Category Archives: Blogging

Vulnerability alert: help me shape the future of I Will Bloom

OK.

Here goes.

**Major vulnerability alert: all vulnerability-detecting sirens are sounding at full blast here**

[This feels very icky to write as I’m putting myself out there and blowing my own trumpet and asking for advice….all things I don’t like to do and all rolled in to one blog post….yikes!!]

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I want to be able to make a go of I Will Bloom, in that I want it to become a place where I can use my talents (for research, for writing, for communication and community-building) and my knowledge (of entrepreneurship/self help topics etc.) to create a place where people feel welcome and feel like they’re supported and can find useful tips/advice, all whilst having “Oooh! I feel like that too!” life-enhacing/life-supporting kind of moments.

But (yep! there’s always a but!), to be able to do this, it’s going to require time and for me to dedicate time to it, it’s going to have to produce an income…because I’m a single Mum and I don’t have the luxury of having lots of spare time that I can dedicate to it without it producing a return on the investment of my time….

So I’m really just putting the feelers out regarding what sort of things would be acceptable or would move you to the other end of the spectrum and completely make you run a mile and never ever ever visit I Will Bloom again

For example:

  1. Would you like to see a newsletter? It’d be like my Sunday Ponderings posts, with links to interesting things I’ve found around the internet etc. (The idea being that this would help grow my readership).
  2. Would you be comfortable with me becoming an Amazon affiliate? I’ve done book review posts in the past which have been popular and I hope you’d all know that I wouldn’t recommend anything I don’t personally “feel all the feels” for….
  3. Would you be interested in buying an eBook from me? It’d be like my Self Care series but in cosy ebook format and, obviously, containing much more detailed info on the research and how we can apply the findings of this research to enhance the quality of our own lives.
  4. Do you think it’d be worth my while to offer a course (or two)? About Self Care and/or The life-changing art of gratitude and/or The magic of finding ordinary beauty. They’d be short courses aimed at reconnecting with joy. Priced around $25-30 for a five-lesson course.
  5. I’m toying with the idea of dedicating some time to producing a day-to-day/week-to-week planner for 2017. I myself use a system I’ve developed that helps me with my work flow – and keeps me motivated to move forward as I allocate time to my different roles/dreams/goals – and I think it’d be a really useful tool for other people. But (there’s alwaysbut!), I can’t take the risk of developing this or assuming printing costs etc if it’s not something people would be interested in…

So, in sum….I’m swallowing my fears and want to ask you if you’d fill out a short survey to help me determine a) if it’s worth investing my time in trying to develop I Will Bloom further and b) what forms of income streams would be acceptable/of interest for my readers….

I’d be really grateful if you could take the time to fill it out (I’m sorry: no sparkly, shiny, gift for doing so – as yet – just the plain old yummy satisfaction of knowing you were kind and helped me a lot!).

The survey is here….

(for some reason the ‘Other (please specify)’ is in Spanish….sorry!)

Thanks so much if you do fill out the survey (your answers will help)….I promise any and all changes won’t ever mean that I’m selling out: far from it! I’m just trying to determine whether it’s worth putting my time (and heart and soul) in to trying to make a ‘proper go’ of this little space!

Helen xxx

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Missing you…

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I have a confession to make….

It’s been three months since I even looked at my blog

(I’d forgotten the password to log in – yikes!)

It’s also been three months since I got hooked on Instagram.

(Yes, there is a direct correlation; Instagram, you’re a sneaky little minx! So sneaky, in fact, that you’ve even managed to cure my Pinterest addiction, Heaven forbid!)

And you know what?

I miss you….all of you…my readers….

And I miss my blog….

(and doing the rounds of everyone’s blogs)

But the words just aren’t coming…..

(Well, they are, but book-related words not bloggy-words)

So I just wanted to say….

I miss you all….

and I’ll be back as and when the bloggy muse hits and I feel I’ve something ‘worthwhile’ to say….

(If I don’t fall fast asleep with the littles on Thursday, I really want to do an FMF post….I’m missing FMF sooooooo much….)

Love,

Helen xxx

Three-day quote challenge: day three

The third and final day of Carrie’s Three-day quote challenge and it’s a big one, a Biblical one, an intriguing one…!

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“Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7)

The Qur’an puts it thus: “Whatever things you will ask for when you pray, believe that you will receive them and you will have them” (Mk 11: 23-24)

Hindus believe, “As a man does, so he shall reap”

It’s a common denominator to most religions. A basic act of faith for many the world over. It’s spread to the non-religious ‘self-help’ sections of society through The Secret and the rise of the vision board. Physicists have known about it for a while: quantum physics states that if we align our energy with what we want, and we couple this with action then the laws of the Universe dictate that we’ll get what we want.

Act of faith? Fundamental law of the (quantum) Universe?

I don’t know but it’s the one place where science and religion agree and my lived experiences tells me it works.

“Knock and the door will be opened for you”

Helen xxx

Three-day quote challenge: day two

Having accepted Carrie’s challenge to post three quotes over three days, here’s todays:

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I’ve written about the role of gratitude in my life many times on I Will Bloom, and I’m a great believer in another saying: “Gratitude turns what you have in to enough”.

We sometimes tend to rush through life or, if not rushing, then worrying our way through our days.

We constantly find ways to distract ourselves from what’s really important: our here, our now, all the things we have in front of us (as if these are things we should be running away from).

Being grateful, I’ve found, helps me be more present and, in turn, more aware and when I’m more aware, everything changes.

I’m more appreciative, more open, more likely to have a better day, meaning that everyone around me is more likely to have a better day.

Gratitude, as they say, “…is the key that opens the door to abundance”.

I end my days reviewing what I was grateful for during my day and I try to start my days with a grateful heart: remembering all I have, all I’m able to do, giving thanks, some days, that I’m alive and that I get to experience all of life in all its mixed-up, messed up, happy, wonderful, majestic glory.

My key to a happy life?

Live each moment with a grateful heart”

Helen xxx

Three-day quote challenge: day one

In a delightful symphony of serendipity and coincidence (that only life could make up!), my friend Carrie emailed me earlier today to ask if I’d like to take part in the ‘Three Day Quote Challenge’: to post three separate quotes on my blog for three consecutive days. Of course, Carrie and thank you for nominating me! 

It was a delightful crash of coincidences (that made me chuckle) because a) I’d just been painting some quotes over the weekend (you know, as you do!) and had, in fact painted three of them, and b) one of the quotes I’d focused on is very apt for some thoughts I’ve been ruminating over recently about my writing life….

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I don’t know who said it but, like all good motivational quotes, it’s so true and gets stuck in your head, taunting you to move onwards, upwards, towards a better you. 

Ladies, remember: “If you have a head full of fears, there’s no room for dreams”…

Enough said…

And now down to the ‘business end’ of the deal….the rules:

• Thank the blogger, who nominated you (Thank you, Carrie!)

• Publish 3 quotes on 3 consecutive days in your blog [It can be your own, or from a book, movie or from anyone who inspires you]

• Nominate 3 more bloggers to carry on this endeavour…

…..my three nominees are…..

My Lady Liz…at Sandals and Sunnies

The Very Lovely Barbara at Barbara’s Blog…and….drum roll…

Kie at Wild Hearts & Green Tea

They’re all fellow quote lovers, so hoping they’ll join in and we can all ‘Ooh and Ah’ and sigh big soul-affirming sighs as we read something that just ‘aligns’ with us and, so doing, aligns us…

Helen xxx

Humbled

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I’ve been away from my blog for two months….

…..two whole months!

I’d even forgotten my password to log back in…

and I feel I’ve lost my blogging rhythm

(between ‘crazy busy’ work schedule and school holidays)

But I found a spare half an hour so thought I’d post something…

A big thank you to all my readers (who I think of, dearly, as friends)…

I’ve been so humbled…

…so many of you have taken the time to email to ask if I’m OK.

It really meant a lot that you’d take time to do that.

Thank you!

You’re all so kind, so wonderful.

Thank you!

I can feel some posts brewing so, as Arnie says…

“I’ll be back”

….soon!!!!

P.S. “Eeek! I have an iPhone! YAY!!!!!!” (times a million)…will try not to go overboard on the filters/special effects on my photos but thank goodness I can now post ‘daily life’ photos here!

P.P.S. Instagram here I come!!

P.P.P.S. Sorry if I haven’t replied to some emails that have come through: between Mama duties and work, I’ve been rushed off my feet

P.P.P.P.S (!). Did I say I’ve really missed you all???????

Inspiration for blogging

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A lady left a comment for me a while ago. It said:

“How do you get the inspiration to write/blog? I’m trying to get in to it but am having trouble being consistent with it”

I wrote her a long and quite detailed reply, by email, and she didn’t acknowledge my reply 😦 [I’m still quite miffed about it, but I’m not going to judge].

I thought some of my readers might find something helpful within the reply I sent her, so thought I’d make it in to a post of it’s own (I realise it’s probably quite basic information for many of you but post in the hope that it might be of use to someone!). Here goes:

How did I start blogging?

How did I start blogging? I just decided to start! And then I made myself post every day. I started this blog on 1st September, with a challenge that was to write from certain prompts every day for 30 days (Blog-tember; all my posts for that challenge are here). Then I wrote every day from a challenge that provided a one word prompt every day for the month of October (Kate Motaung’s 31 days of five minute free-writing challenge; all my posts are here).

I wanted to do these two challenges so that I could develop a regular posting habit, as I’m planning on building my blog in to a community offering help/advice/reference material for a specific group of readers and I knew I’d need to develop the habit before I could launch the full – ‘proper’ – version of the blog/community I envisage.

Developing the blogging habit

Whilst posting every day in response to those challenges, and since the challenges, I’ve been developing the blogging habit (which is so much more than ‘simply’ writing a blog post).

Blogging requires a great deal of time:

– having the ideas for blog posts (often quite a lot of research)

– developing the ideas (more often than not a lot more research!)

– planning and then doing the writing and editing

– launching the posts (formatting, adding in images (I haven’t been doing this as standard as yet – hence the slapdash nature of the images!), scheduling posts, organising the editorial calendar etc)

– developing community – replying to all comments and mails that come in (it’s an important part of why I blog)

I’d say that writing the actual post is about a quarter to half the time it actually takes to put a post live and then interact with all those who are kind enough to comment on the post.

So, I knew I’d need some time (the two months of the two challenges plus some more!) to carve out time in my routine to see if I have time for it and, if not, to see how I could make the time, to be able to commit myself to blogging, to building this community I envision.

That’s how I ‘built in’ my plan for consistency (a work in progress still!)

Finding the inspiration to write/blog

As to inspiration to write/blog, that’s a difficult one and an easy one. I could flippantly say “Well, you’re not a writer/will not be a good blogger if you don’t have the inspiration to be one”, but I don’t think that’s very useful advice!

The deeper answer is, perhaps, what are you inspired by? What do you want to write about?

Think about it. Do you know?

I’m sure you do, as you wouldn’t have wanted to begin if you didn’t have some inspiration towards some specific direction.

So, take that specific direction and run with it.

Brainstorm the general topics you find interesting. You’ll find sub-topics emerging. From those sub-topics brainstorm again and come up with 30 blog post topics you could write about. Write them down on a piece of paper, headed ‘My first 30 blog posts’.

You’ve done brilliant! Don’t do anything else for a while. Rest, and read them over and over. Imagine yourself writing them (yes, it sounds crazy but just do it!).

Action stations

After a day or so, come back to the list, and do two things:

1. Write a draft post.

2. Research the other 29 posts in a way I call ‘lightly’: skim research so you get a general idea of the background to the topic but don’t go so deep. From this you’ll get lots and lots of other ideas: write them all down on a separate sheet of paper. Write them as they come to you. Don’t worry how it looks or how they’re organised. Just write them to get them out of your head as they come. Then, once you’ve exhausted the research, organise those ideas. There’ll be big topic headings, specific blog post ideas, perhaps, even specific blog post titles. Organise them however you feel is best for you (I have a folder at the side of my laptop: I keep pages for blog post ideas and pages for ‘bigger ideas not yet researched fully’). It’s not pretty. In fact it looks like this (!)…

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…but it helps me keep me organised! [And nothing gets done in my life if I’m not organised]

After all that – and after you repeat that regularly – you’ll be a regular ‘idea generation machine’ for blog post ideas AND the research aspect will come much easier to you.

You then ‘simply’ need to plan which order you’ll write and publish the posts and then schedule the posts once they’re written (scheduling will help you to develop a regular blogging habit but I know there are many brilliant bloggers who write ‘by the seat of their pants’ and it works for them….!).

Again, my calendar is not pretty but it works for me (eek – look at that mess! Anti-Pinterest as Rachel would say!):

Calendar

In a nutshell

The reader asked about where I find the inspiration to write/blog and how to develop consistency.

I found consistency by forcing myself to blog daily through the routine of sticking to two daily challenges. My inspiration comes from my experiences and my desire to know more about specific subjects and to communicate that desire/knowledge to my readers. [I keep myself inspired by researching. I’m constantly researching using the process I described, which constantly inspires me to find more and more depth to the issues I’m interested in blogging about]. I write because, for me, I can’t NOT do so. It’s a compulsion.

Hope this helps: I’m happy to answer questions in the comments!

[Am thinking of starting a regular ‘blogging issues’ series on Saturdays: is this something you’d be interested in? Let me know! (And, if so, let me know any topic ideas you’d be interested in seeing). I’m obviously not an established – or authoritative – blogger but I might be able to provide some help based on my years of freelance work as a writer and editor…it’s taught me nothing if not a million things about organisation, research and planning!]