Blogging is a journey we should all enjoy. That’s one of the things I shared with fellow women at last month’s workshop called “Blog Inspired: Blog with Purpose.” It was a workshop aimed to help women learn more about blogging purposively. Some questions we aimed to answer were: How do I find my voice? Where do I begin? Why am I blogging? What do I want to achieve with my blog? These are points of reflection you can totally answer on your own by going through various resources online. Sometimes though it helps to have a community with you to answer those queries. In our case, it was a half-day workshop with around 35 women, all eager to learn about how to blog with purpose. It was amazing and a great learning experience.
Breakfast for bloggers. Choose your name tag. Martine at the registration table.
I was a speaker at Blog Inspired. It was a great honor, especially since I was working alongside 3 wonderful women — Martine of Dainty Mom, Michelle of Beyond the Silver and Gold, and Jamie of Optimommy. We started brainstorming on this workshop in October 2012. To have the workshop come to fruition this April 2013 was nothing short of amazing.
Image from Dainty Mom
Jamie took us through several powerful exercises. One of my favorites was the Life Purpose Exercise, inspired by Arnold M. Patent, the author of You Can Have It All. This exercise aimed to help clarify one’s purpose, mission and values. Understanding your life’s purpose can help you define what you want your blog to stand for. Mine went:
“My purpose is using my love for storytelling and eagerness to help, to connect and inspire women, men, mothers and families as we all freely express ourselves and pursue the best of everydays in joyfulness, serenity and genuine camaraderie.”
After that exercise, I realized how far my blog is from living out that purpose and that the same time how close I was because I had resources at hand but haven’t had time to blog about them. This purpose I had define for my blog is now my guiding light when I think of topics to write about.
Here’s the thing about writing your life purpose: It evolves, just as you evolve. Who knows, maybe this year I begin being passionate about a particular cause and make that my blog’s purpose instead. Maybe I’ll be more focused on marriage topics (after all, this blog is called “wife”ly steps…). Maybe not. For now though, I know that I feel my mission is what I’ve written above. It’d be great to revisit it perhaps in six months.
My talk was about the Blogging Journey. In a nutshell, there are three questions that can help you get started on your journey: (1) “Where am I?” (2) “Where do I want to be?” and (3) “How do I get there?”.
Where am I? is looking for what anchors you. Are there any themes in your life you think would make a good foundation for your blog? My foundation for Wifely Steps back in October 2003 when I first started this was to help newlyweds adjust to married life. I was a newlywed then and wanted to share my experiences with whoever would listen. I blogged about the first Sinigang I cooked, cooking and cleaning tips I learned in our first home etc. That was my anchor then. It’s been 10 years since and I’ve been blogging about motherhood. Finding your anchor is a great way to begin your blog. Just be open to evolving — because that’s how life is!
Where do I want to be? is about defining what your vision is for your blog. Do you want to be an advocate? A credible resource? An expert? It can be as bold as “I want to be the #1 travel blog in South East Asia” or as service-oriented as “I want to be the go-to resource for natural parenting.” It’s your vision — be as bold as you want. It helps to know what the destination is, yes? It could also be your own measure for your blog success if you’d like to look at it that way.
How do I get there? is your journey. It is putting together posts with the theme and the thrust you’ve previously defined. So write stories. Record moments. Capture images. Share anecdotes. Impart lessons learned. Interview folks. Publish recipes. Pass on advice. All anchored by your theme, all going towards the destination you have in mind.
Some parting words from my talk: Your blog is a living document. It changes. It evolves. It is a chronicle of your life’s journey. It’s the learning experiences and the surprising changes that make life interesting. Go blog about them! You’re not the only one who’ll be learning from your own life’s experiences. You’ll be surprised you’ll be helping inspire others too.
Michelle talked about her journey as a blogging homeschooling Mom. She also touched on a lesson that resonated with everyone at the workshop — Don’t prioritize earning, prioritize inspiration. There is no harm in trying out monetized blogging. I’ve tried that and engage in that from time to time, especially if it’s for a brand I believe in. Some folks blog solely for money — nothing wrong with that as well. One of the lessons shared during the workshop though was that to get to that kind of success, you’ll have to sharpen some tools and learn a few basics to get that leverage. Best of all, it helps if you begin by blogging with inspiration as your motivation (even your currency!). If we look at the established and much pursued blogs in the local blogosphere, a lot of them have been around a long time. A lot of them also didn’t start with paid posts as a destination or a measure of their blog’s success. They built credibility over time. They gained a huge following over many years. Because of that dedication, it’s recognized and acknowledged not only by their followers and fellow bloggers but by clients and advertisers. These credible bloggers are now key opinion leaders. So yup, earning from your blog will come in time. For now, prioritize inspiration. I’d also like to add: Prioritize substance. Great content is what will make readers come back again and again. Great substance is how you can help grow and inspire your blogging community.
One of my favorite parts of Martine’s talk was how she put her Blog Brand Board together. Think of it as a vision board, with elements of how you’d like your blog to look pasted on it. From theme to content, this Blog Brand Board is a creative and inspiring way to help structure your blog. I loved how her Blog Brand Board looked. It totally made me so itchy to get started on my own! Martine also gave us practical tips on bringing your blogging voice to life. From how to compose your posts (title in beginning to call to action in the end) to how you can write posts (pictures, current events, anecdotes, etc.), she tied up my, Jamie and Michelle’s talks all together in one “nice, dainty and pink figurative ribbon”, as she aptly put it. Martine is one of my all-time favorite bloggers. She is definitely a role model not just to bloggers but to women. I am amazed at how she has been inspring and better even, moving women to go after their dreams of becoming WAHMS, becoming better writers, becoming better bloggers. I tip my (figurative not-so-pink) hat to you, dearest, dearest Martine.
One of the highlights of the workshop was meeting a long-time blog pal, Faye of Chronicles of Maia. This is one of the best things I love about blogging — finding folks you genuinely connect with. I’m very much an introvert and find it hard to strike conversations in person. Blogging has allowed me to connect with many folks through reading and writing, and I’ve developed many good friendships through blogging. Faye and I have been corresponding for awhile now. Our children even became “sticker pals” for a short while (they’d send each other stickers over snail mail). It was really awesome finally getting to meet Faye in person. Our initial meeting wasn’t awkward at all since we’ve developed that kinship over many years. So while I was meeting Faye for the first time, I felt I was meeting an old friend.
Thank you to everyone who joined our little workshop. Thank you for being part of a little mission we have — to help others be blog-inspired. Aside from blogging with a purpose though, I think a great takeaway that day was that blogging is a journey best shared with kindred souls. As Martine shared, it’s a journey best shared with sisters.
We hope to give this workshop again soon. It was a wonderful learning experience not just for the attendees but for us speakers too. We learned a lot from the stories everyone shared. It was wonderfully, supremely, inspiring indeed.
To know more about Blog Inspired, feel free to leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.