Thursday, May 23, 2013

10 Things All New Bloggers Need to Know!




1. Blogging takes time:
A great blog doesn't become successful overnight! It takes time, development, networking, and a little bit of money. And most importantly, you need to blog consistently and with good content!

Stick with it, keep writing!

Sometimes it's beneficial to set a schedule of 15-45 min. a day to focus on your blog. It will pay off!

2. Network, network, network!
Social media:
So you have a great blog with great content but no one is reading it? Turn to social networking! Having a Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. can really bring in a ton of traffic.
(don't forget to use hashtags on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram! They can really make a difference!)

Bloggy networks:
Another great way is to network with other bloggers on various sites that cater to bringing bloggers together (topmommyblogs, bloggers, etc.) ...no matter which niche you're in there are bound to be blogging networks out there for you to join! I also advise joining "Blog hops". So start google searching!

Guest Post
Host a guest post or write one! Both are beneficial in that they provide a new audience and receive more promotion.

3. Interact with your readers:
If someone leaves you a comment, RESPOND!
If someone sends you an email, RESPOND!
Interacting with your followers is so important for building a relationship and getting readers that want to return. Be appreciative that they took time out of their day to listen/read what you had to say.

4. Know where you want to go with your blog.
Are you looking to make money? Is this a hobby? Who do you want to read this? 
Know what you want and which audience you hope to capture; it can really help focus the blog and improve the content.

I also advise buying a .com once you have established that you seriously want to blog! It looks more professional.

5. Try hard to use spell check/ proper grammar.

6. Be yourself! The more genuine you are, the better!

7. Share pictures!
I personally love getting to know bloggers through the moments that they capture and share.
It makes the blog more personable, fun, interesting and can even spruce up the page a little bit.
You don't have to have a fancy camera...even a camera phone would suffice!

8. Be versatile!
Blog about a variety of topics that you know about. Not only will it make your blog a more interesting read, it can also bring in a variety of visitors that become potential followers.

9. Be smart when designing. 
That font you love might look cool, but we can't read it.
Avoid harsh colors- they can be painful to look at! Go for colors that are friendly and easy on the eyes.
Ask friends, family and other bloggers to give you an honest opinion!

10. Have fun!
Blogging can be challenging at times...but it can also be a lot of fun!
Don't forget why you started your blog and what your goals are for said blog!
If you get stressed out, take a little break BUT remember to come back!


What advice would you give new bloggers?



Monday, May 20, 2013

From Teen Mom to College Graduate!

I'll never forget the day that I found out that I was pregnant with my little one. It was a week before high school graduation and I was filling out applications for colleges in France and working at a local department store.

I went to a coworkers house after work to take a pregnancy test because my "monthly gift" hadn't blessed me with a visit.
When those faint pink lines appeared indicating that I was pregnant...initially, I was devastated. At that time I thought that all of my dreams were ruined, and it was my fault.
I waited a week to think about my options and my future.
It was the day after high school graduation when I gave my mother the news. 
I was going to be a mom.
My mother was shocked, my brother cried, my sister was too young to really react and my dad wasn't as upset as I thought he'd be.
It seemed like everyone was disappointed and thought that this was it for me. I'd have a baby, life would be hard, and I'd end up being another statistic. I don't blame them for thinking this way, and it was partially my impression of how they felt that helped me strive to prove them wrong.
I knew that having a baby was not going to prevent me from pursuing my dreams and going to college...(perhaps just not a college in France).
So that Fall I enrolled at the local community college and busted my butt to do well and get out of there in 2 years. One semester I even took 25 credit hours! That's how determined I was to reach my goal! During my first year of college I literally breastfed and cared for my little guy while reading and writing papers...But I survived thrived, and I received my A.A. with honors Spring 2010. Fall 2010 I enrolled at NIU and earned my B.A. degree May, 11 2013.
Throughout my college career my lowest grade was a C in Art History...aside from that I kept all A's & B's (mostly A's), and I am so proud of this accomplishment & it was an amazing feeling to walk across that stage because I EARNED IT! 
I am not going to sit here and tell you that this journey was easy. It was actually far from it...
There will be times that you struggle with your roles as parent and student, there will be many sleepless nights, lots of tears and frustration...but you can do it! & I promise you that it will be worth it in the end. Your little one(s) will be so proud of you!

If I can do it, you can do it!
I am so thankful that I was able to get an amazing education, meet amazing people and have amazing experiences. I feel truly blessed for my opportunities! But I couldn't have done it without supportive friends and family!
So to those that were there for me I thank you, and I love you!
Thank you for reading!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Father's Day...365.



While this blog is mainly directed towards women and mothers, I thought it was time to switch gears and hear from a few young dads. I feel that too often we focus on what young mothers went through/go through and tend to forget about the fathers except for on Father's Day, so I politely asked a few great dads the following questions:

- How old were you when you first became a father and what was your initial reaction?
- What is it like to be a father/ What does it mean to be a father?
- Are you learning along the way or do you have a role model in mind?
- What are your hopes for your child(ren)?
- What are your fears?
- Best memory so far?
- What's your favorite activity to do with your little one(s)?
- What advice do you have for other young dads out there?

And here is what they had to say! :)

Dayvon E.


I was 19 going on 20 when I first became a father. My initial reaction was like wow! It was sort of unreal...I couldn't believe it. I was happy, scared, and excited at the same time. Being a father is the best thing ever! Anytime I think about making any kind of big decisions in life I always tell myself I'm a father first. Pretty much anything you do will affect your kids in some kind of way. Being a father means the world to me. It's everything! Raising a family is tough but it's helped me become a man. I'm still learning and trying to be the best dad I can be. My role model is my mom because she raised me and my siblings on her own. She was strong and did a great job so I'm just picking up where she left off by being a great dad. I just had my 2nd and last child lol. I have 2 boys, a 6 yr old and 3 month old baby boy. My hopes for them are to learn as much as they can and no matter what they choose to pursue in life, get a college education. My fears would have to be having their own children too soon. I want them to grow up first and enjoy being young. My best memory would have to be their birthdays. Just holding them for the first time is the best feeling ever! To all the young dads in the world out there love your kids to death! Be there for them every step of the way because they need you and do whatever you can to help them be successful in life.

Jimmy P.

I was 21 when my little princess entered my life. My initial reaction was fear. Of course, as to be expected. But ready to face the obstacles of fatherhood. But being a father is amazing. Something that I wouldn't trade for the world. Watching my little girl grow is honestly for me what seeing Super Mario for the first time is like for a little boy. Being a father means becoming not about yourself, but supporting a little life that you've brought into this world and making sure they're well taken care of, always having a roof over their head, food in their tummy and smiles on their face. I'm definitely learning as I go. My father wasn't much more than a sperm donor and I try my best to be nothing like him. There are times when my daughter drives me absolutely crazy, but she comes first. Period. My hope is that my daughter will keep her big heart that I already see from her at only 2 (almost) years old as she grows up. To be kind and to always treat others the way she wants to be treated. My fears I suppose are the normal fears, hanging with the bad crowd one day, teen pregnancy and even us not being close as she grows. I hope to always maintain a close relationship with my little girl. I want her to always feel she can confide in her daddy. My best memory so far is going to the zoo with her and visiting the dolphins and the monkeys, seeing her eyes light up when she saw them and a giant smile come across her face. My absolute favorite activity to do with my princess is sing to her. She loves when daddy sings. Ever since she was born I've loved singing to her. My advice for other young dads? Don't make yourself available to spend time with your kids when it's convenient for you. You're always a father even if you and the mother split up. So when it's your time together take full advantage and BE THERE.

Jim B.

I became a father at the age of 21. Being a father is the best thing I've done with my life so far and it means so much because I didn't grow up with my father so that pushes me even more to be the greatest dad I can be for my son. I've pretty much known what to do with kids because I have 6 little brothers and sisters but at the same time my grandfather was my role model because he helped raise me. My hopes for my son are to be the best he can be, to learn from my mistakes, to get a great education, and just be happy with life. My fear for him is the society we live in but other than that I have none, because I raise him with morals and respect and I know he's gonna do great. Best memory so far is the first time he said daddy it's just awesome to have someone love you so much and look up to you. Favorite activity of course is basketball he loves the gym as much as I do and that's awesome. My advice to young dads is please be there for your kids no matter the relationship with the mother, our kids need us more than you know... we have to raise the next generation to be better than we were..

Jack P.

I had Jordan when I was 19, at first I was scared not gonna lie, but also excited at the same time. When he was born I was pretty scared to hold him because he was so small I didn’t want to drop him. Being a dad is fun at times and hard at times. The hard part is not wanting to disappoint him, as a dad I try to give Jordan everything. The best part about being a dad is being called “dad”. As time goes on I learn new things about being a parent, things I need to do when Jordan needs help, things I need to say when he has a wild question about something. As he gets older I’ll learn more new things. Its kinda like we are both learning things as we get older. I don’t have a specific role model for Jordan, but I want him to grow up and be happy and successful in the things he does. My fear for Jordan is that I don’t want him to lose confident in himself, he tends to be too shy, but once you get to know him he will talk your ears off. Our favorite things to do when we hangout is bowling, basketball and for some odd reason he picked up golfing too. The best memory I have of Jordan is when he was learning how to walk. Once he figured out how to walk, man that boy was getting into everything and running everywhere!! My advice for young dads is that be the best father you can be. It’s gonna be hard, but it’s the best feeling ever watching your child grow and learn new things.

Thank You- Dayvon, Jimmy, Jim & Jack! You guys are amazing, respectable fathers and deserve to be recognized as such. Keep doing what you're doing, so proud of you all! 


Thanks for reading!




Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Three Hundred & Twenty-Two.

Every Monday, Wednesday & Friday morning (and sometimes other days) I drive past a sign on the highway that tells me how many traffic deaths have occurred in Illinois this year.

Needless to say, it is a very depressing way to start the day.

The first day that I noticed this sign it was at 97...
I remember the drive perfectly! I was eating a banana, shuffling through my iTouch and was on the phone...I'm a fantastic multi-tasker, I know ! However, this sign was rather shocking and even made me put my banana and phone down.

Today, it's at 322.

Every time I pass this sign I feel a horrible... sadness.

Someones mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, son, best friend, lover, uncle....

died.

& while it doesn't matter I suppose...I always think about how the accident happened. Could it have been avoided? Were they drunk? Were they texting? Was it their fault? What were their last thoughts? What was the weather like? Were they scared? Was it quick? 

These questions are never answered and they never need to be because either way these people are no longer among us. The "us" that still wakes up everyday and has the ability to make life changing decisions....

Next time you're out driving, look for your state's traffic death sign, and please think for a moment about what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming one of these numbers.

Is the text or call that important?

Is changing the song on your iPod worth dying for?

Are you so hungry that your drink/food can't wait?

Do you want to see your family and friends tomorrow?


Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer...I just can't get this number of 322 off of my mind.

Take care of yourself, friends! 

Thanks for reading!











Thursday, May 2, 2013

Don't Let Your Dreams Slip Away!

After looking at my news-feed filled with pictures of children and announcements of new pregnancies, I decided to take a quick glance at my "Friends" list and count the people that I know have at least one child. To my surprise, there were about 56 (including me) with the lowest number of kids being 1 and the highest number being 5.

We are all under the age of 26

While I understand that unplanned pregnancy isn't uncommon these days...it was hard for me to see that so many of the people in this count either A) Aren't going to school  or B) Don't seem to be pursuing their goals and dreams (because you don't necessarily HAVE to go to school to be successful). 

This makes me kinda sad...

And if any of you read this, or any young parent that wasn't expecting to get pregnant but did, please know this...

YOU DON'T HAVE TO GIVE UP YOUR DREAMS! 

You can still go to school and/or pursue your life goals! 

While I will not sit here and say that it will be easy...It IS possible. 
  • Ditch the people who say "You can't do it", and surround yourself with positive people to form a system of support!
  • Be responsible! - Stop smoking weed, drinking and going to the club every weekend! 
  • Use your resources! 
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Work hard.
  • Strive to be the best parent and person you can be! 
  • Succeed and give your little one someone to look up to!

Parenting is hard- married, single, planned or unplanned... BUT we CHOSE to have sex, and we CHOSE to have children, therefore it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to be great role models for our littles and strive to give them the very best! 

Let's be supportive of one another!