My life as a children's author while juggling being a mum, a wife and professional volunteer. (Sometimes it gets complicated)

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Adventures and Misadventures of Starting My Blog

Blogging looks fun! It’s trendy, effective, and a great way to connect with people – strangers, friends and family.

The thought of having an internet space where I could entertain and educate readers while practising the craft of writing sounded glamorous. I always found using new forms of technology exciting. I thought setting up a blog and adding my first post would be easy.

WRONG! (for me anyway!)

I have been given advice by many publishing industry professionals to blog. So I started reading and following a few blogs by other children’s authors and illustrators. Their blog pages looked lovely. The more I read them, the more my confidence grew.

Last year I went through the process of working with a website designer to build my website. My website designer very carefully took me on the journey of going behind a website and learning how it is built. Very complicated things were explained to me – I probably understood a fraction of it. However, I still felt I knew enough to build a blog.

'To Do' List
After having ‘blog (HWC)?’ on my ‘To Do’ list for over twelve months, I found a blogging course through the Hunter Writers’ Centre. Three panelists presented a wonderful workshop on the anatomy of a blog, why blog, what to blog about, who to blog for, how to build a community of followers, craft writing for a blog, and technical challenges and tips.

This all seemed easy and made a lot of sense. I went home feeling energised and inspired to build my blog. This is when the real fun (and a million questions) started!

Structure - What do I want to add? Which template? What’s a Gadget? What is a Widget? How many do I need? What will my tag line say? Customisation? How do I organise my information? How do I organise my privacy settings?

Navigating ‘blogger’ – what is a dashboard? How can I make my blog reflect my personality and achieve its purpose? Hang on - What is my purpose? How do I use this new program? Where is the delete button? Why did it do that? How do I go back? Why are there 3 search bars?

HELP!!!

I think I now need a workshop in actually building my blog. I had the idea I would just magically find a blog waiting for me somewhere on the web and all I had to do was start typing.

WOW! I was wrong again!

After spending a few days playing and wandering aimlessly around ‘blogger’, I resorted to ringing my website designer. After 20 minutes of following her instructions, my blog started looking similar to the vision I had in my head. Why didn’t I ring her two days earlier?

A week later I organised a one-on-one session with a friend, an avid blogger. We sat together with a cup of tea and nutted out my final questions while looking at our blogs side-by-side. It all makes sense when you have a personal blogging mentor. (She even helped me label, format and publish this post.)

I have spoken to many bloggers in the last few weeks. We have had lots of laughs and shared tips on building a blog. These conversations helped me feel much better. All of them have had, and are still experiencing blogging challenges. Phew – it’s not just me!

You are reading this post on a functioning blog. The background matches my website pages, my heading and colours are customised (it is so exhausting being a perfectionist), and I have some gadgets going down the left and right-hand side. This is a work in progress.

I’m still learning about labels and formatting. I also have no idea how I want to archive my posts. But I like the idea I have started, and I can change how it’s structured when I’m ready. (Note to oneself: sort out your layout before you go and customise everything!)

I hope you will come on this blogging journey with me. I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures with like-minded people who are interested in how I develop as a children’s author while juggling the rest of my life. 

Blogging still seems like fun now I have some of the scaffolding sorted. Hopefully something drastic like it completely disappearing won’t happen. But that’s a problem for another day.

Feel free to leave a comment or suggestions.

Here we go…