Baby Steps to Blogging Part 2 — How to Begin a Blog

Baby Steps to Blogging Part 2 – How to Begin A Blog

In Part 1 of Baby Steps to Blogging, I talked about three steps to help you get on the right baby foot with your blog. Today I will start with an example—my own blog.

Platform. I chose WordPress.com as my primary blogging platform. WordPress has tutorials to help you get started. You can choose from over 150 free themes. Pick one you like and get started. You can always change it later.

I chose one I could add a picture header to. I used a photo I took while on a nature hike with Joe. I enlarged it and cut out the section I wanted for my header. I made several copies of it on my computer so if I ruined one, I would still have one to work with.

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Note 1: When editing a photo, NEVER use your original, or your last copy. ALWAYS keep a file of originals to work from and make more copies as needed.

Note 2: It is not essential that you use a picture header. If this sounds like a giant step to you, leave it out until you are comfortable trying it—even if that is never.

Focus / Mission Statement. Make a list of the subjects you have written or want to write about. From my own list I discovered that I am passionate about sharing the importance of having a relationship with God with others. I want to share it with family, friends and the world. I am passionate about doing this through other things I love: writing, photography and teaching.

With this in mind, I wrote my mission statement:

Helping others find their passion by sharing my own.

I added this statement below the name of my website on my header photo.

Martha Jane Curtis

Because I am passionate about encouraging others to find their purpose and go about performing it, I have added this statement to my header:

Spread your wings and write

You can scroll to the top of this page and to see what it looks like put together. It took a lot of patience for me to get my header the way I wanted it. I am not good with a computer. I have just made up my mind not to let it get the best of me. I take breaks when I get frustrated, but I don’t give up.

If you aren’t ready to get this involved, you can simply use the name of your blog and include your mission statement. It isn’t that big a deal. There is nothing wrong with simple. In fact, simple is often better.

Begin Blogging. Finally the easy part—what you wanted to do all along. Write!

Let your readers get to know you. Tell them your passions, admit your failures. Let them know what you like and what you don’t (without being ugly about it, of course). They don’t want to know how perfect you are, but that you are a real person, just like them, or their aunt or grandma… Write stories about something funny or embarrassing that happened to you. Tell how you learned from your mistakes—or at least what you are trying to learn.

The post International Coffee Day, was about a mistake I made—one I should have learned from. You can click on the link to read it if you missed it. The very next day, I made the same mistake again! It was aggravating. I felt like a dunce.

Now, with all this in mind, make a list of all the things you can think of to write about. Jot down a few notes about each story. I like to put mine on note cards so I can flip through them when I need an idea.

Find a time to sit down for a couple of uninterrupted hours and write about one or more of those subjects. Try to do it a few days before you intend to post. Make a habit of doing this and you will always be ready with something to post. Take the time to read through it and make any needed corrections before posting.

Your goal should be to give visitors to your blog something worth reading. Whatever you write, make it interesting enough that they will want to come back for more. It never hurts to add a bit of humor, even if the joke is on you!

You are doing a great job! It is work to set up a blog. Don’t get discouraged. After all, if you had never began to blog, you wouldn’t have made it this far. Give yourself a break. Ask questions. Keep writing. Blog with confidence—in baby steps. Your story is waiting to be told.

 

This post is part of a series titled Baby Steps to Blogging. I hope it will help you on your blogging journey. I encourage you to share your thoughts and questions in the comments section of this post. You are invited to come back next Thursday for Part 3 of Baby Steps to Blogging.

Choose to follow me by e-mail if you would like to be notified of new posts to my blog.

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Celebrate National Coffee Day–An American Tradition

Yesterday morning, I adjusted the pillows on my bed and sat up, then accepted the cup of coffee Joe had brought me. (I’m spoiled, I know!)

I sat cup on the table beside the bed to cool and reached for my phone to check the time, weather, website stats and any Facebook posts that might require my immediate attention.

A few minutes later, I reached for a drink. Noticing the cup was dangerously close to the edge of the desk, I admonished myself to pay attention to where I sat the cup next time.

“Today is International Coffee Day,” the headlines caught my attention and  I continued to read. Coffee is celebrated worldwide.

My coffee was still hot, so I took a few small sips and returned it to the table. I let go of the cup just before it tumbled upside down beside the bed, and onto my c-pap machine and the wooden box and books I had it sitting on.

I would like to say I ran to the bathroom for a towel to clean it up, but I had just woke up and had downed only a few small sips of coffee. I was in no shape to run anywhere. ‘Stumbled’ was a more appropriate word.

I made it back with the towel and used it to soaked up as much coffee up as possible. My biggest concern was the c-pap. It still came on when I flipped the switch, so all was well.  I dried the books and box  the best I could and carried the wet towel to the washer.

Thirty minutes after christening my bedroom in honor of International Coffee Day, I continued the celebration with a second cup of coffee, something I don’t usually do, but this is a special day, right?

My cup was soon empty, this time because I had drank it. Still thinking about International Coffee Day, I went to my computer to learn more about it. I found the United States first mentioned National Coffee Day in 2005. The first recorded celebration of coffee was in Japan in 1983. Many companies give away free coffee each year on September 29th in honor of  the special day.

As I read, I began to think about all the special days that have been added to our calendar in the recent years: Grandparents’ Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day to name a few. I guess it is only appropriate to celebrate coffee, too. After all, coffee goes way back. Most western and pioneer books treat coffee as a necessary staple. Most adults have learned to depend on the boost the caffeine provides.

Joe, has relied on coffee most of his life. I became a regular partaker of the brew only after I gave up the sugary sodas. We travel often, though and the coffee from truck stops isn’t consistent in flavor or strength. Several years ago we found a brand of instant coffee we liked and have since carried a thermos of hot water and a container of Taster’s Choice.

NatlCoffeDay

Most truck stops let us fill a thermos with hot water free or for a minimal charge. Besides always being able to have fresh coffee with consistent flavor, it is cheaper than buying it ready-made when we travel. We save several hundred dollars a year by carrying our own.

Coffee has around a long time. Americans have depended on it for centuries. The trend hasn’t faded over the years. What with iced coffees and cappuccinos and whole stores devoted to the beverage, I suppose it is appropriate to have a special day to celebrate the beverage. I believe International  Coffee Day is here to stay.

At home I prefer to drink my coffee black, but after a day of working outside in the heat, nothing satisfies like a Caramel Iced Coffee.

I’ve had my say, now it’s your turn. What is your favorite coffee drink?

A Cup of Coffee to Direct My Steps to Make a Difference

Each morning upon awakening, I grope my way to the bathroom, my eyes not yet focusing, then stumble back to the bedroom. I clumsily arrange pillows against the headboard into a comfortable place to sit while I coax my eyes open and will my brain to engage. A few minutes later Joe appears with my stainless steel mug filled with strong black coffee, a spoon for sipping until it cools enough to drink and a strawberry breakfast bar.

blessing or warmth

Joe started this act of kindness several years ago, not long after I realized  the benefits of consuming the beverage on a regular basis.

–It gives me an excuse to sit through a much needed wake-up time.

–It provides the boost that keeps me from falling back into sleep.

–It washes down the snack that provides me with enough energy to cook a more nutritious breakfast.

Bonus: –It makes me feel loved for Joe to voluntarily bring it to me each morning.

The first few sips of coffee and the sunlight streaming through my bedroom window serve to help my eyes focus. As I reach for my Bible I breathe a quick prayer, asking God to teach me something new.

Today I added to that prayer, “Help me make a difference in someone’s life today.”

I picked up my journal and read my notes from the last few days. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 KJV

prov 16-9

I can’t count how many times I have read, written or quoted this verse. I have seen it fulfilled many times throughout my life. As I began to think on this, I made my plans for this day.

The basic plan was already laid. Joe and I had made a pact to work every day in our rented storage building until we get it under control. Today marks the second week of our labor. We set up tables in front of the building, filling them with junk that we hope will become someone else’s treasure and put enough dollars in our pocket to pay the storage rent for another month.

As I continued sipping my coffee, my thoughts wandered to three young girls who pass by each day on their way home from school. The two older girls go straight home, but eight year old Cheyenne, small enough to pass for five or six, stops to talk. She asks about the things we have for sale, and without pausing, rattles on, answering her own questions. She is intelligent and a quick thinker.

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She reminds me of my nineteen year old daughter, Mariah, when she was that age. Mariah could carry on intelligent conversation with adults and most people liked her. A few, though, did not want to be bothered by a kid. I like Cheyenne, but I don’t have time to talk to her. I have work to do. I just want her to go so I can get my storage job finished and spend some time at home cooking, cleaning and writing—the things I have put off in honor of my pact with Joe.

But here I am this morning drinking coffee and asking God to direct my steps today, and I think of Cheyenne—not just Cheyenne, but her sister and their friend. God is telling me I can make a difference in those girls’ lives.

This afternoon, three girls got off the school bus. Three girls stopped to talk. Each clamored for attention. I sat in my chair this afternoon, listening to and talking to those young girls. I did not feel the usual guilt or pressure to be up cleaning, sorting and organizing. I was at peace with what I was doing this day.

God wanted me to sit and listen and talk with those little girls today. I don’t know His reasons, but I am thankful for those little girls, Joe, the coffee, and the time to meditate on God’s words. But most of all, I am thankful for God, who directs my steps and allows me to make a difference.