Ready To Launch.

Writing Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the book “So You Want To Start a Blog” by Jennifer West for review purposes, and because I wanted this book very badly.

Dorky Photography Disclosure: Many of the photos in this post were taken in a highly low light setting, with bright green tones, and tons of fast motion. For a paid job and not just personal use, I would have brought lighting and other special equipment. I did what I could in low light and while distracted, but please know I still favor sharp and rich photography above all.

Sometimes I wonder how my blogging journey would have gone if I had taken the time to learn more about blogging before I began. Or even less than three YEARS into it! Would my design be the same? Who would I have found along the way? Would my “voice” be the same? That last one, I can say, would be the same. This is the voice I was born with, and the voice that begged me to start blogging, and it is the voice I speak with along the way. It’s been a long, continuous ride, and it’s not ending.

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Where do I want to go from here? How can I shake things up? What is my end game and do I know how to get there? These are all questions I asked myself while reading, “So You Want to Start a Blog: A guide to blogging your first year.”

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Lately I’ve been having a blogging existential crisis. I feel like dust in the wind, to be honest. I feel like I don’t know exactly what I’m doing and where I fit in, when at other times in life, all of this came/comes so naturally. In Jennifer’s book, she at first discusses the kinds of bloggers out there – personal bloggers, home and family bloggers, hobby bloggers, etc. I am a personal blogger, or at least I was. It’s morphed in ways. I have a touch of parenting blogging (I despise the word “mommy” said by adults so I’ll never say “mommy blogger”) and I have a touch or more of photography blogging. And I’ve been syndicated and hired to write articles so I believe I have a touch of business blogging too – more than a touch when you factor in that I do discuss/share snippets from my photography business too. Sometimes I love that I’m all of these things – I wouldn’t change it.

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And other times, I feel a little lost.

Personal blogging is generally not meant for the masses, and it is meant for family and friends. My blog is meant for family and friends, and it’s also meant for the masses. Jennifer also delves into the who, what, where, when and whys of blogging – with a lot of detail. I know my why. I have been reading blogs since the dawn of blogging time – livejournal and the like. I started blogging four years ago, with no awareness of tribes, designs, monetization and niches. Jennifer suggests making a plan and I agree with that. I didn’t have a plan and I’m still not entirely sure I have one. You can probably tell my blogging priorities – they’re not unlike the ones I have always had, and the ones I also have for my in-person life. My blogging priorities are connection – hence the comments/commenting, and I prioritize content. I treat each post like an assignment for school or work. I treat each post like I’m getting paid a lot of money. Each post has to have proper(ish) grammar, spelling and structure. And pretty photos. And each post has to have feeling – as if I’m talking to my loved ones. And often, mostly, I really am.

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Jennifer says that you can either plan out your blog or fly by the seat of your pants, but by doing that, you miss a lot of things. That describes me very much! The planning and the who, what, where when and why can help you with a name. I remember sitting at my computer and asking Cassidy for help brainstorming a name. Within five minutes, I just blurted out “Tamara like Camera” which is a play on how everyone mispronounces my name. When I was graduating high school, we were asked to write out hints to help the people who would be calling out our names during our graduation ceremony. I wrote, “Tamara (rhymes with camera) Klein” and she stumbled over that and totally pronounced it like, “Tah-mara”. Nope! However, I had a blog name.

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And I like cameras. I do. It’s true.

So why did I start a blog? To make money? To write a book? Well..yeah, I guess. That’s not why I started but those are goals I picked up along the way. Ultimately, I’m already at my end game of blogging to express myself so I want to gain and maintain momentum, make changes with the times, and GROW. You start a blog because you LOVE it and WANT to do it. I did.

I catch on slowly, but I do catch on. I use Bloglovin. I am learning all social media platforms. I still have a long way to go and Jennifer’s book will help clear up a lot of mysteries. She was very in-depth about Google Authorship and Google Plus – more so than I knew by far! I learned about RICH pins for Pinterest and using vertical photos (as vertical as possible) and story pins (collages). I learned about using Instagram better, and not clogging or spamming the feed, by giving a 30-60 minute window in between posts. I made notes to try Statigram (Iconosquare) and All In One SEO pack plug-in as well.

I’d tell you more but I can’t give away her wonderful secrets. This book definitely made think more about blogging than I have in years, but it’s in an inspiring way. For more info, visit her site HERE.

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And because..appropriate(ish) photos with my posts and all, here are some photos from a local trampoline park, Launch, that we visited in the winter. We also went again in March to meet Allie and her twins. It’s called Launch. (launching blogs, launching ideas, launching your body into trampolines, all of that good stuff in life that makes you think and makes you act.)

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Yup. That one’s mine.

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I just adore the strange things going on right in front of him, on that trampoline basketball court:

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  1. Sounds like a very interesting and helpful book! I find that my blogging mojo fluctuates and my goals with the blog have definitely changed since I became a freelance writer. I just need the blog to be more of a creative outlet for now. As far as to what kind of blogger you are, I have an answer for you: an awesome blogger πŸ™‚
    No matter what you write about, you make it honest and thus relateable and that’s the best possible blogging!

    1. When writing this book, I should have added in that you could also be an Awesome Blogger (See ! She is pretty amazing, and I love how I have NEVER found another blog or blogger like her. She has found her own personal brand and blog and it truly is ALL her. Coming here every day is like being invited over for cookies and milk and sitting next to her and her family on the couch to catch up. It’s amazing how “cozy and inviting” and not mention “real” it is here.

      1. Aw! I think we just started a new category! If you write a sequel, make sure there’s a chapter on Awesome Bloggers!
        I really do want you all to come in for milk and cookies, so if it sounds that way, it’s because it is!

    2. You are in the same category as I am, Kerstin. We are like-minded bloggers – yay!
      I feel like I just make it up as I go and it has become its own thing and I LOVE it. I’ve been feeling restless lately, though.

  2. Oooh, I love anything to do with reading about blogging. I’ll have to check this book out. I get a little overwhelmed with all of the different social media platforms that us bloggers are supposed to know, so I just pretty much stick to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Plus I’m really bad at promoting my posts. Everything I read says I need to be shameless in promoting but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’ll post once and that’s usually it. And I agree with Kerstin above about the type of blogger you are!

    1. I hear you! I usually post once and then forget about it. And even that is a stretch. So then I have to remind myself to plug myself!
      You’re in our niche too. Awesome bloggers unite.

  3. I never thought to consult a book on blogging, but it makes perfect sense!! I would love to check out what I may be missing or simple (quick!) tips on how to improve my blog. Of course I love ALL the pictures πŸ™‚ That place looks ver familiar!

    1. Yes, VERY! That was from February, I think, so a month or more before we met you. I wonder if it will mellow out there now that it’s warm out.

  4. I started my blog with hardly any plan, either. I like to write and try to be funny, so that’s what I did. There is so much I need to learn about blogging to make mine more successful, but I don’t know if I’ll ever catch up. Your blog is exactly how I imagine you to be – warm, fun, and inviting!

    1. Thank you!
      I think it must vary so much. There are certainly people doing this full time but I am not one of those people. I’m such an in-betweener, and I pair it with my photography business too, just to make things complicated.

  5. I remember when I first met Jennifer and I cannot believe how far she has come! I’m so proud and excited for her. Either way, if it makes you feel any better, Tamara, I’ve been having a bit of a blogging existential crisis myself. Pretty much feeling the same way you do. Though you my be having a bit of a crisis, in my opinion, you’re probably one of the most influential people I’ve come across recently. This probably sounds extremely fan-girlish, but you’re seriously an inspiration to me and a role model. I actually almost bugged you the other day because I was having a bit of a “woe as me” moment, but I hate being a bother and I knew I was going to be a bother, haha.

    Anyway! I’ll have to get my hands on Jen’s new book. I know she’ll have a ton of amazing advice to share considering what she’s shared with me in the past. Can’t wait!

      1. Hi Jen! Have I mentioned I miss talking to you all the time? Haha. But yeah, I’m crazy busy, thankfully now that I’ve graduated, I hope things calm down a bit. Thanks so much for all of your compliments, you made me blush and made my morning! <3

    1. Aw! Please bug me anytime! It’s not bugging. I’d be honored to help or for you to think of me as influential. Have you met Jen in real life? If so, lucky you!

  6. I totally had no idea what I was getting into when I first started to blog. Believe it or not I just liked writing and sharing my daily life (my kids and Kevin) and never imagined what kind of a life it could take on. The idea of reading about what goes into blogging now sounds quite interesting, but not sure if I knew then what I know now what I would have done. Don’t get me wrong I do love blogging and writing for many different reasons, but guess in the end it was just meant to be and honestly think we were also meant to get to know each other and be friends from this adventure, too. So, that part I truly couldn’t be happier about if I tried πŸ™‚

    1. That’s so true! Had I started community blogging earlier, I don’t know that I would have met any of you! It would be different thing for sure. A different life.
      It’s funny to have no idea where this journey will wind up, but I know I love it.

  7. I started my blog with no plan at all! I was reading other blogs and thought Hey! I can do that! I should check out Jen’s book and finally develop a blogging plan…six years later! πŸ˜‰

    1. Well obviously it’s working! I think the chance to express ourselves and get noticed for the particularly meaningful parts (and others) is really something right there.
      And you are no stranger to that.

  8. Thank you so much for your awesome review Tamara, and I am glad you found some takeaways from the book as well! I think it is safe to say that I have become obsessed with blogging and improving it all of the time. I remember the very first post I did about two years ago (before I took that 6 month break and focused) That first post was ALL pictures of animals I took pictures of at the zoo. I had no plan, I just wanted to post! Hitting that PUBLISH button just feels exciting! I think my break did a lot of good, it allowed me to at least figure out the direction I wanted to go in….but if I would have known then what I know now….LOL. Yet, there are also so many changes that happen constantly, keeping up with those can be exhausting if you don’t have a plan. πŸ™‚ I LOVE all of those photos, and a trampoline park!!?? I have seen you post pictures of it before, but it sure does look like a TON of fun!

    1. I used to get really nervous before I published a post. Always! I used to publish them live and now I schedule them which helps too. I also find that I’m more comfortable with my material these days – so either I finally found the balance between being too cringe-inducing and too vague, or I’m just growing more into the writing voice.
      The trampoline park is a franchise so I imagine they’ll start creeping up everywhere!

  9. Wonderful review Tamara and I agree with Kerstin and Jessica: you are an awesome blogger! I have read and absorbed so much before finally going public with my blogging and yet it feels like there is still something new to learn everyday!

    1. Aw, thank you so much!
      When I was in software/hardware sales I remember them telling us to never get too comfortable with training, because there would ALWAYS be something new to learn. And that technology was changing daily. That’s pretty much how I feel about blogging, and it gets really personal and I start to outgrow things like headers, designs, styles, fonts, etc.
      So complicated.

  10. This book sounds fantastic and I think you have your own little niche in this blogging world that keeps us coming back for more. It totally helps that you have amazing photography skills and even more amazing photography subjects too πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much. I think I am carving out my own little world. It makes me happy and making friends along the way makes it so worth it.

  11. 1. We all have to have a crossroads. It just can’t happen every single week like it seems to on “E.R.” (I’m judging by the previews.)

    2. Like when I played jazz in junior high, I approach blogging without a plan or any formal direction. I need to. I just write now, and find stormtrooper pictures. I think I’ve stumbled upon a few things that work any many more that don’t. I’d love to see Jen’s book and see where I nod my head and where I have to say, “wait, wha?”

    3. Jen West is pretty awesome, isn’t she? She kind of seems to have it all together.

    1. ha, is E.R. still on? I honestly have no idea. I watched it once and there was too much vomit so I turned it off. Such is my life.
      I think I had the same reaction with her book. Vigorous nodding along and then a lot of, “Oh. What? I never knew that!”
      She does seem to be fantastically fantastic! We’re next door neighbors in spirit.

  12. I don’t think I’ve ever had much of a plan with my blog. Of course, I don’t usually have a plan with much of anything. I’m more of a “wing in” kind of person most of the time. I see the benefit of having a plan, I just rarely follow through with them

    1. At least you have your Tuesday Ten. I have my Ask Away Friday and LOBS and that keeps me on track of some sorts. And then the rest is totally free writing.

  13. I know EXACTLY what you mean about dust in the wind/drop in the bucket when it comes to blogs. I’m not even an audible whisper among the thousands of blogs and voices out there. It’s completely discouraging and for more times than I’d care to admit, I’ve thought about quitting altogether in the recent weeks. But….I love the writing part and cannot seem to stop myself. I’m looking for connections out there, and not much has materialized in that way since I started, gulp, almost four years ago. I have no plan, and I’m sure that’s a huge part of the problem highlighted by some of your takeaways from this book (which I think I might check out). But that kind of organization/self-promotion is so against my nature that I often wonder if that’s the part I’m just not cut out for and will never see the results I have conjured in my mind. Ah, well. I will keep writing while I figure it all out. And, just gotta say–love the winded, joyful expressions on the faces of who looks to be your husband and possibly your or his parents at the trampoline park? So great. I need to get myself to one of those!

    1. Well, there you go! You can’t seem to stop yourself. There are millions of bloggers and very few who get noticed far and wide. Yet many more that get noticed by just the right amount of people. I consider myself one of those. I love everyone who comments here and I read their posts. If I don’t have time to do more than skim, I’ll save it as unread so I’ll go back.
      That’s enough for me most of the time.

    2. Oh, I meant to say that it’s my husband’s parents. One set, anyway. His parents divorced when he was a toddler and are both remarried.

  14. There’s so many books about blogging now written by bloggers. I remember when I started, I read the book by blogger Oh Joy. It’s interesting how everyone has different takes on it. I feel like there has to be something organic about blogging, well, unless you want to make money from it! I’ve been slacking on my regular blog because I just haven’t felt inspired lately. Maybe I need a new blogging book!

    1. So true. The organic quality. And some people manage to do both – sound really authentic while making money. That’s me..once in awhile but only when syndicated or when I sell an article. I like those times!

        1. Me too! And I’m often late to the party. Luckily I have you in my life. I can always hire you to be my Guru, right? Or you can have retreats. I’ll come.

  15. Tamara, I think I’m a little like you (minus the gorgeous photos). My blog is a personal blog for family and friends, but it’s also a blog for the masses. I write about what’s on my mind with the occasional product review or giveaway thrown in. But only because I’m a gear junkie and love testing out outdoor/fitness apparel. Mostly it’s about reflecting on motherhood and all the wonderful (and crazy) stories that come with the territory.

    1. Well to be fair, you do have gorgeous photos.
      And we are kindred blogging spirits, in the way that I don’t do fitness as much (or ever?) and you don’t do photography and anxiety as much, but we meet in the middle about writing from the heart. And that often does include products, but ones that we use!

  16. Jen’s book sounds like a great read with lots of helpful info. I’m still learning, so I’m sure it would be helpful. I need to spend more time learning to improve my blog.

  17. HAHA! Cracking up over here…every post I have is tagged “mommy blog.” hehe What a fun book! I felt lost for a while..but then I remembered like you, I’ve been in the blogging world since the beginning. I had livejournals, deadjournals, anything out there that I could use to write. Goals or not, it feels good to write. It’s nourishment for my soul and I suspect yours too. I love the bounce adventures! And Des’ tongue is cracking me up the way he sticks it out! LOL! I would love to see Athena on those trampolines!

    1. I hate the word “mommy”. I can’t explain it. When I hear another adult call me a “mommy” I get weirded out. My own kids don’t say “mommy” often although Des does sometimes. Is he trying to get to me? (yes)
      I would also love to see Athena on a trampoline! She’d probably find a way to break it or pop it or rip it.
      I suspect we write for very similar reasons.

      1. Ha! The word mommy blog bothers me, too….one day I won’t be blogging about my kids and play doh in the carpet or on the ceiling….I will be blogging about how I wish I had play doh on the ceiling or in the carpet…

        1. I know it! Your blog has so many facets that I can’t imagine you’d ever outgrow any of it – you’ll change with the times, of course, but it will always be wonderfully YOU.

  18. That whole niche crap is nonsense – write what makes you happy. It’s really not for everyone and you really need a plan before you start. I did a lot of research on the matter before I delved into it and figured I’d try it out and see how consistent I’d be with it. So far so good – let’s see what happens, I take things one week at a time. πŸ™‚ Sounds like a great resource πŸ™‚ Happy Monday love!! -Iva

          1. Ha yes the week is sneaking on by! Woot Woot – time flies I swear.. You don’t even have to be having fun, it just flies. It’s good to verify you know, can’t be that person that thinks they’re in the “in crowd” but they’re not. Ew it’s like thinking you look good and you have a toilet paper stuck on your shoe. πŸ˜›

              1. ha, yes. They can be. I have no “in crowd”. I have my blog friends and I think you all know how loved you and your blogs are!

  19. This would be a great read for me. I spent a good month picking out a name for my blog and the direction I want it to go. Now I find it difficult to stay on that course. I get sidetracked and think, it would be nice to post about this or that but I’m doing my best to have tunnel vision with regard to content. I’m scared that at one point I’ll run out of ideas but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I feel your blog has a wonderful vision and your voice is what makes it so unique and readable. Social media baffles me to no end so I think I’ll buy a copy just to read about that!

    1. Good idea! Social media is tough. I hear people’s tips repeatedly but I don’t necessarily follow them. We have busy lives and all. Maybe if I were making enough money, but I’m not! (not here anyway)

      1. Haha! We need to talk more about monetization. I know I talked a lot about it in the book, but you need to work with someone who can set up DFP on your site. Everyone I have spoken with says it doubles their blogging income quickly. Just a thought!!

  20. No matter how long you’ve been blogging, there is always something to learn. I’m sure Jen covers a ton in her book – can’t wait to check it out! And side note – does that boy of yours ever keep his tongue in his mouth? I am convinced some of the greatest minds out there stick out their tongues when they are concentrating!

    1. When he was a baby, he was doing something funny with his tongue in EVERY photo. It seems to have calmed down lately, but these photos are a few months old. (don’t tell anyone how backed up I am)
      All I know is that I hope he keeps his tongue in his mouth until he’s 30!

  21. I want to go to a bounce place like that! I don’t think we have one around here.

    I know about social media and such when it comes to blogging. But SEO and all that? Not so much.

    1. I have no idea what SEO is but if it means using different words and titles, I want no part in it. I write from my twisted head and all!
      The trampoline place is a new franchise so it may come up around you!

  22. Sounds like another great book! I’m not much of a planner when it comes to my blog, but I would like to get organized and at least have a general idea of what I am doing πŸ™‚

    1. Well I love what you’re doing! I’m more organized than I used to be, but it’s more from having a second kid and not from feeling any pressure to be that way.

    1. It’s new! It’s a new franchise. There are two in Connecticut – one is called Launch (above) and the other is Flight. So maybe they’re coming to you soon!

    1. Maybe! It’s a fantastic and inspiring book. And the blogging thing has ebbs and flows for sure. You may find yourself more inspired with ideas than ever.
      I hear butterflies help with that!

  23. I feel like you’re writing from my head and my heart. I’m in a bit of a blogging existential crisis as well. I don’t really feel like I fit into any one niche. Yes I write about fitness related things but not all the time and not in the same way as a lot of others in that niche. I guess I’m a personal blogger too but like you said, I want my words to be read by more than just family and friends. I want them out there (I don’t think that I’ve ever really said that out loud).

    I’m kind of glad that I didn’t know all that much when I first started blogging because I would have tried to follow a formula rather than making my blog what it is – really an extension of me. After I did start I spend time trying to learn some of the other stuff but there’s so much to learn!

    1. When I started, I really thought blogging was still livejournal type stuff – just live journaling! That’s what I thought. I’m not sure how long it’s been what it’s been, and always changing, but I guess I have to get over wondering what would have happened had I known.
      I’ll never find that out!

    1. I like to blog by the seat of my pants, too πŸ™‚ Makes things fun sometimes! For the most part – I do try to stay organized, mostly because of the brands I target and want to work with.

    2. I used to be so very much! For some reason after my second kid, I couldn’t be like that anymore. So it was actually not the pressures of better blogging that led me to keep a (loose schedule) – it was my kid! It’s still subject to change, but I notice that with even the gigantic, famous bloggers. You know they have something scheduled but sometimes something will happen in their lives and they’ll feel compelled to write about that instead.
      It’s kinda cool. I wonder if that happens with YOU, Jen!

  24. I’m like you, I’m not sure what my niche is, but I’m just writing about whatever is going on in my life at the time, but I do think about trying to make it helpful to someone that isn’t necessarily someone I know in real life. I doubt I will ever make money with my blog, I just don’t have the space in my brain to learn all there is to learn to really do it right. But even when I feel like giving it up altogether (like today… bad morning… overwhelmed yell-y mama… methinks I need to simplify my life…) I know I will keep coming back because I love the connections I have made and continue to make.

    1. I’m really glad you’ll continue to come back! I think that Ask Away Friday and LOBS are very grounding for me – I hold to them and then it’s less pressure to come up with material from scratch three times every week. I found that when I did that before two kids, it was ok. After two kids and a photography business, not at all feasible!

  25. Sounds like a very helpful book. I started my blog with no plan whatsoever..I’d read blogs on and off for years and one day I just NEEDED to dump my feelings so my blog was born. I’m in a crisis myself…and haven’t written for quite awhile.

    1. I have read them for years too.
      I’m glad you mentioned that (but not glad you haven’t been writing) because I actually checked your blog the other day because I was afraid Bloglovin was screwing up and not showing me your new posts!

  26. I guess it’s a photographer’s thing to say how the picture should look. My husband will say, “How does this look?” I say it looks fine and then he says some of that some photographer’s lingo that you wrote above. I say, “Nobody would notice that but you.” πŸ˜‰

    As for blogging, like most things I rush into, I didn’t do any research but I have changed my design like a million times. There’s a downside in knowing how to do stuff.

    1. We are our own worst critics. There are situations in which you don’t feel your meeting your usual level of quality. I know you know all about it because of your husband.
      You seem to learn very well as you go and you’re MUCH more tech-y than I am!

      1. We did a basketball tournament two weekends ago. He made a mistake in have the iso too high for the championship team shot. We print onsite and give the coaches of the championship teams an 8×10. Well he printed them and told me that he wasn’t giving those out because they were grainy. They were but it still was something that would only be noticeable to the photographer and his wife πŸ˜‰ So someone came over to buy one and I said we weren’t selling it and pulled it out of the trash to show him. The guy said, “There’s nothing wrong with this.” So I gave him two for one. I was going to give one to him but the girl helping us out had already swiped his card.

        1. TOTALLY! I hate that. Graininess is usually a no go, although graininess from high ISO is better than graininess from underexposure, as your husband would probably say!

  27. Technically I started blogging because our college professor wanted us to submit our reaction “papers” online so he taught us to create a WordPress blog and that was why I was on WP first before Blogger. I liked writing online so I created my own personal blog but it started as an online diary which means I never had concrete plans at all. Until now, I’m not sure what direction my blog will have through the years. πŸ™‚ I love your blog as it is though and it will be interesting to see it evolve when the time comes.

    1. Thank you! I always wonder how it looks to the people who have read since the beginning – mostly Facebook friends, I’d imagine, so people I know in real life.
      Many have told me they enjoy watching me grow but it’s been silent on that front for awhile so of course I get paranoid that I’m not growing or something!

  28. When I started blogging, probably because of my marketing background, I immediately starting searching for tribes, other blogs to read, commenting, sharing. It wasn’t strategy or anything like that, it just seemed very natural for me.

    No matter when or how you started ‘launching’ your blog, Tamara, I think you’ve done a sterling job. You stay true to YOU, and that in my humble opinion, is the key to ‘success’, however you define it.

    (PS: Jen was a former Little Love Media client, so I’m so very proud to see that she’s written a book! Congratulations Jen!)

  29. Sometimes I have no idea why I started a blog. I was bored. I do know that since I’ve moved to a three day a week posting schedule I express myself more and stop trying to throw things out there and follow all the memes and what have you. It works for me. Over time I’ll get better at the other things. Sounds like a great book!

    1.’re great at things!
      Doesn’t matter why you started or where you’re heading – because it seems like a good place.

  30. I did not know that Jen even wrote a book! I have been in Europe for the past two weeks and am catching up on all the news. Love her suggestions. Also love those trampoline photos. I wish they had those centers when I was younger, I used to love the trampoline, but we never had one. I guess I could still get to one?

    1. Welcome back! I was wondering where you went. So many people were away in the last two weeks.
      I think a trampoline park would have made my life as a kid! I went with my kids and in-laws and all of the adults had a BLAST! We were all really hungry after. We had to go get burgers and fries.

  31. Okay…I definitely need to get this book. I’ve bee a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants blogger for way too long. I’m not quite ready/able to make a full change yet, but I’m close and research like this should make all the difference. Plus, those pictures of Launch are still fantastic…even with the low light. You got some great shots of Des and I LOVE that picture of Scarlet against the wall.

    1. Thank you! She was flailing against the wall. Cassidy did the same thing – I think I have yet to upload the ones of him.
      I’m somewhere in between fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants and totally organized. I take it very seriously and I always have a plan in place when I’m going to be away.

  32. Tamara,

    Thanks for the review and your insights about your relationship with blogging. I think we all experience lulls and lack of inspiration. It is difficult to keep the momentum, especially when other commitments take precedence. My writing tends to resonate when I talk about personal experiences. There are times when I will not blog on a regularly scheduled day if my writing is not really flowing. I admire writers (like you) who stay consistent despite the lack of inspiration and other pressures of life.

    1. I appreciate that. I don’t feel uninspired or pressured a lot, but of course it happens over time and I do cool my schedule a bit, or have guests/join prompts or linkups, etc.

  33. Oh I LOVE Jennifer and I am so excited that she wrote this book!! The book sounds so so helpful… I think I may need to buy it, even though I am 3 and a half years into this gig, and certainly I need more HELP!!! πŸ˜‰

    I am so glad you shared her book Tamara. GO JENNIFER!!!!

    And btw- as adorable as your kids are- I gotta say, Cassidy stole the show. Oh how I love that guy!! And your quote? ” Yup. That one’s mine.” HILARIOUS!!!!!

    1. ha! Thank you. It had to be said that in a room full of jumping kids and adults, you see my guy – taller and more zany than anyone.
      I’m four years in and needing lots of help!

  34. I really appreciate that monetizing a blog is basically a full-time job, something I can’t think of devoting that much energy to now! But it also goes to back to that confidence thing–“who the heck wants to read anything I write, much less pay me for it?!” Gotta get over that someday… On a side note, a trampoline park just opened in the next town over and I can’t wait to go. πŸ™‚

    1. There are people who make full time salaries doing this! However, I imagine they’re doing full time work here too. You’re right.
      I do wonder a lot why anyone wants to come here? I guess we should all know by now that we have readers!
      There are two in CT that I know about – maybe this is a third trampoline park!

  35. I’m curious to check out this book- I go back and forth between wanting to do more, learn more, promote more, and being just a ‘whenever-whatever’ kind of blogger. I’m happy with the new things I’ve been doing lately and I’m growing, slowly but surely. Sometimes tells me I should take a look at this book; I’m sure that there are tons of things I could learn!
    I love all of your pictures, indoor, outdoor, extra equipment or not πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! The photos were fun, so I guess there’s always that, even if I prefer more light. You can’t always get that!
      I know so many types of bloggers but I think a lot of people here are whenever-whatever bloggers and couldn’t really imagine a life without doing it.

  36. Sounds like a good book – I remember reading some when I first started but good to get more info – especially since everything is always changing in blogging

    Love the trampoline photos πŸ™‚

  37. This sounds like a very helpful book–I will have to check it out! I definitely started out my blog without a real plan, other than to promote my business. I have been fixing old posts, and man has my blogging evolved! (I actually took down some of them because they just seemed so out-of-place or I had photos I didn’t have permission to use, yikes.)

    And those photos at the trampoline park are great–I would love to see Sam take Eve to one when she’s older. I think he would have as much fun as Cassidy looked like he was having!

    1. My early posts embarrass me. I haven’t deleted any but I’m sure I would if I really looked back!
      The trampoline parks are amazing. They’re fun for us too but I was extremely hungry after it.

  38. That picture of Cassidy jumping in the air is priceless! I break a lot of blogging rules and I’m still not sure if I’m a personal or business blogger. But my blog has given me so much opportunity to learn, explore and connect. Jen’s great, so I’m sure her book is too. No matter where we are in the blogging spectrum, a book like this can always help!

    1. hmm..see I’ve never even wondered about you – just assumed you were an awesome blogger! So that’s awesome to me to know that other people don’t exactly know what they are either.

  39. I love you and your blog. Can’t tell you how much I enjoy coming here every day. Your posts are the ones I want to read when I have a minute, when I can sit down and drink a cup of tea. They’re also the ones I read, on days like today, when life’s kicking my butt, and somehow I feel like…I read what you have to say and we’re on the same page. I guess that’s really why many of us like blogs so much – they make us feel like we are not alone.

    And as I have said before, I absolutely abhor book review posts, but so far I have loved all of yours. So keep it up!

    1. I don’t generally like book reviews either! I mostly skim them. And this just seemed like something I wanted to write about!
      I appreciate your words so very much – I often feel like we’re on the same page. And I read your post today and felt exactly like we were on the same page!

  40. That sounds like a great book for bloggers just starting out. I do a lot of the thinks that she discusses in that book. Although, I am not too familiar with the Pinterest lingo. I have two blogs and try my best to write interesting posts with all the correct grammar on both. I only plan out my posts for one of my blogs and the other one I just write what ever comes to mind. In fact, I even use a blog calendar for The Healthy Moms Magazine. I usually have my posts planned out two months in advance. My blogging priorities are pretty similar to yours. I believe in first providing good quality content that is worthy of reading, next build a community through commenting and connecting with others in social media (twitter, facebook, google+ Pinterest etc.), after that the sky is the limit. I am thinking about writing a book too, but I might have to wait until my youngest starts school. I wish I got as much comments on my blogs as you do. I think the only reason why I am not reaching my commenting goals is because I just do not have as much time as I need to commit to reading and commenting on other blogs. Maybe when my youngest is in school I will. Have a terrific day!

    1. Commenting is something I have time for, but the rest of it will hopefully come maybe after the summer when my daughter is in kindergarten! Although Des is still around. I’m hoping to find more time to devote to blogging someday!

  41. I’m still lost in this blogging thing. I have no editorial calendar, I promote my posts if and when I can remember and most of the time, I feel worn out but have not accomplished much. Sigh. I think I need this book.

    1. It’s worth the read!
      I always assume everyone has been doing this longer than I have but I’m four years in. I learn in spurts.

  42. I have no idea if I have a niche, what type of blog I have anymore or if I met any of the “blogging criteria.”
    I do love the pictures from the jump park – looks like everyone had a grand time!

  43. I too feel similar when it comes to being part of a specific niche. Although my blog name may lead many to think I’m a “mommy” blogger, I’m not. I consider myself a lifestyle blogger. Thing is I could actually do a better job of featuring my family on my blog. I write about whatever interest me, tips for readers, and basically anything I feel could help my fellow woman, mother, blogger, whoever. I don’t think I’ll ever fit into a niche totally though, because I just love too many things to focus on one! πŸ™‚

  44. I so need this! I just started my blog to educate others about what skin care products and treatments actually work. No plan. No organization.
    I agree, Tamara that your blog is unique!

    1. And I think your blog is unique too! I don’t follow another one like it on my Bloglovin so I look forward to it.
      I hope you enjoy the book!

  45. I like the idea of this book…and, you KNOW how I feel about us bloggers who are semi-no niche. I’m not even semi-no niche, I am all out a no-niche blogger. I can’t help but feel like it holds me back. Great review.

  46. I have a plan, I just don’t always have all the time I need to execute. But I’m getting there! I have Jen’s book to read on my agenda too…again, time! So frustrating! I need a clone.

    1. I keep thinking that there’s this magical allotment of time coming to me and I’ll get everything done so easily.
      Maybe when Des is in kindergarten?

  47. sounds like a fabulous book (that I probably should have got 5 years ago! ha)
    It might be too late for me now. I don’t know what I would do if I had to develop a “plan.” I’m an old blog dog set in her ways and still half afraid of the Twit. LOL
    I think you are doing just fine though — your photos are always amazing and just scream “Life!!” “Love” and your personality leaps right off the page. I don’t think one can ask for more.

    1. Wow, thanks. Surely you know that I adore everything you write and I think you’ll be world famous one day and I can say, “I know her! (kinda).”

  48. Congrats Jen on the awesome book! Tamara I feel like you are so experienced. I know there is a lot that you could learn, but you seem to be so great at blogging and being you in it, that I just enjoy the ride of seeing where you will go with it next. πŸ™‚ Coming to your blog always reminds me of how much I love doing it for fun and getting to know people. Ok so the first picture in the section with the launch photos, I totally see your face and smile in Des! So adorable. I could see that JR would have loved a place like that to play in for an afternoon!

    1. Thank you so much! I am experienced with time and connections and I definitely have confidence in the writing/photography aspect of this. It’s the technical parts that trip me up. And linky type stuff. I’m learning!

  49. First, I’m excited to read Jen’s book. Especially since she and I did get to meet in Dallas and I’m curious about her thoughts on the things you mentioned.

    Second, I always, everyday feel a little lost, overwhelmed, just trying to keep up. I read other’s blogs and think, “Wow, they all have their sh&% together, I’m such a loser.” As I’m reading this and reading the comments it’s practically a who’s who of blogs I read and almost every one says how they have no clue, no plan, just jumped in and do the best they can.

    WHAT?!?!?! I don’t know if I’m more shocked at the admissions or that I’m more normal than I would have even thought to guess. In my imagination everyone else has their planner and their notes and their drafts and their filled in calendars. I imagine to some extent a little bit of all of that is true – even for me. What a relief to know I’m not the only one stumbling through this and learning as I go. Relief.

    And to the awful voices in my head? Enough.

    1. Screw those awful voices! You’re amazing.

      I’m glad you got to meet Jen. I’d love to meet her one day. How do we get her to BlogU? How?

      And I also read every comment here and probably had similar thoughts that you had – that we all feel a little lost or unworthy. And that none of us are!

  50. I LOVE Scar’s answer of the “everything” because yes. That. Also? Is it weird that I don’t really want to make money blogging? I mean, I would like to, but I hate all of the ways to do so, so I’d just rather not. UGH. I know, I’m a stupidhead. I just say no to so much ickiness…. maybe the book would help me see it differently? Also, yes, it’s overwhelming and well, yeah. That stuff. That big big big stuff. Mine this week is that husband is out of town AND our babysitter is sick. So today, at 4pm, I was on a huge conf call, muted, while my kid was saying “PLAY MY TOYS NOW PLEASE” while I tried to remember the stuff I had to say. Also please don’t tell anybody I said this. But it’s my theory that no blogger knows the secret. They don’t. I mean, do you? If somebody asked you your secret, you’d say “interact, join linkups, be out there, be you, be authentic, blah blah blah.” I honestly don’t think there is a secret. I think there are smart things to do, but….well… who knows.

    1. What a downer comment! Just kidding!!
      It’s not weird that you don’t want to make money blogging! I don’t really want to, unless it’s still me being me. And that’s actually what happens. I make money when I syndicate or write for BlogHer. And it’s all me and I love it.
      I think some people wind up at the right place at the right time. Or they have a post go viral, because of a particularly hard experience and they become the voice of something. I’ve seen that happen a few times, actually.
      Other people do well with sponsorships. I wouldn’t do well with that but I’m sure there’s lots to be made!

  51. I need to get more into this book. It definitely seems worth the investment. I want my blog to go (and GROW) as you say, but I’m going to be doing something in the near future and I’d love for this to be the platform for it.

  52. I wished that I knew what in the world I was doing. I just wrote. I had no idea either that there was a huge world filled with so many people who can connect with my story…and if you dare say “dust in the wind” I will slap you…because visit my blog and see how I don’t have a huge community like you do…so nah nah nah.
    I’m glad that you started writing. Who cares about the platforms. you’re doing something right πŸ™‚

    1. You do have a huge community – and it’s high quality, because you are!!
      I think we’re all doing something right because we found each other.

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