Reflections of a First Time (Education) Blogger

IMG_1082My little baby blog is celebrating its one month anniversary today! To celebrate, I thought I would do a wee bit of a reflection about what I have learned so far about this whole blogging gig. While this is solely based on my own (in)experience, if you are new to blogging or considering it, I hope that this reflective piece will help others. I’m big into lists, so I figured I would assemble a top ten list of things I learned my first month of blogging, suggestions I have for others, and just general little nuggets of wisdom I have gleaned this past month.  Let’s get started!

Actual photo of what blogging can often feel like.
Actual photo of what blogging can often feel like.
  1. Blogging is a lot of work. I can see how it could easily consume your life! But I have to say, it’s so incredibly fulfilling and rewarding and even cathartic on many levels, so it’s totally been worth it. Would I ever give up teaching to become a full-time blogger? No way. Do I love doing it in addition to my teaching gig? You bet! I do have to say I am a bit nervous about school starting back up and still having enough time to devote to this pet project of mine and my beloved students. I have to admit, I have used my summer time wisely, and I have stockpiled some blog posts so I have them ready to roll in case I don’t have time when the back to school craziness starts.

    Be your own quality control - give your readers quality over quantity when it comes to new blog posts.
    Be your own quality control – give your readers quality over quantity when it comes to new blog posts.
  2. Avoid the temptation to kick out new posts too often. Yes, you want to build your content and your website, but you need to find a nice rhythm of posting. I committed to posting at least once a week. I certainly don’t want to abuse my privilege as a blogger, and I don’t want to give my readers anything but the best of my writing. I also don’t want to overwhelm my readers with too much at one time, otherwise you run the risk of annoying your readers. You definitely want to avoid watered down posts on your blog. Just because you have something hot off the press, it doesn’t mean you should fire it off to your readers right away. Give it some time to marinate! You may end up regretting posting something too soon for a variety of reasons, so it’s better to just hold onto some content rather than hitting the publish button too soon. As a new blogger, it can be super tempting to churn out a lot of content in a little time just to fill your blog, but it’s going to take time and patience. Just relax, and fill your blog content with quality not quantity.

    Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme!
    Making money from your blog is time-consuming and advertising on your blog can be tricky! Be patient and you’ll figure it out… eventually!
  3. Figuring out the monetization of your blog can be much more difficult than it should be. I definitely did my research (hello, I’m an English teacher – I teach research!) and I was very confused about something as simple as Google AdSense. Nothing makes you feel like an idiot faster than not being able to figure something out quickly. I had to read and reread articles about Google AdSense and even watch a couple of videos before I felt confident enough to try to get it up and running. Even as I am typing this right now, I am unsure if I am doing it right or if it is working properly! But hey, at least I tried.

    Having a business card for your blog is a smart move for many reasons.
    Having a business card for your blog is a smart move for many reasons.
  4. Consider ordering business cards for your blog. I ordered mine yesterday! I can’t tell you how many times my blog has come up in conversations lately. I know darn well I can’t depend on someone to remember what my website name is, so if I have a business card, I can definitely hand it to them and drum up some more support for it. Brilliant! It’s also one step closer to proving to myself and others that this blogging gig should be treated like a business (because it is!) and a business card is a perfect representation of my professionalism.

    Creating a successful blog is a lot like putting a puzzle together. You have to have patience and wait for all of the pieces to fit together.
    Creating a successful blog is a lot like putting a puzzle together. You have to have patience and wait for all of the pieces to fit together.
  5. Patience is a must in the land of blogging. I am definitely pretty tech-savvy on a basic level, but add in all of this new stuff on WordPress and Google AdSense, and I’m left feeling pretty inept some days. Lucky for me, I have a thirteen year old who will gladly roll his eyes at me and then help me whilst muttering under his breath about how I don’t know anything. I’ve also had to learn to have patience with having my blog take off like I want it to and I know it eventually will. In my fantasy land, I just thought that you would publish your blog and BOOM, your blog would take off and you would have so many people flocking to your blog virtually salivating just waiting for your next post. Ummmm… nope! It takes hard work, patience, networking, and even then, nothing is guaranteed as far as the loyalty of your readership is concerned. Maybe someday I won’t have to beg and plead to have anyone and everyone come visit my blog; until then, I’m at least nice about my begging and pleading! Hey, we all have to start somewhere – so I am employing the no shame in asking/begging/pestering routine daily.

    Get rid of the doubt so you can experience blogging success!
    Get rid of the doubt so you can experience blogging success!
  6. Self-doubt and questioning of your sanity are buy one get one free when it comes to blogging. After I started this blog and published my first couple of posts, the self-doubt immediately started creeping in on me. You know, those negative thoughts about what if no one supports this blog, what if no one reads it, what if I am terrible at what I am doing? Yes, you will doubt yourself. You will second guess yourself. You will beat yourself up for things you feel like you should or should not have done with your blog. You will start to feel slightly to moderately crazy for even choosing the blog life. But, you know what? That doubt and questioning of your sanity start to go away and are quickly replaced with confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and pride knowing you are chasing a dream of yours!

    Oh, Pinterest! How did I ever live my life without you?
    Oh, Pinterest! How did I ever live my life without you?
  7. Pinterest will be your best friend for blogging resources. To all of the other bloggers before me who have taken the time to post their goodies on Pinterest – THANK YOU! I salute you for your hard work and your willingness to help those of us completely new to this whole blogging stuff! Tapping into someone else’s expertise is highly recommended. Chances are, if you have a question about blogging or you are looking for a “how to” guide on something blog related, someone has likely created a pin for it and has posted it on Pinterest. I have found better information on all things blog related on Pinterest than I have just from trying to hunt around for the information on my own.

    Blogging has become part of my nightly routine, and it's oddly relaxing.
    Blogging has become part of my nightly routine, and it’s oddly relaxing.
  8. Settle into a routine for writing and blog posting. It’s been very important for me to set aside time for blogging and to choose at least one day a week where I will post my new post. I have committed to doing at least one new blog post a week. It helps to keep me accountable for the upkeep of my content, and it helps my readers to stay engaged as well. I’ve developed a habit of settling in each night by turning on the TV for background noise, kicking up my feet, and then firing up the laptop to check my blog for comments, take a look at my website statistics, do a little campaigning via social media, answer emails, and then jotting down ideas for blog posts or tweaking unpublished posts. I’ve also found that if I am not in the mood to write, I just pull the plug on it and come back to it later. I like my writing to be organic and genuine rather than forced and trite. I find that since I have established this nightly ritual, I have really come to look forward to this sacred time each evening – it’s quite relaxing!

    Be prepared to make lots of mistakes as a new blogger. It's part of the learning process.
    Be prepared to make lots of mistakes as a new blogger. It’s part of the learning process.
  9. You can, and will make mistakes – and that’s okay! Yep – the first day of my blog, I accidentally deleted the whole thing. The. Whole. Thing. I nearly cried. I was so excited to go live, and I dutifully did my first post, my about me page, and put some pics on it. I went live, and then I went into my account and tried to download something, and BAM, my blog was totally gone. I panicked and tried to undo it, and then I realized I was totally out of my league and got tech support involved. Thanks to the lovely folks at Bluehost, they were able to totally recover everything I worked so hard on and then subsequently quite easily deleted! Phew. Crisis averted. I am a self-taught blogger who did a lot of pre-work via research and took advice from current bloggers, so I am totally willing and able to make mistakes. The key is to learn from those mistakes and then hopefully avoid those same mistakes in the future.

    Relax! Just try to enjoy the blogging experience!
    Relax! Just try to enjoy the blogging experience! Don’t get caught up in all of the craziness that can come with starting a new blogging adventure.
  10. Relax and embrace the experience. It can be so tempting to become psychotically obsessed about the data generated from your blog and plugins like Google AdSense. I am totally not doing my blog as a money-making venture; I truly want to make a difference in the lives of my fellow teachers. Now, if I happen to make some extra income off this blog of mine, that’s great because I can recycle it right back into my efforts to provide bigger and better giveaways. It can also help to defray my costs of operating this little blog of mine. So, if I make some extra moolah from it – that’s great! But, if you are truly in the blogging business for money-making purposes only, good luck. It certainly isn’t a get rich quick scheme, and even if it is somehow miraculously producing gobs of money for a blogger, I can guarantee there was some serious hard work involved! Also, beware of all of the weirdos who come out of the woodwork emailing you trying to sell you their business propaganda promising you that if you buy their product, your traffic and income will skyrocket. Just ignore them and delete their emails. Some of these vultures can be very annoying and persistent. But, the solicitation will ease up in a couple of weeks and you can be free to work your own magic! You don’t need their empty promises anyway!

So, there you have it. Month one of my blog done and in the books and on the web! I plan to look back each month and reflect on what I’ve learned and think about what my plans are for the upcoming month. The teacher in me likes to reflect on my past experiences and develop some goals to make Teacher Sweepers totally epic! Have any questions about blogging in general? Ask them below! I will answer them honestly and genuinely without sugar-coating anything. Also, if you would like advice about starting your own blogging adventure or if you want to be a guest blogger here at Teacher Sweepers, email me: maya@teachersweepers.com.

IMG_1082

Calling All Writers

If you are like most teachers I know, you have a lot on your mind and a lot to say when it comes to education (and life in general). Maybe you’ve always dreamed of becoming an educational blogger or being published in some prestigious education journal, or maybe you just fancy yourself a writer in addition to being the stellar teacher you are. Whatever your motivating factors are, Teacher Sweepers is now accepting guest blog submissions. While we can’t pay you for your work (not yet anyway – we’re brand new too), it could be a great jumping off point for a budding writing side gig. No experience is necessary, and we are looking for all different kinds of submissions. Really, the only requirement we have is that it has to do with education or teaching somehow, since that’s kinda our thing around here. We do try to avoid blatant negativity as well, because let’s face it – we deal with a lot of that already. We want to uplift, empower, and enlighten other teachers here at Teacher Sweepers while we provide an opportunity to win some awesome goodies.

We don't pay very well though, because we don't pay at all.
We don’t pay very well though, because we don’t pay at all. But having your work published will be reward enough.

Right now we really want to target more elementary teachers in our posts so we would love to have some K-6 teachers write for us. But we will totally accept anything that engages, entertains, or assists other teachers. So, email us at maya@teachersweepers.com if you would like to write for us. If you are already an established blogger, that’s great! We will gladly link back to your blog for your published piece. Or maybe you just have an idea of something we should cover here at Teacher Sweepers and would like us to write about it, drop us a line. Perhaps you have a brilliant idea for a giveaway too – let us know! Basically, we are all ears right now here at Teacher Sweepers. Now is your time to help us grow our website.

IMG_0989

 

 

Donation Letters Have Been Sent!

Unless and until I get this whole Teacher Sweepers idea off the ground (and I truly believe it will take off), I am going to rely on the kindness of others to help make this little dream of mine come true!  This past week, I was busy drafting a letter to possible donors who might be interested in helping Teacher Sweepers with donations, prizes, gift cards… you name it, I’ll take it!

Now, as previously mentioned here on another Teacher Sweeper’s post, the whole idea is to offer at LEAST a monthly giveaway to my fellow teachers.  If Teacher Sweepers can start earning some extra income from this blog/website, then that money will be recycled into bigger and better prizes for teachers (yay)!  So, I figured I will need TWELVE prizes to start with to make the monthly giveaway happen.  Technically, I only need eleven, because I’m sponsoring the first giveaway.  (If you haven’t entered yet to win the $25.00 Amazon gift card, what are you waiting for – do it! You have until July 31, 2016.)

Since twelve was my magic number, I took some time to really think about what companies I should ask about possibly donating to this worthy cause.  I even asked on my personal Facebook page where most people like to get their school supplies.  Several of my friends immediately chastised me for even speaking of school supplies when it isn’t even quite the middle of July yet… But, it’s for a good cause…

262f318e500186d91f840d0a5243980c

I carefully drafted my top twelve list; then I got started looking up addresses of corporate headquarters so I could mail out the letters.  I know I could just simply email the companies, but I guess I am old-fashioned and prefer to write a letter and sign my name to it.  Emailing through a “Contact Us” link or form just seems too impersonal, plus it seems like a random customer service representative probably won’t be my target audience.  I was so excited to get these letters out in the mail that I drove to our local grocery stores to buy stamps before they closed, and then swung by the official post office mailboxes to make sure the letters would go out bright and early this morning.  And now, we wait…

IMG_0684
Pre-postage phase of the donation solicitation letters. They’ve all been sent out now!

I honestly have no idea what to expect!  I don’t know if companies will buy into my idea of helping other teachers, and if they do, will they be willing to donate?  In a perfect world, all twelve of these companies will gladly donate, this blog will explode in popularity on the web and will start generating some massive income so we can give bigger and better prizes, there will be so many donations coming in from all kinds of sources I won’t know what to do with them all, and every teacher will never have to find a way to supplement their classroom inventory because we will all have enough in our classrooms.  Yeah, right!  Oh how I wish that none of us would ever have to ask for the essential items we so desperately need for our classrooms!  We all can agree how amazing that would be, but… sigh… we all know we have to get creative in how we make ends meet for our students and classrooms.

I won’t bore you with the details of the letter, but I will say I am definitely glad that I teach rhetoric and know how to employ ethos, pathos, and logos into my inquiry.  I may or may have not pulled on the heart strings of possible donors by asking them to think about an educator who has made a lasting impact on them and then to donate in their honor.  We shall see if my rhetorical skills are up to snuff.  If you see an excited post soon about an official donation, you will know that my rhetorical skills are good to go!  Speaking of donating in someone’s honor, I am very seriously considering starting this somehow.  Wouldn’t that be great for people to be able to simultaneously honor an educator who has made a difference in their life and also donate to a teacher in need?  (That’s a rhetorical question… ha!) I’m still trying to think about what that would look like and how that would work, so stay tuned!

I will tell you that I started out with mostly big box stores and big corporations that would be able to provide classroom goods and supplies. But, I plan to venture out into other donations once we get past the back to school season.  I’m thinking restaurant gift cards, clothing stores, beauty supplies, etc. would make a wonderful addition to our sweepstakes and giveaways.  After all, teachers need some TLC and pampering too.  We often neglect ourselves so that we may put others first.  Teacher Sweepers wants you to relax, unwind, and spoil yourself for once!  So tell us – what types of giveaways would you like to see here on Teacher Sweepers for the upcoming months?  Your wish is our command… Comment below!

blowing-dandlelion-license-free-CC0-480x319
What do you wish you had as a teacher? Let us know by commenting below!