5 Days of Social Media {Blogging}

Welcome to day one of 5 Days of Blogging with the TOS Homeschool Crew!
For the next 5 days I will share some thoughts, ideas, and tips about several types of Social Media — Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. The intended audience is the homeschool mom, but I’m sure most anyone interested in social media will find this series helpful. 
Today we’ll begin with information about blogging. If you have recently started a blog, are considering a blog, or are just wondering what the big deal is . . . read on!
When I began blogging 5 years ago, Ben and I were wrapping up kindergarten, and I wanted a place to record our homeschool journey. After spending literally hundreds of dollars, I had been a miserable failure as a scrapbooker. I did manage to scrapbook most of Ben’s first year, but after that, nada. 
Truth be told, I wasn’t the most stellar blogger in the beginning either. But I muddled through and managed to journal some of what we did in our homeschool and a field trip or two, along with some planning ideas, and a few general thoughts about homeschooling. But there were times when I would go long periods without blogging at all.
It wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I became a more avid blogger. I have the Homeschool Crew to thank for that. After watching several friends write reviews, my interest was piqued and I sent in my application as soon as the call came out for the 2010-11 Crew year. I knew that to be chosen for that team, I would have to step things up. And I did. At some point after that, the blogging bug bit me and I found myself really enjoying the sharing part. So, while I began blogging just to record our homeschool journey, curriculum and other reviews became as commonplace as field trips and lapbooking. Soon I found my self blogging about things that inspired and encouraged others, insights that developed along our journey, and curricula that I became passionate about. 
It’s fun to look back over the years and remember projects we did, field trips we took, and how crazy some of my lesson plans were. While blogging can be time-consuming and I have moments when I wonder why I keep doing it, a quick peak at the past will reignite that passion for me. 
So, are you wondering if you should begin a homeschool blog? Only you can answer that question for you, but here are some reasons to consider it. 
5 Great Reasons to Start a Homeschool Blog
1. First and foremost, to record your homeschool journey. Lesson plans, field trips, those day-to-day activities. All of these can be journaled on your blog. Not to mention pictures. If you’re like me, since the advent of the digital camera, I have pretty much no photo albums anymore. And last year, when I had a virus eat through my hard-drive, I was grateful to have put many pictures on my blog. It’s a fantastic way to hold yourself accountable as well, and it’s fun to look back over your year and see how much you really did accomplish!
2. To share your ideas and experiences with other homeschool moms. There are new homeschoolers out there pouring all over homeschool blogs looking for ideas, inspiration, and advice. Having a blog is a great way to minister to them, and a few seasoned homeschool moms needing refreshment as well. It’s also fun to be able to share those great deals and freebies you discover, as well as your favorite curricula!
3. Grandparents will thank you. Or maybe you’re trying to convince them of the benefits of homeschooling. Either way, blogging is a great way for you and your kids to show-off what the kids are accomplishing and learning in their homeschool. 
4. To write reviews. I don’t know about you, but my homeschool budget keeps getting tighter. The opportunities to review books, curricula, games, software, and online tools abounds. Whether you join a review team or review on your own, you’ll need an active blog. It’ll take time to build your blog and its following, but the money you can save by reviewing these products are worth every minute you invest. Don’t worry, the rest of this series will give you lots of tips for how to build your blog following!
5. To make a little pocket change. You can make a little money to easy the homeschool budget with blogging. From posting affiliate links and buttons, to “selling” advertising spots, you can monetize your blog if you wish. You aren’t likely to make a full or part-time income doing this, not without a great deal of work, but generating a little pocket change is not too time-consuming, once you’ve built up your readership.
Be sure to add a gadget or widget to your blog that will allow folks to follow you. RSS, email, Google Friend Connect, and Linky Followers are the most popular ways people can get access to what you write on your blog. 
Now, some of you are wondering if there are any downsides to blogging. To be quite honest, there are. While I’ve made the personal decision that the positives outweight the negatives, I wouldn’t feel right about not sharing some of the negatvies with you as well. 
5 Reasons You May Not Want to Blog
1. It takes time. If you’re goal is like mine was in the beginning, just to journal every once in awhile about your homeschool journey, then time probably won’t be a huge factor. It wasn’t for me at first. But if you wish to grow a readership and reach out to the homeschool community, then you will have to invest some time in that. Not just time blogging either. Time setting up your blog, building a community, reading and responding to comments, promoting yourself and looking for interesting things to blog about are things to consider. It can be quite time-consuming. I’ve spent 2 hours already, just writing this post. Not to mention the time I spent thinking about it before I ever opened my laptop. 
2. It can be expensive. Many bloggers pay for web hosting and blog designs, including custom headers and buttons. I don’t personally pay for either, except $10 a year for a domain name through Blogger. I designed my own header and blog buttons. They aren’t the crisp, professional design that many bloggers pay for, but I really want to keep my blog looking more homemade, so not having it professionally designed is purposeful. And I use the Blogger platform, which is free.Wordpress is another very common free platform.
3. Privacy can be an issue. Many bloggers are very open with sharing who they are, names of everyone in their families, where they live, and other details of their lives. I am pretty open myself. Others live in complete anonymity, never sharing real names or pictures. I personally believe that to have a successful blog (meaning having many people reading it), you need to have a decent amount of transparency. If you decide to blog, you’ll need to decide ahead of time how you feel about privacy and whether or not losing some is worth it to you.
4. Once you publish a blog, it’s out there in cyberspace for all to see. Forever. Even if you change your mind and delete your blog, you can be assured it’s archived somewhere. This can be an unsettling feeling for some. But it can also be a good thing. Imagine your children all grown up and married, sharing their childhoods with their own children through the blog you kept. You’ll want to consider both sides when deciding.
5. You don’t enjoy writing. You can start a blog if you’re not a great writer. Your writing will likely improve. But if you don’t enjoy writing, chances are you won’t enjoy blogging either. 
Some of you have already started a blog, but not much is going on with it. You’re finding it difficult to get started or you’re wondering what to blog about. I have some ideas for you as well!
5 Interesting Things to Blog About
1. Your homeschool week. You don’t have to blog every day. In fact, there may not be much to blog about on  a daily basis. I know there are days when all we get done is math (please, don’t ask), so I probably am not going to blog about our homeschool day that day. But on a weekly basis, you’re sure to have plenty to share!
2. Field trips. If you read my blog, you know that field trips are one of my favorite things to blog about. Truth be told, it’s because field trips are a huge part of our homeschool journey. Ben learns so much by getting out there and seeing, touching, and feeling all things science and history. So whenever opportunities arise, we’re on it. This is a great time to include pictures in your blog posts, too. Pictures just have a way of drawing folks in. So include them every chance you get.
3. A day in the life of your homeschool. Pick a great day. One where everything went as planned, the kids really had fun, and you felt great about what was accomplished, and blog about that! Talk about why you think things went so well. Did you try something new? Did you start a new schedule or add a fun, hands-on project. Then tell us about it! Or take your worse day and tell us about that. Sometimes it helps to know that everyone else isn’t sailing along with all perfect homeschool days.
4. Your favorite things for homeschool. This is another of my favorite things to blog about. When I find a resource that I am passionate about, I want everyone to know about it. When you blog about something you love, everyone can feel it. And if you love it, they just might love it, too. Most everything I use in our homeschool (apart from review items) I found out about because someone blogged about it passionately.
5. Your kids. Blog about your kids. Pick one child each week and tell us what is special about them. Tell us what they do to make you smile. Tell us about the funny things they say and do. Share with us what they love, and what you do special for them to help them be successful in homeschooling and in life. This is another great time to share pictures, too.
That should get you started. And if you still feel stumped, there are blog carnivals and memes all over the blogging world to help you as well. If you scroll down to the bottom of my blog page, you’ll find buttons and links to some of my favorites. 
Blogging about homeschooling has become somewhat of a passion for me. It may never be that for you. However, it can still be a very rewarding hobby for a homeschool mom or dad. 
Join me again tomorrow when I’ll discuss, 5 Reasons a Facebook Fan Page is Imperative for Homeschool Bloggers. 
Click on the graphic below to hop over to the Homeschool Crew blog and find more bloggers sharing their own 5 Days of Blogging topics. You’ll find topics such as History, Math, Sewing, Swimming, Books, Adoption, Lesson Planning, Cooking, Frugality, Games, Music, Art, and much more!

Enjoy!
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