Please welcome Ida Mae Simone on the blog today for my continuing series- 1st Year Bloggers, What I‘m Learning. She contacted me on Twitter one day asking for a spot and I was thrilled. If you are a first year blogger and want to write about the good, the bad, and the profound experiences of blogging, please contact me! I run this series every Thursday. No previous guest posting experience necessary. I hope you’ll stop by her blog once you’ve read here!
How I (have almost) survived my first year blogging, and still manage to write about what I love.
by Ida Mae West-Simone
In May 2012, I decided to start a blog. I have always known I wanted to write. I was reading The Happiness Project and knew I had to get this writing thing off the ground. Its author, Gretchen Rubin left a law career to start her Happiness Project and become a writer, and she started with a blog. I loved the idea and got obsessed with reading other blogs. I knew I wanted to write about the vision I have for my own children, but also for children on a global level. I also knew that my strength was in telling stories.
But where would I start? My tech expertise was limited at best and our business did not have money for tech support.
This year, I’ve been jumping around between these three activities in blogging:
Following the Leaders
I am a teacher, and a lesson I learned early in my career was the importance of mentors and learning from their experiences. My newneighbour knew a lot about computers and had told me that Tumblr was a really easy platform to start with, so armed with YouTube how-to videos, I started there.
I continued to follow more of Gretchen Rubin’s example by looking for a writing class. With just days to put an admissions package together, I threw together a few of my first-ever blog posts with an introduction and a letter and was thrilled to be a part of The Humber School for Writer’s summer institute in July 2012. That week changed my life.
Author Richard Scrimger was my mentor teacher. He scared the h*** out of me at first, with his f-bombs and ‘no holding back’ attitude. I learned so much in that ten days. I was also fortunate to meet other friends that week who are successful bloggers, especially Mara Shapiro of Be Nice or Leave, Thanks and MomFaze who taught me about Twitter, got me a guest post and has helped me navigate my way through social media all year.
Weathering the Storms
Following my week at Humber, I had a stack of business cards from my new blogger friends, and I realized I needed to upgrade my blog platform. With renewed enthusiasm, I went back to the YouTube how-to videos and suddenly found myself in tech hell. If you have ever transferred your blog from one platform to another, you know it is not pretty. For days I cursed the very idea of blogging and I’m sure my family wished that they had never heard of WordPress.
It was in returning misdirected mail that I found the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew that our new next door neighbours ran a business that had something to do with computers. Turns out, they are Social Media Training Specialists! In the year we had beenneighbours, one of our former summer camp coaches had been working for them, so I hired him to help me. Considering the cost of replacing a laptop that could potentially be hurled into the street, it just made sense.
Finding my Groove
Coach Cam hooked me up with the transfer. After a few lock-outs, some password and twitter issues, I coasted for a while. Havingfriends parents and teachers on my Facebook friends list on helped, but I suspect I was spamming them for a while in my over-enthusiasm. I was posting almost daily at the beginning but hardly had a readership! (Oops)
Now, I post on A Vision For Our Kids about twice a week while I am pursuing other writing projects. Because of my Reading Recovery and Special Education training, I have been submitting education articles and posts to Examiner.com and sending out content through@ThatFunReadingTeacher. I have also contributed to SavvyStories.ca and YummyMummyClub which brings new readers to my blog.
Just a few months ago, I came across Fabulous Blogging on twitter and subscribed to Julie’s emails. These have been so helpful, as have the First Year Bloggers’ posts. I love reading them to know that others are experiencing many of the things I have gone through! My favorite feature that I have picked up from Fabulous Blogging so far has been the Zemanta plugin. My head just spins when I think back to one year ago when I hardly knew what a blog was. Now I’m planning a second one.
Thank you so much, Julie, for all of the great advice you put out into cyberspace, and for this terrific opportunity. Best wishes to the other first year bloggers out there!