Want to WATCH me answer this question instead of READ it? Click here and watch the live stream from Tuesday April 12th!
Having an editorial calendar is a BIG FREAKING DEAL. It makes blogging so much easier and way less intimidating. I tell you why it’s important to have one here. An editorial calendar takes much of the guess work out of blogging. Instead of sitting down to your computer and saying, “What should I write about today?” you’ll say, “Next week I’m publishing a blog post on healthy snacks to take on a road trip.” Which scenario is likely to lead to you giving up on your blog? The first one, obviously! When you only sit down to write when you have nothing on your mind, you’ll feel like you have to grasp for something to write about. This leads to blogging burnout. If you use an editorial calendar, you’re giving yourself some guidance. You are telling yourself what to do and when to do it. You wanted to be your own boss, right? An editorial calendar for your blog is the answer to your blogging inconsistency. Today though, I want to tell you how to actually set one up. First things first!
Know what the heck you are blogging about. (Side note: I go into waaaaayy more detail on this in my Blogging 101 Course. So if you want to go deep, check it out.) You can’t make an editorial calendar if you don’t know what you are blogging about. I mean it. You literally can’t. The first time I sat down to do an editorial calendar it forced me to think strategically about what I was actually blogging about. You need to know your main topics and subtopics. For this blog, here are the list of topics I mainly stick to. Of course, there are numerous subtopics within even these subtopics:
Create your own list! Pick 3-4 large topics then work from there. Once you have a good list of the various topics and sub-topics you can write about, then you can start actually creating the calendar.
Determine when you will publish your blog posts. Are you publishing every day? (Whoa! Get it, girl!) Are you publishing once a month (Hello? Is anyone there?) Many bloggers start out with a goal to publish once a week. I think this is a great place to start. Once you decide the frequency of publishing, then determine what day you want to publish on. Mondays and Fridays are good days for new content. I recommend you pick one of those days to publish your weekly post.
Use a calendar tool that works for you. When it comes time to actually make the editorial calendar, use a tool that works for you. One really, really great tool is Co-Schedule. This is an editorial and social media tool all in one. And you view it right from within WordPress! I’m not currently using it because most of my content is live videos on my Facebook page or posts for my Facebook group, but I used it when I blogged for a job and highly recommend it.
Collaborative bloggers, Co-Schedule is great for you too because it allows you to move different authors around on the calendar without having to go in and copy and paste their posts into brand new ones.
I’ve also used Google Calendar and assigned colors to different subjects. I even would have dates on the calendar that said “April posts due” because I often did batch blogging. That’s something I’ll cover tomorrow in my 2 minute Facebook live video. And don’t be afraid to use a pen and paper calendar. Many bloggers use their planner. They plan it out a month in advance and color code it. It could be as simple as writing down the blog post title you want to publish next Monday.
The basic idea of an editorial calendar is that you have a plan of action. In April, you know what you’ll be publishing in May. Which means you sit down to write those May posts in April, not May. You can do this when you have an editorial calendar. It also helps with consistency. You’re going to be way more likely to blog if you already know what you’re going to write about. Trust me. Trust me!!!
If you want to start a blog TODAY, get my FREE 16-step guide by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s free. It’s fun. And you can more of ME in your inbox (every Saturday morning my peppy self will show up in your email.) Let me be your blogging coach-chances are you desperately want one!
Want to WATCH me answer this question instead of READ it? Click here and watch the live stream from Tuesday April 5th!
Should you start a blog if you’re a missionary?
The short answer is YES. You definitely should.
But why, Julie?
Oh let me count the ways.
1. It’s not just your mission.
You are a piece of the puzzle. God is using you as part of HIS mission. The reality is that there are others involved in what God is doing through you in your country. People financially supporting you or praying for you will be so much more involved if they are able to get a glimpse of what your life is like there. When you show them how you shop for groceries they can see what is different or hard for you and they can pray for you. When you show them what the idols look like in your country, friends back home can pray for the new friends you’ve made who still worship those idols. Show people your world so that more can join you in praying for God’s mission in your city.
2. It can help fund your life.
While blogging for profit DOES take some time, having a solid platform online can really help cover the expenses of life overseas. As you build your traffic, you can start selling ad space on your blog or have affiliate links in your posts. If you are an expert at something, your blog may not even be about your life overseas, but you can blog FROM WHEREVER you live and share your expertise. Are you an expert at writing curriculum for homeschooling? You can sell those lessons on your blog as you blog about life as a homeschooling family overseas. Are you an expert at web design? Blog about all of the projects you are you working to showcase you work and get new clients.
Ok I get it, Julie. You’ve convinced me. But how can I blog securely?
- Don’t connect all the dots. Don’t share your last name if you share your first. If you share what country you live in don’t say what city you live in. If you say what area of the world you live in, don’t share the name of your country. Be smart. Honestly, I recommend this to anyone blogging anywhere.
- Use a fake name if you have to. Some people living in countries where being a Christian is illegal will often use pseudonyms. I know of a blogger in Africa (see how I didn’t get specific about where she is? Ha ha. DON’T CONNECT ALL THE DOTS.) who blogs pretty openly about her daily life and features pictures on her blog of her face and pictures of her kids (not usually their full face though). She talks openly but never ever mentions their real names.
- Don’t use the word “missionary” on your blog. Wether you live in Saudi Arabia or Spain, don’t announce to the world, “I’m living in X city as a missionary.” I’m not telling you to be ashamed of the Gospel. I’m telling you to be wise for the sake of the Gospel. In MOST countries, people associate the term missionary with all kinds of negative connotations. For us in Spain, people thought missionaries were Jehovah’s Witnesses or they thought of the crusades. I don’t want barriers to the Gospel where there shouldn’t be. Your supporters and friends back home will know what you are there to do so you don’t need to remind them that you are a “missionary.” And it’s ok to say, “We are living in Copenhagen to partner with Acts29” or “We are living in Montenegro to help plant churches.” That lingo may be confusing but if a local friend finds your blog and asks you, “What does it mean to plant a church?” That’s just a great opportunity to tell them why you are a Christian and why the church is so important to you that you want to see gospel centered churches planted in their country.”
Have I convinced you to start your own blog yet, missionary? I hope so! You have a story to tell that God can use for His Mission (because remember, it’s His, not yours.)
If you want to start a blog TODAY, get my FREE 16-step guide by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s free. It’s fun. And you can more of ME in your inbox (every Saturday morning my peppy self will show up in your email.)
I haven’t published a new blog post in over 3 weeks. Tsk tsk Julie, you’re saying. You’re a blogger teaching other bloggers how to blog. I know, I know. But rest assured I didn’t take a break from blogging, I just wasn’t blogging on THIS blog. You see, I was sent abroad to Italy as a blogger! I had other responsibilities too but I blogged on the trip, I wrote an article for an online publication when I came back, and I’m STILL writing blog posts about the trip for another organization! Whew! This blogger is behind! But today, I want to give you a few quick tips for your next trip out of the country.
It’s all about the prep work.
- Get an international data plan. This made blogging so so so easy because I was able to do the majority of my blogging from my phone. I wouldn’t have been able to do this had I needed to depend on wifi hot spots or even the hotel wifi. Our schedule was jammed pack and I often got back to my hotel room late. While I still did a lot of editing when I got back, I was thankful I could write most of my blog post on the many trains we took during the day using my mobile phone data. I found it to be pretty cheap. T-Mobile has $15 international data plans. I was only there a week so they prorated it. Very affordable.
- Leave your MacBook at home. I am notorious for losing things on trips. As a child I once lost my fanny pack (I was an 80s baby!) which held all my hard earned allowance money and on another trip I left one of my souvenirs in the bathroom. I didn’t want to accidentally lose my computer or have it stolen, obviously. The solution was to bring my iPad with a Zagg case. At night when I got back to the hotel, I was able to do my editing or actually write the blog post for the day using a full keyboard. While I’m fairly comfortable using my thumbs to write long pieces of texts, I will always prefer writing a longer piece on a full keyboard.
- Download the WordPress app for iPhone and iPad. Holy moly this app is great when blogging on the go. It’s simple and basic. There is not much more I can say other than you’ll want to use it if you blog while traveling. Get it here.
- Bring the right gear. Besides my iPhone and my iPad, I also brought a little gadget that made uploading really good pictures easy. My friend on the trip brought a really nice camera and captured some amazing shots that I couldn’t get with my iPhone. Sometimes I used my own photos in a blog post, but often, I wanted pictures off of his camera. Enter this. Now, I have an iPad 2, so the usb cord is the “old” style. I’m sure there is an updated version of this camera connection kit for iPad but I didn’t bother to look. This made it super easy to grab high quality photos from my friend’s camera and upload those pics to my blog post. I’m so glad I remembered to bring this little adapter. It’s not necessary, but I was glad I had it.
I talked in more detail about these things on my #AskJulie show today and you can watch that video here. It’s about 11 minutes long and involves a lot of wind and a random raccoon. Go figure. I still have more blog posts to write from the trip so I’m off to work on those. I LOVED blogging my way through northeast Italy. They people there were truly so kind and gracious. I hope to go back soon!
Over the past few years many people have come to me for advice on how to start a blog. Somewhere along the line I became a go to for blogging advice-hence why I eventually decided to start this blog so I could start teaching women how to blog. As I’ve talked with these people and the current women in my Blogging 101 Member’s group, I’ve determined there are essentially 2 kinds of bloggers: hobby bloggers and serious bloggers. Often times, the bloggers just starting out are more of the hobby bloggers. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to or can’t become a “serious blogger.” Because I think hobby bloggers and serious bloggers have very different needs, yet the same needs when starting out, I thought it would be helpful to differentiate between the two. Once you understand which blogger you are, I hope you will know what practical steps you can take to grow your blog.
A hobby blogger . . . .
Doesn’t have an end goal in mind. She is blogging just to get some thoughts and stories out of her head and onto a “page.” Maybe she uses her blog as an online journal, after all, that’s how blogging started out. She is blogging with no real purpose in mind other than “to blog.”
Has no plan. She blogs when she is inspired, rather than on a set schedule that keeps her focused on her niche, audience and end goal.
Writes about everything and for anyone. She may write about her kid’s funny antics one day, and then 2 weeks later write a post about her recent DIY project and later a rant about parenting in America.
Has a blog that ends in .blogpost or .wordpress.com. If she is blogging as a hobby, she’s not going to want to spend money on buying a customizable WordPress theme or self-hosting. Her blog looks pretty basic
A serious blogger . . .
Has a well defined end goal. She knows what her end goal is. She wants to write books. She wants to teach online classes on her area of expertise. She wants to coach. She wants to speak at conferences. She wants to sell her products. She wants to start an online store. This end goal drives every single post she every writes and the design of her blog.
Has a rock solid plan. She has a plan to write twice a week or 3 times a week and she has her blog posts for the month planned out well in advance. She refers to this as her editorial calendar because she treats her blog like a business that needs organization and planning.
Writes only about one thing. She stays within her niche. She writes to her audience. If she is a fashion blogger, she’s writing about fashion trends, seasonal fashion ideas, how to dress to impress, where to buy flattering boots on a shoe string budget. She’s NOT writing about couponing, or meal planning. (Unless of course she’s a fashion blogger who writes all about how to look awesome while couponing . . . I’m not sure there is an audience for that blog. But if there is, then by all means, write about these 2 things).
Has a legitimate domain name. Her url is www.hername.com or www.cleverandhelpfulblogname.com She is self-hosted and has probably paid for a nice WordPress theme to make her blog look really professional. When people land on her blog, they know exactly where to go because the design is simple and logical. And when they land there they think, “this looks like a professional blog!”
Let me be clear and say that I don’t think “serious bloggers” are better than “hobby bloggers.” I just think women need to be really clear about why they are blogging or they may end up frustrated. I’ve heard women talk about some big name blogger who has big name sponsors and say, “I wish my blog was that successful. I blog too!” What that person doesn’t understand is that the blogger with big name sponsors has put in a TON of work. A TON of time. A TON of organization and planning. She has been strategic with her blog. She is NOT a hobby blogger. She doesn’t blog just when she feels like it. So if you’re new to blogging or wanting to get started in blogging, take a long hard look at what you really want to accomplish through blogging. It will either help you feel at piece with your current status, or propel you to put in more dedicated effort into your blog. Either way, I’m here to help you do whatever you want.
So have you figured it out yet? Are you a hobby blogger or a serious blogger?
If you’re a hobby blogger, I recommend you get my Foundations Course. It will help you at least figure out what you can be blogging about.
If you’re wanting to get serious about blogging, I recommend you get my Blogging 101 Course OR better yet, become a Blogging 101 Member so that my group of 40+ women and myself can help you along as you read through the course and then grow your blog.
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Blogging is a phenomenal way to build a platform, market your products or services and build a community. But many women out there have just simply said, “I want to start a blog.” They may not know where to start or what to blog about, but there is something in them propelling them to start their own blog. This guide is for them. So here is how you start a blog in 16 easy steps.
Step 1: Decide what you will be blogging about and who your audience will be.
Step 2: Decide if you are blogging as a hobby, or to eventually earn a profit. Are you a hobby blogger or a serious blogger? This is a huge factor in what you do next.
Step 3: Choose your blogging platform
Free: blogger.com, WordPress.com, typepad.com, etc
This is ideal for people who are just testing the waters of blogging (hobby bloggers)
This is ideal for people who want to become a serious blogger. You’ll be “self-hosted.” Ongoing fees will include:
- Domain yearly fee (You are paying to keep www.yourname.com as YOURS)
- Monthly hosting fee (You are paying a third party to host your blog on their server-you’re renting digital real estate)
Step 4: If you want to be a hobby blogger, go to the blogging platform of your choice (click any of the links above!) and follow the instructions there to start your own blog. Good luck! You may also want to read my ebook Blogging Foundations to get a good grasp for why you are blogging. Get it here. If you want to become a serious blogger, proceed to step 5.
Step 5: Decide on a blog name. I highly recommend you use your name as your blog since YOU are a brand that is recognized. Your cute little blog name will have NO brand recognition.
Step 6: Choose your web hosting service. I highly recommend BlueHost. They are economical, have amazing customer service, and I like that they don’t allow any pornography on the websites they host.
Go to www.BlueHost.com and click on the green “get started now” button.
Another popular web hosting service is www.GoDaddy.com
Step 7: Select your plan with BlueHost. I recommend the Plus plan, but choose the one best suited to your blogging needs.
Step 8: Get a domain name. (See Step 5 for this). If the domain name you want isn’t available, try a variation. For example, I wanted to get www.juliemasson.com for my domain, but it was taken. So instead, I added my middle initial and got www.juliermasson.com.
Step 9: Follow the instructions at BlueHost and pay for your domain and monthly hosting plan. You will be charged the monthly fee in one lump sum and then charged once a year for the same plan. The least expensive option is the 36 month option which means you pay a larger upfront cost, but the monthly cost is one of the best deals out there.
***I do NOT check the extra add-ons they offer you right before you give them your credit card info. But you do what you are most comfortable with.
***After you have paid for your BlueHost fee, they will also offer you some upgrades. You do not need any of them at this time.
Step 10: Once you’ve received email confirmation from BlueHost, you’ll be asked to set up your password. Follow the instructions and then log in to BlueHost. Be sure you save your password!
Step 11: You should be taken to your cpanel in BlueHost. Scroll down until you see “Install WordPress.” Click that and you will be taken to a new screen. Click on “Install.”
Step 12: Choose the domain you are going to use for your blog. It should default to the one you already registered. Leave the “directory” field blank. Click on “Check domain.”
Step 13: Click on “Advanced Options” and type in the site name. If your blog is your name, type that in here. You can change this later. You’ll need your Admin username and password provided to you in step 10. Click “Install Now.”
Step 14: Once your install is complete, click on the “View Credentials” button. You’ll see an area on the screen that says “Your WordPress install is finished!” Click on “view” and you will see all of your credentials. COPY THIS INFORMATION DOWN! I recommend you highlight the information, and copy it into a file or note on your computer where you can save it for reference later. You can also take a screen shot and save it.
Step 15: Log into WordPress! First, copy your password in your credentials, then click on the Admin Url. Enter your username and paste in your password. Check the “remember me” box. You’ll be taken into the WordPress dashboard, where you will create all of your blogging magic! Your readers will never see this part. This is often called the “back end” of WordPress.
Step 16: Write your first blog post! Click on “Posts,” enter the title of your first blog post, and type your very first blog post. Hit publish and give yourself a high five. You’ve published your first blog post!
Final steps . . . there is a lot more you’ll want to do to get your blog ready to share with the world but at least you have the basic set up.
- You will probably want to add a theme to make your blog look more polished and personalized to you. You can find these all over the internet. Some are free, some cost. BlueHost can also help you with various paid themes. I highly recommend Divi. It costs $69/year and will get you an amazing theme that allows you to drag and drop modules into a page to customize each page to whatever you want it to look like. A lifetime membership costs $247.
- Bookmark or save the url for the backend of WordPress. In order to access your WordPress dashboard, you’ll need www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin. Save this somewhere. You’ll also want to remember your blog url: www.yourdomain.com
If you are more of a visual learner, I recommend you watch this video by Michael Hyatt. He takes you step-by-step through the process in a 20 minute video.
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When a woman timidly declares she wants to embark on the blogging journey, there is often a husband in the shadows either quietly grimacing or loudly cheering. One of my dear friends (Hey, Bridget!) has a husband who has been encouraging her for years to start her own blog. When they moved into their new house over a year ago, he even created an area off of their bedroom for her to write. Another friend recently started her own blog (Hey, Hannah!) but it was her husband who got it all set up and ready to go! These guys know where it’s at. They know exactly what their wives need to become a better blogger: ENCOURAGEMENT.
Men, your wife needs your support if she’s going to become a “mommy blogger.” (And for the record, don’t ever call her that. For the love . . . please don’t call her that. Ever. That’s another post, for another day.) Your wife has ideas, thoughts, opinions, products and skills to share with the world. When she hits publish on that first post, she becomes an official blogger and she’s terrified of making herself available for judgement. So if you want to help your wife become a better blogger, don’t tell her about all the mistakes you find in her latest post (unless she asks you to look for them), don’t give her business advice (unless she asks), and don’t ignore her blog (read it). I promise you that what she needs most is for you to be her cheerleader. Tell her she can do it. Tell her that what she has to offer through her blog is valuable. She is probably full of self-doubt, and overly critical of her blog and every single word on every single post. Trust me. I know this because I know myself and many other women who come to me for blogging advice. Blogging can be scary. Help your wife by believing in her. It will go along way!
Now onto the tips. These come from some of the women in my Blogging 101 Facebook group. I fully concur with all of them!
“What are some things your husband does or could do that help you accomplish the task of blogging?”
Helping with dinner is one example … but it goes beyond that. Doing whatever is needed with an attitude that what I am doing is actually important.-Mara
Mara brings up a really important point. Husbands, we need to know that you think our blogging matters. It might not be important to you, but it matters to us. So when you talk to us in a way that let’s us know that you realize our blog is valuable to us, it means a lot.
Child care and encouragement. My husband grocery shopped last night and helps with laundry.-Shelly
Yes! Perhaps your wife has a deadline. Maybe you know she publishes a blog posts every Thursday. What she could probably really use is some time on Wednesday to get that post ready. Volunteer to put the kids to bed and send her out the door to her favorite coffee shop. Lest you still don’t believe how truly important this one is, read on:
Time! Uninterrupted time. Making me leave the house, taking care of the kids and then not complaining about how hard it was and making me feel guilty for having left in the first place. ? No seriously, he gives me Sunday evenings to write. I leave. He does dinner and bedtime. It helps a lot –Erica
Some husbands are readers and writers themselves. If this is you, know that the best thing you can do is say, “I’d love to help you with whatever you need. You just let me know how I can support you.” Chances are, if your wife knows you’re gifted in an area that will help her, she’ll reach out.
Mine asks me to read my drafts. Sometimes that helps ideas I am stuck on. –Kristin
Above all . . . . husbands, remember to just tell your wife that she can do it. Encourage her. Empower her. Watch the kids for her. No seriously. Please watch the kids for her so she can have an hour or two to write in peace. We need you more than you realize and what we need most, is your support.
What does your husband do to encourage and empower you?
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