All the Articles I’ve Ever Written About Blogging

How to Blog Index: Every article I've ever written about blogging

What? You don’t have huge ink blotches on your desk? No toddler scribbles? I can’t even imagine a world without toddler scribbles….

Lately I’ve had a few different friends email me with questions about starting their own blog, setting up a blog Facebook page, and making all sorts of blogging decisions. I am certainly no blogging expert, but with 3 years of public blogging now under my belt, there are a few good tips that I’ve picked up on.

So whether you are a brand new blogger or an experienced one looking for new ideas, here is a list of all the articles that I can find that I have written on the topic of blogging, websites, and social media.

Now, in case you have already read all my stuff, see this first one, just published March 2017, so chances are you haven’t read it yet:

This one was my biggest lesson of 2017. In January and February alone, my blog saw more traffic from Pinterest than I got in ALL of 2016 total. Lesson learned: never ignore Pinterest.

 

no matter what your blog niche is, Pinterest CAN bring you traffic!

Never ignore Pinterest.

 

If you’re looking for all the basics in one place, this is my most comprehensive how to article.

10 Blogging Tips for Beginners

 

Need to grow your social media following, but don’t know how to go about it? I found Crowdfire app extremely beneficial, especially for Twitter. Read more on that here.

How I used Crowdfire to gain over 50 new, legit followers/month

 

Understanding hashtags and how to use them to grow your blog traffic is also beneficial. I explain that here.

How to Use Hashtags to Grow Your Business

 

Hmmmm…All of those were articles that I wrote for Monterey Premier. Perhaps I should occasionally write some blogging or social media how-to articles right here on Stories of Our Boys. The reason that I haven’t is that it I make more money if I write them for Monterey Premier, and you know money does come in handy…

So I’ll leave you with one last blogging tip. Money. Don’t do it because you love money. Do it because you love writing about your passion or creating images and community online. Then gradually the more time you give it, the more paid opportunities will come your way. The very easiest way to start making money is affiliate marketing.

Next time you want to write about a product or service that you love, go to their website, scroll all the way to the bottom, and look for the word “affiliate.” Then click on it, and sign up to be their affiliate. Insert the link they assign you into your article, and if people buy it, you get a commission fee, usually a small one, but if you do that for each product or service you promote, it will add up. It’s a great way to start.

Psst…Even Etsy and Amazon have affiliate programs! (My serious thanks to whoever bought the Fitbit I recommended. I was about ready to give up on Amazon links.)

Shoot me any blogging questions you have. I will do my best to answer. If I have lots to say on the topic, I might even write my next article in answer to your question. Don’t worry. I won’t use your name in the article….unless you want me to…

You’ve read all my articles and you want MORE info? Here are 3 more articles that I have found helpful, written by other bloggers, more fabulous than me:

Making Photos Pop with Picmonkey— Learn how to use Picmonkey to make awesome photos for your blog from the pros at Just a Touch of Crazy.

5 Blogging Tools You Need Now— by my friend Jen over at JenerallyInformed.com.

and How to Make Money Blogging–by Crystal Paine

 

Happy blogging, y’all!!

 

 

Baseball Time!!

It’s that time of year again. Baseball time! And to get it kicked off, I wrote a story about our baseball experience this year over at Coach Daddy.

The title is “How the Army took Baseball from Us”, but allow me to add that it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If Caleb had played on a team here, he would have had either a practice or a game every single night of the week! What!!!! I’ll do that for a kid who loves it. I won’t do it for a kid who doesn’t love it.

Here’s a snippet:

Okay. Now, first of all, the Army did not literally take baseball from us. And yet it did. We didn’t have to let it happen, but we’re tired people, and so we did.

 

See, we have four sons, between the ages of 11 and 3. It’s exhausting, but it’s adorable. It reminds me of when I was little and living in rural Alabama and our dog would have puppies. Those puppies were work, but they were so cute and cuddly it didn’t matter.

We have played tee-ball and baseball over the years, ever since they were each 4 or 5 years old…..

Click here to read what happened.

Oh!!! And heads up, y’all. I’m going to do a Facebook live un-boxing of the Daily Goodie Box I got in the mail today. I’m aiming to do it around 1:15 pm this afternoon, with my sidekick, John David.

36 Reasons I Love Being 36

This month I turned 36 years old. That sounds so weird to me, so I took a good hour to sit down and think about things I like about being 36 and also things I have learned.

Some of these are memories I love that I have, some are lessons that I’ve learned, and some are just good sense. And I can combine that many different things because after all, it is my list.

Mom and me. Due to the fire, I only have a handful of photos from my childhood. I found this one in a box in my living room. Thankfully, Mom had made us a box of old photos a few years ago.

 

1. I was there for the 80s…granted I was too young to understand it, but by golly I was there.

2. Free range childhood. No one used the word play date back then.

3. Swinging from vines in the forest.….That was part of the free range childhood.

4. 3 major bicycle injuries under my belt….Okay 1 was roller skates…There was the time my failed bike-stunt attempt resulted in me riding my bicycle up the front door, the time I flew downhill straight into a fence, and then the time I thought I could do some Nancy Kerrigan jumps in roller skates. Yeah. Lots of bleeding.

5. I’ve learned that People DO change with their life circumstances. For example, alphabetizing and re-alphabetizing, categorizing and re-categorizing my book collection…….That used to be me. Now I just shove them onto shelves. I can’t find any of my books at all, but the older I get the more responsibilities I have, and there is not time for perfecting. Priorities change.

6. The older I get, the less I care about what anyone thinks of me. (Mostly, no one’s thinking about me anyway!) If you are going to have a blog, you have to let go of that mess.

7. I’ve given birth 4 times, but actually that didn’t make me invincible or super-tough. It just means I’ve experienced a lot of things that can go wrong with child-birth, and I now know that all that matters in the end is delivering the baby safely. That’s right. Your birth plan does not impress me. Your living baby impresses me.

8. I finally know how to tame my own hair. 

First, I use a shampoo + conditioner twice. THEN I use conditioner. Whatever I do after that doesn’t matter so long as I use a straightening iron. If the air is cold and dry enough, I can skip the straightening.

9. I’ve learned that a degree or a trade of some kind is definitely worth having because life throws unexpected curves, and at some point you are going to need to make some money.

10. Mama Bear syndrome totally applies to humans. Do not mess with my kids. Do not mess with anyone’s children. In fact, there’s a Bible verse about that.

And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me. 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world for the causes of sin. These stumbling blocks must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!…       Matthew 18:6-7

11. Having 1 child was a big adjustment. Having 2 children is much more difficult than having 1. Having 3 is way more work than having 2. Having 4 children almost killed me (the stress!), and having 5 children is something I will never be able to tell you about because I hit my medical, emotional, physical, and everything else limit at 4. But I love it. I love every single one of them more than anything in this world, and as far as I am concerned they are perfect. They are my happiest moments and thoughts.

12. I’ve been through depression before, a couple of times, and I now know what works for me to come out of it. The only way I know how to come out of it is to focus on serving other people, open all your blinds/curtains everyday, play upbeat music, pray on your face for help, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. And if it gets bad enough, you may have to take antidepressants.  I’ve taken them before, although for me it was actually for anxiety.

sharing my love of sea mammals, boats, and the Pacific Ocean with my children. They loved it.

13. It took me 24 years to realize that what I really wanted to be when I grew up was a mom. Anything else was just a bonus.

14. I’ve sent a husband off to war 3 times, and I know that if I have to, I can do it again. But man, I hope I never have to!

15. No one tells me how young I look anymore, but I’ve made my peace with that.

16. I’m not poor-skinny like I was at 20, but that’s fine. Poor-skinny is when you are underweight, and it’s because you actually are having to save money by eating less food. That’s what I did in college.  Happy people are not poor-skinny because happy people aren’t hungry.

17. I have tried about 5 different kinds of jobs that I didn’t like, but that doesn’t mean I’m flaky. It just means those weren’t my callings. Why live miserable? Move on and try something new.

Caleb and me on the flight out to California 3 years ago.

18. Living all over the country was the hardest thing bout the past 15 years, and yet it was the thing I LOVED most about the past 15 years. Living in a place takes traveling to another level. It gives you understanding of other places and cultures, and the amount that you learn is just mind-boggling.

19. I killed a snake. Sure, it was a tiny snake, but still. I, April, who is terrified of all creepy crawly things, killed a snake because I thought it was necessary to protect my offspring. See, I told you #10 is a very real thing!!

Caleb, creating snow angels in Virginia. He was 6.

20. Virginia got in my blood. Someday I want to go back. I felt like I was with my people there. I can’t explain it.

21. I don’t have to do nursery duty anymore, and that is so freeing for me. I don’t have to spend my entire week dreading Sunday because I know I have nursery duty. My arthritis saved me from signing up for this task that I never liked. I love babies, but nursery duty KILLS me. I am unable to sit in the floor, bend over tedious activities, and the younger the babies the more it hurts my back, my shoulders, my neck, my legs, EVERYTHING to hold them. It used to take me a couple of days just to recover from holding them.

22. My children possess completely different talents than I do, and I’ve learned to appreciate everyone’s different gifts. We learn so much from our children!

23. I love that Jesus saved my whole entire family, and now I’m watching each of my children, one at a time, become believers too.

photo courtesy of Stephanie DuBose

24. I fully embrace celebrations! I love good ol’ American holidays. So what if they’re “commercial”? Have some fun already. Life is short. The only one I have a hard time always embracing is Christmas because it’s so much work, and plane tickets are expensive, but I do it anyway.

I believe you should never be too righteous for fun. Did you know that most of the feasts and holidays set up in the Old Testament were actually invented by God? Celebrate!

25. I’m focusing more on listening to women who are older than me and have already done what I am doing. I have many mentors, and sometimes those mentors have no idea that I think of them as a mentor, but there is so much wisdom to be gained from people who have already done what we’re doing.

26. You can’t beat a mini-van for a family of 6. Sure, giant SUVs are hip, but they guzzle the gas, their doors don’t open with a button, and nothing is as practical or affordable as a mini-van.

27. I stop for garage sales. One should never pay full price for kids’ bicycle helmets, tennis rackets, bunk beds, or board games.

28. Peanut/cashew allergies are terrifying. Sometimes I wonder how he will survive, but then I remember that that’s what Emergency Rooms are for.

29. You know how some people feel about Windex? That it can fix everything? That’s how I feel about Benadryl. Miracle drug.

30. I have now been to Disney World twice and Universal Studios twice. This makes the little girl inside of me beyond happy.

31. Eventually skinny jeans will go out of style. Thank goodness because they are not flattering for me. I rarely wear them.

32. Home schooling: I came, I tried, and I can honestly say that it’s simply not for everyone. 

33. I love that I got to live in California for 2 years and see the incredible beauty that is Big Sur, the Pacific Ocean, Monterey, San Francisco, and sea mammals! I will always cherish my memories of seeing a whale feeding 10 feet off the shore. Splendor.

34. I have 4 boys. That’s definitely not something I’d have never dreamed of in my 20s!!! I can’t tell you the wonder and adventures we are having. I love it. Love, love, love it. And to think, I only had girl names picked out. Ha!

 

35. My marriage. I’m so thankful we both stuck it out together because our marriage is so much greater now, in our late 30s, than it was in our 20s or our early 30s.

36. I love the things about me that are still young. That’s something to be THANKFUL for. I don’t have to color my hair yet. Menopause is still 10 years off. My freckles help me look young, and I still have my morning energy. Gradually, these things will change, but today they are still mine.

 

We might as well enjoy life, right? It all goes by so quickly.

We might as well be happy with what we have because it is what we have. The grass may always be greener on the other side. Whatever. That probably just means they spend way too much money on fertilizer, which smells bad anyway!!! So it’s all good.

 
Oh yeah!!!! And in case you missed my most recent Facebook live video, about trying to learn how to use essential oils. Here it is!

Thanks for reading, y’all! Thank you for being a part of my first 36 years! Love y’all!

 

 

 

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on Your D.C. Vacation

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on your washington, d.c. vacation

our 10th anniversary

Last year, we went to Disney World for vacation. This year we need something more affordable, so we are going to Washington, D.C.!!!!

Alan has been after me to write a post about how to save money and hassle on a D.C. vacation for a while now because it’s something we loved. When we lived in the D.C. area, we had so much fun taking our friends and family around to see the monuments and Smithsonian museums.

So I finally got around to it. I wrote an article for Monterey Premier about Saving Money and Hassle on a Washington, D.C. vacation.

Here’s a snippet:

#8. Most importantly, buy a Metro pass, and you will be fine.
The Metro is a perfectly safe form of transportation, and it is the most affordable way to do D.C. There are even buses that run between Metro stops that you can hop on with your Metro pass.
I used to walk around D.C. with my Metro map, but now that everyone has smart phones, you can give your Google Maps app a good work-out on this trip! Which leads me to my next tip…..

#9. Download the Metro app!!!……..

Click here to read more!

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on your washington, d.c. vacation

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on Your Washington, D.C. Vacation

 

Military Marriage Retreat at the Cove

Military Marriage Retreat, the Cove, North Carolina

Last weekend Alan and I packed our suitcases and drove up to Asheville, North Carolina. We left the kids in the capable hands of my parents, and we enjoyed a peaceful weekend in the mountains. Oh, and by the way, all we had to pay for was the gas to get us there.

Not too long ago, Alan learned of the Cove, a retreat center owned and operated by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. They host retreats, Bible studies, training events, prayer events, and even Senior Hymn Sings.

But the coolest thing for us is that they host these marriage retreats for military couples–FOR FREE.

Free is good. We like free.

There are 3 different ones this year, but why waste time, we went ahead and signed up for the February retreat.

I had no idea what to expect, really. I was a little nervous, as I am in all new social situations. We didn’t go with a group or anything, so we were on our own.

standard double room (photo credit: thecove.org)

Upon arrival, we checked into our room. The Cove has two hotels on site. We stayed at the Pilgrim’s Inn. The room was immaculate. It had two queen size beds, a table with 2 chairs, a rocking chair in the corner, a luggage stand, a dresser, 1 sink in the room and a bathroom with another sink.

I expressed my joy over there being two sinks. Alan said, “Well, the key here is not to destroy marriage [by making us share a sink]. Haa!!!!

On the third floor, the inn has 24 hour drink machines, complete with coffee, tea, and sodas! We did take advantage of that!

Right away, we spotted this sign.

We got our stuff put away and headed up the hill to the convention center. Now, when I say up the hill, believe me I really mean up what felt more like a mountain. I’m surprised my legs aren’t more sore. This hike was not for the faint of knees.

The first thing we noticed on our hike was a “Beware of bears” sign.

Huh.

But as it turns out, black bears are known to be docile, not aggressive like the grizzlies.

military marriage retreat at the cove, north carolina

This hiking path was so steep! I finally earned my 50 flights of stairs in a day badge on my Fitbit, thanks to this hill!!!

After we checked in at the convention center and read over our itinerary, I admit I actually got a little uneasy.

Wait a minute. This itinerary here says “1-6pm Alone Time with God”….

I whispered to Alan, “Do you think they expect us to spend the WHOLE time with God, or is going to see the Biltmore Estate okay too?”

And suddenly it dawned on me.

“Alan!!!! Was there a t.v. in our room?”

We’ve been kidnapped. Gasp! What if there is no Wi-fi either?? What if we are supposed to have prayer and meditation and togetherness, sing cum-ba-ya, and hike up mountains all afternoon???? Will we survive???

Alan chuckled. Don’t worry. I had not said all of those things out loud.

“Yeah, you put your suitcase on the dresser. So I’m pretty sure there was no t.v.”

We both looked at each other with the wide eyes and giggled. This should be interesting…..or challenging…..hmmm

(photo courtesy of my friend Kasey Myers) No, unfortunately, they didn’t go at the same time as us. They went a different year, but how exciting is it that this is available every year!?

Soon after our no-t.v. discussion, it was time for dinner. Ya’ll!!  The food! If you don’t love the speaker, though I think you will, the food will win you.

(photo credit: Kasey Myers) They must have been at the very front of the line.

We made awkward conversation with other couples that we met, and then it was time for the first marriage seminar.

These seminars were more than seminars. It was like giant group marriage therapy, where thankfully we didn’t have to do any talking. We did; however, get to sing together. We sang at the beginning of each session, mostly songs that we knew or had heard before. The singing was one of my favorite parts. The song leader was an expressive and talented guy with both piano and guitar skills.

The speaker was a pastor and retired Army chaplain,Pastor John Cook, from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was not only interesting. He actually knew where we were all coming from, having lived the military life himself. He taught what the Bible has to say about marriage, and I managed to totally pay attention to all 3 sessions, believe it or not.

They change up the speakers at each retreat, but I’m sure they’re all good.

By the way, the convention center has cappuccino and frozen yogurt on tap, available during the day time. That came in handy during the on-your-own stretch of Saturday.

military marriage retreat at the cove, north carolina

This is us on the Convention Center deck. It was a huge wrap-around porch full of rocking chairs, and I failed as a blogger because I did not get a photo! Okay, yes, I did, but Alan blinked in it, so I will spare him that.

You may be wondering if I ever did make it to the Biltmore Estate. Well, no, I didn’t. Alan looked it up, and it wasn’t a good time for us to devote the hefty admission prices for as little time as we would have gotten to spend there.

They had fireplaces gong everywhere, including a beautiful, large circular one outside. We sat in front of this one for 30 minutes and found it extremely comforting.

We were able to enjoy simply resting, relaxing, hiking, and talking at the Cove. We even did a little shopping at the on-site book and souvenir shop. We never did miss the t.v.

 

Some people arrange to go with couple friends, which I imagine would be a blast. (photo credit: Kasey Myers)

Here are a few fast facts for ya:

–I did not see any other marriage retreats on the schedule besides the military ones. 🙁 Sorry, my civilian friends. However, there are tons of events that last all weekend that you could sign up for.

Next Military Marriage Retreat is May 26-28, 2017. Experiencing God’s Best for Your Marriage. Speaker: Chip Ingram 

Literally EVERYTHING is FREE. Free meals. Free room. Free seminar. Click here to sign up. It’s open only to active duty military. Yes, Reserves and National Guard counts, so long as your active.

–There’s another Military Marriage Retreat September 8-10, 2017. The Art of Living Well in Marriage. Speaker: Tommy Nelson

Again, it’s all free for active duty military. Click here to sign up.

 

 

 

Military Marriage Retreat

(photo credit: thecove.org)

Other Events at the Cove do have costs. Just click on the links below. Many of these are also weekend-long retreats. Some are just evenings or luncheons. Just click through for details.

Women’s Events

Senior Adult Events

Seminars for everyone

Pastor Retreats (for pastors)

We would like to personally thank the Graham family and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for using their facilities and talent to serve those who serve our country. This is a blessing to so many families!

Pouring into your marriage relationship is so vital to the overall happiness of your whole family. Kids grow up, but hopefully when they have left, you still have a spouse you can love and grow old with. It’s such an important relationship to nurture. Happier parents = happier kids.

military marriage retreat

Our thanks again to the Cove!!! This was like a breath of fresh air!

 

 

 

 

 

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