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Archive for August, 2008

If You Can Read This, You Might Have Been Homeschooled

August 25, 2008 By: TopsyTechie Category: blog carnival, blog writing, blogging, homeschool bloggers, learning to blog, starting a blog 3 Comments →

This slogan, sassy as it might be, is a popular one on homeschool t-shirts and bumper stickers.  It speaks volumes of the attitude and importance these families give to schooling their children at home.  It also shows that they can be an opinionated lot. I’m not passing judgment, because I happen to be one of those homeschoolers with a lot to say.

I’m not sure why homeschoolers have so much to say.  Maybe it is because we are continually in “learning mode.”  We are always learning…and it doesn’t stop at 3:00, either.  Maybe it is because we are so enthusiastic about getting to watch firsthand as our children become the people they are going to be.  There just isn’t anything more exciting than watching your son or daughter develop their individual personality.  Or maybe it is because we never get a word in edgewise.  The flies on the wall in our house had to buy earplugs.

Whatever the reason, we are a wordy lot.

But thankfully, there is a tremendous outlet for all those words….blogging!  So far, I am finding enough verbiage to fill four blogs, and I still haven’t run out of things to say.  But I’m not the only one.  Homeschool blogging is a niche that is growing daily, and now includes entire social networking sites devoted to it.  Homeschoolblogger.com is a host site specifically for homeschool bloggers. Homeschoolblogbuzz is a great homeschool blog registry site where you can see the most recent homeschool blog posts across the net. And there are some wonderful homeschool blog carnivals taking place on a continual basis.

Homeschoolers blog about an incredible variety of things.  Of course, many of them talk about what is going on in their homeschool and with their children.  Others offer up advice and resources they think will be helpful to other homeschoolers.  Some homeschool bloggers closely follow the politics of homeschooling and report news of laws and controversies related to a family’s right to school at home.  There are also homeschoolers dealing with unique homeschooling issues, such as teaching special needs children, or handling families who are entirely unsupportive of their choice to homeschool.

One of the most wonderful thing about homeschool blogging is the community.  Sometimes homeschoolers can feel a bit marginalized, even in a homeschool-friendly area.  But similar-minded homeschoolers have a way of finding each other across the blogosphere, and connecting in a powerful way.  I have found some great new friends as a result of my homeschool blog – - ones I might have never gotten to know if I had just read their messages on a forum or mailing list.  Blogging breaks down barriers and allows you to truly feel acquainted with your fellow bloggers.

If you are a homeschooler who has been thinking about writing a blog, but didn’t know where to begin, I’d like to suggest a terrific course for newbies.  Blogwritingcourse.com is an eight-week online class.  This course guides you every step of the way from creating and designing your blog, to learning about blogging safety, to writing quality content, to building your readership.  This fun and easy course lit the blogging fires underneath me, and I know it could do the same for you.  So sign up today, and get started blogging!  Come on..you know you have something to say!

Until next time,

Blogging For The Fun of It

August 23, 2008 By: TopsyTechie Category: blog writing, blogging, blogging for money, New Bloggers, starting a blog No Comments →

Darren Rowse, of Problogger, recently did a survey of bloggers who monetize their blogs.  He discovered the surprising fact that the majority of people who use ad revenue or other tools to earn money from their blog only make about $1 a day from blogging.  Now you will never see me snub my nose at $30, but for the time and effort spent on it, I would say that there are probably faster ways to earn three Alexander Hamiltons. There might not, however, be a more FUN way to do it.

If you are writing a blog about a subject you love, that you are passionate about, that makes you smile as you write, then you have found your niche.  If you are writing something that inspires you, helps you through a difficult time, or gets out your frustrations, then you know your blog is your antidote to despair.  If you are writing to make other people laugh, to make them take action, to make them stop and think, then blogging is your calling.

For those who have found blogging (or perhaps visa versa), putting their hearts and souls into their posts is more than just a hobby.  It is pure, unadulterated joy. 

What could possibly be more fun than telling, in full detail, how your so-called friend accidentally left a nasty message about you on your own answering machine, thinking she was talking to your other friend Alexis?  Or griping about how annoying the NBC commentators have been in this year’s Olympic games?  Or sharing with the whole world the first time your autistic child made a friend?

The blogiverse never tells you to shut up (especially if you turn off your comments tool!).  It welcomes your opinions, your stories, and your unique way of looking at life. Blogging lets you be exactly who you are.  What could possibly be more fun than that?

Maybe it is time to get in on the fun!  Why not sign up today for one of our blogging courses?  What have you got to lose…except maybe $30?

Until next time,

Blogging Generation Y

August 20, 2008 By: TopsyTechie Category: blog writing, blogging, New Bloggers, starting a blog No Comments →

My 14 year old started a blog a couple of weeks ago.  He already has six posts up!  His blog is about describing and reviewing his online techie hobbies, in hopes of getting others hooked on some of his fun gaming discoveries.  I guess I could be sorry that he isn’t writing a blog about great poetry, or current events, or humanitarian efforts around the world…but I’m not.  I’m actually just thrilled that he is writing.  And at the risk of sounding biased, he is actually a darn good writer!

But his new foray into the blogosphere got me thinking about how unique it is to be a teenager in 2008.  Gone are the lock-and-key diaries, and in are live journals, where you spill your guts to the faceless masses.  Gone are teacher-assigned product reviews.  Who needs ‘em?  Teens are writing real reviews everyday on consumer sites such as Amazon, epinions, and my3cents.com.  And forget short stories!  Many teenagers have ongoing fan fiction sites, where they work alone or collaboratively to create entire novels.  Maybe even without realizing it, generation Y is writing more than ever before.

Almost every nook and cranny of a teenagers life has become hijacked by the medium of words.  Cell phone texting, instant messaging, commenting on social networking sites, Twittering – - its all about language, baby!  So it is natural, I suppose, that teens would be making a bigger and bigger dent in the blogosphere.  In fact, according to Intelliseek, almost eight million teenagers are blogging about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

That’s not such a surprising figure when you think about what it means to be a teenager.  You are asserting your independence. You are wanting to be taken seriously.  You have a lot of injustices and dramas occurring on a daily basis, and need somewhere to vent.  All of these are terrific reasons for starting a blog. 

If you are a teenager, or know of a teenager who has been wishing they could have their own blog, but didn’t know where to start, we’d like to help.  We offer two online courses in blogging.  One is a free course, called Get Ready to Blog, that will familiarize you with the language and safety issues involved in blogging (especially important in the case of teen bloggers).  Our other course, Blogging 101,  is a more in-depth look at blogging, and it will guide you every step of the way through setting up and designing your blog, learning to write interesting content, and building your readership.  This is an incredibly fun way to learn how to blog, because your fellow classmates are your first “blogging buddies,” who will be reading and commenting on your posts, giving you feedback, and expecting the same in return.

Whether you are a teenager, a thirty-something, or eighty years young, you have something to say.  You don’t have to be a member of Generation Y to realize the power of words….so get blogging!!

New Beginnings

August 16, 2008 By: TopsyTechie Category: blogging, learning to blog, starting a blog No Comments →

This post is reprinted by permission from the blog of Renee Ollis, It Happens To Be.  I thought it was a terrifically insightful look at how and why people start blogging.  Enjoy!!

Origin…beginning…inception…introduction…

Whatever word you choose, they all mean the same – the start of something new. This blog is the beginning of a new adventure for me. Not that I’m the real adventurous type but I definitely consider this an adventure. Sure, I had heard of blogs but in my mind they were some type of resource for techies – boy, was I wrong! Let me tell you of my unexpected discovery of what blogs really are. In mid February my dear husband and I snuck off in the middle of the week for a “date night”. We were really missing each others company so we went to our favorite little Italian restaurant. You know the kind – dim lights, warm, inviting tuscan-esque décor, a portrait of Da Vinci (hence the restaurants name) and Pavarotti mesmerizing me with ‘O Sole Mio in the background. Romantic! Yes, but also perfect for conversation. As we savored the deliciousness of the food and the quiet we engaged in some much needed adult conversation. Conversation about – get this, the children we had left at home. Curious how we had needed an escape but once there, we found ourselves laughing and talking about the thing we were escaping. The din of constant noise that hangs over our home, the dirty piles of laundry, the tears of stubbed toes and the reverberating sound of “mama, mama, mama”. As the hours slipped on and we sipped our coffee our patient server had captured bits and pieces of our conversation and asked how we happened to get a night away. He said he didn’t have children but had nieces and nephews and knew it was hard for his sister to get a night out. You know, he said, “You should take a look at my sister’s blog www.justpurelovely.typepad.com sometime, I really think you would like it”. As we paid our check and polished off the last swirls of coffee, I promised him I would take a look at her blog.

Wow, everything DOES happen for a reason!! It was several days before I got around to looking at the blog but when I did…there was an instant lure. This was the life of someone very much like you and me being shared with the world: to learn from, to be inspired by or simply for pleasure. I was totally amazed, what I thought blogs were – dull, boring, technical was so WRONG! A blog could be anything you wanted it to be – limited only by your time, patience and imagination. To Lori Seaborg and the rest of the blogging world, thank you for your inspiration to embark on a new adventure. So, here goes………..the origin, beginning, inception, introduction of “It Happens to Be”. Welcome to my world and my adventure. (And, as with most adventures that are filled with surprises and unknowns, be patient with me as I find my niche. There will be plenty of surprises so please visit often and feel free to share your comments, ideas and thoughts!)

~ Renee

Mommy Blogging

August 13, 2008 By: TopsyTechie Category: blog writing, blogging, blogging as therapy, blogging community, blogging for money, learning to blog, mom blogging, starting a blog No Comments →

When I first started my blog, Topsy-Techie, I didn’t consider myself a Mom Blogger.  In fact, I hadn’t even heard of the term before.  Yes, I had a blog.  And yes, that blog was about my chaotic, tech-infused life with my family – - but I didn’t know I had a category! Now, of course, I realize that I am smack dab in the middle of the cultural revolution that is: Mom Blogging.

momblog Mommy Blogging is basically a term for moms who use blogging as an outlet for their daily frustrations, struggles, and triumphs.  For stay-at-home and work-at-home moms, it can be an especially important outlet, since daily conversations for them can sometimes be limited to topics such as crackers vs pretzels, who gets reward stars for using their “inside voice”, or inquiries into just who put the whole roll of toilet paper into the toilet.  When you are home with kids everyday, blogging can become your chief connection with the world beyond the four walls of your house. And women need social interaction with other adults!

Moms also make terrific bloggers because they tend to be experts on almost everything.  If it involves medicine, a hammer, a book, a nail file, a newspaper, a paintbrush, an ironing board, a pep talk, a garden hose, or a leotard, we can probably blog about it.  Moms are, by nature, required to be multitalented, so they have a lot to offer in the way of advice and instruction.  They also tend to follow a wide variety of media, and have at least some knowledge about subjects as diverse as politics, pop culture, and psychology.  For this reason, they have a wide pool of topics to choose from to keep their blogs interesting.

When it comes to advertising power, Mommy Bloggers may just have the corner of the market. Because they are often the key purchasing agent for their household, their opinions on products and services carry a lot of weight in the corporate world.  That makes them a big demographic that internet advertisers want to reach.  Google Adsense, Blogher, Adbrite, and others make specific efforts to woo successful Mom Bloggers.  And stay-at-home moms are finding other creative ways to make money off of their blogs as well, such as writing product reviews, cross-posting on paid blogsites, and advertising their own home-made products and services.

Moms blog for many reasons: to keep their sanity, to chronicle their kids milestones and experiences, to vent, to engage in adult conversation, to give and receive advice, to network with moms in similar situation, to make extra money at home, etc.  Blogging validates the challenging, heart-wrenching, and often thankless job of being a mom.  If you are a mom who has been thinking about starting a blog, we’d love to help.  We offer two online courses to get you off and running.  The first course, Get Ready To Blog, is an automated introductory course to the world of blogging for those new to the idea.  The second course, Blogging 101, is a professionally taught course that will guide you every step of the way from setting up and designing your new blog, to writing quality content and growing a readership.  We believe moms deserve to have the best, clearest, and least time-consuming instruction available, and that is just what our courses offer.  So sign up today!

Until next time,

Blogging As A Creative Writing Tool

August 09, 2008 By: TopsyTechie Category: blog writing, blogging, creative writing blog, learning to blog, starting a blog No Comments →

I remember the first time I considered I might like to become a writer.  It was in a high school English class, and we were required to keep a daily journal for our class, and each day as I wrote out my thoughts and feelings, my English teacher would write encouraging feedback. She would comment on my creativity, my ability to put things into words, and my humor.  Well, naturally, this made me want to be even more creative, expressive, and humorous.  I began working longer and harder at making my journal entries entertaining and readable.  There was just something about knowing that someone was going to be reading my work that made the writing process more compelling.

This is the whole idea behind blogging, really.  Putting down your thoughts and words for others to read and possibly interact with.  If you are a writer, or even an aspiring one, you might want to consider starting a blog to hone your talents.  There is no faster way to get your writing out to the masses than through a blog.  And there is no more efficient way to get feedback on your efforts. 

Have a story you’ve written but haven’t been able to sell?  Why not take that story, break it into blog posts, and let your readers decide why it may not have been publishable.  Not only will you get them coming back to find out “how the story ends”, but by asking them for their feedback, you will be getting free editorial advice. (But don’t ask unless you are tough-skinned enough to handle both positive and negative criticism…the blogosphere can be brutally honest!)

Have a writing genre that you have been too chicken to try out?  A blog is the perfect platform for an experiment.  If you have always written prose, but want to branch out into poetry, start a poetry blog and see if other people respond to your verse.  Or go really wild, and blog about your day using iambic pentameter.  You will have learned something about yourself and your writing by stepping out of your comfort zone, and you will have lost nothing in the process.

There are numerous ways to practice your creative writing talents through blogging.  You can:

  • Write a free-form thought association blog
  • Try out your humor material on a tough audience
  • Write a mystery or sci-fi serial that will keep your readers coming back for more
  • Practice your review skills by critiquing books or websites, etc.
  • Invite your readers to join you in creating an interactive story
  • Create a choose-your-own-adventure blog, where your readers get to pick how they want your story to go

The possibilities for creative writing blogs are endless, and limited only by – - well – - your creativity.  If you would like to get started writing your own blog, we would like to help.  Sign up today for one of our online courses to guide you through the steps of creating and writing your very own blog.

Until next time,

Step Right Up…To A Blog Carnival!

August 06, 2008 By: TopsyTechie Category: blog carnival, blog marketing, blog writing, blogging, blogging community, learning to blog, New Bloggers, starting a blog No Comments →

The most asked question by new bloggers is always…”How can I drive traffic to my blog?”  We’ve talked about many traffic-building ideas in this blog, but today we are going to explore one we haven’t yet covered.

One of the easiest, most painless, and free ways to increase traffic to your blog is by participating in a blog carnival.  For those of you unfamiliar with blog carnivals, the best way to explain them is to compare them to well…a carnival.  Just as a carnival travels from town to town, blog carnivals travel from blog to blog.  And just as a carnival draws a crowd…so does a blog carnival!

A blog carnival begins with a host – - a blogger who is willing to oversee the carnival, choose the topic and date of publication,take submissions, promote the upcoming carnival, and ultimately gather the submissions and publish them in a single post.  The host, though, is reliant on submitters – - bloggers who are willing to follow the guidelines of the carnival and submit a blog post from their blog that corresponds with the carnival theme.  Finally, you have the readers – - folks who are interested in the carnival subject and enjoy coming to a one-stop-shopping destination where they can read posts related to that subject.

You can see that the possibilities for blog promotion are tremendous with a blog carnival.  The host benefits by having submitters become familiar with his or her site, by networking with like-minded bloggers, and by receiving lots of hits on his blog following the carnival posting.  But even carnival participants can see spikes in traffic after their post has been featured in the carnival.  A carnival is a chance to showcase your work, and without much effort, readers will be flocking to your site to see more of what you have to offer.  A blog carnival directly links to one of your posts, so readers who have never heard of you before will click on your link to see what you have to say about the topic they are interested in.

Blog carnivals can be on almost any subject.  If you would like to find a blog carnival that matches your interests, go to Blogcarnival.com, which is a directory of all ongoing carnivals.  Not only is it a great way to increase traffic for your blog, but it is also a terrific outlet for meeting people with similar interests.

If you would like to learn more specific ways to grow your blog, sign up for our eight-week online blogging course, where you will cover all aspects of blogging from building a blog to writing quality content to promoting your blog.  This instructor-led course will guide you every step of the way toward creating a successful blog.  So….step right up!

Until next time,