May 8, 2014

Pancake Session: How to Stick with Blogging

The other day I was scrolling down, and I realized that we are just about to hit 2.5 MILLION visits on this little blog of ours!! That is CRAZY to me!! What started out as us blogging on just a free Blogger blog and posting random thoughts only every now and then, has turned into us blogging five times every week (Monday-Friday) and an audience that is growing so fast and so big that it continues to get us in trouble with our server company on a regular basis! Don’t worry, you guys are TOTALLY worth the fight! :) And we are so SO grateful for each and every one of you who checks in with us everyday!!

Over the past six years, this blog has turned into the very central hub of our business. It is the powerhouse that continues to move us forward, and I have no idea where our business would be without it! It has opened so many doors & opportunities for us! Here are a just a few things we owe to this blog:

*We’ll have bridesmaids who start reading the blog when their friend gets married and then they keep reading! Three years later when they get engaged, we are one of the first people they contact and they’ll often pick their date around us!
*This is still SO crazy to me, but we have people who have started reading from all over the world, including The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, England and Australia. And just from those people getting to know us on this blog (which they never would have been able to without it) we have gotten the chance to go teach or shoot in almost all of those places. And these new friends have gone above & beyond to help us plan everything!
*Our families can check in with us every day and know what we’re up to! Justin’s parents always joke that that’s the only way they can keep up with where in the world we happen to be traveling to that day! LOL!
* Pretty much every single wedding inquiry we get now will say something about what they got to know about us on the blog and how much they can tell we care about our clients based on what we wrote about them. That’s HUGE!
*Growing an audience has opened the door to us being invited to speak different places and contribute written posts like the one we just did for The Define School. One of the things they told us when they wrote, is that they knew they could trust us to write for them with authenticity and heart because that’s what they had seen on our blog. Blogs allow you to write about what you stand for and build TRUST with people.
*We have gotten SO many emails over the years from people who read a post that for one reason or another really resonated with them. It was something that they really needed to hear right then (some who were even at the point of giving up or felt like they had failed). And the fact that we get to use this platform to pour into other people, to maybe be the one person who will say the one thing they most need to hear right then….I think that’s one of the greatest honors & callings of our business.

So those are just some of the things having a blog has done for us (and really so much more!) So now I want to talk about how you start a blog and STICK with it. How do you commit to blog a certain number of times a week, and actually stay with it when the busy season sets in?

1. Schedule it. There is probably nothing worse than staring at a blank, blinking cursor and not having a clue what to write about. You see those minutes ticking away. You know you want to have your post up by 10am, and that deadline is looming closer. And still, nothing comes! One of the biggest things we learned with blogging was to know what we were going to write about in advance. When I know that I’m going to write about blogging on Thursday, then I can start thinking about what I’m going to say on Monday. And hopefully sit down and write it on Wednesday, so I’m not spending all morning on it Thursday!

2. But don’t over-schedule it. Just don’t get too stuck to that calendar! You want to allow some room for flexibility to write what’s on your heart too, because those are the posts that will really reach people. So if you have it scheduled to blog about Lightroom, but you wake up and feel the need to talk about Fear & Failure and feeling lost….then by all means write about that. Real stuff should always take precedent over what’s on the schedule! In light of that, I used to try to schedule out the whole month of posts. But I never know what life is going to hold for me at the end of the month when it’s just getting started. So now I prefer to sit down on Sunday evening and schedule out just the week that’s coming up (I did it slightly early this week just for the purposes of the picture for this post). And then I’ll try to go ahead & write Monday’s post so I start out the week ahead (an awesome idea I got from my good friend Katelyn).

3.Pre-blog, but not too much. In the same way that I didn’t want to schedule out my whole month before life has had a chance to happen, I also try not to write too many posts way in advance. Whenever I know we are going away to shoot or on vacation, I will try to pre-blog just a couple of posts so that I don’t have to write all of them while I’m traveling. But I still also try to leave some room for posts that I write while I’m there for things that happen to us or got us thinking. We’ve talked to people before who will not just pre-schedule, but pre-BLOG an entire month’s worth of posts. And while I think that’s great for efficiency, I also think it takes some of the heart and the FUN out of blogging. And if you want to stick with it, it has to have heart! Because for me, I think the BEST thing you can do with a blog is to share real life as it’s happening. Talk to people about what you’re going through. What you’re feeling. What you’re struggling with. What awesome or funny thing just happened. Share LIFE with them. And that’s really hard to do if you’re writing all your posts a month in advance.

4. Have a few ongoing series posts For us, we have the Pancake Sessions, Friday Randomness, Five Things, and the Get Fired Up posts that we do on a pretty regular/weekly basis. So while we might leave the exact topic discussed open to life as it happens, I know that in any given week I am probably going to do a photo post, a Pancake Session post, a personal fun post, a get fired up/let’s talk about real stuff post, and a featured or “the latest” type post of what’s happening most recently in our business.

5.Have a bigger purpose. Above all, the most important thing that will determine whether you stick with blogging or not is the WHY behind you doing it. All those things that have come out of blogging that we listed above are fun and an amazing side effect for us for sure! But the hands down, number one reason for me personally for why I blog is that I believe with my whole heart that God gave me a voice, a platform, and an ability to use words because he knew that a lot of people needed help. And I get to be one very small part of that, one very small candle in a much bigger Light in this world. I get to speak hope over people. I get to be the kick in the pants that maybe gets them to try again. To not give up. I get to know that because of this work, someone’s business (and therefore someone’s family) might be just a tiny bit better off. The bills might get paid a little easier. The bookings might come a little faster. The legacy in their own work might just reflect what they stand for a little bit more. And honestly, that drives me every single day.

Even on the days when the cursor just keeps blinking.

Rock it out friends!
M:)

Weigh in! What’s your purpose for blogging? What are your best tips for sticking with it?

  1. Urška Majer

    Love this post! I’ve just did my editorial calendar and a promise(to myself) that i’ll blog 4 times a week :) You also have a reader from Slovenia ;)

  2. Evonne & Darren

    Thanks for sharing, Mary! I actually learned a lot about blogging through you already, and it’s great to see you do a full blog post on it! Happy blogging! :)

  3. Shalese

    I schedule/brainstorm all of my posts in iCal as well. Sometimes I stick with exactly what I wanted to blog on that day, but if something is on my mind, I can always switch it around. I also still start a lot of my blogs with paper & pen, even if it’s just a snippet written on the back of a receipt. :)

  4. Christa

    I love blogging! My purpose for blogging is to inspire women to live authentically and love themselves for who they are, perfectly imperfect.
    I think to key to sticking with blogging is it has to be a priority. I’m always listening and observing and thinking how I could write that into a post to serve others. Once it’s a priority your tips on scheduling, pre-blogging and regular categories are key to maintaining it. Love this post and you guys! Couldn’t agree with it more, congrats on 2.5 million visits, that’s amazing :)

  5. Rici

    Thank you Mary for sharing this!
    While I actually love writing and I write all kinds of things daily I really have a bit of trouble since a couple of weeks. I have the feeling I "lost" it. Did you not ask somewhere if we like writing, as in enjoy it?
    I really do like writing but during the last weeks I could not bring myself connected with the Blog. A bit weird… but I like the idea of ongoing series. I really love Abby s Monday mash ups. :)
    The idea about the bigger purpose got me thinking again and I think I need to re-brain-storm that.
    Till soon. :)

  6. Tira J

    Thank you for this post Mary! I remember when I first heard of you guys and started reading your blog in the old Blogger days! I still remember what your old blog looked like. Reading your blog to me is like Chicken Soup for my Soul. Thank you so much! I keep putting off blogging on a regular basis because of a variety of reasons. Mostly because I feel like nobody will come to my little blog corner of the universe to read what I have to say, which is a LOT! I’m currently reading an awesome book by Jennifer Dukes Lee called Love Idol and it is fantastic! It is giving me the motivation and empowerment to not worry about what other people are thinking about me, etc. Moving forward when I finally get my new site/blog updates from B&D, I will get on a regular schedule. I’ve done so much research about blogging, read the books, articles, etc. Now it’s just time. I’ve mapped out about 150 ideas, topics, thoughts, etc. for posts. Like Nike says, "Just Do It". Again, thanks for this awesome post! Sending HUGE hugs from Cali! xoxo

  7. Brenda Bergreen

    Perfect timing for this post! Exactly what I needed this week. Thank you! I love that you followed 1. schedule it with 2. don’t over-schedule it because sometimes what I planned to write about changes into something else based on my mood. For me it helps to turn off other distractions by going to the coffee shop or somewhere that I can write stress free.

  8. Lanye Bush

    Thank you for this great post! I’m determined to write up some blog posts for weeks when I’m just drenched in work. Love keeping up with you two!

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