Before I started blogging four years ago, I was great at computer-based programs such as Word, Pages, Excel, Access. Internet programs such as Evernote for taking notes online no longer mystified me. I used Dropbox and shared files. Pridefully, I thought I was pretty digitally savvy. I probably figured I could blaze through Blogging 101 into blogging stardom, but I had a rude awakening when I stared at my new WordPress dashboard. Feeling young and much like a new puppy before its eyes open, blogging challenged me and did not let me stagnate after I retired.

MacBook Pro2

Getting Help From Home

Working at a county office of education spoiled me because I had tech support on site. As soon as I retired, that immediate access to help stopped. I had to learn to do what they did. Find my own answers. Search engines, my favorite is Google, continue to help me do almost every task from cleaning the deposits off my acrylic shower to how to edit a video. Now I am not shy about contacting authors of websites, videos and other self-help products. My biggest help, has been the friends I’ve met on WordPress whose work and personalities I got to know before I asked questions. Or their work may have prompted me to try push my boundaries and try new things.

Vocabulary

Vocabulary was, and remains, to be the most perplexing and confounding problem. Blogging vocabulary words are sometimes familiar English with new meaning applied to them, and I did not have a clue what they meant. That was frustrating when I was in the midst of doing something new, following instructions and could not understand half the words in the very first sentence or video clip. I could have saved myself hours of frustration by bookmarking sites and videos to help me.

Here are a couple of sites that might have helped me. Each of them has references to other sites.

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Photography and Photo Processing

I started with no processing skills, and amateur photography skills. One of my friends, Leanne Cole from Australia impressed me, not just with her photography, but her blogging skills. We have had a few video chats, and one lesson. I just purchased her newest publication, a magazine called Dynamic Range. In photography, dynamic range is the difference between the lightest light and darkest dark which can be seen in a photo. Once your subject exceeds the camera’s dynamic range, the highlights wash out to white, or the darks become black blobs. Blogs need some kind of visual material. I could steal from the web, subscribe to many services, or develop another hobby. I chose the latter. 

Writing Techniques

An elementary school teacher, not high school or college English professor, nonetheless, again, I thought I knew more about writing both fiction and nonfiction than I did when I started blogging. Once my eyes opened, I read books, read blogs, copied and practiced styles, improved my grammar, and became a little more of a perfectionist. I still make a lot of mistakes, and have a long way to go, but I’ve improved. You will learn more about that later in the book, too.

Technology

A computer geek since the 1980s, I always pushed buttons when it came to technology, usually meaning the patience of my techy husband and our technology support staff at work. Every platform’s dashboard, the screen that shows your blog’s creative center, is a new challenge. WordPress is similar to Blogger, Weebly and other platforms, but not the same. Even different themes within WordPress are developed by different web designers and have different dashboards. I learned what all teachers sometimes take for granted with their students. Learning is not all transferable between similar skills.  For example just because my student knows his two multiplication tables does not mean that learning the seven table will be easy.

My Areas of Interest and Expertise

Whenever and whatever I write about causes me to increase my knowledge. Many times I have had to look in books or go to the internet to check my facts whether I write about quilting, food, history, movies or books. Whatever I share with others, I do not know enough to sit down and write without facts around me. The result is that I become more of an expert in my own content area, and as I become that expert, people start to call me or ask me to speak. The result, of course, is that I learn even more.

Social Media

Blogging pushed and continues to push me to try new products, new technologies. Vivian Kirkfield started fiddling around with landing pages and static pages three years before I even knew what one was. I’m still learning about landing pages, as you’ll learn in later chapters. Blogging and marketing go hand in hand, even when you don’t have a thing to sell, which I did not when I started. Blogging enhanced what I already did with social media, and took me to a new level, building my credibility in my real world as well as my virtual one. No one takes out their wallet and buys a packet of credibility, but that’s a post for a different chapter.

1931X Woodlake wag-in train

Hang on, if you decide to blog, you board a train headed for unknown territory, even if you think you are the content expert in your field. Learn how you can stay vibrant and develop new skills whatever your occupation, age, or financial status. Start a blog.

Summary

  1. Blogging opens doors of opportunities I can not foresee.
  2. Blogging develops skills in technology, writing and photography.
  3. Blogging develops marketing and communication skills.
  4. Blogging refines and expands my expertise in my areas of specialty.