blogging

The Hard Truths of Blogging

The last 4.5 years of blogging have been enjoyable.  I’ve learned a lot about social media, blogging, running and of course myself.  I’ve started friendships with people across the country. Simply through blogging I’ve met incredible people and done incredible things.

If that isn’t the most cliché and kissass introduction, I don’t know what is.

blogging1

Obviously I’ve grown as a person since blogging.  I started LOLZ blog as a 20 year old junior in college. I was beginning my first season of cross country and was still swimming.  I was competing in two very different competitive sports.  As any college student, I was confused with life, with sports and with training.  I began blogging as a way to seek advice from others as well as document my personal journey.

In 2010...one of my first blogging photos!

In 2010…one of my first blogging photos!

With every blogger, I started by blogging for myself.  

As I continued to blog and connect with others, I had a few readers.  I was no longer blogging solely for myself because I had an audience. Whether I knew each individual in real life or not, I had people that read my blog occasionally.  My tone didn’t change but it did make me think more about what I say on the internet (Whether you delete something or not, the internet never forgets).

To make this clear: With or without readers, I blog for myself but I also blog to share my journey in hopes someone can learn from me (both my successes and mistakes).  In blogging, twitter, facebook and social media in general, people enjoy feedback…that is why we do it. 

Quite frankly, I also really enjoy blogging and it’s a fun hobby to have.  Life is to short to do things you don’t like.  Right now I like to blog and run…so I will make time for those. 

This post was semi inspired by a post from T-Rex Runner of how blogging has changed.

I’ve written and rewritten posts like this several times but none were that coherent.  I cut and pasted 3 different posts together so hopefully it makes as much sense to you as it did to me.  It’s all over the place (like my mind is).

The hard truths of blogging:

    1. Not everyone will like you and that is fine. There are a lot of opinions and thoughts I don’t agree with.  This includes thoughts both inside and outside of the blogging world.If I don’t agree with someone offline, I don’t pretend I do.  People mistake not agreeing with hating and that is one of the furthest things from the truth.
    2. I don’t hide my thoughts.  I’m not going to lie and promote something.  If I don’t like peanut butter, I’m not going to say “oh my goodness, this peanut butter recipe looks amazing”.  What’s the point?  If you know me in “real life” then you know I’m that friend that will give you both the positive and negative.  For instance, if you ask me which dress looks better on you….I won’t say both…I’ll tell you which dress does.
    3. People grow apart. I’ve grown apart from several blogs I followed.  There are two blogs that I still follow (or still blog) that were blogging when I began in 2010.  We are in two different places in our lives.  It’s not a good or bad thing but a fact.  There is no need to read every single blog in the “blogging world”.  If a topic doesn’t interest you, then it doesn’t.  I’m sure there are several readers who could care less about diner reviews…and that is fine!  That is still my thing…I never blog with the expectation that people care about any and every post. Believing that only sets us up for failure.
    4. Blogging is not really a profitable thing to do.  Unless you want to shill products that you don’t care about or sell yourself out for trivial items, it’s not worth it.  I’ve been contacted by several companies to promote things as adult diapers, maxi pads, vitamins that aren’t FDA regulated and even pet products.  None of those products match my blog so I don’t promote them.  Sure I turned down money (probably close to 1000 dollars when I add everything up) but I’m not desperate for money. I’m going to use my blog to shill out things that I could care less about. 
    5. Just because you can use google, does not make you an expert. If I am looking for a expert medical advice, I will see someone who is qualified.  I read blogs because they are light hearted and fun.  I don’t read because I expect the blogger to be a medical professional.  Google does not give make you as qualified as a nutritionist, dietitian or medical expert.
    6. Every blogger has chosen to omit something from their personal space online.  It’s smart.  When reading a blog you aren’t seeing the full life picture.  For instance, when T and I chose to live together…it wasn’t as if I woke up and wrote a post titled “I’m moving” and shotgunned a move.  We had discussed it for a while. Maybe a person is struggling because they just broke up with a significant other, maybe they are having financial problems or maybe someone just doesn’t feel like sharing a personal tidbit.  Blogging is a fine line between sharing and oversharing.   Don’t overshare.

For better or for worse blogging as come a long way since 2010.  It’s far more commercialized and people except to be compensated for their “time” blogging.  No one is forcing your to blog and it should be something you truly enjoy.  In any case, I love to blog and I’m not going anywhere. 

Thinking Out Loud: Mostly Holiday Blogging

Another week, another Thursday.  Last week was Thanksgiving so I skipped posting a Thinking Out Loud post…I didn’t stop thinking though…ha (That was such an embarrassing joke…forget that I said it).

Anyways speaking of Holidays, this will be my first Holidays working in retail.  It’s certainly a difference experience.  I actually don’t mind at all and it makes the day go by quickly when you have dozens of people at the store.

On the blogging front, as the Holiday’s come closer I’ll be the first to admit several companies have reached out for promotion on LOLZ blog. 

Does this mean I’ve made it in the blogging world?  No, probably not but the Holiday season brings lots of businesses to advertise and have more of a budget.  Working in retail I can see that first hand.   I don’t even know what “making it” in the blogging world means.  Is it making it a full time job, becoming twitter and Instagram famous?

blogging meme

While I’m still a member of the Sears Holiday blogger team, I have been approached by a couple of other companies I genuinely have liked beforehand.  I’ve also turned a few companies down that don’t mesh well with my personal believes.  (I won’t be promoting anything I haven’t t tried before or wouldn’t buy myself).

Since I could not make money (this month) without blog readers, I am going to stay completely honest with you!  And as most of you know I don’t rely on blogging for money.  I also work at a local running store.  Blogging will never be my full time job for three reasons.

  1. My spelling and grammar are both awful. It’s important to know your weaknesses and those are mine.  I would need to hire an intern or an editor.  My writing is exactly like my personal voice (in real life).  I write like I talk versus in a professional manner.  (Think if a chicken got it’s head cut off and is running around crazed…that’s how my brain operates sometimes).
  2. I am boring 75% of my life

blogging meme 1

3. I can’t sit still for more than an hour so typing hundreds of posts is not my interest. I would not be able to have a job staring at a computer screen all day.

Kudos to those who use their blogs as full time work but I love my running store job and wouldn’t give it up.  I think I’m doing awesome because I might make 200 dollars from blogging this month.  That’s 200 coffees!

Speaking of Holidays, I haven’t really even started my Christmas Shopping yet.  Sorry family.  I’m waiting for 200 dollars so I can buy you things.  Kidding of course…I do feel like family is the hardest to buy for.

This weekend we are going out to get Holiday lights to decorate.  I’m pretty excited for that.

One thing I’m trying to do on the media front is grow my facebook page.  It seems like facebook pages are their own separate communities.  A lot of people have facebook pages but not blogs, etc.  I normally post daily memes that share my sense of humor, blog posts links (mine or someone elses)…so if you want that to spam your minified (or if you want to link it and then unfollow posts) that would be awesome.

I guess this kind of turned into me thinking out loud with blogging.  I’ve always been completely honest with myself, readers and lurkers.  To me it’s seems silly not to be honest, if you are making money from blogging it wouldn’t happen without readers.  They should be the first to know!  I’ve debated doing a monthly post about it but we will see.  I always enjoy reading about “big blogs” and how they turned it into a full time job (mostly because I’m nosy into people’s lives…).

On that note I’m off to work. 

Questions for you:

Have you worked in retail before?

What is one random thought you have today?

How to Grow your Blog in 6 Easy steps

There are several posts and several bloggers that could give you much better advice then I can.  I’m not an expert in blogging (which is why it’s not my career).  I don’t get paid very much (all of which goes towards the diners and coffee). That being said I do blog most days and do enjoy blogging.  So who better than to give you advice on how to start and grow your following then a blogger who enjoys to blog?

how to grow your blog

Step number 1: Begin your blog.

Write about a topic you actually like.  Create a jazzy username.  There are many templates that you can use:

Healthy food + Unhealthy food (kale juice and cake)

Healthy life choice+ Unhealthy life choice (running & sleeping)

Something, balance and something else (love, balance & workouts)

Phrase that contradicts itself (sugar free sugar cube is a good unchosen one)

sugar free sugar cube

 

Or something that makes no sense to anyone other than you: (fueledbyLOLZ?  What is a “lolz” anyways…why is it capitalized?)

This is actually the easiest step because you probably have determined you want to blog and already thought about topics that interest you.

Step number 2:  Grow your following.

A blog is like a flower...it must grow with things such as sunlight, useless images, and BS...

A blog is like a flower…it must grow with things such as sunlight, useless images, and BS…

The easiest way to grow your following is by commenting on blogs that you really don’t care about (but already have a massive following).  Using trivial comments such as “oh my stars you are inspiring” or “oh wow, I want to be just like you” works well.  Bloggers love to be famous and feel loved online!

The faster you can type a trivial comment when the post is published, the more people will see your blog.  For me personally, I sit by the computer and wait until X time when a blog post publishes.  I have a master list of the time each “big blog” publishes posts and I sit waiting to comment.  Number 1 commenter always baby girl (no).

Time to comment on blogs (old school LOLZ computer from 90s)

Time to comment on blogs (old school LOLZ computer from 90s)

Another good way to grow your following is using any of these methods:

Having many linkups with other blogs.  Always link up to every link up.  Your blog should be more predictable then the contents of my canned tuna.  Motivation Monday, Throwback Thursday, WIAW Wednesday…it’s like a template every day!  Asking people to click to your blog, tweeting to others to follow you, and follow4follow are all other good methods.

Step number 3: Begin to change your voice. 

Now that companies notice you have a bigger following you are in the in the clear!  Congrats you have made it!  This is when your following is large and in charge.  This is when your followers actually like you!  This is when you are liked by readers and companies are beginning to want to send you things.  This is where the fun begins!  It is the step you throw a party and tell everyone you are employee of the month and are getting a promotion!

Step number 4: Accept anything and everything sponsored. 

Some random body builder samples...because I am a body builder!  Perfect!

Some random body builder samples…because I am a body builder! Perfect!

 

Deodorant…trivial (and meaningless to you) crap…whatever, just accept it.

Stuff you know you’ll never use and will end up in a trash can?  Accept it.

Do you hate cycling but are getting a free bike?  Accept it!

Do you actually hate certain products but they will send you the product for free?  Perfect!

Do you have a new favorite thing every minute?  Perfect.

If you know nothing about a certain topic (but a company is already willing to sponsor you, then that is a start).  For instance, if you go to the drug store and buy deodorant, you are the perfect candidate for a CVS sponsorship.  If you actually hate running but have 10,000 followers…then you are the perfect candidate for a Boston marathon sponsorship.

Step number 5: Become sad when people don’t continue to comment on daily sponsored posts

Pink said it the best. She was speaking to us social media users! (You should feel like this)

 

Step number 6: Find your inner peace.

Either blogging is going to be your career or blogging is not going to be your career.  Either way you should stay true to yourself and your voice (something often hard in this world).  Blogging is hard, companies don’t want to send you stuff not to be reviewed and readers don’t want to see a bunch of trivial sponsored crap.

But at the end of the day…it’s only the internet…

Real life is just a bunch of moving internet selfies anyways....

Real life is just a bunch of moving internet selfies anyways….

Question for you: How do you grow your blog?

Articles and Life

After posting a couple of articles last week I do have a few more that have interested me.   Plus I haven’t posted about personal life in a while so I’ll do that too.  I always enjoy reading what other people have been reading, so hopefully some enjoy what I have been up too. 

As far as my life goes I’ve been doing well.  I don’t have a lot of excitement to post about since getting home. I guess that isn’t a bad thing, The next three days just consists of more work for me but I don’t mind.

Anyways this post is a collection of articles I’ve found interesting the last few weeks.

First, I am really excited to add Injinji socks to my sidebar.  I’ve been a fan of Injinji socks for a while now and they have kept my feet blister free (I wrote a post about socks in March actually).  I used to get the nastiest blisters on the side and in between my toes.  When I started wearing Injinji’s I haven’t gotten anymore.  As I said  before, on my blog I’ve gone the direct ad route to pay for domain.  This is beneficial because I can only have ads of products I like.   Personally I would rather have no ads then promote products that I didn’t like or use.  Anyways so I just wanted to welcome the Injinji into the LOLZ blog.  Plus they were really generous to give out a coupon code (fueledbylolz15) if you want to buy yourself a pair (or me too).

Articles:

10 Habits You Will Regret Later in Life

Beauty:

Here is what Girls looked like in 1945

19 Beauty Tricks I’m pretty sure I could almost be a real girl all the time with these.

21 “Knock out” Beauty Products at Your Drug Store (This could be more for the LOLZ but since when is Trader Joe’s a “Drug Store”?

Running:

Mind Games Great article from Kate Grace about bouncing back and gaining your confidence.  Something I am currently struggling with!

Nutrition:

Food Pyramid for Runners

5 Simple Diet Diet Changes

27 Ways to make your Food last Longer So many of these shocked me!

Random:

Things Servers wish restaurant customers knew

How to Recover from a Financially Hard Month  I’m pretty sure Ashley wrote this for me, last month I spent close to twice of my usual expenses.  Ha!

Wedding Related:

7 Reasons You weren’t invited to a wedding

Questions for you:
What articles are you enjoying this week?
What are your weekend plans?

Trying Everything and Anything

I wasn’t planning to do a post about vegetables and how I’ve been eating relatively healthy (for me) but I was contacted from a company to do a post about food processors and blenders.  At first I turned it down because honestly I couldn’t figure out to relate my blog to blenders.  I use a blender at my house to make smoothies and I use a food processor occasionally to mix pancake batter to chill in the fridge overnight.  I’m not sure it has even ever come up.

After letting the topic sit for a couple of days I realized I’ve been using my food processor and blender a little more then normal since I’ve been injured.

When I first became injured a few weeks ago I talked to a lot of people about cures to plantar fasciitis.  (half said fixing their diet and the other half said cortisone saved the day).  A lot of people I talked to suggested cutting out sugar and eating healthier. Some people even went so far as to say that eating better got rid of their plantar fasciitis.  It isn’t as if I eat extremely unhealthy but Tim and I do enjoy both healthy and unhealthy food.  I don’t have a strict diet that works for me just as I don’t have a strict training plan that works for me.

I read up on nutrition a little bit myself to see if other people’s personal experiences were common.  I found a lot of people raving about drinking cherry juice (apparently it reduces inflammation).  I also found that a lot of people had success with limiting sugar.  Since I was (and still am) trying to nip this injury in the bud, I was willing to try everything and anything.

The only thing I really hate about actually cooking is the fact that meals don’t take 5 minutes to make.  It normally takes twice as long for creating fresh, healthy meals and drinks. I do admit to using a blender or food processor to mix up pancake batter and leaving it in the fridge overnight though…

I’ve been eating a lot less sugar and sweetener in general (yes this includes splenda).  For me this means having more savory breakfasts like omelets.  My omeletes are generally 2 parts eggs, 10 parts vegetables and 2 parts cheese.  Besides salads, I pretty much get my vegetables for egg combinations.

While looking on the website I chose the Black and Decker EHC650B for  chopping vegetables.

Why?

It pretty much described everything I want in a kitchen applicance (or honestly technology in general…see why I have a Garmin 10 and don’t use any of the features…).  It was easy, simple and compact.  It didn’t have a lot of fancy features that I would never use and is a lot of cheaper than other models.

Looking back at the last three weeks of eating healthier, while I feel a lot better I don’t think healthier eating helped fix my foot injury.  I do enjoy how I feel when I don’t eat a ton of cookies and cake but with everything…everything in moderation.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite blender?

I actually could use advice on this because I need to put one on my wedding registry.

Have you ever had a running injury that has been fixed by better nutrition?

I think nutrition plays an important role in preventing injury (like more calcium for stronger bones) but I have never had the experience of proper nutrition fixing an injury completely. I do think nutrition does play a key role in recovery but nothing can be fixed by one single factor.

Negative Feedback

My blog has always been a journey of my life.  Since I began my blog a few years ago I’ve grown as a person and connected with so many different people. I have a lot of real life friends and family that read, as well as people I’ve never met.  Each person is sharing my personal journey with me.  I chose to write and share my life.   I’m not saying that in a negative way but nothing is forcing me to blog.  It is isn’t a source of income to help me survive and no one is telling me…blog or else.

So when I turn off the computer or shut it down, blogging and the internet are not at the front of my mind. I like to exist outside of the internet occasionally.

In life, not every comment you receive is going to be positive.  People are not going to tell you how awesome you are, or wow you’re an inspiration about every single thing you do.  You will have both positive and negative feedback.  The negative feedback is what helps you grow as a person. As hard as hearing the negative feedback and the truth is sometimes, it needs to be heard.

With blogging there is never much negative feedback.  I could go run 50 miles today coming off an injury.  That would be stupid. I guarantee someone would tell me what an inspiration I am for running 50 miles… Sometimes I wonder if blogging is the never never land with rainbows and butterflies where nothing bad ever has happens.  No one ever tells anyone: your idea is dumb or grow up.  That comment would be instamoderated because “omg sponsors”.

By now the website GOMI isn’t anything new.  It’s not a secret and it’s not a group of jealous haters making fun of bloggers.  My guess is it’s a combination of bloggers, readers and people who like to speculate and talk about bloggers.  GOMI forums both criticize and even make fun of a lot of bloggers.  It’s easy to do when no one knows your name and you are hidden behind a username.

Somethings GOMI says are hurful…ie: constantly asking me if I graduated college or how I did it…somethings on GOMI you can take with a grain of salt or even (gasp) better yourself from.  One thing I appreciate about the website is that it isn’t afraid to call out the BS.

Often times (like a few posts about when I completely dropped the ball using the word proportion instead of portion…) they are merited.  I don’t spend a lot of time proofreading my posts because I write them in the morning (between 6-7).  After that I go run for a run and then get ready for work.  I could spend more time on posts but my purpose with this blog is to share my life with friends and family as well as readers.  I want to share my life in “real life” as well and if that means sacrificing blog time to see friends and family…then so be it.  I will never apologize for that.

At the end of the day I’ve come to realize that my life exists outside of the computer screen.  Once I shut the computer off, the internet isn’t the focus of my life. It’s important to have that balance.

So yes, I graduated college.  I was a community health major with a math minor.  The only class I failed in college was Spanish 2.  Since my grammar is awful, you can only imagine how I picked up a foreign language.  It’s actually quite funny because my senior seminar class grade was based on one mid term and one 50 page paper.  RIGHT? I had to write 50 pages and they had to have proper grammar and spelling  (Incase you wondered I got an A-).

(My dirty secret is that I don’t blog like I wrote papers in college.  I put far more time and effort into college than I do a blog…).

My blog is a flow of my thoughts to the screen.  I don’t (and I never will…sorry) worry about grammar as much as if I had grades on the line. Maybe if I had paychecks on the line each month, I would.  But now…I am just making enough to break even, enjoy my hobby of blogging and build a network of friends.

I don’t really have a point to this post I guess.  My blog is a reflection on my life.  Some days there is a point to my posts, some days it’s just me thinking out loud.  I find that my blogging is more of a reflection of my own life versus trying to reflect to others.  I guess that is why blogging would never be a good career choice for me.  I would rather reflect upon my own life versus post about trivial products that I’ve never even tried.

I have a lot of real life friends and family that keep in touch through my blog.  I have a lot of readers that I’ve never met in real life.  I enjoy the connection I have with each person near and far.  I always appreciate the support but I do appreciate negative feedback because it helps me grow.

To be clear I’m neither attacking any bloggers or attacking GOMI. I’m just writing out my thoughts that whatever you do you’ll have feedback both positive and negative.

The Meadows Diner

My Fourth of July weekend was pretty peaceful and relaxing.  I worked both Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday evening, I was finally able to meet CaitlinOn a random note, it was awesome because Caitlin is as tall (if not taller) then me.  I didn’t picture her to be as tall.  As a lot of people posted about exciting fourth of July plans and races, my week consisted of working and exploring a new diner with Caitlin.

CaitlinandI

The Meadows Diner in Blackwood, NJ is located on the main road.  It’s a cute, fun old school looking diner.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Atmosphere: A-

The interior of the Meadows Diner was very old school.  They had a claw machine in the front as well as old school diner music.  It was decorated with silver metal and shiny, glossy booths.  The only weird thing was our booth was located next to the bar.  It seemed like the waitresses hung out there which made it somewhat uncomfortable. It wasn’t a big deal but it did make me uncomfortable.

Coffee: A

The coffee was really good.  However, it came in a tea cup sized coffee mug.  The waitress was extremely good that she refilled it so quickly.  She was one of the best waitresses I’ve ever had. Even though the cup was tiny, it was refilled so quickly it didn’t really matter.

photo 1

Food: A

I was pleasently surprised with the food.  Their menu was huge and they even had a salad bar.  I nearly got the salad bar but opted for the Greek salad itself.  Often times if a restaurant has a salad bar, ordering a main course salad won’t be as good.

photo 5

Both Caitlin and I ordered a Meadows Diner Greek Salad with a side of pita bread.  The Greek salad consisted of (a lot) of lettuce, chicken, egg, anchovies, grape leaves,and onions.  It was a standard Greek Salad and it was surprisingly really good.

photo 2

Dessert: A

We split a piece of carrot cake.  The carrot cake itself had a lot of chunky carrots and was very sweet.  It was also really good.  After having several not so good pieces of cake lately, I was pleasantly surprised by the Meadows Diner cake.

photo 4

Price: $

For two meals, extra pita bread, cake and a coffee the meal was 27.  The carrot cake itself was only 2.99 (included).  It was definitely one of the best priced diners I’ve been too.

Would I come back?

Yes, if I’m back down there I will be trying it again.  It was a great deal, great company and just an overall good experience.  I have no complaints and The Meadows Diner was a great diner.

Questions for you:

How was your Fourth of July?

What is your favorite thing on a salad bar?

The iceburg lettuce.  Just kidding, probably if they have sundried tomatoes or feta cheese.

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