Sunday, January 13, 2013

Just starting out? Questions and Answers (my version)

Last month I celebrated my 2 year blog birthday!   Over this time, I feel honored that some of you have asked me for advice.  Let me preface this with the confession that I am the LEAST techie person I know. 

When I get a new phone, I hand it to my son so he can figure it out for me.  I am 100% hopeless when it comes to the remote control (probably because I hardly EVER have any say on what to watch.)   

However, when I started my blog, I was on my own.   So I had to figure a few things out for myself.

How do you get a cute blog design?
You buy it!

I honestly have NO idea how to design a blog.  It baffles my mind and makes me say words that would land me in the principal's office. 

Here is what I did:  First, I wanted to be sure that blogging was something I liked to do.  So I downloaded a free template and tried it out for a few months.  Before I invested any money into blogging, I wanted to be sure it would be something that I could maintain AND enjoy.

Here are a few places you can find some cute and free templates {click on the picture to go to their sites}


Once you are sure about blogging, then you can go hunt down a blog designer.   One of the best ways to do it is to look at the bottom of blogs you like.   See who designed it and contact them.   These blog designers are in big demand and you will probably need to go on a waiting list.   No problem! This will give you more time to decide what you want your blog to look like.

You will want your blog and your blog name to be unique. 

How do I make my products?
I create almost everything in Power Point.  It is so much easier to manipulate graphics in Power Point.   Word is great for text heavy documents, but if I plan on having a lot of graphics I gravitate towards PP.   Power Point takes some getting used to.  Google and You Tube are my best friends.  I play around with the program and I am mostly self taught. 

Fonts and Graphics?
Beyond Diet Coke... Fonts and Graphics are my addictions!

Great FONTS!


Favorite Graphics!









Seriously... that is not even the half of it!  I just checked and I have over  30,000 graphics!   
How! Did! This! Happen!??

Moving on...

How do you get followers?
I think this is tricky.   When I started there were just a few blogs, but then again, there were fewer people who were aware of them too.  When I started I had 1 follower (and he is married to me).   How did I get followers?   I blogged frequently about the things that were happening in my classroom.  I blogged 2-3 times a week (which is my goal for 2013 again... eeek).   I thought about my classroom practices and tried to share what was going on in my room.   

I read a lot of blogs in the process and I commented on those blogs.   I added my blog name via a hyperlink.  Now, I did not expect to have them swamp to my blog, but overtime, people did visit my blog. I will assume that they thought my blog was a worthwhile place to visit, so they decided to follow me.

Kristen from Ladybugs's Teacher Files has a WONDERFUL tutorial on how to do it.

Image from  Ladybug's Teacher Files
Another great way to get visitors to your blog is my joining in on Linky parties.  
These are always taking place and they are fun!

How long will it take?
It is really hard to say... some people find success faster than others. I think the key is focusing on the content and quality of your blog posts.  I know I have not been blogging as much as I want to these last few months. Trust me when I say I have about 30 blog posts written in my head.  The reality is the writing units having taken a lot of my spare time... As soon as they are all finished, I suspect I will be blogging more frequently.   Finger's crossed!

Having said that, I dedicate at least 40 hours a week outside of my school day towards this adventure.  I don't have small babies at home so I have more  time.   Do I have hobbies?  Yep, you are reading it right now.  I love connecting with others.  I love creating cute activities for my class.  
If I didn't love it, I would need a different hobby.

Just a few more thoughts:
1.  Be nice: collaborate with others, share what you know, keep your posts positive.
2. Be authentic:  Make your own way, be true.  It is hard to see other people's ideas and not be influenced by them.  Just be sure you do not copy them.
3. Be patient:  This is really hard for me.
4.  Be consistent:   Show up on your blog!  If you are starting out, I think you need to have at least 2 thoughtful posts a week (commercials do not count).   


There you have it... this is just my opinion.  I hope you find it helpful because that is the spirit in which it was written.   Are there any questions I have forgotten?  Just give me a shout!

UPDATE:   I am ready to start my 4th week of  my Couch to 10K training. How are you guys doing???



80 comments:

  1. Great post! I am figuring out things as I go as well, and just today posted a plea for help with figuring out how to host a giveaway (almost to 100 followers!). Thanks for this post :)

    Rae
    Mindful Rambles

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the way you do it...one step at a time! Good luck!!!

      Delete
  2. DeeDee, as always you are a class act. Thanks for always being so giving of your time and expertise. You are one of the leaders this ever expanding teacher blogging world of ours and you set such a great example for all of us to follow.
    Marsha
    A Differentiated Kindergarten

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marsha!!!! How sweet are you!!!! Thank you!

      Delete
  3. Love this post!I've been blogging 2x per week for almost a year and a half and I can totally relate :){Iwant to sincerely thank you for adding me to your 'Blogs I Love' sidebar. It has sent traffic my way. You are on my sidebar too!}
    Anita
    Mrs. Bremer’s Kindergarten

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome!!! I am glad you have stuck with it and clearly enjoy blogging!

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for sharing these tips! I was just today wondering how I could encourage people to follow my blog (that's only 3 posts old) and you have given me some helpful advice. Now I'm off to figure out how to make a link to my blog so I can add it when I leave comments for others. :)

    Lauren
    lovelaughterandlearninginprep.blogspot.ca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Lauren! Here is what I did. Once I created this code, I saved it to a file so I could just copy and paste it at the end of my posts!


      Good luck to you!!!

      Delete
  6. Thanks for your always insightful posts!! Now I'm off to explore all your graphic artist sites--I'm a clip art junkie too!
    Karen :o)
    Mrs. Stamp's Kindergarten

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh! Karen... let's start a clip art support group! We should not be enabling each other... LOL!

      Delete
  7. Wow - I can't believe you posted this tonight :) I just started my blog today (after writing lots of posts in my head for months) and my TpT store a couple of weeks ago after years of following you and your other blogger friends!! I mentioned you in my first post this morning-you, Abby, Deanna, and Cara are all "household" names that my husband even recognizes, haha! Thanks for the advice and all the help you've given me over the last two years! You are a blessing to SO many people - children and adults alike! I LOVE your work!

    -Alexis
    http://keepingkindergartensimple.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!!! Your template is adorable!!! Good luck!!!

      Delete
  8. Deedee, I appreciate your honesty in sharing the number of hours that you dedicate to this craft each week. As you know, I think you are the original Rock Star! You are where you are because you have talent beyond measure and you've invested the time.

    Will you let us all know if you'll be speaking/presenting anywhere this year?
    My 2013 goal is to attend the I TeachK Expo, but I might need to plan for the MO version!
    :-) ReadWriteSing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi honey!! You have been in my thoughts! I will be speaking in PA in March and Nebraska and Las Vegas in July. I am feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it!

      I am going to see Kim Adsit at the end of the month in St. Louis!

      Delete
    2. Oooh, I wanted to see her! We don't have a professional dev. budget, but it would be worth it out of pocket!!

      Delete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you so much for the advice and wisdom! I am a new blogger and am always looking for ideas on how to better my blog. It's always nice to hear that the bloggers I look up to once also had only 1 follower!

    Ms. Cranfill's Class

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm starting over on my couch to 5K.....sigh.....I'm so mad at myself!!! But, I'm ready to get back into exercise again, I have to do it for me!! Thanks for sharing!

    Angela
    The Daily Alphabet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Angela... I can not tell you how many times I have started an stopped... Like a million times. You are right, it has to be for you. Can I suggest you sign up for a 5K in April with a friend. Then it might help you feel committed to sticking to the plan.

      I say this as I stand in my glass house throwing stones... so I hope you don't think I am being preachy.

      Delete
  12. Thanks for your encouraging words...your post came from such a sweet place. I remember vividly what it was like when I first started out, and while I'm not nearly as awesome and established as you are, I know I would have appreciated a post like this...

    Holly
    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, Deedee! You're the best! I write so many posts in my head, but my current blog pretty much exists for the parents of students in my class -- to keep them "in the loop". Maybe one of these days I'll venture into a blog for teachers.

    Do you know what day you might be presenting in Las Vegas? I will probably only have enough funding to attend 1 day, so I'm trying to figure out when to go.

    Thanks for all you do for us!
    Taryn :)
    Taryn.Ryan@fairfieldsfuture.org

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks so much for this post, Deedee! I just started out too, a few weeks ago, and I have had to remind myself often to just take things one step at a time and that I won't have 1000 followers (or 50) overnight. It will take time and work. I do love it, though, and I'm so grateful to teachers like you that have inspired me!

    Jill
    abcs and polkadots

    ReplyDelete
  15. So I absolutely think you are THE BEST! Seriously... DeeDee, not only are you inspiring (and I mean that sincerely)... you are so "real." What a great and encouraging posting for newbie bloggers! I have followed you for well over a year...and was finally encouraged last summer to start my own blog. Now, I'm beginning to share ideas via TPT. I teach in a small, one-class-per-grade-level school... and I dearly miss the collaboration with kindergarten colleagues. You are my "teacher across the hall"... and you didn't even know it! Thus... my blog's name... "Kindergarten Connections." I'm striving to be just a small part of connecting the kinder-community and our ideas! You are a blessing in so many ways that I'm sure you are unaware of!! I had to share...even if it was just to make you aware of one more! Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great post DeeDee! I pinned it to my Blogging and TpT Tips board!

    ReplyDelete
  17. GREAT post, Deedee!!!! Marsha is so, very right!!! You are by far the most giving, generous person out there!! Always so willing to take time and help others!!! I will never forget how you helped me when I was just starting out AND all of the advice that you have given me along the way!! You are the BEST and that's why everyone loves you and why you have so many followers;)
    I LOVE blogging and creating things!!! It is definitely my hobby!! I do it every time I have ANY extra time...which sadly, isn't much!!! With 3 babies-I try to keep up...but this Momma needs some sleep every once in a while:) Ha!
    P.S...my 2 year blog birthday is NEXT MONTH!!!!!!!!!
    Little Warriors

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for your post! I just started my blog over Christmas Break and have to keep reminding myself to be patient. Your suggestions are wonderful and I will keep them in mind as I continue in the blogging adventure!

    Simply Second

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great advice! Love the positivity and real tips for those just getting their feet wet :)
    Denise
    Sunny Days In Second Grade

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow! Couch to 10k?? I am on Week 1 Day 3 of the C25K. A sweet friend of mine talked me into doing The Color Run in Atlanta, Ga. in April. I just pray I can make it to Week 4. :)

    Dawn
    Adventures in First with Mrs. Key

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will! I remember feeling like week 1 was a little tough. I think each week feels a little tough, but the gradual build-up makes it obtainable!!!

      Delete
  21. Thank you so much Deedee! What a great post! I don't know why we've never known about your blog before, but we're followers now thanks to Erica's pin! Your advice is much appreciated! Congrats on your successes over the past two years!
    -Jackie and Danielle-
    Sister Teachers

    ReplyDelete
  22. You shared wonderful, honest advice. I know that I have grown as an educator from blogging. Thank you for being such a great mentor to myself and others.

    Learning with Mrs. Parker

    ReplyDelete
  23. Such an amazing post for newbies! It can get frustrating but all good things come to those who wait!!!

    Farrah
    Fabulous Firsties: A Whole Brain Blog

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh my goodness! 30,000 clip art images!!! Here is my question: How do you organize all of your clip art? I can't keep up with what I have and don't have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a hard time organizing it, but I have them by themes. I will have to do a blog post on that I think... Yikes!!!

      Delete
  25. Thanks for your blog wisdom! You are household name (for kindergarten teachers anyway).... I was at a Christmas celebration and my husband's aunt who is a kindergarten teacher started talking about a blog post of yours (about using a visual timer to keep on schedule). I knew exactly what she was talking about and we got into a whole conversation and really bonded over teacher blogs! haha! Just had to share what an inspiration you are to SO many of us K teachers!

    Kelly
    Kindergarten Kel

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for the words of wisdom. I love reading other people's blogs to get ideas for my classroom. You are so down to earth and personable that I love reading your blog.
    THANK YOU!

    ReplyDelete
  27. What a great post Deedee! You are too sweet friend! :) Thanks so much for the shout out.

    ReplyDelete
  28. What wonderful advice. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share. Your generosity is much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you for posting this. It has answered so many questions that I have had about starting my own blog. Now if I can just get it approved by my principal so I can start my blog!! Did you have to ask your principal before you started your blog?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No I did not ask permission (I am more of a "beg forgiveness" sort of person). I have not posted the specific school name (I don't think), my students' names are not published, my students' faces are not displayed (even though we have a technology letter that has been signed by parents).

      Having said all of that, I did tell my principals that I started a blog and they were thrilled. We are encouraged to use technology district wide.

      Delete
  30. I love blogging, but it takes a major back seat to life right now. I read and interact on a lot of blogs though. I'm currently making plans, getting better organized with my time so that I can acheieve some blog related goals this year. The plan is to post more regularly in 2013. Maybe twice a month for the next few but by summer I want to be posting at least once a week.
    Oh did I mention I have 2 blogs?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Really great advice! Thank you also for directing us to the fonts and clip art sites. I've been kicking around the idea of creating some units but didn't really know where to start. :)
    NotJustChild'sPlay

    ReplyDelete
  32. Fantastic advice!!! You are so savvy Deedee! I especially liked the how long will it take part. Thanks for the shout out, it means the world to me coming from you!! ❤❤❤

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome! You are the tech QUEEN!

      Delete
  33. Thank you for sharing all this great information. Sometimes, it is hard not to get overwhelmed. I appreciate your knowledge so much.

    Terri
    The First Grade Princess

    ReplyDelete
  34. Deedee, Your generous personality shines through in this post. It's so sweet of you to take time to give advice to new bloggers. I've only been blogging a few months, but I realize that patience and positivity are definitely important. I feel like I have so much to learn. Thanks for your encouragement! :)

    Read with Me ABC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome! I am always learning something new. And my thinking has shifted over the years on various subjects. I guess we are doomed when we feel like we have it all figured out!

      Delete
  35. Deedee I was just thinking yesterday about you, how kind you have been to answer my questions and how much I miss chatting you by email. I think this post was written for me! (but the greatness of the way you write...I am sure I am not the only one who thinks that.) I can see that the next goal I need to have is posting more often. I am working on that blog design too. I bit the bullet and put down a deposit.

    Do post about how you organize your graphics and fonts. I worry about fonts when I am creating something. Worry that I have no idea where I got some of them, so then how can I give them proper credit. Any suggestions?

    Terri Izatt
    KinderKapers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This will need to be an upcoming post for sure! Thank you friend!

      Delete
  36. I'm not quite ready to start my own blog but I definitely want to do it sometime in the future. Thank you so much for all the info. You've been a blessing!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thank you so much for sharing. Your tips are very informative for use who are just starting out. Thank you again.

    Cara
    The Teacher's Backpack

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for sharing, Deedee, and thanks for all your hard work. Do you ever speak in the New England area?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, but I would love to go to New England... something in mid-October please...Can you set that up? Ha!!!!

      Delete
  39. I am really glad you posted about staying positive. Sometimes I wonder how teachers can get by posting rude or negative comments about their class/day/school without someone from their class/day/school reading it. I use my blog for my parents, and while not all have internet here where I teach, it is still fun, it helps me keep track of my pictures and what activities we do each year! Thanks for the inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thanks for this great post. Also thanks for the link about how to put a direct link in with a comment. I figured it out (and I think it even works:) I am new to blogging and love to learn new things about it. I enjoy your blog every time!!
    Erica
    Kindergarten is Dazzling

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you SO much for the shout out Deedee! I have the biggest blog-crush on your blog, and love everything you do! I can't believe you have only blogged for 2 years - you are amazing - your experience, kindness and goodness shines through in everything you do. I can't imagine how awesome your classroom is! If there is ever ANYTHING I can help you with, tech, or graphics wise, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be honoured. You are all class Deedee! Keep up the amazing work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome! You are one talented chick-a-dee!!

      Delete
  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thank you so much for this wonderfully helpful post. I made it my New Year's resolution to start a blog and eventually a TpT store. I created a blank template Jan. 1st but then life, school, and kids happened. This post came at just the right time:) I jumped on to Leelou blogs and found a cute template and started adding a few things. Thank you for the sage advice.. I will take it slow. One step at a time. Just deleted my post below because I am going to try and link my blog name:) Thanks for all the great advice! You are an inspiration and I hope you come East:)

    Emma
    Ms. Emma's Edventure

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah! I did it:) Now I have to save that code!

      Delete
  44. We are all so grateful that you stuck with this! I am blessed each time I stop by. God created such a special teacher when He made you. You are touching so many little hearts through this blog...and the hearts of TONS of grown-ups too! =)

    Thank you for putting your heart not only into this post but ALL of your posts. You are an inspiration...you also crack me up! =)

    When are you coming to Texas??!!??? =)

    Hugs,

    Heather
    Heather's Heart

    ReplyDelete
  45. What a great post! You are such an inspiration.....I keep thinking I would like to start a blog - but keep thinking that I don't have anything interesting to say!!!! You have such great ideas and fantastic pictures! Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I took a huge leap of faith (in myself) when I set out on this lil ole journey. I've never been happier or more excited! After reading your post, I now know I'm on the right track. With patience, success (and consistency) will come :)
    Thanks!
    Lori

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good! For! You! You HAVE to make sure you LOVE it or it will be hard to take the time away from your other passions! Good luck!

      Delete
  48. Thank you so much for this post. My next stop will be to watch the tutorial and figure out how to add that hyperlink. Good luck on your running adventure! I have found it is best if you have a running partner. Running is so good for the soul and the body. Enjoy! Maria

    ReplyDelete
  49. So sweet to give advice and in a loving way:)
    I love your blog and have followed for a long time. Thanks for inspiring!

    Tammy
    The Resourceful Apple

    ReplyDelete
  50. I was so happy to come across this post. I just started my own blog and I am a little nervous and self conscious. It's hard to think that I might be able to offer something of interest to other teachers. I have been teaching almost 30 years and I am terrible on the computer. My husband is patiently teaching me. Thank you for the encouragement and great ideas.
    S. Welch

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear you Kinder-Gardener!! I just went live with my blog today after starting it 3 months ago. I've been totally freaked-out and feeling very inept! But, I bit the bullet and jumped in today. Good luck to you! :) I'm following you and look forward to your posts.
      Amy
      Happy Teacher Heaven

      Delete
  51. Great post! So many true points that are so relevant to current bloggers. Love your style of writing, I feel like you were sitting next to me telling me this. Keep up the good work! Your creativity and devotion to your class always shines through.

    Vanessa
    Kinderloves

    ReplyDelete
  52. This was very helpful! I'm just getting started with my blog and TpT store, and I love learning new ways to blog. Thank you!

    Ellie

    Miss Woodward's Class

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...