Thanks to BucksHappening.com for nominating my blog!

Thanks so much to those who nominated me as a blogger for the “Happening List” on BucksHappening.com. I feel all sorts of special. If only you guys realized I’m not so happening at all (unless watching Big Bang Theory marathons with my fiance and eating way too many Winter Oreos is “happening”).

I am completely flattered and would love for my readers (ahem, my mom and Pete’s mom) to vote for me here if you want to spread the love. The top 5 winners of each category (in my case, “people”) will be announced here on Monday, March 12th. The winners will remain listed on the site for a year and given the opportunity to add info about their business. Plus, the winners will also receive an official 2012 Happening List award from Bucks Happening, which sounds mysterious enough to make me want to pimp myself shamelessly.

So, without further ado…

Thanks again to Angela and Tina at Bucks Happening for the love…you guys are fantabulous (and I’m not just saying that to get your votes!).

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On Blogging: Staying Motivated

As a freelance writer, I sometimes draft several blog posts a day for ghostwriting work I do on the side. This includes writing the content in addition to finding photos, resizing them, properly crediting the photographer—the usual. That being said, it can sometimes be difficult to motivate myself to write new content for my personal and professional blogs. I try to update youwannatalkjive at least two or three times a week, but I would like to begin a more consistent schedule of one post per day from Monday through Friday. Readers like consistency, so if you have five posts one week and one the next, it confuses people and makes them lose interest. If you stick with one post per day during the week, you will definitely see a boost in site traffic.

If for some reason you don’t have Google Analytics set up, be sure to sign up for the free feature, stat! The traffic sources overview is my favorite tool, where I can see what words people are searching for to stumble upon my blog. Here are a few gems from this month: “Freddy Krueger basement images,”  “How can I locate Betty White,” “I am not very coordinated can I do jazzercise?” and “killer space bunny.”

For the most part, I use all of my own original photography on my personal blog, which can be incredibly time consuming when it comes to taking and editing photos, inserting them into my template and posting them. It may not sound like much, but when you are trying to publish daily content, it can be a bit challenging to come up with ideas for new posts.

Blogging should be fun and something you do to document your daily happenings to share with your friends and family. And don’t even think of telling me you are too boring to have a blog! Everyone has something interesting to say, even if it’s total jive talk, so don’t be shy!

Here are my tips for making blogging less like another errand you have to cross off your never ending to-do list.

• Figure out what you want your blog to say. Try to come up with a tag line which sums up your blog’s theme in a few words. For example, mine is “love, life and modern pethood.” Once you know what you want your blog to encompass and who you want your audience to be, it’s a lot easier to write specific content. Find your focus, find your audience and let your personality shine through your writing.

• Make your blog a breath of fresh air. You’d be surprised by how much a beautifully designed website makes a difference. Thankfully I have a talented boyfriend who offered his skills to Shannon-ify my blog and I couldn’t be happier with the quirky, hand-drawn appearance. Since the site redesign, I have been posting a lot more, so don’t be surprised by a boost in motivation if your site gets a new look.

• Try to schedule posts ahead of time if you are like me and need to be “in the mood” to blog. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing anything at all and I’d rather work on an illustration or edit wedding photos. So, I like to take advantage of my “inspired” moments and draft a week’s worth of posts all at once. It really makes blogging feel less like a hassle when you are doing it when you want to and not because you feel like you have to.

• Do things in batches. I try to take a week’s worth of blog photos in one day so I can have the bulk of the image content out of the way before writing my posts. It really takes the weight off of me when I feel totally brain dead at the end of the week and can’t muster up the energy to whip out my camera. When taking home renovation photos, I edit them in Lightroom, where I can immediately publish them to my Flickr account. Once they are added to my “Homeowners!” set, I select the images I want to use and add them to my Photoshop template.

• When you’re taking photos, try to consider how you want to arrange them in your post. With my blog’s photo template, I like to pair two vertical shots together to highlight close-up views of certain spaces (ie: a far away shot of our oven on the left, with a close-up photo of a tea kettle on the right). Nothing annoys me more than when I have one odd, vertical photo of Betty White but nothing I can pair it with in my template, so I end up not using it at all. Now when I shoot photos for a post, I make sure each vertical image has a friend I can pair it with to convey whatever I plan on writing about.

• Consider creating weekly columns. A lot of my favorite blogs dedicate specific themes to different days. For example, I have a “Font Wednesday” for my ghostwriting gig, where I highlight inspiring font finds for design lovers. For my personal blog, I try to schedule posts in terms of different subject matter I want to explore, such as cooking, home renovating, decor inspiration, pets and art. At the end of the week if I can’t think of anything to write about, I’ll browse my Google Reader for topic inspiration. If I’m feeling especially lazy, I’ll allow myself to churn out an image-heavy post, to let the photos do the talking. Be warned though, sometimes image-heavy posts end up being more work than writing a mini novel because of the time that goes into editing/resizing images.

• For those of you who have a lot of blogging friends, invite them to write a guest post on a topic of their choice! It’s a win-win because you’ll be promoting your friend’s blog while they do all of the tough work!

• If it’s a lack of comments which are leaving you feeling uninspired, promote your posts on Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else your heart desires! You’ll be surprised at the amount of traffic simple social networking will deliver. Interact with fellow bloggers by commenting on their posts or Tweeting to bloggers you admire. When you have more readers or subscribers, you’ll end up with more comments and traffic, which always makes for a happier blogger. There’s nothing better than waking up to an inbox full of kind words from you lovely commenters out there. You make the world go round (that’s not to say I don’t love lurkers as well).

When it comes to blogging, it doesn’t have to be a chore. You can either enjoy it or dread it. Like I shared with you recently, there was a time when cooking dinner was a bore to me and I would have rather eaten a sleeve of Oreos, but nowadays I look forward to making meals with my main squeeze. Writing a blog post can be a lot like cooking—it can definitely be something you get excited about if you approach it with the right attitude…or you can end up eating an entire block of cheddar cheese for dinner (been there, done that). As a currently unemployed lass, I feel a real sense of accomplishment after publishing a post, which is definitely rewarding.

I hope these tips and tricks helped anyone who might be feeling unmotivated as of late. I assure you, if you’ve commented here, I’ve added your blog to my Google Reader and check it for new content every night!