Tips on Coming up With Blog Content (or how not to be boring)

DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post brought to you by Grammarly.

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I’ve battled boring content for far too long. What’s interesting for my readers to read? What will keep them coming back? Better yet – what’s interesting to write about and won’t put myself to sleep? While participating in Jenni’s Blogtember Challenge, I realized that when I started some of the topics, that I felt at a stand still with not a clue how to begin. As ideas started to formulate on something I thought I might share, the words began to pour out of my finger tips into a coherent (that’s super important) post that was somewhat entertaining but made sense.

I think some of my best posts have been unforced. They have been times when I just start writing and before I know it there’s a finished product. I don’t have a pre-planned schedule like many bloggers out there have. No Google calendar for me. Rarely I’ll keep a running list of things I know are coming up that I want to share – but mostly I write on random thoughts and feelings – or on weekend activities that JP and I do. It’d be nice to have some form of criteria or guidelines to remain more consistent in my writing, but I feel that my best content comes when I just jump at it at 9 am (I usually write my posts a day in advance). Here are some tips, though, for those of you looking to provide better content to your readership:

  • Find the Meaning: Sounds intense. Like the Meaning of Life. But really, you should find the meaning in what you’re sharing. How relevant is the topic to your readers? Does it resonate with you? Are you just throwing up a post because you don’t want to miss a day? I’ve gone many times with posting only a few days per week. Mostly because I didn’t have the time to blog and because I didn’t really have much to share. Maybe I’m up to my neck in a work project, or busy with some super large life event (hello, wedding) … in those cases I just am not going to put something up that is a waste of time to read or write. Find the meaning in what you’re sharing. Make sure it’s something that you’re happy with!
  • Use Pictures: Bloggers say this time and time again. So much so, I think my eyes are bleeding reading this back to myself. But it’s totally true. Aren’t some of the best blogs the ones with pictures? The clearer, the brighter, the better! We all can’t afford a fancy DSLR camera or have time to learn how to run said DSLR camera. But smartphones CAN take beautiful pictures. You just have to have thought behind your images (you know iPhones take crap pictures in any sort of dark environment) and there are tons of awesome (read: free) apps out there to enhance those images even more! Plus, the new iPhone 5S takes much better frontward facing pictures with enhancements to the camera!
  • Be Honest: Especially when doing reviews of restaurants, movies, etc. Be honest and true in your opinion. Not everyone will agree with you, but if you provide an honest opinion you’ll write better content. Your opinion will flow right on out of you and allow your readers to also gain a better view of who you are as a blogger/person (cuz we are all really people, right?).
  • Learn Your Boundaries: How much do you want your readers to be in on your personal life? I think some of the best blogs out there allow for the readers to gain some form of personal connection with the blogger because they share details of their life that make them real. Your opinion can matter, but you’ll find that your readers can connect more if they know more about you. That doesn’t mean every post has to provide intimate details on your kids, your weekend plans, your financial situation – but sometimes that’s the best content too because it’s something that’s personal to you. Know what that looks like to you and how comfortable you are with sharing your life. Trust me, there’s some good content in there!

I think overall it’s finding your voice and finding what inspires you to write better. Practice! Write and re-write drafts, if you need to. Spend time scanning for spelling errors. You’ll see that sometimes you point of view may change on a topic or you may find a better way of explaining your thoughts by just spending a few minutes reviewing what you wrote. And most of all HAVE FUN! We can all tell when a blogger is going to fall off the blogging wagon, right? Posts decrease, content drags … they’re not enjoying it. So make sure to enjoy yourself, too!

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Wedding: Navigating the Beginning

JP and I have been trying to work on wedding planning for a little while now. With her in school, scheduling meetings with potential vendors is a bit challenging, but something that I’m struggling with also is just the sheer amount of “To-Do’s” involved in planning this essentially massive party for our closest friends + family. There a billion resources out there to help brides navigate through timelines, negotiating with vendors, and budgeting assistance, but I find myself feeling overwhelmed with just the big stuff (incl. vendor, caterer, photographer) that I can’t even think about what table centerpieces will look like. I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s ever felt this way and I can understand why the term “Bridezillas” was coined … you just want everything to be perfect but also want to enjoy the day yourself, because it’s your day. It’s a terrible amount of pressure.

Some really great resources I’ve found, though, are below. They’ve helped me think about the wedding in smaller timelines (baby steps, if you will) and help me calm down after seeing a quote for $8,400 for catering (thats over 80% of our overall budget). We’re trying to do as much DIY as possible, to get our dream backyard wedding to fit into the current venue we selected (yes, we put down a deposit on a venue … more of that to come).

Pinterest – is the devil and an angel. Pinterest is ridiculously addicting but is extremely helpful with grabbing great ideas that you can incorporate into your big day … or can even try to tackle on your own for  a DIY aspect. The only downfall is the ability to get completely overwhelmed with ideas that are out there … you’ll want to tackle so much and just may not be able to do it … or may have trouble narrowing your vision every time you see something new.

FAQs – There are tons of websites out there to help you navigate meetings with vendors. This is your big day and you’ll be spending a lot of your hard earned money to trust that your day is successfully captured by your photographer, your guests dance their legs out with tunes by your DJ and that everyone has a delicious meal from your caterer. You and your significant other should keep these things in mind and make sure that you’re gathering as much information about each vendor as possible, to help you make your decision, especially if you disagree on vendors or two vendors are particularly close in your mind and you’re having a difficult time selecting one. Here’s a great FAQ when meeting with a potential photographer.

Blogs – Brides that have gone before you can offer great information on their experience, organization techniques, vendors used, etc. Think of blogs as a big sister that is a resource with tons and tons of information on her experience, without the guilt of having to take every idea of hers into consideration … and you can totally zone out when you want to because … well, it’s a blog! 🙂

Wedding Websites – Be careful here. There’s a ton of information for brides and loads of inspiration all around these sites (think: Wedding Wire, The Knot, etc.). But these websites are also run but the wedding industry and can make you feel like you completely NEED those satin sashes on your reception chairs when you really can’t afford them and your guests won’t care anyways. They do have a ton of free resources (and even more if you sign up to their website, which is usually free) such as free wedding websites, budgeting resources, local vendor contact information, ratings on vendors, etc.

Craigslist – I’ve just started perusing CList lately for leads on potential photographers that won’t break the bank. In the Chicagoland area, we have a TON of talented photographers that are well over $3,000 for their services, which I do think is valuable, however, it’s just not realistic in our budget. We’re seeking a talented photographer (even one that’s just starting out) that can give us a competitive price that’s within our budget. I’ve spotted quite a few companies that have specials or even just a lot better package deals than the lofty expensive ones in the same area. I do value the skills and ability of photographers that are out there, and understand that you also get what you pay for. Obviously just beware because it’s Craigslist and you don’t know what kind of lunatics you’ll run into on there.

So these are the tools that I’m using right now to help me navigate the beginning of wedding planning. Have you used any great resources that helped you stay on task and organized? Any advice for not getting overwhelmed with everything that goes into planning? Happy Monday!

Brainstorming: Pocket Doors

Because I’m currently on a limited budget and saving for all the renovations that I want to make to my tiny condo … I’m constantly thinking about ideas and things that tickle my fancy that I’d like to do once I gather all the funds needed. One of the biggest things on my to-do list is my tiny bathroom. You might remember her from here.  I have a small (we’re talking 28″ round) stand up shower kit, eck! Along with a toilet and vanity/sink combo. That’s pretty much it. I’d looooove to have a soaking tub but I don’t think that would work. One of the most relevant problems with the room (aside from the venting issue, that’s for another day folks) is that the door to the bathroom swings in, which eliminates the use of the majority of the one “long” wall I have next to the shower stall.

See that pesky door there to the left? Yes, that opens into the wall that I have…very valuable space I tell you! So, I’ve been thinking a ton about installing a pocket door at some point to open the room up a bit. The 1 problem with the pocket door is that my electrical outlet/light switches are housed on the wall to the right (where the pocket door would have to go). The word electrician makes my wallet tremble with fear. Regardless, there are some good ideas and pointers available on-line for anyone brave enough to DIY a pocket door. I personally didn’t know they came in kits and you had to rip the walls in, install the kit, and then re-dry wall. Goes to show you what a difference a little research makes!

Here’s a good how-to found on-line regarding installing your own pocket door. Here’s what the teeny tiny bathroom could look like with a beautiful and functional pocket door installed:

Source: pocketdoors.net

Source: pocketdoors.net

Well, there ya have it! Any thoughts on incorporating pocket doors in the home?