How to Create a Podcast for Your Blog

Are you a blogger who wants a withebeaminmyeye.comder audience for your blog?  Or are your interested in skipping the written word and going straight to spoken word?  This video will help you either way!  Check it out, and let me know what you think!  If you are a current podcaster, I would love your tips as well, which you may leave in the comments below.

Be blessed!


Tips for the New Blogger, Part 3

For eleven years, I taught both middle and high school.  When I received the amazing opportunity to jump in as an Instructional Technology Specialist last year, I was ecstatic to get to work with teachers at six middle and high schools.  Overwhelmingly, their feedback was that they liked when I came to train because I had just left the classroom and thus, I understood what they were going through and how to make the technology relevant to real-world applications.

www.thebeaminmyeye.comThis month, I’m celebrating over half a year as a blogger.  On the outside, it would seem like a dumb decision to take advice from someone who’d just gotten started.  However, I think I’m the perfect one to give advice to those who are just a step behind me and beginning their blogging journeys.  The stumbles I’ve made are fresh in my mind, and I am also still excited enough about the process to pursue new learning all the time.  So, while this is the third part of my “Tips for the New Blogger Series,” it may not be the last.  Speaking of the series, if you missed Part I or Part II, check them out!  I plan on learning CSS, so I think some behind-the-scenes might be in order for that down the road.  Stay tuned! In the meantime, here are my

Tips for the New Blogger, Part III

  1. Stay in your lane.  My husband actually inspired this wording for me.  We go to a church that was organized eighty-odd years ago.  We will never be the trendiest church on the block.  But by playing to our strengths, we can reach people who are looking for strong content instead of just professional presentation.  In blogging, I’ve learned that staying in my lane means finding my true writing purpose instead of what I thought it might be.  When I first came up with the blog idea, I thought that I would like to write “pinnable” posts that gave tips on all the things I’m interested in and struggle with, like organization, finances, and health.  However, I’ve found that my favorite and most authentic posts were written with serious introspection in mind and a Jesus focus.  I’m not writing to be pinned but to share my faith journey. In the spirit of transparency, here’s a post I probably wasn’t writing from my soul, as well as one where I was.  Can you tell the difference?  It’s not that the first one wasn’t true, but my best writing has come when I write from the heart.  Before you start blogging, create a jot list that shows what you’re passionate about and let that be your “lane guide.”  Don’t try to write just what people want to read, but instead write what’s in your soul–and write it well. That genuineness will be what draws a readership more than pins and sponsored posts ever could. [Tweet “Write what’s in your soul–and write it well.”]
  2. Check out my favorite WordPress plugins.   I use a lot of plugins, which my brother has reminded me also can make your site more vulnerable to hacking.  At some point, maybe I can add my own coding (aack!) and won’t need as many plugins, but for the moment, I use quite a few.  For brevity’s sake, I am just going to mention a few of my favorites here, all of which are available from your WordPress dashboard or through the individual links below.
    1. A few months ago, I took the advice of a blog forum I was in and created a static home page.  Instead of readers having to look through a list of blog posts when they arrive on my blog, I want them to quickly be able to navigate to what they need through image buttons that click through to different categories.  (I made those buttons on canva, by the way, using hex code.  Check out that info in this post.)  You have to create a gallery first.  When you go to upload media, you’ll see a gallery option there.  However, if you want your images to link to specific pages, like the different categories in your navigation bar, you have to use a plugin.  I like WP Gallery Custom Links.
    2. If you self-host, meaning that your site doesn’t have (see my address and how it has its own name), you will be able to install JetPack.  Though it has many features to explore, my favorite is how it gives you site stats at your fingertips through the Plugins section of the WordPress dashboard.
    3. A third favorite is Ultimate Social Media and Share Icons.  If you want people to share your content, you have to make it easy for them.  I have set up buttons that allow you to share my content on the social media outlet of your choice.  In addition, this plugin is the one that creates that lovely pop-up that appears when you come to a new page on the site and asks you to follow me or share.
    4. If anything were ever to happen to my blog site, such as the hacking snafu I mention above, everything could be lost.  It was hard enough to do the writing the first time, so I REALLY don’t want to have to redo it.  Instead, I receive an automatic backup of my site sent to my email each week, which is about how often I publish.  The plug-in I use for that process is WordPress Database Backup.
    5. Finally, and this is my newest favorite, I created an adorable little icon that shows up for you right now on the tab beside the name of my site.  Just look up and see how cute it is!  The icon is called a favicon, and while All in One Favicon doesn’t show you how to create your favicon, it does help you install it on your site.  Check out my pinterest page if you want to create one for your site.
  3. Plan for the lazy reader.  Okay, so maybe your reader isn’t lazy, but we are all crunched for time.  I won’t say that I ever skimmed a blog, but I will say that after grading thousands of papers as an English teacher, I find myself using my skimming skills in my non-professional life all the time.  So how do you make your content accessible and keep readers coming back?
    1. First, limit the words you use per line.  If you look at my later blog posts, you will see that I often have a picture smooshed right into the middle of my first paragraph.  The same number of words are there, but your eye perceives the sentences as shorter, encouraging you to keep reading.
    2. Second, use scannable headings.  I am intentional in how I set up my blog posts.  In most, if not all, of them, you will find my title repeated in a big aqua font after my intro.  If you were in a hurry, you would know where to skip to start reading the “real” content instead of starting with my fascinating personal story.  As you continue reading one of my posts, you’ll find bold headings, outline or bullet format, and italics.  All are intended to give that scannable feel to the text.
    3. Use pictures to break up the text.  You know what a picture is worth, so I won’t bore you with that cliché here.  Make good pictures, and then pepper them as appropriate throughout your text.  Images allow the reader to rest his eye and give something to pin as well:)  Along the same lines, I use the Click to Tweet plug-in to break up the text and encourage social interaction as well, and it’s worked a few times!

I certainly don’t know everything about blogging.  However, I hope these tips for the new blogger are helpful to new and seasoned bloggers alike.  Do you have more plug-ins to share?  Other ways to keep readers around?  Ideas for brainstorming more posts in your “lane”?  I’d love to hear them.  Please share those ideas below, as well as how my ideas might have helped you.

Be blessed!

Are you a new blogger? Get three rich tips here!

Tips for the New Blogger, Part 2

Are you a new blogger?  Get three rich tips here!

As of today, my blog is five months old.  From zero views, it’s grown to sixteen hundred.  I had no comments, and now I have over thirty. My highest views in a day were 113 on my adoption post, and half the people who read that one shared it!  To any “more-accomplished” blogger reading those numbers, they might look very small, but I continue to be amazed that my reader base has grown the way it has in just a short time.  If you are one of those readers, (and you are, or you wouldn’t be here, right?) thank you! And if this blog has motivated you to take the next step and start writing, I hope this second round of tips for the new blogger helps you.  If you missed the first part, it’s here.

Without further ado–

Tips for the New Blogger, Part 2

  1. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the way that you prepare posts so that search engines like Google are able to refer readers to your blog more easily.  I don’t want to write a blog so that my main intention is getting traffic.  I want to write from my heart.  However, if no one reads my blog, I might as well be writing in a personal diary.  Thus, SEO is a necessary evil step in my writing process.  Though SEO is a complex process (find more information here), I am just focusing on a few elements right now that I will share with you.  The first is having an optimized title.  As I’ve written, I’ve discovered that some titles draw in more readers; the same is true for drawing in more search engine traffic.  This article was the very first one I wrote.  It got traffic, but only from my facebook friends who were trying to support me (thanks!).  If I were writing the post today, I might change the title to something like “How to Strengthen Your Weaknesses with God’s Help.”  Think about what you click on pinterest.  “Twenty Ways to…” or “How To…” are always good ways to start titles, because they make the reader feel curious and that there will be lots of must-have information in the post.  The second method I use is repeating my title (or parts of it) throughout my post.  Repeating those keywords shows Google that my content is something readers searching for particular terms might find useful.  My third tip for SEO is to connect your posts through embedded hyperlinks.  I just did that in this paragraph.  If I can refer someone to one of my previous posts by allowing them to simply click a link, they will stay on the site longer.  If they like what they read, they may even subscribe or share, driving more readers to the blog.
  2. Prepare your images for SEO, and then pin away!  When you Make your blog images pinterest friendly with these three tips.--www.thebeaminmeye.comfirst upload images into the WordPress media gallery, the titles are nebulous things, like “image26”.  Any pinterest fans in the house?  If so, make sure to read this.  I know that when I’m on pinterest, I often click on images that lead to nowhere.  At some point, a pinner has taken your image, saved it, and pinned it from there.  That means that the link is no longer attached to the image, and that’s why it’s so important to change your image title and your alt text to include at least your blog address, but ideally the URL to the post as well.  When someone finds a lonely image of yours drifting at sea, they will be able to use that information to find your blog again.  Even better than adding just your blog address (which is as far as I’ve gotten so far–summer project!) is to add a descriptive sentence that will trick make people want to click your image when it’s pinned.  See my image for details. Another goal I have to Pinterest-preparedness is to start creating rich pins.  Check that out here, and feel free to give me some feedback below with your experiences in “rich-pinning,” since that will be new to me. 
  3. Use Google Analytics to check the bounce rate of your blog, Lower your blog's bounce rate, and other tips for the new blogger--www.thebeaminmeye.comand then take steps to lower that rate.  Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who only view the first page they land on (landing page) of your blog and then leave.  You can find more details about the term here or about how to get started with Google Analytics here.  Honestly, I am not technical enough to explain them:)  Our goal, obviously, would be to reduce bounce rate and increase reader loyalty.  My bounce rate is better some days than others. Most days look like the graphic shown here, where a few faithful readers stay around to read more, but my goal is to lower that rate.  What are some practical ways to lower the rate?  Number one is writing good content.  Those readers I’ve heard from who keep coming back and sharing what I write (thank you!) are loyal because they like what they read.  In addition to embedding links to old posts in new ones, I also link to outside sources, like I have in this post.  Especially when readers go to an outside link, I have those links open up in a new window.  I don’t want them to leave my content to go elsewhere, thus increasing the likelihood that they will read something else I’ve written.  Finally, I have my posts organized into categories that are easy to find via the buttons on the homepage and the header menu.  If someone wants to read about faith, organization, or finances, I want them to find attractive, enticing articles all in one spot.

My blog is not perfect, and it probably never will be.  But that’s exactly the point.  I wrote this blog to face the weaknesses in my life (or beam in my eye) head-on, with God’s help.  [Tweet “I wrote this blog to face the weaknesses in my life (or beam in my eye) head-on, with God’s help.”]  Everything you will find me writing about is my struggle and God’s triumph simultaneously on display.  I am hoping that this blog is blessing someone, and that these tips help someone else to use blogging as an outlet for creativity and even faith.

Is that new blogger you?  I would love to hear any questions or comments you have about your new blog journey.  Hope the tips get you started!


Tips for the New Blogger, Part I


I know I just started blogging thing, but it’s really easy to learn really fast what you don’t know once you start.  Isn’t experience the best teacher?  As a technology trainer, I definitely learn best when I am preparing to teach others.  I have also joined a blogging community at Beulah Girl, so starting in May, I will post a special article there as well.

In this three-part series, I want to share some tips with you that I’ve learned along my four-month journey.  If I’m even a step ahead of you, they may help.

Three Tips for the New Blogger

  1. Create powerful, beautiful images.  I love a finished blog, but the writing process is not my favorite.  Creating images involves a few steps, so I am breaking them up here.
    1. First, you have to find an image.  I wish I were (an Oscar Meyer weiner)…I mean, a graphic designer, but I’ll leave that up to the crew at Black Airplane.  I’m also not a photographer.  Despite my limitations, I have found great pictures by starting with Google Advanced Search or Pixabay.  For the advanced search, just scroll all the way to the bottom and choose your licensing options before typing in a keyword.  I use “free to use, share, or modify, even commercially.”  Be aware that some of these photos still involve attribution.  Scroll down to the bottom of this article to see directions for effective attribution.  Pixabay’s images don’t require a license at all, so I prefer to use that site for my search when possible.
    2. Step two (after a very long step one) is to edit and brand the picture.  I started with the simple-to-use Picmonkey.  No registration is required, and it contains lots of cool elements, including watermarking, which is essential.  If you’re a Pinterest fan, don’t you hate when the picture that’s pinned links back to nothing?  A watermark helps at least redirect the pinner to your site.  From Picmonkey, I moved on to Canva, and I haven’t looked back.  Using your uploaded images, as well as lines, shapes, many layouts, and fonts, is free; if you choose to purchase a design you just have to have, it’s one dollar as you download it.  I created this image and this one at Canva.  You’ll love it!  (P.S. The iPad-only Canva app is great as well.)
    3. Step three is more a tip than a step. I felt so smart when I learned this one!  In order to stick with a color scheme, which will make your blog look so much more professional, you need to know what your colors are.   I purchased my blog theme from a shop on Etsy, so I had no idea what colors were used to design it.  When I found out about RGB, and even better, hex codes, my world was rocked! An RGB or Hex will allow you to define and match an exact color, for use on a site like Canva.  How do you identify your colors?  I like this extension for Google Chrome, but you can find other color pickers just by searching Google.
  2. Know the importance of the “About Me” page.  I don’t often watch Dancing with the Stars, but the times I have, it’s been to cheer on a particular dancer, like Candace Cameron Bure or Kate Gosselin (don’t judge, people!).  The same familiarity is a benefit to blogging as well.  After following a tip I received in a facebook blogger group, I updated my page from the paragraph it first was to what it is now.  Want to involve more readers?  I recommend an overhaul on yours as well.
  3. View your stats, and use them to drive the publishing of new content.  If you are using WordPress to blog, and you have installed the Jetpack add-in, you can see daily stats easily, but the only place you can see your hourly visits over a forty-eight-hour period is with the sparkline graphic on the main page of your site (see picture below).  The graphic is so small, that’s it hard to tell which of the little lines indicates which hour.  To compensate, I used the snipping tool to snip my sparkline, and then I pasted it into Word to make it big enough to see.  I counted each of the high lines (lots of visits) and then wrote down what hour they corresponded to, based on the last forty-eight hours.  You can do the same yourself (TIME CONSUMING!), or I can share when my high points were (EASY!).  Most people visited my blog within two hours of my posting a blog, before work in the morning, and around noon, as they were probably surfing the web during lunch.  I know that I like to read after work, late in the evening, so that corresponds with when I first posted my blog, about ten or eleven at night.  Thus, early morning, lunch, and late evening are my high points for views.  Yours may be different, but if you’re just getting started, publishing at those times is a good place to start.

I’d love to hear about your blogging journey!  When did you start, or when do you plan to?  Have you used any of these tips?There are six more tips to come, so hang around for those articles as well, and please share what you learn with me!

How to Take Your Own Advice

“And I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”  How To Take Your Own Advice--Three Tips--www.thebeaminmyeye.comSuch is the lament of one of my favorite Disney
characters, Alice.  I often feel the same way.  This blog was intended to be a place where I gave myself very PUBLIC good advice, in hopes that I would actually act on it with Jesus’ help.  So how am I faring since I started blogging in the New Year?  I thought it might be time for an update, because I know we all enjoy other people’s confessions:)

How to Take Your Own Advice

Overeating:  I have been pretty good about this for about a week, no thanks to the fact that none of you signed up for Made to Crave with me…sniffle, sniffle.  I was excited to see Tisha win the book–send me your address, girl!  There is still time to sign up.  I don’t want to do the study unless some of you are going to join me, so just leave a comment on my original post “Made to Crave Giveaway” to let me know I can count on you.

Organization:  I have given away so much stuff lately, y’all, to the point that my mom cried and thought I was moving away without telling her.  No, I just needed to get rid of stuff.  However, there is still so much to do to get this house in shape.  I did take a trip to The Container Store (and La Madeleine) with my mom yesterday to buy a teabag organizer.  Does that count? And I also labeled it when I got home.  I can take organization a lot better than cleaning, which is especially miserable, because it is never done.  Anyone else with me?  Read my post about the why of organization here.

Money Management:  Okay, so Dusty tells me he budgets in his head.  I am not entirely, or at all, comfortable with that.  I want to see our debts being paid down and our savings increasing.  Maybe he can take what’s in his head and make me some charts:)  If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I like pretty!  I did download this pattern to make the Dave Ramsey money envelopes.  Perhaps I should read my Pinterest time-management article again to motivate myself to sew that pattern while I’m off this week.  What about today?!  Then I could post a picture here and at least feel accomplished in one area, ha ha.  Not in actual saving, but in the making-a-cute-envelope-intended-for saving way.

Wedding Planning:  First of all, let me say that this part of my blog has nothing to do with the rest of it.  I am hoping to host it elsewhere once I get some more pictures done.  I wanted to apprentice myself (offer my slave labor) to a wedding planner who managed a friend’s event last year.  And I received a rejection email!  What’s up with that?  She apparently didn’t have time to let me follow her around.  I’m sad:(  I am still the special events coordinator for Wildlife Action Center (see pretty pictures here), so if you know of anyone who would like FREE wedding planning services and is willing to take a chance on me, my first three brides are free.  I am also thinking of hosting an open house, so again, send me those contacts.  I guess I can say I’ve done my part in this area, so on one out of four, I have achieved!

So from my updates above, you can see I still have a long way to go, but here are some tips I think will help us both achieve our goals of Jesus-driven change:

1.  “Ask and ye shall receive.”  The first step is to ask Jesus to remind us of our commitments and why they are important to both Him and us.  Then we have to daily depend on Him to carry us through, confessing any missteps and asking Him to show us a better way.

2.  Make the goals public.  I have done that, but maybe you haven’t.  Or maybe you need to publicly discuss your struggles. When people think we’ve taken care of something, they lose the feeling that they still need to hold us accountable, so it’s good if we let them know we are still weak in an area.

3.  Which leads me to step three.  Have an accountability partner.  You need someone who has achieved the goal you are striving for, or someone who will actively work through your process with you.  It also needs to be someone who will actually remember to hold you accountable and who isn’t afraid to tell you to the truth with love.  Now recruiting…

What goals have you made and lost sight of in the New Year?  Which of these tips might help you?  Let me know by taking time to leave a comment below.  


Be blessed!

I Know Change Gon’ Come

change edit

It’s time. My favorite book in the Bible, James, admonishes me not to look into the mirror of the Word and then immediately walk away and forget who I am. Every time I get embarrassed about my messy house, cause an argument with my brash attitude, or stress myself out with an over-committed schedule, I think that something needs to change. I am tired of waiting for that change. I am ready to see it happen in me. I’m starting with the beam in my eye in hopes that others will be inspired to get the specks out of theirs as well.

However, this is not another self-help, dig-in-and-make-it-happen kind of blog. As a Jesus-girl, I realize I can’t make any of it happen. I have tried too many times and too hard and yet failed. Instead, I want to document the journey of me giving up the reins for the next year. I am going to take on one challenge at a time: maintaining a clean house, not just frantically cleaning it up for company. Establishing a budget that will lead to greater giving. Focusing on the events that lead to the greater goals of my life. Dealing with others using as much grace as I’ve been given.

I invite you to pull up a cozy computer-side chair and watch my foibles as I fall into the arms of Jesus and release myself from the exhausting journey of independence.