blogging inspiration

How To Find Inspiration To Blog

By Sara Saqib

It would seem almost habitual to write up beautifully worded posts that draw the audience into the depths of the writers workspace. Especially when publishing three to four posts a week as if they were merely writing a thank you note to party attendees. Even super creative humans like these need to be inspired, constantly, in order to publish such art. Where do they get this inspiration from then?

Even when a brilliant post title has lit up like a light bulb in my head, it is still far from finished work. As I sit down to analyse how I chose to tackle this subject, I find myself constantly starting a new draft in order to get it just right.

This is when I stop thinking and start doing. I leave my desk in search for nature and the outdoors that has inspired so many others. I grab my sketchbook and my toddler and set off into the park, babbling non stop (Me, not my toddler) about everything around us. When the pen is in my hand, I don't write, I let it flow and everything comes together. The fresh air has released endorphins within me taking my mind to another level. I see more clearly and ink all the details into my trusted little book. When I don't have my book handy, my chunky camera phone works just fine, using only the memo and camera to capture my inspiration. I love the lens. It doesn't quite show what you see through your eyes and yet captures more than a thousand words. It makes the world stand still, forever a memory to keep. I have an endless roll of baby milestones piling up on my phone. I'm dreading the day my phone will finally inform me of my overloaded memory.

Sitting in the park now, I see the free spirit and innocence in the playing children. How wonderful must their thoughts be. Always questioning everything. When did we stop questioning the world and start shying away thinking the world will call us fools? It's amazing to put yourself in a toddlers shoes. It brings a whole new perspective to your blog. Maybe you can even think like a butterfly? Imagine the places that could take you.

Playing an instrument or painting can also open up realms of your mind that can inspire words. A simple hobby like baking or cooking can help relax your mind in order to get the creative juices flowing. I love the smell of freshly baked bread. That alone is enough to change a persons world around!

Inspiration doesn't come from hiding behind a desk but instead from the world around us. Being online all the time doesn't necessarily instill more knowledge into us to help tackle these issues. Instead we should focus on how to change our daily routine around to keep things fresh. It can be reading about everyday events to taking up a new hobby to striking up a conversation with a complete stranger. It's what takes us out of that bubble that gives us a spark and inspires us to become better than before. Whether that's better at blogging, better at parenting or even just a better human being.

So make a point of doing something new everyday or talking to someone new or reading a new piece of information. Changing your perspective could mean literally changing the height at which you sit to look at things from a different angle. Where will your inspiration take you today?

Sara's blog came about a few months after she had her baby girl, Jana. She had so much to ask, so much to say, she needed a diary to put everything into.  It gives her a chance to share her experiences with everyone and meet so many new people. The idea of her blog is to share her time with her little one, whether it’s traveling, food, milestones or the highs and the lows, in hopes that it might actually come in handy to a new mum. Sara wants to share in order to inspire, meet new mothers and to learn! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Blogging 101: How to monetise your blog - Part 2

By Rebecca Pitts

Part 2: Diversify your income streams by adding additional products or services

In the first post on this topic, we talked about leveraging your content to generate income with your blog. Today we're going to take a look at some of the ways bloggers can expand upon their business and brand by offering a service or a product to their readers.

You might be thinking: why should I add another project to my plate?

Offering a product or service is a great strategy for generating more income. Your blog and business and whatever you're selling can work in tandem--your community of readers is of course interested in you, your voice, and your brand. They trust you. You in turn, have listened to them and are offering a service or product they need. It's a win-win. 

Bloggers who are successful at making money know that it's smart (and more lucrative) to diversify--that is, they know it's important to not rely on just one method for getting paid. Depending on your unique skill set, interests, and brand, it won't be a huge stretch to figure out how to sell something you're already making or charging fees for something you're good at.

Let's take a look at some specific examples of products and services that are an organic extension to blogging:

Physical products

Maybe you're a blogger who has a knack for photography and sells limited-edition prints. Or a crafter who releases one-of-a-kind pieces as she makes them. Perhaps you run a lifestyle blog and sell a curated selection of goods that appeals to a niche audience. The possibilities here vary widely--and so does the amount of risk that entrepreneurs take on with their initial investments in running this type of business. (Think: the difference between selling a handmade scarf on Etsy and managing e-commerce for product lines you design and manufacture). Another thing to consider when going this route is the amount of time that you'll spend on things like shipping and customer service.

Examples:

Hudson + Daughter (my shop)

How We Montessori Shop

Writing a book

Ah, the dream of getting that book deal from a real actual publisher that prints real actual books. We're all writers, and we've all thought about it. The blog-to-book path may be trickier to navigate than, say, self-publishing an e-book, but it's often THE logical next step once you've had success with your blog.

Examples:

SFGirlByBay

Design Mom

Digital products

The idea of passive income is really appealing: you create a compelling digital product like an e-book, a digital printable, an e-course, or a sewing pattern, to name a few examples. You write it once, you design it once, you film it once and you sell it over and over again without any further action necessary, apart from paying transaction fees or other e-commerce overhead. It's like free money.

Examples:

Elise Joy

Braid Creative's email subscription series

Teaching

You are an expert in something (or more likely, many things). Why not share your knowledge base with your community and get paid for it? Perhaps it's the specialized thing that you're blogging about (origami tutorials, creating a capsule wardrobe, your life as an illustrator--you fill in the blank here.) Or, it's the technical skills like mastering the Adobe creative suite photo styling that make you a pro at your work. With so many fantastic online education portals now on the scene (such as Skillshare, Creative Live, Atly, and Craftsy, to name a few) I have a feeling that teaching will be a huge area of expansion, especially as it overlaps with digital products. Some courses are filmed once and released as a digital product (hello passive income again!), others may require your ongoing participation in a live chat as online "office hours". And of course, there's always the kind that requires chalk, face-to-face.

Examples: 

Design Love Fest's Blogshop 

Design Sponge Social Media Workshop

Mentoring & Coaching

Mentoring is a way to share your expertise on a one-on-one basis. You can offer real value to someone who isn't as far along in their career as you, as you're offering your dedicated time and complete focus on an individual client. If you're sought after as an expert, you can charge real money with your clients. If mentoring remains a side project for you, you may need to be very deliberate with the number of clients you take on as this sort of work can involve a huge time commitment. Think of it as the opposite of passive income. It's about as active as you can get.

Examples:

Tiffany Han

Braid Creative (again!)

Events & Conferences 

You are all about your community and dream up ways of getting everyone together. Can you imagine throwing a fabulous party that doubles as a conference or a networking event and getting paid for it? Bloggers who are successful at generating income from community events have a knack for design and styling, are outgoing and friendly (you want to make people feel welcome and valued) and of course must have some serious skills when it comes to project management. 

Examples:

And North 

Blog Society

Brand collaborations

Collaborating with a huge, well known brand to design a product or collection--sign me up, right? Working on a project like this might seem out of reach but keep in mind: most bloggers who have caught the eye of a major brand aren't overnight successes, but have instead consistently created high quality content with a unique and singular voice. Oh, and they probably have a ton of followers. If you're not there yet, consider alternative ways of partnering with smaller brands you can stand behind. 

Examples:

Oh Joy

Babyccino Kids

Have you tried any of these strategies or side projects, or would you? What's worked well? Anything we've missed?

This post is the second of two that discusses blog monetisation. If you missed the last one, you can check it out here.

Rebecca Pitts is the founder and owner of Hudson + Daughter, an online shop that sells commissioned, handmade family treasures made of eco-friendly bamboo. She writes about running a creative business, making art for and with her daughter, and living in the Hudson Valley on her blog.

Photo credits: Unsplash

Is your work space destroying your writing?

By Rebecca West

What would happen if you tried to run a marathon in shoes that didn’t fit? You might cover some distance, but you sure wouldn't do it at your best level, right? Yet every day we ask ourselves to write inspired, funny, life-changing blogs in environments that work against us.

Where are you working? At your dining room table with piles of junk mail and kid’s homework pushed to the side? On your living room couch in front of the TV? In a disorganised office with shabby walls and a calendar from 2009? If you are not working in a space that makes you feel and behave like a professional, you may be sabotaging your own success.

Every time you walk into a professional space — from a restaurant, to a hair salon, to your CPA’s office, you make judgements about the quality of the work based on what you see. Delicious colours and intimate eating nooks elevate the food. Creative colours and eclectic design suggest the ability to create personal and distinctive hairstyles. Tidy piles and a clean space suggest an organized CPA in full control of her client’s accounts. Just as we evaluate other professional spaces, our own work environments speak to us and affect the output of our writing. 

When you’re starting out it’s perfectly reasonable to carve out whatever space and time you can. Just getting a post published is cause for celebration, and no one ever needs to know that you did it while feeding the baby, running the dishwasher, and wearing your pjs. But as you grow as a professional your output will grow and mature too, and may deserve a bit more focus than a stolen five minutes perched at the breakfast bar can give you. 

My first home office was a tiny two foot wide desk I built into a nook in my bedroom. It worked great for a couple years, but as my company took off I spent more and more time at that little desk and having that space in my bedroom meant that I was kind of taking work to bed with me. Not great for my sleep quality or my work-life balance. 

I moved my office into the guest room and it worked amazingly well for me for another few years. It looked and felt like a “grown up” space and helped me advance in my career. I had a wonderful view of my garden, and a door I could close when my workday ended. 

A few years later I outgrew that space too, needing a place where I could have a few employees and where it wouldn’t be quite so easy to “just do a load of laundry.” My work needed more of my dedicated attention. I was actually pretty astonished at the efficiency I gained by moving out of the house.

A client of mine found the same thing to be true. As a work-from-home mum with a growing business she realised that by keeping her office at home she was giving half-attention to both her kids and to her work. Even though she wouldn’t be at an away-from-home office more than about 10 hours a week, by creating a dedicated work space in an office building a few miles from the house, she discovered that she could do more in less time. In that space she could really focus and do her best work, and then when she came home she could give devoted and loving attention to her kids. No more having the stress of trying to be all things at all times.

Now, if you’re juggling kids and work and just doing your darnedest to get in the writing, I know you’re doing your best — celebrate that! But at the same time, you have set yourself some professional goals, and to succeed you have to honour the goals and yourself enough to create both time and space for it. Take a moment to evaluate if the sacrifices you are making in your space, by “borrowing” a corner of the dining table, is actually getting in the way of reaching your true potential. You are a professional, maybe it’s time to create a room of your own. And besides, wouldn’t it better to be away from your kids for a few hours and then give them your full attention than give them half-hearted attention for twice that amount of time and not really have accomplished your best work in the end, despite the sacrifice?

Remember, there is no prescription for the “perfect” writing or work space. For some it will be a coffee shop or co-working space because that social energy is essential for wonderful writing. For others it will be a quiet nook decorated in soothing, spa-like colours, a calm respite from the busy world where the words can flow. For me, I need nature. In Seattle the weather is too unpredictable to write outside regularly, so I bring the outside in. My home office overlooks a lush garden where I get to watch the birds at the feeder, and my professional office has a couple of windows letting the daylight pour in and a giant 4’ by 6’ print of trees in a rainforest.

To reach your highest potential you have to find what inspires your best work. If you’re feeling a little stuck, try my guided mediation — I developed it specifically to help folks look into their own heart to discover what they need from their space. You can also spend some time on Houzz or on Pinterest collecting images of rooms that inspire you. One other trick is to think of someone who you greatly admire, someone who’s work you aspire to emulate, and imagine the environment in which you might expect them to write. While it might not be anything remotely like the space in which they write, that won’t matter, because in the end it is just important to create a space that draws out the amazing writer in you.

Love where you work. Trust me, your writing will thank you for it.

Rebecca West is a Seattle-based interior designer and environmental coach helping folks in transition create spaces that support and nourish their next chapter. She has a special love for empty nesters and the newly single, bringing a lively and optimistic energy to these bittersweet life moments. On her website she shares before and afters of transformed client homes, each one a story of another person embracing a change in their life. Meet her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and watch for her upcoming book, Happy Starts At Home.

How To Blog Without Losing Yourself

By Nicole Rouge

It was eleven o'clock on a Friday night and I was huddled on the floor staring at my phone. I had not been stood up, I wasn't waiting for a call, I was scrolling through my social media accounts aching for some new comments and envying those with thousands of followers and perfect 'Instagram' lives.

This is an all-too familiar scenario for many of us in the blogging world. We open our hearts to our readers, think constantly about ideas for posts and spend untold amounts of time and energy (and money) on our blog, yet often get very little in return. We spend hours on social media making connections, building our audience and in-turn observing the success of others. It is very hard not to compare.

The catchcry is 'comparison is the thief of joy.' It sure is. I started blogging as a creative outlet. I had decided years earlier that I was a rubbish writer after a series of unsupportive English teachers and a four year science degree that taught me to paraphrase. After a year of blogging I was triumphant. I had discovered a love for words and my confidence in being able to express myself had improved exponentially. I wrote in a post that writing is something that I can do for myself "in my own time, at my own rate, without relying on other people, or things, or money." That writing "helps me be. It connects me to the world and encourages me to delve deeper." However within a few months I was crunched up on that Friday night obsessing over why more people didn't 'like' me (as an aside, how impotent are the words 'like' and 'follow'), and fretting over my lack of invitations for sponsored posts.

Writing can help us connect with and examine our lives. We develop a greater sense of self-awareness, which is a beautiful gift that we must be careful not to misuse. When I took the time to stop and think about what drew me to blogging, I realised that I am achieving so many of my goals: confidence with words, improving my photography and connecting with others. Naturally these goals have evolved, and I admit that making a bit of cash or scoring a few free dinners is on the list these days, but ultimately the biggest reward is the gorgeous, supportive community we are part of and the comments from our engaged readers. 

Lila Wolff nailed it when she wrote in her post 'that's it I quit blogging': "I've worked my heart out and produced original high quality content, innovated, been mimicked, only to be passed over for people who have better numbers, and I can't lie it's crushing." She hastens to add that at the time of writing she was exhausted and ill, but I wanted to share it with you because it struck a chord with me. She received such an overwhelming, supportive response that, after a short break during which she connected with her needs and the parts of blogging that resonated with her, she relaunched with her exquisite blog Mama Nourish

There is a lot written about blogger burnout. The return doesn't always appear to balance the investments. The secret I think is to lower our expectations without compromising our goals. If you feel like you are losing the love for blogging it helps to answer these questions:

Why did you start blogging?
What were your goals at the beginning? I find it helps to read over your first few posts to answer this one.

What have you achieved?
How are your goals different now? Be careful to recognise what is actually important to you versus the expectations you have based on others.G

I know you've heard this a thousand time but it bears repeating, what makes your blog so special is YOU. You have brought your own exquisite uniqueness to a tiny pinprick of the internet and regardless of what Google Analytics or Facebook  tells you, there are people out there that you connect with. Don't lose sight of that achievement.

Nicole is a wine geek/foodie with a Pharmacy degree from Melbourne, Australia. You can find her blogging at Seeking Victory or on Instagram or Facebook.