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

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

I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because bad grammar is no joke! Seriously. It stinks. I just found out about Grammarly’s services – which is basically a product to help you catch those pesky spelling and grammatically errors that might plague your writing. It’s an instant checker which plows through your content seeking simple errors and even complex errors, such as (gasp!) plagiarism. Why more teachers do not use this product, is beyond me. After the system checks your content, you receive a “report” on how well it did on a scale of 1-100. Green check marks means your stuff is good to go. Red alert triangles? Well, you better re-think what you wrote. It even flags “word choice,” which it seems to do that for me often. Apparently Grammarly isn’t a fan of my writing style. It’s worth checking out! There’s a monthly fee for it’s use but I could easily see someone gaining value if they write a lot (bloggers, teachers, students, etc.)

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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!

Swiftly Painted Challenge – 13 Selfies … all me…all the time!

The Simply Swift Blog
Hi ya’ll! I’m participating in a new challenge since Blogtember has ended! I’m really excited to join Jess from The Iris Blog and AnnMarie from The Simply Swift Blog in their 13 month self-portrait challenge!
The challenge has the blogger taking 1 selfie for 13 months and posting that image with a content prompt! I’m really excited and it starts TODAY! I’m traveling (by plane) for work today so I’m not going to be able to take a selfie AND post – but I’ll be back tomorrow to join in on the fun and make up for the slacking I’ve been doing! Can’t wait!

Blogtember Day 18: Take me to the coffee shop…



Today’s topic: Go to a coffee shop. Order a favorite drink. Write about what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Or write about anything you’d like! Bonus points for including a photo from the coffee shop. 

Today’s Blogtember prompt takes me to a local coffee shop for post writing, which is completely unrealistic for me on a Thursday. A) Because I cannot wake up earlier than 6 am for my hour+ drive to work, B) It’s JP nurse clinical day and she’s outta the house at the crack of dawn which means I’m in charge of the pups morning care and C) I’m just not AWAKE first thing in the morning. Excuses, excuses. But I did make it to my usual morning pit stop at Starbucks on my way into work and tried NOT to be a huge creeper taking pics of myself in the parking lot and inside the store. I really don’t think that worked out much. All my pics came out blurry except this one:

this is quite possibly the worst picture of me ever

this is quite possibly the worst picture of me ever

So today I have the option of writing about what makes me happy or what makes me sad. Or, anything really. I think I’m going to list it out and do both… let’s get cray cray on this Thursday. What!

Things That Make Me Happy:

  • warm coffee on a cold/chilly morning
  • coming home to JP after a long day at work
  • seeing my nephew laugh
  • talking with my dad
  • new pens
  • hearing a client is happy with my work
  • tropical beaches
  • New Girl and The Mindy Project
  • lazy weekends with JP

Things That Make Me Sad:

  • people with a vision impairment (my uncle is blind and tugs at my heart strings)
  • senior citizens (aren’t they so cute?!)
  • saying goodbye
  • not being able to spend a lot of time with my dad and grandma
  • thinking about world tragedies
  • when my gas light goes on in my car 25 minutes away from home
  • my drive to and from work
  • adults with speech impediments (ugh, i just want to hug them)
  • anything to do with the harming or mistreatment of ANY animal

Mkay, enough with the bumming out. Chicago is getting a warm surge for the weekend and we might get to see 80 degrees by Saturday. Then, the fall rushes back in and we’re back down to the 60s on Sunday. It’s crazy how the weather is when the seasons start to change. I’m looking forward to the colors of the changing leaves. It’s one of my favorite things about the fall. So beautiful and majestic. What are somethings that just totally make your day?

Blogtember, Day 11: A Public Love Letter



Today’s Topic: Write a public love letter to someone in your life. (It doesn’t necessarily need to be romantic.)

Since JP and I were recently hitched, I had that opportunity to tell her (and all of our close family and friends) how much I love and adore her. So, my public love letter today won’t be on the romantic side but will hedge the family love that I have for my father. My dad is pretty darn epic. Anyone who knows me, knows that he’s one of my favorite people on the planet.

my dad and i on my 1st bday

my dad and i on my 1st bday

My parents were high school sweethearts and married and divorced shortly after high school was said and done. My mom dove headfirst into a career and didn’t really have time to spend on me when I was little. So, when I was four, I moved in with my dad and grandparents (he was living with them trying to get on his feet after the divorce) because it was a more stable environment. My grandmother was a homemaker and was with me all of the time. My grandpa worked for the City of Chicago as a garbage man and was home in the early evenings for family dinner – just in time for my dad to wake up for his midnight job as a security guard. I remember those family dinners like they were yesterday. But I was always surrounded by love and family and can never thank my dad enough for the sacrifices he’s made for me over the years to get me to where I’m at today. He’s the reason I am the person I am today. He’s the reason for all of my successes in life. So, this letter is for him.

Dear Dad,

Words cannot express how much I love you and how much I appreciate every little thing you have done for me throughout my 30 years of life. Always placing me first, I commend you on your drive to provide, your outlook on life, your discipline (when needed), your kindness and gentle heart, and most of all I honor the steps you’ve taken to provide the best life that you could for me.

Thinking about where I’m at at the age of 30 to what you had on your plate to balance, I cannot imagine how difficult things could have been for you. At the age of 30, you had a loud-mouth 7 year old who could (admittingly) be a handful at times. But you got her involved in extra curricular activities like sports and day camp to wear out her energy, you provided discipline and boundaries when she got a little out of control, and most of all you provided life lessons sprinkled with a bit of humor of things that she would keep with her forever.

You’ve been a mother and a father all wrapped into one, and I honestly do not know where I would be in life had I not been raised by you. I actually have worried about this before and have counted my lucky stars that you loved me enough, cared about my well-being enough, to fight for me when going through a rough custody battle. You didn’t win in court, but in the end – I was able to live where I was meant to be the entire time. Thank you for every thing. I love you more than you’ll ever know, and I want you to know just how special you are to me and how I’ll always strive to be even half of as great of a parent as you were to me.

love always,

ashley

me and my pops!

me and my pops!