can do right online. One of my faves - article submission websites. yea! click here for the full article and tips.
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ebay | an established site that has added a blog

[This is a photo of other ebayers who like "interior design".]

i used to ebay. i think I joined in 2000 and bought and sold a few things. the site has grown exponentially and has become a go-to source for deals and steals. i checked out the site the other day and noticed that they have integrated blogging and social networking right into their site, known as My World. as a member, you have the option of now adding a blog and also searching for and finding other ebayers with the same interests.

i love how an established site known initially for auctioning has evolved into a multi-faceted property that provides members the opportunity to really connect. this shows how the addition of a blog and also an extension of social networking is so appealing.

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learn blogging tricks from bloggers just like you
and connect with new people as well!

[This is Blogger's standard LARGE size]

[And this is the new size that I hand coded in the 'edit html' section.]

there are a few tricks and tips i've picked up by simply reading other people's blogs and either emailing them to say hello and ask about it or doing a mad google search and landing on a fab how-to blog resource and then emailing that person (see a few right in the Blog Out Loud sidebar).

one such trick that I am still trying to figure out is how to make photos in Blogger bigger and/or longer. the Blogger template only allows for 3 sizes - small, medium and large. they don't really offer a "kind of longer than wider without losing resolution" type photo. i love
oh, hello friend and a field journal's blog and their photos. lovely. i think what you do is load up the photo and then go into the "edit html" and adjust the sizes.

let's try this....

i uploaded a photo from oh, hello friend. the top photo is Blogger's standard large and the bottom photo is my attempt at making it look as lovely as danni's. and yea - it worked!! by simply going into the "edit html" tab (right up there on this very page next to the "compose" button), you can see the coding, find the width and height and just adjust the sizes. yea!

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Bloblive event
Monday, June 29th in Santa Monica, CA at the V Lounge

ok, blog out loud readers, if you live in the Los Angeles area and have a fab business idea that you just have to get off the ground, head over to the next Bloblive event on Monday, June 29.

Bloblive is an urban event for big thinkers, small business owners, entrepreneurs — and dreamers. Each event features idea sharing, audience feedback, a live video feed, twittering and more. Bloblive is the city’s only regular idea meet-up, and whether your idea is half-baked or fully cooked, we’d love to hear about it!

All information for the Bloblive event can
be found on their site. Also check out the Blob Live blog right here to see other entreprenuers supporting and encouraging each other.
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Weekly reminder 02

Mix up you blog with photos and imagery to express yourself. Sure, writing is great but photos say a lot too! Every Friday on Megan's blog (Beach Bungalow 8), she does a peace out post with a pretty pic for her readers to enjoy and get the weekend going. This little editorial schedule she keeps let her readers know to expect this photo at the end of the week. And if you are a little out of steam from writing and need a small break, throw up a photo or 2 and let your readers get some inspiration.


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Blog Out Loud Interview...
Melanie Nelson of Blogging Basics 101

we are recently had an opportunity to e-chat with talented and sweet blogging guru, Melanie Nelson of Blogging Basics 101. Her popular and very informative site is geared towards beginning bloggers and offers a wealth of information and tips to get you going and on your blogging way. Read the Blog Out Loud interview with Melanie below. And check out Melanie's other columns at BlogHer and TravelingMom.

1. Why is finding your voice and and blog focus so important when beginning your blog?

Millions of blogs are started each year. Setting yourself apart is a difficult task. While it's not a bad idea to look at successful blogs and see what they have in common that works, it's always a good idea to be yourself. Find a topic that you love (or you'll burn out quickly) and stay true to your personal voice. For example, if you're not funny and tend to be more serious, don't fake it online. Bring in humor when you can, but don't force it. If you're a company with a set marketing campaign, continue with that marketing voice online. Consistency is what your audience expects. They can spot insincerity a mile away and they won't be back.

2. A lot of people are hesitant to start blogging, claiming "who has the time?!!" What are your best tips for finding time to blog?
Blogging *does* take a lot of time. All bloggers struggle with where to find that time and how to balance that time with family and day jobs. If you want to try blogging for personal reasons (and not so much as a business), carve out some time while the kids are at school or taking a nap (if you're a stay-at-home mom/dad). Many bloggers take time to write after the family is asleep. If you're a company wanting to start a blog, make this part of your writers' or marketers' daily tasks. For blogging to be successful, it has to be integrated into your daily routine and can't be an after-thought.

3. There are so many blogs in the blogosphere. What are some ways to get a blog out there and also cultivate a loyal audience?

Blogging is all about the community. If you come into the community and are only pushing information that benefits you or your company, people shut down and stop listening to your message. You must bring something to the table that benefits your audience as well. Sometimes that means linking to other sites, sometimes it means Re-tweeting information that's relevant to your audience (assuming you're using other social media outlets like Twitter & Facebook to promote your blog). Other ways to be a part of your blogging community:

* Comment on other blogs.
When someone takes the time to comment on your article, take the time to visit their blog and comment there as well. The people who are finding you and reading are the people who are going to bring you into the community. Take the time to discover what their blogs are about and what they're interested in. As you build your blog, consider how your needs and your audience's needs can mesh.

* Use social media to help spread the word about your blog.

Twitter, FriendFeed, and Facebook are all ways to alert people you're already interacting with that you have a new venture and it's a way to find new audiences to engage.

* Respond.

If someone tweets you or leaves a comment on a blog post, don't just read it and move on. Acknowledge it and start a dialog.

4. A lot of blogs get going, start to build an audience and then plateau. How do new bloggers keep the momentum?
I'm not going to lie to you, it's hard. Starting your blog and watching it grow is the fun part. Once it plateaus, burn out sets in and many people just stop blogging altogether. Some of the things I do to help me stay focused on growing my blog beyond where it is are

*Setting goals.
I try to set short- and long-term goals for myself and for my blog. Setting goals isn't enough, though. I also make a plan so I know how I'm going to achieve my goals and how I'll know when I've met them. Re-visiting the goals and whether they're being met is one way to see where you need to keep going on your blog.

*Using an editorial calendar.
I like to keep track of what I've written and what is coming up. Knowing that a topic needs to be written and assigning myself a due date helps keep me on track and new posts coming.

*Read other blogs.
See what other writers are doing and what's going on with the technology. Try to spot trends and discover how those trends can work on your blog. Keep learning.

*Taking polls to see what readers would like to see next.
If you think you've covered everything you can cover, think again. Ask your readers what is missing or what would help them. Your audience is your best source of motivation.

*Going to blogging conferences to re-energize myself.
Talking to like-minded people about something you're passionate about can really re-set your blogging mojo. I come away from blogging conferences excited about new ideas and I'm ready to implement them when I get home.

[Thanks, Melanie!]

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Blog Out Loud TV launch!!

Ok, guys, we are up and running and are excited to announce Blog Out Loud TV! These mini-moments from the Blog Out Loud event highlight common themes that new bloggers seek answers for. These are short and sweet with the purpose of simply inspiring you to blog! Click here to check out Blog Out Loud TV for 3 new webisodes highlighting...

Finding Your Voice.
*How often should you blog.
*Using social networking sites.

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a Blog Out Loud success story!

of course the foundation of Blog Out Loud is to inspire and create a place where creative people can go for inspiration and information - a resource and community. when we received a sweet email from Blog Out Loud attendee, Alissa, we were thrilled that the Blog Out Loud event encouraged her and she is now a very happy blogger. She writes:

"Hi Rebecca and Megan!

I just wanted to send you a note to let you know exactly how much the Blog Out Loud has meant to me. The day of the event, I had only bought my domain name and hadn't even started my blog yet. Long story short, I have since started the blog and within the last two days have had 80 visits from 4 continents!

Needless to say, I'm beyond excited as I start this whole adventure.

I just wanted to personally thank you for making the Blog Out Loud event such a success! I don't think I could have done this without you and the panel!

Cheers, Alissa"

Rock on, girl! We'd love to hear your own success story and what blogging means to you! Send us a note.


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BLOG OUT LOUD >> Past Panelists

>>Jerry Solomon | Producer Posts | twitter | facebook

>>Clint Schaff | Fire Station Agency | twitter

>>Simon Mainwairing | Simon Mainwairing Blog | twitter | facebook

>> John Meyers | Ring of Fire

>>Bill Sewell | Wiredrive | twitter | facebook

>>Christiana Coop | fermliving.blogspot.com | twitter | facebook

>>Susannah Murdock | petuniafacedgirl.blogspot.com

>>Megan Arquette | beachbungalow8.blogspot.com | twitter

>>Rebecca Orlov | lovinglivingsmall.com | twitter | tumblr

>>Richele Silva | richiedesign.blogspot.com | facebook

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Weekly reminder 01

one of my own fave thoughts at Blog Out Loud a few weeks ago was when Megan simply stated "there's always room for a new blog". And this couldn't be more true! Many people have told me their desire (really, that's the word being thrown around) to start blogging, creating, writing and connecting but feel that their topic or idea has been there and done that.

This is the deal...yes, that is all true, your topic has probably been blogged. The reality, though, is that your own perspective on the topic has not been been incorporated into a blog and that's what will make your blog special, interesting, inviting and on it's way to appealing to tons of people. I blog about living in small spaces. Yea, there's about, oh, a ton of blogs that cover this topic but not the way I do it and with my voice. That's the thought here.

I have worked in advertising for that last 11 years and talk about been there, done that when it comes to ideas but that's advertising. What's so neat about seeing behind the curtain of how advertising agencies create work is that they twist and reinvent an old idea into a new, fresh and relevant ad from their own perspective.

So take your idea, find a platform and get blogging!

Blog Out Loud's weekly reminder to get blogging can be read every Tuesday so check back in next week. Email us with your new blog name and we'll post it in our sidebar with a link.

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"c" is for connection

During our chat, we drank some wine and had delicious birthday cake.

i spent sunday evening at my friend's birthday party BBQ and was sharing the Blog Out Loud event with the group. After the chat, one of my friend's said "I don't even read blogs and I want to start one now." I asked her how she decided that and she simply responded "the whole connecting thing". Yea, i agree. To me, blogging is such a neat and very real way to connect to people who have the same interests as you. one of the themes at Blog Out Loud was finding your voice. When you stay true to this, people will find you and will connect with you just like, well, in life. i am looking forward to reading my very non-blog friend's new blog soon.

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fab blog resource
da font

did you know that there are some fab sites out there where you can download (free) fonts for your very own? one of our faves - da font. have fun, bloggers!

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