Lessons I Learned From Blogging Every Weekday For A Month

Hey readers! It’s been a while (compared to blogging every weekend)! I hope you are doing as well as can be given everything going on. As I’ve mentioned many times (here, here, and here), last month I participated in Mattie James’ Consistency Challenge for blogging. We had to blog every Mon-Fri and I talked about how hard it was on my last post. However, I did say that I learned a lot about blogging on that post as well and I figured I might as well share these things with my readers.

Before I tell you the lessons I learned, I want to l talk a little bit more about the challenge (just a little, I promise). The grand prize was $1,000 and while I didn’t win the money, I did have some other personal wins! My analytics improved across the board and it really helped me re-discover myself as a blogger. Here are some before and after of my analytics.

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Isn’t that wild? My monthly views went from 397 to 598. My visitors went from 234 to 397 (also kinda strange that number appears twice). My likes went from 9 all the way to 65 and my comments went from 4 a month to 17! Now, I would like to increase these numbers, but I also know where I fell short as well. I’m going to talk about that on the next part of the blog.

I know many of you are have started your own blogs or are interested in starting one. The rest of this post will have some lessons I learned along the way during my 4-week blogging challenge. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and improve your own blog as well!

Lesson #1: Writing a blog post every day is not sustainable (not for me, at least)

I love writing blogs. I actually enjoy writing blogs more than I enjoy writing most things these days. Even though they’re longer writing blogs is even easier than writing Instagram captions for me. All of that being said, writing a blog every day because I failed to plan a head was draining! This was especially true when I had a particularly busy week at work that was loaded with dense legal research. I definitely do not recommend trying to write a blog every day. I knew this already and even talked about “batch work” in a previous post, but this challenge really hammered in on that point for me. NEVER AGAIN!

Lesson #2: Promoting your blog posts is just as important as writing it!

This sound so obvious but there was a point towards the end of the challenge when I was barely finishing the posts at 11:50pm and promoting my posts on Instagram just fell to the wayside. What was the point? It was already midnight and by the next day I had a different post to write. I honestly slacked on my entire Instagram the entire month of July but that’s a whole different blog post for another day (actually no, but you get my point). I also realized that I should have been promoting on ALL of my social media platforms, not just Instagram. My blog posts actually started to get quite a few RTs on Twitter which really helped me reach a wider audience. I definitely want to start incorporating Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram when I promote my blog posts. More things I have to learn, yay!

Lesson #3: I learned what type of posts I enjoy writing

You probably raised your eyebrow when you read this but surprise surprise, prior to this challenge I had a rough idea about the type of content I thought I should make (it hasn’t really changed) but this challenge helped me realize which content is actually the easiest for me to write/which content I enjoy writing about the most. The content I had the easiest time writing was all related to helping other bloggers, law students, and wellness related topics (most of the time). Now that I know this, I can plan these posts super in advance and get as many of them written as possible when I’m feeling inspired or on a roll. It certainly doesn’t hurt to know what kind of content you enjoy writing for your blog.

Lesson #4: I also learned which content I struggle with writing (even though I enjoy it)

During the challenge, I decided to make each day a different theme and kept those post on those days just so I wouldn’t get too overwhelmed. Mondays were blogging/content creation, Tuesdays were law school posts, Wednesday were wellness posts, Thursday were fitness posts, and Friday were personal development posts. It never failed….every Thursday and Friday I struggled on deciding what freaking fitness and personal development topics I wanted to blog about. It was actually so annoying. However, now that I know that sometimes I struggle with this type of content, I can be sure to brainstorm for those specific posts way in advance so that I’m not stuck when it comes time to write about them. I just have to work harder if I want to keep writing about those topics, which is fine! I actually have some ideas already planned for the next few weeks. Win!

Blogging every week day was a little too much for me but I DO want to start blogging 3x a week. I feel that doing this will help me grow my audience and ultimately help me reach more people and thus help more people! While the challenge did kick my ass, I’m so glad I participated in it! I recommend any aspiring blogger try it and see what you learn about yourself and your blogging style at the end of 4 weeks. Try it!\

Did you enjoy this article? Share it with an aspiring blogger you know!

 

3 Tips For Figuring Out What Content To Create

Prior to the consistency challenge this month (and even during it), I have definitely been going through my own version of writer’s block…an overall creatives block. This often leads to not having much to blog about and having to figure that out and how the hell I was going to post for the rest of the month. I would like to say I somewhat figured it out and decided that I should share this process with all of you, especially my fellow bloggers!

Do a Brain Dump

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The first thing I do when I’m not sure what I want to create is to have a brain dump session. A brain dump session consists of me getting a blank piece of paper, setting a timer (usually for 5 mins or so), and just dumping all of my thought onto the page. The fact that I already know what the purpose for the brain dump is probably helps my mind focus on thinking about content, my assignment, or whatever it is I’m trying to garner creativity from. I feel that 5 mins in the perfect amount of time to force yourself to just get everything out and then figure out what to do with it later. After I brain dump, I sift through the words on the page and see if anything sounds like something I can expand on and usually I have at least 1 or 2 good ideas to run with.

Research What Other People in Your Niche are Creating

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I’m not saying that it’s entirely impossible to create never before thought of content or posts or whatever it is you need to create but let’s be real, many things have been talked about before and THAT IS OKAY. As a lifestyle blogger the topics aren’t necessarily what make me unique. What makes me unique is my perspective and experience with a topic. When I’m particularly stumped on what to create or write, I google “lifestyle blog ideas” or whatever topic I’m interested in writing about, whether that be “fitness blog posts”, “law school blog posts”, you get the idea. It’s okay to get inspo from other content creators. If the topic is entirely too specific, be sure to give that person credit and link back to their blog. The same goes for Instagram content as well. Creatives deserve credit, which I’ve made my thoughts on such known on my podcast as well (listen here).

Ask Your Audience What They Want to See

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Don’t get me wrong, this may not be the best approach depending on your audience and/or your relationship with them but it doesn’t hurt to try. I remember when I was not entirely new to blogging but also still figuring it out I used to come up with ideas and conduct polls on my Instagram stories to see what kind of content my audience wanted to see. After all, they are going to be the ones reading and/or engaging with it. You might as well see if they have any suggestions for topics they’d like your opinion or help with. Definitely don’t do this one too often or your audience will wonder why the hell are you a content creator if you can’t think of any content. I would say this is good to do once every few months or so. When done properly, it can be extremely help. The reason I even thought to write this blog was due to a suggestion from one of my mutuals on twitter. Thanks Della girl! These are some of the ways that I deal when I can’t for the life of me think of what kind of content I want to create. Usually if I do one or all of these 3 things, I can get out of my creative funk and figure out what it is I want to write about or create. Hopefully these tips can help you if you are having a similar block.

Did I forget a suggestion that has helped you? How do you deal with writer’s block or get out of creative funk? Let me know in the comments below!If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please share it on your social media or with a fellow creative!

Reflecting on the #MJConsistencyChallenge & My Favorite Posts So Far

The past two weeks I been committed to blogging every weekday as a part of Mattie James #ConsistencyChallenge and let me tell y’all, it has been a CHALLENGE indeed. I knew coming into this it was gOing to be difficult…but I don’t think I was even capable of imagining just how hard it would be. I will say that it is mostly my fault. I’ve been horrible at managing my time the past two weeks. I’ve even been struggling to keep up with work commitments as well and last week I didn’t even touch my planner (which is soooo unlike me). Despite how challenging it has been, I have also learned so much already and I’m excited for the next two weeks of the challenege. I’m still committed to finishing strong and finding a way to balance all of my other commitments as well. While I brainstorm more posts ideas, here are some of my favorites from the last two weeks.

UNCONVENTIONAL TIPS FOR THE LSAT (AND AFFIRMATIONS)

Excerpt: “During my 2-year gap between undergrad and law school, one thing I had really gotten into was the Law of Attraction and all of its subparts like visualization, positive thinking, and affirmations (which I have written about before). I knew that I truly could manifest anything that I wanted if I really believed it, released it, and did the work to make it happen without worrying about. It was the final week before the LSAT and I realized I hadn’t written any affirmations for the test. I had written affirmations for every other life event that I had going on prior to this so it didn’t make sense that I hadn’t made any for the LSAT. They really helped me and have helped other people that I’ve shared them with. I decided to write this blog post with the LSAT affirmations I created for those taking the upcoming July LSAT this Saturday. Read them below!”

(read full post here)

MY FAVORITE HEALTHY-ISH SNACKS

Excerpt: “One of my biggest struggles when losing weight has always been the fact that I love to snack. Snacking isn’t always the problem but snacking on junk food too often definitely doesn’t make for a successful health & fitness journey. One thing I noticed once I started law school back in 2018 was that I am definitely a stress eater. In the last few months I’ve been super stressed and thus my snack attacks have gotten worse. I recently started a new fitness program (which I will blog about more later) and I knew if I wanted to make sure that I didn’t waste my money and was successful, I needed to start eating as healthy as I have in the past. This fact combined with one of my sorority sisters who follows me on Instagram (shoutout to Vanessa!) asking me to blog about my favorite healthy snacks led to me writing this post.”

(read full post here)

A FEW WAYS TO DEAL WITH BEING OVERWHELMED

Excerpt: “I know, writing a to-do lists may sound counterproductive when you’re dealing with being overwhelmed but sometimes it helps me just to write everything down and see it in front of me. Sometimes feeling overwhelm is just a result of me feeling* like I have a lot to do in a short amount time but really I have more time than I realize to do it. Writing things down and and then prioritizing them allows me to feel more in control of how I spend my time, which helps me not feel as overwhelmed.”

(read full post here)

Which of my posts have you enjoyed this month? Have anything else you’d like to see me write about? Let me know in the comments!

Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

I started my blog back in 2016 after I graduated college. That was almost 4 years ago! Ever since I started blogging, many of my friends have come to me for advice about starting their own blog. I love this because it means they notice that I’m doing things and as a blogger, recognition is good. However, having to give advice over Snapchat or Instagram, or whatever message platform is hard and much more time consuming than I have time for so I decided to write this post so that I can send it to those who ask me for tips about blogging.

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  • Put aside a few consecutive hours a week to focus on blog related things. (Really focus!)

Honestly, if you can master this and make it a habit, the rest of these things will come pretty easily to you. My biggest struggle over the last year and half or so has been finding the time to just sit down and work on my blog for extended periods of time, without distractions. I read a post from Mattie James (mattiejames.com) that discusses the concept of batch work. Batch work is basically creating a bunch of content all at once. My effectiveness in this comes and goes but as of lately it’s been something I am aiming to make routine.

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  • Figure out your main topics/focus aka niche (Keep this list small)

When I first started blogging I wanted to talk about everything under the sun: health and fitness, pop culture, social justice issues, self-growth and development, mental health, anything and everything. It wasn’t until after I tried writing about all of these topics and realized that I was headed nowhere fast that I decide to dial back on the topics I was going to focus on for my blog. Now I focus on self-reflection, self-growth/self-development, and goal-setting with a sprinkle of health and fitness and travel thrown in every so often. Keeping your list of topics small is key to avoiding being overwhelmed as a blogger. Even the person who loves writing more than life CAN’T write about everything. I know that once I establish myself as a blogger with a brand, other opportunities to talk about my various interests will present themselves.

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  • Consistently creating content (and posting it) is the hardest thing to master.

It’s so funny because whenever people ask me what advice I have about blogging I tell them “don’t underestimate how hard it is to consistently write and create content.” Many of the time they tell me they’re not worried about that because they have so many things to write about that creating content won’t be hard for them. Fast forward a few weeks later and either 1. They haven’t started their blog because they’re busy or 2. They have started it but only post once in a blue moon (like myself, guilty as charged haha). The thing people don’t understand is that writing a blog post isn’t hard (per say) but what is hard is writing a blog post worth reading. There have been many times I have written a post, read it back, tried to edit it, and just realized it wasn’t even worth reading for me, much less to put out. Creating consistent and worthy content is hard. Don’t underestimate it.

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  • Friends =/= Supporters and that’s okay! (Don’t take it personal)

Just because you are friends with someone does not mean they are obligated to support your blog. I know. That sounds insane. Why wouldn’t your friends support you? They’re your friends! That’s what friends do for each other. I know that’s what we’re taught to believe but the fact of the matter is that friends =/= supporters and that doesn’t make them bad people. Maybe your niche is just not FOR THEM. When I first started blogging I was sad that all of my friends weren’t reading my blog (the clicks don’t lie!) but then I realized that doesn’t matter. I love all of my friends and our differences in interests and hobbies. That being said if one of my friends started a horseback riding podcast I can’t necessarily say I would be tuning in every week to hear about life at the stables. I probably would retweet all of their new episodes but that’s as far as that would go. That doesn’t make me a bad person. Some people won’t even retweet you, and that’s fine too. We are all inclined to support things that interest us. I know my content isn’t for everybody, I focus on writing for the people who it’s intended for.

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  • Reading other bloggers, watching blogging webinars, and whatever else is useless if you don’t apply the knowledge! (Seriously, don’t waste your time)

I tried to read every blog post and watch every webinar I could about blogging when I first started. There where countless Google searches for content about blogging from my phone and laptop. If it was free, it was for me! After reading and watching all of this stuff I can say I have maybe applied 1 or 2 things out of the 25 I’ve learned. That’s because I was more focused on indulging in information to try to imitate the greats instead of reading/learning some and then applying it, reading/learning something else and applying, and so on and so on. I’m sure I would have gotten way farther in a quicker time if I took it one step at time. This whole blogger life is a learning process though and Mara went through it so you don’t have to!

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  • This shit is not cheap/free (If you want to be next level)

Okay so I never knew that I was going to have to spend so much money JUST to make blog appear legit. Between having my own domain, needing a PO Box for my newsletter, paying for stock photos, and eventually attending blogging conventions, this blogging life gets REAL costly REAL quick! If blogging is just a hobby for you it’s not something you have to worry about but I eventually want to take my blog to another level as a source of income like many of the women I admire. If you have similar ambitions as me, it’s going to cost you before it pays you. Don’t get discouraged and make sure you can finance your dreams.

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  • Engagement is a major key.

Okay so something I’ve recently learned is blogging doesn’t stop at the blog posts. In order to have people actually give a damn about what you have to say, you have to engage with your social media followers. I know that is so obvious…how didn’t realize it before? I don’t know, honestly. Even after reading it from many people who blog it never clicked until recently.

This is just a little bit of what I wish I knew when I started blogging. Even with utilizing these tips there are still so many things left for bloggers to learn. The best thing is to do your research!

If you are fellow blogger or have a podcast/website, I wish you luck and success! It’s not an easy task to be successful on these e-streets.

Are you a blogger? What is one thing you wish you knew when you started blogging? Let me know in the comments! 

Why I’m Doing The #ConsistencyChallenge

Hello readers! I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t it Monday? Do my eyes deceive me? Why is Mara posting a new blog post?” Yes, it is Monday! HAPPY MONDAY. No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, this post is real. I’m posting on a Monday (straying from my typical Thursday posts) because THIS month I am taking part in Mattie James’ #ConsistencyChallenge. This last part may have added more confusion so let me tell you what I’m talking about.

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Back in May, Mattie James, one of the first influencer/bloggers I ever followed, hosted a #ConsistencyChallenge on Instagram. For that challenge we had to post on our Instagram feeds every day for the entirety of the month of May. We didn’t just do this to improve our analytics (which did happen) but we also had the chance of winning $1,000 prize. That was exciting but I was more interested in proving to myself that I could do it. When it comes to my various projects (Instagram, podcast, etc), I always struggled back and forth with consistency. Now I’ve learned how to plan out my feed and stay consistent on the gram.

Okay so you’re probably wondering “what does that have to do with you posting on your blog on a Monday?” Well, this month’s Mattie challenged us to post a new blog posts, EVERY DAY, Monday-Friday. I’m not even going to lie to y’all, I almost backed out. I’m still wondering how I’m going to create a new blog post for every weekday. However, similarly to the Instagram feed challenge, I need to prove to myself that I’m capable of doing this because I AM. It will also help me get better at blogging, something I’m always striving to do.

Here are the rules for the challenge, so you can all know what to expect from me.

During the challenge you must:

  • Blog once a day – Monday through Friday only
  • Monday, July 6 thru Friday, July 31 (20 days total!)
  • Posts should be at least 150 words long and include at least one photo/visual
  • Submit your favorite blog post you wrote of the week in the Facebook group every Friday am (there will be a dedicated thread for post submissions)

(Read Mattie’s entire blog post about the challenge here)

That’s what I’ve got going on this month. I’m super nervous but also excited to see what I accomplish. Wish me luck!

Leave a comment with a blog post you’d like to see from me this month. If it’s selected I’ll shout you out on the post.

3 Tips for Getting Out of a Creative Funk

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I can’t remember the last time I left my house or what but the last few weeks I have been struggling with deciding what content to put out on both my blog and my Instagram. My podcast has been a tad bit easier just because I usually do interviews and for my solo episodes, I always have something that’s easier to talk about than to write about for a blog or put in an Instagram caption. Whatever the case may be, I have definitely been going through my own version of writer’s block…taken a step further and an overall creatives block. As I mentioned on the most recent episode of my podcast (listen here), I started Mattie James’ #ConsistencyChallenge for my Instagram feed. Long story short the challenge consists of posting a picture on your Instagram feed every day, preferably ones that represent your brand and such. I have actually enjoyed it and will probably write more about it at some point in the future. However, after a few perfectly planned pictures and captions, I started to draw a blank. That carried over into my blog and finals season being in full effect didn’t help me. This led to me not having much to blog about and having to figure that out and how the hell I was going to post for the rest of the month. I would like to say I somewhat figured it out and decided that I should share this process with all of you.

Do a Brain Dump

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The first thing I do when I’m not sure what I want to create is to have a brain dump session. A brain dump session consists of me getting a blank piece of paper, setting a timer (usually for 5 mins or so), and just dumping all of my thought onto the page. The fact that I already know what the purpose for the brain dump is probably helps my mind focus on thinking about content, my assignment, or whatever it is I’m trying to garner creativity from. I feel that 5 mins in the perfect amount of time to force yourself to just get everything out and then figure out what to do with it later. After I brain dump, I sift through the words on the page and see if anything sounds like something I can expand on and usually I have at least 1 or 2 good ideas to run with.

Research What Other People in Your Niche are Creating

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I’m not saying that it’s entirely impossible to create never before thought of content or posts or whatever it is you need to create but let’s be real, many things have been talked about before and THAT IS OKAY. As a lifestyle blogger the topics aren’t necessarily what make me unique. What makes me unique is my perspective and experience with a topic. When I’m particularly stumped on what to create or write, I google “lifestyle blog ideas” or whatever topic I’m interested in writing about, whether that be “fitness blog posts”, “law school blog posts”, you get the idea. It’s okay to get inspo from other content creators. If the topic is entirely too specific, be sure to give that person credit and link back to their blog. The same goes for Instagram content as well. Creatives deserve credit, which I’ve made my thoughts on such known on my podcast as well (listen here).

Ask Your Audience What They Want to See

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Don’t get me wrong, this may not be the best approach depending on your audience and/or your relationship with them but it doesn’t hurt to try. I remember when I was not entirely new to blogging but also still figuring it out I used to come up with ideas and conduct polls on my Instagram stories to see what kind of content my audience wanted to see. After all, they are going to be the ones reading and/or engaging with it. You might as well see if they have any suggestions for topics they’d like your opinion or help with. Definitely don’t do this one too often or your audience will wonder why the hell are you a content creator if you can’t think of any content. I would say this is good to do once every few months or so. When done properly, it can be extremely help. The reason I even thought to write this blog was due to a suggestion from one of my mutuals on twitter. Thanks Della girl!

These are some of the ways that I deal when I can’t for the life of me think of what kind of content I want to create. Usually if I do one or all of these 3 things, I can get out of my creative funk and figure out what it is I want to write about or create. Hopefully these tips can help you if you are having a similar block.

Did I forget a suggestion that has helped you? How do you deal with writer’s block or get out of creative funk? Let me know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please share it on your social media or with a fellow creative!

Why I Started Blogging

The last few weeks I have been struggling with thinking of  posts to write that aren’t related to law school. Law school has just become a major part of my life so it makes sense but I do want to get back to the primary reason I started my blog. Two factors I consider before I write a post are 1. Do I care enough about this to write about it at length and 2. Will this post help my readers in some shape or form? As a reflected on these recently, I decided that it may be important to revisit why I started my blog in the first place and sharing that with my readers would benefit you all and me.

When I first wanted to start this blog, I was really in love with the name “Motivated/Motivating Millennial.” Unfortunately for me, that name had already been taken by someone else. I went with “The Musings of Mara” instead. Regardless of what name I chose, the intent behind my blog has always been to motivate millennials (and now generation Z as we figure out what twenty-somethings fall into that category).
At the time nearing my college graduation (and even now), the word “millennial” was used in a condescending and negative way. People talk about millennials as if we are lazy, entitled, and unwilling to work hard. My blog started with the idea of showcasing that NO, we’re not any of these things. I and other millennials are some of the hardest working people I know.

As I moved away from the “motivated” adjective and more towards the “Motivating” adjective, my goal then became to motivate other millennials to live their best lives. To toot my own horn, I have accomplished many education related things in my life and wanted to help other college-aged people do the same. However, as I finally settled on the name “The Musings of Mara”, my goals shifted once again.

My current tagline of my blog is “creating a life I love through honest self-reflection & introspection and inspiring others to do the same.” I do not only want to help people live their best lives through education and work (which should only make up a small part of our lives) but also through sitting with oneself, reflecting, and achieving a balanced life and great overall wellness. The purpose of my blog is to encourage twentysomethings to strive for balance in their lives by not neglecting their well-being (emotional, mental, spiritual or whatever else) in the pursuit of their goals. As I had to learn the hard way in undergrad, being “successful” doesn’t mean shit if you are fighting off panic attacks daily and are facing an internal battle with your low sense of self-worth and lack of self-love. I went through it so you don’t have to.

If I can continue to help my readers achieve a balanced life full of joy and self-awareness, my blog will serve its purpose. If you’re reading this, I hope I’ve helped you at some point in my blogger life!

Do you have a topic you would like to see me blog about that would help you live your best life? Leave a comment below with a topic suggestion!