How to Enjoy a Blog

I realize there is a chance that if you are reading this you may in fact already be aware of how to enjoy a blog. But just in case you are new to the blog world or find it incredibly overwhelming or just want some friendly helpful tips and blog suggestions... keep reading!

I don't just blog to get stuff off my chest or to have some kind of creative outlet. I don't just do it in hopes that I will one day make money. I really believe in the power of the blog.

For me, reading blogs can be like getting to flip through a magazine and look at projects that a real live person did. Instead of it just being things that are "on trend" or requiring a "designer" budget, they are things I can do myself, easily and affordably. Real women (or men), with real problems and busy families, sharing their projects and tips.

Bible devotionals are often super cheesy or written in "Christianese" and I have trouble relating to them (just keeping it real.) But I have come across a few blogs written by talented writers who encourage me spiritually whose words occasionally make me have those lightbulb, I-never-thought-of-it-like-that moments.

Occasionally, I stumble across a blog that doesn't just give me information, it makes me want to share my information too. Community. Fellowship. This is cool.

To sum up what I get out of blogs: Ideas, Perspective, and Community

Pretty cool, right?!

So, here, friends, are my tips to enjoying a blog:

1. Use a feed reader. I have Google Reader tool installed on my iGoogle home page. Every blog that I like, I subscribe to. Whenever I hop on the computer to check my email or Facebook, I can see a running list of new posts from each blog that I subscribe to. I can flip through a few that interest me from a box that expands when I click on the article. It's convenient. It saves me time. I only read what I want to read.
{Do you want to know how to do this?? Scroll to the bottom of this post. I have attached a Youtube video that does a great job of explaining how to use Google's feed reader. I also have some links that explain how to make iGoogle your homepage and add the Google Reader Tool to your homepage.}
  • If you don't care to use a feed reader, consider having your favorite blogs send you their posts directly to your email box where you can read them there. Or follow your favorite blogger on facebook. The only thing you should know about Facebook is that Facebook uses an algorithm that makes it very unlikely that you will see the blog pages you follow in your feed... UNLESS you comment and participate on your favorite pages. That tells Facebook it's important to you and it moves it up in priority to the top of your feed. (It's the same with friends you follow. If you never comment on certain friends posts, you won't see them in your feed anymore)

2. Pick good blogs. 
  • Pick a few big successful blogs. They are successful for a reason (usually). Their recipes are good, their projects are "on trend," they have great pictures, and they are well-written.
  • Pick a few small blogs. Smaller bloggers are great at responding to your comments, replying to your emails, and usually have the capacity to even remember your name. 
  • Pick a few blogs that are by people you look up to and a few by people who are right where you are. Want to be a better cook, for example, find a recipe blog by a cook that cooks how you want to cook, and recipe blog from someone who is learning to cook. Direction and wisdom can be gained from people you look up to. Perpective, encouragement, and the power of knowing you aren't the only one can be found in people who are right there in the trenches with you. 
  • Pick blogs that encourage you, inspire you, challenge you. Avoid the negative, narcissistic blogs. I think it's pretty much easy enough to be this way all on one's own. I don't want/need any help with this. I love when I come across a blog that encourages me to be a better cook, better writer, better wife, better mom... that is full of tools to help me do this and is written by someone who seems like they know what it's like to be me.

3. Participate in a couple blogs. For the blogs that are the most inspiring and the most relatable, don't just read. Get in the conversation. Follow the blog on facebook (a place where a whole lot of "conversation" happens). Follow the blogger on twitter or on Pinterest too. Community can happen... even on the internet! I can tell you as a blogger, it makes my whole day when people leave me comments on a post or on facebook. And while affirmation is nice and always welcome, I think it's the conversation that I most enjoy. I like being talked to by you! :)

I once even heard of a blogger who invited all the friends she made from her blog over for a slumber party... This sounds like way super fun! (Hope that doesn't make me lame or creepy.)

While I would never suggest allowing the blogosphere to take the place of good, old-fashioned, face-to-face friendship, do utilize blogs as a tool. The blog can provide a little extra adult conversation, money saving tips, fashion forward ideas, craft projects, recipes, party ideas, humor, devotionals, encouragement, fresh perpective... all for FREE.

If you are considering adding some BLOG to your life, here's my favorites to get you started:
(These are the blogs that I always read when they appear in my feed reader because they are positive, uplifting, inspiring and sometimes even just their pictures make me happy)

Sarah Mae- She is encouraging and super REAL...a great read for moms.

A Beautiful Mess- These sisters are fresh and trendy but also kind of indie-retro-rock too. I love their pictures. I love their projects. I love their fashion suggestions. This blog always makes me happy.

A Holy Experience- pretty sure I've mentioned this one a thousand times, but this is Ann Voskamp's blog. She is a thought-provoking writer and an amazing photographer.

551 East Furniture- This blog is from a gal who revamps old pieces of furniture and resells them. She's got a quirky sense of humor and some seriously great ideas for furniture redo's.

Organizing Made Fun- Okay, so I don't always enjoy this blog if I am honest (I am so not an organizer) but I need this blog in my life. She has helpful tips and simple ways to organize.

Annie Blogs- She is a great read for singles and young women... but I seriously enjoy her blog. I don't think I have ever not laughed while reading one of her posts... though do be warned, she is also the kind of writer that could bring one to tears too. She's talented!

A Forest Feast (Healthy, Fresh, Easy Food and always with Beautiful pictures)

With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart- Lorraine has got to be one of the sweetest bloggers I have come across. She is encouraging! She's older, a grandma to 10 if I remember correctly, but so wise. She has timeless recipes, entertainment ideas, and crafts and some occasional encouragement.

I Can Teach My Child- If you would like to be a better parent, check out this blog. Jenae's blog is full of easy activities you can do with your children. Right now she is in the middle of a 30 for 30 challenge, where she challenges readers to spend 30 minutes with their children each day for 30 days. While I am not participating in the challenge, it still challenges me to be a better parent and spend more quality time with my munchkins.

And if you happen to be a fellow blogger or are thinking about starting one up, here's my list of favorite blogger tips/encouragement: Allume, Michael Hyatt, Problogger, and Blogging with Amy

By the way, this isn't even a tenth of my list of subscriptions. I enjoy blogging. And I also enjoy blogs. :)

I would love it if you would share with us, what are some of your favorite blogs?

(keep scrolling if you want to learn how to set up Google Reader)

Want to set up Google Reader and have no clue how? Want to know how to add a blog to your reader? (I only just figured this out a few weeks ago... yeah. I am so not tech savvy) Check out this Youtube video.

Want to know how to how to make iGoogle your homepage? Click this link.

What to know how to add the feed reader tool to your homepage? Click this link.
This link will show you how to add a gadget. To add the Feed Reader. Click the gadget icon (towards the top of the page on the right hand side of the screen.) Enter seach terms, "feed reader," Click the Add it now button under the Google Reader (should be the top item).

You can now either click the Follow with Google Friends Connect or the Subscribe icon to follow your favorite blogs on your homepage.

I love using a feed reader because it saves me time and I can quickly scroll through a blog's post. If I like the article, I will click on it to go straight to the blog so I can comment. I love that I don't have to see anything but the article in the feed reader (of course, Google throws in a pesky Adsense advertisement at the bottom, but that's it).

If you want to subscribe to this blog's feed, click this Photobucket button on the top right hand side of the page, or click on the button that says "Join this Site" with Google Friends Connect. Both of these will put my feed into your reader.

Of course you can enter your email address and get my posts sent directly to your email box (This is done automatically and can easily be unsubscribed to without me even noticing. I would never use your email address for anything else). You can also just follow me on facebook (I post all articles there too).

Thanks for reading my blog, friends! Hope this was helpful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments OR send me your questions in an email.