Writing Wednesdays: How to Make a Blog your Livelihood

11 08 2010

This is a journey we are embarking on together.  While my blog is not, currently, my financial livelihood, I certainly intend it to be that some day soon.  Because, I need an income and I really don’t want to work away from home, and writing is my passion.  It seems that blogging is the best way to go about starting a writing career as it is cheap, easy, accessible and lots of people read blogs.

(credit for this image from this site: http://www.scottscales.com/ which is an MLM site, but, I like the picture)

So, I have been researching how to actually do this, because I am a firm believer in NOT reinventing the wheel, though I am also stubborn enough to actually try to every time.

However, it is much easier not to get the urge to reinvent the wheel when I know absolutely nothing about how to go about doing something, like say, making a living from blogging.

Luckily, there are people out there, like Leo Babauta, from Zen Habits, who actually do.  Better yet, they are willing to share their experience with others!  Isn’t that nice? I think it is, very nice indeed.

The reason why I’ve picked up on researching what Mr Babauta is doing is because his blog reached Time magazine’s top 25 blog list, with over 150K subscribers, and, he seems to be quite open about actually informing others what he perceives as keys to his success.

So, without further ado, this is what I have learned, thus far, about how to make a living blogging:

1. Write for your readers.  Make good quality posts that interests the people that you want to read your blog.

If you’re the kind of person who writes about music, then make your blog geared towards musicians.  For me, however, this is an interesting point.  I’m writing about my life.  Who is interested in my life, other than my family and friends?  How do I attract more people to be interested in my life?

Which brings me to the next point

2. Create a “brand”.

Not like, say, Coca-cola, but something that people come to know as “you”.  If you are writing about lawn ornaments, then you are the “lawn ornament person” and you need to establish yourself as such, not just within the lawn ornament community, but also the gardening, home-making and decorating communities as well.  To the point where if someone wants information about lawn ornaments on the web, they come to your blog, because it’s so darn informative and is consistent with what the readership believes they are coming to read about.

3. Read other people’s blogs and comment on them, linking back to your own site.

I like doing this, but sometimes fear getting lost in the blogosphere, because there are just so many amazing and interesting people in the world.

4. Try to engage with other bloggers in your “field”.

I put “field” in quotations, because I don’t really like looking at it that way.  I prefer the word community, but field is the word that is generally used.  So, if your “field” is personal development, then try to engage some well-known personal development bloggers who might think you’re neat-o and link to one of your posts.

5. Be kind and open to your readers.

This, for me, is a no brainer.  Even if/when people start saying mean things, they are still your readers and have at least taken the time to read your post.  Always reply with your voice in mind.  If you are writing a meditation blog, don’t tell someone off if they don’t like what you say.  It discredits your “brand”.

This is what I have learned so far.  There are other things, like design, ways to make your blogs more readable and all that jazz.  All of it can be found through this handy site that Leo Babauto and Mary Jaksch, called: A-list Blogging Bootcamp.  Most of it is free, and then there is some pay-for-membership stuff, that is community oriented.  I haven’t even got through the non-pay stuff yet, so haven’t signed up yet.  I encourage all of you to check it out, if you’re wanting to write a blog that makes you an income.

And, in light of all that, I am doing some serious soul-searching about what structure, focus, lay-out and image I want to have for this site.  I want it to be authentic and I also want it to be my financial sustenance. I hope to keep it personal enough that family and friends still want to come by, but informative and interesting enough that new people will want to stop for a visit too.

You can help with that by sharing this via Facebook, or Twitter.

Thank you for reading!


And now back to our scheduled program

1 06 2010

The last month has been pretty full on:  a new home, a separation, applying for jobs, starting businesses and seeing lots of family.  So, after a month of sketchy postings, I will be resuming my normal schedule of everyday, or at least, most days.  YAY!

Something I did over the last month, which was really a surprise to me, was apply for a “Job”.  Yup, a real job, with a boss and a pay cheque and clients and all that jazz.  For those of you who don’t know, I haven’t worked for the last 5ish years and haven’t worked for someone else for about the last eight.

When I realized that I was going to be financially independent, I decided that I would start a massage business, as that is something that I am good at and could start up easily and cheaply.  And I have.  I am open for business now, three days a week (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and would LOVE to rub you, if you are in the Guelph area.

But that’s beside the point of this post, which is the Job.  I had thought that I would be self-employed again, that I would always be self-employed from here on in.  I never thought I would be writing a resume, cover letter, digging up letters of reference or any number of other things involved in applying for a Job.

I thought: I have no interest in working for other people.  I want to be with my daughter as much as possible and live a simple life, sewing and rubbing people.

Then I met a fellow who reminded me that sometimes, jobs aren’t working “for” someone, they are working “with” someone.  He introduced me to the concept of people paying money for things like networking, community building, collaborating and other things that I just do naturally.  He told me there was a job opening up like this in Guelph.

Now, at first, I made up excuses as to why I couldn’t apply for this job:  it’s not “exactly” what I want to be doing, maybe the organization isn’t organized enough, maybe I would have to put little A in daycare, maybe I would have to dress in clean business clothes (something which seems impossible for me at this point, as “clean” clothes are often ones that are less covered in toddler goop than other), I don’t have enough time to get a resume together… blah blah blah.  The mind can certainly be creative and convincing.

Luckily, the Universe is equally so, and communicated to me, quite loudly, that applying for this job is really a great thing.

So, I did.  In the process, I realized that the last five years have been incredibly productive.  I have done a lot of volunteering, learned a lot mothering and gained some pretty wonderful professional skills.  It was a very empowering process for me to write a resume and translate all my mothering experience into “saleable experience”.

Now, as well, I have a resume, so should other community building jobs come available, I can apply easily for them.  It seems like the Universe is conspiring with me too, as I’ve had two more job possibilities put before me since applying for the other job, both in community building/organizing.  Which would be amazing!

My perspective on work has drastically shifted and my confidence has been boosted.  It’s a wonder to me that applying for a job did all this, but it has.  I feel like Life can surprise all the time and just when you think you know what’s up, it shifts and you learn more than you thought possible.

Whether I get the job or not, I am still going to massage people and work on sewing neat things.  I would love to get the job, and at the same time, am OK with not getting it.  I feel the job that is right for me, I am now open to receiving, and will be able to receive it when it comes.

It’s really a wonderful feeling.

the “problem” with infinite possibilities

16 05 2010

Could there really be a problem living in a world of infinite possibilities? Anything is possible.  How could that possibly be an issue?

My “problem” with infinite possibilities is that there are just too many possibilities to choose from.  How’s that for a post-modern conundrum?  LOL!

It seems that I have so many things I like doing.  I have skills in many things (as I was, wonderfully, raised to believe that I could do anything) and have interest in many things.  There are so many places I love, people I cherish and things to explore.  How do I choose?

All of this comes up for me because in the last two days, two possibilities have come to the forefront and I am wondering whether to choose either of them.  One is a job/career path, the other is a long-term living situation.

Both are things that I want.  Both are things that I am super interested in.  Both involve skills that I currently have.

Both also involve a COMPLETELY different direction than I have thinking I would take and both have me questioning whether I would be able to nurture other important aspects of my life simultaneously.

So, I get to the conundrum of infinite possibility: choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I think choice is one the most wonderful things we are gifted in this existence.  But, I am no longer just choosing for myself.  Anything I choose, now, involves not just me, but my child, and, by association, my child’s father.

I want to make decisions that give little A the best I have to offer.  I want to give her an amazing life, in the ways that I feel I can offer that to her.

Sometimes, I wish the Universe would be more blunt about things, like a big, flashing neon sign saying: “YO! Meme! this is the choice that is for the highest good of all!”  But then, life just wouldn’t be so interesting.

the Heart of Business?

11 05 2010

I recently found this site: the Heart Of Business.  I perused it and, at first, found it to be just another new-agey, give me money for an ebook kinda scam.  However, some of the stuff I read immediately caught my heart.  So, I signed up for the e-newsletter, read the blog, read a bunch of articles and downloaded some of his free information.

And, I must say, it has really been eye-opening.  I no longer think that he’s just a new agey flake trying to sell me the same knowledge that should be free anyways, that everyone else is selling (namely, the whole “law of attraction” stuffs).

I’m going into business now.  I have officially moved, officially have to pay rent, and officially have to support myself financially.  The blatant evidence-based reality of it all is a little overwhelming.  I must have an income.

This is something that I have not done in quite a number of years.

I have been going about my days not really paying too much attention to money, choosing the don’t-think-about-it-and-it-won’t-stress-you-out approach, which is fine, as I have not been stressing out about it.  However, I have also not had an income.  So, it was mostly not stressing out about spending Chris’ money, which was also quite easy.

Now, I have to think about it, because I’m the one making the money (or going to be making the money).  I have to look money in the eye and say “hey, let’s get along and spend lots of time together.” which is something that definitely has made me quite uncomfortable in the past.

There was always the idea of not having enough.  Or needing more.  Or going without because I was worried that when the time came to pay rent or hydro or whatever, there wouldn’t be enough.

There was always the idea of poverty, having not grown up with much money, poverty was something that has been conditioned into me.  Though I am very grateful to have been raised simply, due to lack of money to do otherwise, I also got into the idea that I couldn’t have money.

There’s the idea that having money is somehow dirty or oppressive.  I thought that having money somehow made me an evil, corporate whore of sorts.

There’s the idea that wanting to have money is somehow greedy, materialistic, egotistical or selfish.  That having money would mean that I was not living up to my spiritual ideals.

There’s the idea that I should still be able to get everything I need without money, which I proved by living without money for a couple of years.  (This line of thinking has since been disbanded as I am not really able/willing to squat with a small child, dumpster with a small child or go to drop-ins with a small child.)

All of these things have kept me from having money.

However, in the last year or so, I’ve been coming closer and closer to an understanding with money.

I now know why I want money.  Which seems obvious, but really wasn’t to me.  I have defined it now: I want money to support farmers and artists and to give myself a healthy, safe and loving space to live in.  That’s it.  With that in mind, I am better able to choose my purchases, to feel comfortable using my money on art, and to take care of myself.  Great!

However, I didn’t really know about how to get money, without feeling somehow dirty, or like I was taking something from someone that they would need for other things, besides what I have to offer.

Hanging out on the Heart of Business website has given me a lot of good perspective as to how to do it.

The answer: connect with my Heart.

I love this site, because it is all about how you can connect to your heart in all your money/business decisions.  It’s about being present with where you are at, in terms of ability to offer service. It is about remembering that the Heart connection to the Divine comes before any money, and all money decisions need to be made in service to the Divine, in total Love.

It reminds me that it is important for people doing heart-centered work to succeed financially so that the face of our business world shifts to something more heart-centered.  We need people centered in Love and Kindness to be running businesses, and being really successful at it, so that the money movers and shakers have Love in mind, instead of greed.

So, with this in mind, I come to today.  Today, like tomorrow and all the days following it, is a day that I must focus on my business, starting it up, organizing marketing, income goals, supplies etc. So, today, I created a budget, presented it to a funder (aka, a close friend of mine) and organized as many supplies as I could.

And then, with total knowledge that this was exactly what I needed to be doing to make money, I sewed all afternoon.  I sewed a receiving blanket for a new baby and a skirt for a good friend of mine in BC.  I realized that, ultimately, I want to be sewing more than anything else (well, maybe embroidering too!), right now.  That this is the way I want to be in service to the Earth (by using scrap/recycled materials) and to people (by offering creative and lovely costume).  So, I need to practice.  A lot!

I feel good about what I am doing.  I feel good about starting a business.  I feel, for the first time, like I could actually make enough  money while still maintaining a healthy relationship with money.

So, thanks to Mark, who runs the Heart of Business site.  And thanks to whatever random link-through got me to the site.

being present, abundance and chillin the F out

27 04 2010

So, a hilarious thing happened about yesterday’s post.  I wrote a big, long rant about how I was angry about a lot of things in my life and how hard it was to make it as a single mother staying home with her child.  ON and ON and ON. Grumbles and anger and scarcity mentality. A real outpour.

And then I posted it on facebook.  And no one could follow the link.  Only I could. Hilarious!  It seemed obvious to me that the message was that I needed to get that out of me, but no one else needed to bear witness to it, give it any power or comment on it.  So, this morning, I deleted it completely.

Last night, after feeling completely overwhelmed, stressed and down all day, I went to a beautiful Yin Yoga class.  The teacher last night was not one to push through yin postures, but took a very gentle, easy approach to it all.  Which was exactly what I needed.

I spent the first half of the class gliding through the postures and then she said “now, just be present with the sensations in your body, with what your body is communicating to you.”  And BOOM! I was present.  And my body had a lot to say.  And I listened.  It was tired of holding stress because of an overactive mind.  It was tired of being ignored because of all the stressed out thoughts running around in my head.  It needed for me to be present with it, in order to make life not completely overwhelming.

So, I was.  Being present in Life is such a gift.  It is so important to just be with all the things that we encounter.  If I feel overwhelmed, then I can help myself move through it by actually being present with how it feels to be overwhelmed.  When I am present with my emotions and mind states, I find it easier to pass through them and come back to a state of Peace.

One of the things that I have been stressing out about is money.  I am becoming financially independent again, for the first time in about 2 years.  I will be going back to work for the first time in about 5 years.  I was worrying about rent, and phone and hydro and food and all of these other things that I feel I really need.

And then I remembered: Abundance is about having what you need when you need it.  It is not about having huge amounts of money, nor about having all sorts of things that I don’t need.  True abundance is having exactly what I need, when I need it.

(this photo is copyright to Monica Erosa.  Thank you so much!!)

Remembering that helped me to come back into abundance mentality.  I do have what I need when I need it.  And so, of course, everything followed.  I found a free pay-as-you-go cellphone from freecycle.  I accepted the help that had been offered in packing.  I got an offer from someone I just met last week to help on moving day.  I had an errand run for me.  I found that my left-overs, which I thought would barely be one meal for us, will be a delicious lunch for little A and I tomorrow.


The thing about abundance mentality, versus scarcity mentality is trust.  Trusting that, even though you don’t have something RIGHT NOW, that you will have it exactly when you need it.  And, it’s also about being able to receive it when it comes, in the form that it comes in.

For example, I was really into the idea of having a landline phone.  So, I checked into it.  $55 activation fee, $15/month extra “fees” on a $20/month bill.  My mind was spinning “how will I afford this?” I really need a phone so I can start my business.  So, I checked into pay-as-you-go.  $50 activation fee, which is the minutes that you start with.  Then, you pay what you need, from then on.  Not a landline, but definitely an affordable phone.

Thank you!

So, now, instead of being that ranting and angry girl from yesterday, I’m chillin the F out.  I’m relaxing into being present in this exact moment, whatever discomfort that may bring, so that I can move past it, back to my natural state of Joy.  I’m trusting that I will have all I need, when I need it and that I will be open to receiving it when it comes.

It’s a much nicer state to be in.

Hopefully, this post will be able to be seen by the world.  If not, I won’t delete it, because I feel that it resonates with the true state of my Being: Joy, Peace and Trust.


The Story of a Sewing Machine

22 03 2010

For the past several weeks I have been really wanting to get back into sewing my own costumes.

Before I birthed, I created wonderful garments.  Eccentric creations of all sorts, mostly sewn by hand (as it is rather tricky to backpack with a sewing machine and backpacking is what I was doing before I birthed).  I transformed boring value village scores into creative, adorned garments fit for the Goddess herself.  This is a picture of me in one of my favourite maternity outfits, my womb dress.

Then, I had a baby.  I was lucky, until about 6 months ago, if I washed my hair once a week.  If my clothes had easy access to my breasts and were comfortable, they were approved as part of my wardrobe.  Most of my clothes came from my mother, who handed me down some wonderful garments, which were more suited to the middle-aged woman that she is, than the spunky 20-something I am.  But, I accepted them with gratitude and grace, because honestly, I had NO time to think, much less care, about how I looked.

But now my daughter is weaned, and sleeping through the night (!!!!!) most nights and I have a little more time and space to think about how I look.  And I don’t want to dress like a middle-aged woman anymore.

However, I do not have the time to be sewing by hand anymore.  There was a day in the winter where I tried that, and quickly stopped as little A spread the contents of my sewing basket around the living room and unraveled most of my thread.

I knew it was time for a sewing machine.  This thought somewhat daunted me, as I have had strenuous relations with sewing machines in the past.  However, my dear friend E, a wonderful seamstress, assured me that if I got a new machine, it would be easy as can be.

So, today, I ventured forth into the world, with the lovely lady E and little A, and bought a new (actually, factory refurbished..) sewing machine.

The journey started with arriving at Len’s Mills Factory Outlet, a discount fabric store.  Now, I have never been to this store before, though I’ve wanted to for a while.  It is a BIG box store, full of fabric, notions, yarn, clothing and a random assortment of other strange things that you find in discount factory outlet stores.

This is one aisle (where E and little A are hanging out):

One thing that you need to know about me is that I am NOT a consumer.  I am overwhelmed by the thought of shopping in big stores and most of my things I make myself, freecycle, or find at thrift stores.  This picture is half of one of hundreds of aisles, exploding with THINGS.  New things.  Places like this get me thinking in terms of resource use/depletion, social inequity (what were those workers paid who made all these things in China?) and general dismay with the overconsuming gluttony of our society. Little A is screaming “more orange mama” and “Me love yarn mama” and laughing hysterically.  When I ask her if she’s feeling a little overwhelmed too she shrieks “YA!”

Unlike her glorying in the feeling, I feel more like this:

E, seeing my expression quickly offered an out. “We can leave if you need to.”  She said.

But, I am on a mission to find a sewing machine, so, I centre myself, breathe and accept this too, as part of Divine reality.  Look at all these amazing things that we as humans have created!  We are such inventive and creative beings, that we can come up with all of this to exist in our worlds.  And, I feel that at least this isn’t in the garbage and has ended up at an discount factory outlet store.

We find the sewing machine, a simple Brother brand, factory reburbished for the low price of $119.99.  (ouch!)

I have come to learn in my travels through this life that money doesn’t have to limit us, if we don’t let it.  The key is, not letting it, which is most of our default setting. I have no job (yet!), no source of income (yet!) other than the pittance that the government gives to women who have borne children.  Though I am grateful to our government, it’s hardly compensation for mother’s work.  Yet, I believe that sewing will be the start of something abundant, something I can acquire more resources with.  It is an investment, not only in my creative expression, but in my financial abundance.

Somewhere along the way, we have lost little A’s stuffed platypus

which she carries around inside her jacket.  At this point we have been on the bus, walked through a thrift store, ran to the Len’s Mills store and have been inside for about 15 minutes.  It had fallen out but little A kept a pretty good cool about things.  “It’s OK mama,” she says “me get new one with daddy.”   I’m glad that kids (and specifically mine) can be so resilient and accommodating at times when a freak out just can’t be handled.

We eventually find our way to the cash, after E has bought some amazing purple and blue veil material for a tutu (which I am going to beg to borrow when it is finished!) and take a final look around for platypus before eventually piling in a cab.  I didn’t bring my rickety cart because I overestimated the size of sewing machines.  Next time (though I hope that’s not for a long time, unless it’s a present for a friend) I will take my cart.

Here she is (in her current resting place, my kitchen table… working on that one!):

It took me just under an hour (with toddler negotiations of: 2L of water spilled on the floor under the fridge, 4 spools of thread unwound and the removal of all but one piece of clothing) to thread the bobbin, the needle and have my machine ready to go.  I think I will save my first project for tomorrow.

Tonight I will eat organic chocolate and relish in the first day of my moon cycle.

Tomorrow, we can learn to sew together.

Good night!