Why Blogging Is Hard Work.

I have learned many lessons since I first started blogging way back in October 2011. First and foremost, I now know that blogging is hard work, and involves a lot more than just writing.

Screenshot of Blog Landing Page

1. Social Media and Marketing

 

You must write, and write plenty, but that’s just the beginning of a blogging journey. Nobody will stop by to read my brilliant, and sometimes not-so-brilliant words of wisdom, if I don’t let it be known I’m sharing my insights.

And how might I ask do I do that? Why social media and networking of course. The very words put the fear of God in me.

Yet over the past few years my website has come a long way. Thank you to all my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest followers. This little blog would NOT be possible without YOU.

But as we spread the word about my writing, a never-ending cycle begins …..

 

The more you market and publicize ……

….. the more visitors come to my site.

 

The more visitors come to my site…..

…… the more server space I require.

 

The more server space required ……

……. the more money it costs.

 

The more money I don’t spend ……

……. the more my site crashes.

 

The more my site crashes……

……. the more visitors I lose.

 

And that’s where I must end this cycle. I don’t want to lose you, my readers.

If I don’t address problems, and sometimes throw money at them, all of my hard work could be for nothing.

 

2. Technical Glitches:

 

Now don’t worry, I’m an optimist not a pessimist, and I truly believe that for every problem there is a solution.

But in the interim …….

 

I’m never surprised when things go wrong.

 

I knew that at some point on my blogging journey, technical difficulties would inevitably raise their ugly little heads. Don’t forget I’m Irish, with an inherent respect for Murphy’s Law.  That’s when I want to curl up in a little ball and cry out:

 

“But I know nothing about computer programming.”

 

Faced with the dilemma of whether to give up, or move on, I always choose to try to master new skills.  Success is never guaranteed, teaching this old gal new tricks.

But, I’ve come too far to give up now, even if technical glitches try my patience.  For example take a look around at my beautifully blue site. 

I know!

Not very fitting for an Irish themed blog :)

But rest assured, I don’t particularly want blue backgrounds and fonts, but I completed a theme upgrade for my site and everything turned blue, including me. I’m trying hard to change it back to green. I won’t bore you with my trials and tribulations with plug-ins and widgets, but I know for sure, I’ll never earn my living as a WordPress programmer.

So while I’m working out how to go Irish green, bare with my blues.  I was born in Dublin, so I suppose I can claim to be a “true blue Dub.”

 

3. The Business of Blogging:

 

All of these challenges have taught me a valuable lesson.

 

Blogging can turn into a little business in the blink of an eye.

 

As a little blog baby grows and grows, who feeds it? A growing blog needs marketing support, technical back up, accounting, security, policies, artistic creation, socializing, business development, advertising ….. I could go on and on.

Blogging turned into a little business for me before I knew where I was, and guess who tries to fill all the business roles in my little company.   Yes!  That’s me, and half the time I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, just learning to fly by the seat of my pants.

Wordpress Dashboard

I started this blog for fun, but with increasing traffic I now need to pay for more server space, which means I need to do something to generate a little income, if I don’t want to totally raid my kids’ college funds.

Luckily, my little blog doesn’t need to generate income to feed my family. Phew! Right now it doesn’t even cover overheads, so we’d be starving if I was hoping to feed my hungry boys.

And so, when you see a few advertisements flashing away on the side bar of my site, please understand I’m just trying to keep the lights on.

Heart failure struck a few times, when I saw some wiggly, jiggly belly fat ads before my very eyes. Then to make matters worse, my mother reported some soccer betting ads were popping up on her side of the Atlantic, especially around the time of the World Cup.

I’m working with my advertising agencies, and fingers crossed all ads will be of a higher standard in future, but in the meantime, if a wobbly belly appears on your screen, I really do apologize.

 

4. Coping with Blog Anxiety:

 

My audience has started to grow, and I cannot thank you enough for visiting my little corner of the world wide web.But let me confess, that makes me feel a little nervous when I realize:

 

YIKES !!!!!  

Readers want to read MY STUFF!

 

When I work on a post for a few days, and time comes to hit the “publish” button on my blog, my stomach goes a little  queasy. I guess I worry that my ramblings may disappoint some of the wonderful readers who revisit my blog over and over again.

But then I think of what my granny would have said:

 

“Ah, just get over yourself!”

 

Believe me – my granny was a very straight-forward, no-nonsense kind of Irish gal. She milked over 60 cows on a daily basis. Now in the latter years she had a lovely milking parlor to make life “easy”, but she was milking cows right into her 70’s.  When we would fuss about homework, her motto was:

 

“Just clap it down, and get on with life!”

 

 

So guess what?  Granny’s advice wins out every time.  I do just as she would tell me, and get over myself.

No more worrying! No more anxiety! And if today’s post isn’t good enough, then hopefully tomorrow’s will be a little better.

 

Thanks to my Facebook Fans

But believe me, your heart warming comments and e-mails go a long way to keep me motivated. It’s lovely to read your two cents worth at the end of my ramblings. Your heartwarming words are what makes all this hard work so worthwhile.

 

THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

 

Off To Ireland To Cook A Stew

A short while ago I shared news about the World Irish Stew Championship being organized in County Sligo this week as part of the Gathering initiative.

On a whim I entered my recipe for Guinness Beef Stew.  Believe it or not, my recipe was chosen for the homecook’s portion of the competition.   I was completely amazed and thrilled. I’ll be flying to Dublin today and then traveling to Sligo to compete.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghiggs/7755282834/in/photostream/

County Sligo

Image Credit

A trip to Ireland to cook a stew is definitely a prize beyond my wildest dreams. I couldn’t believe my luck when my husband’s work schedule cooperated, allowing him be off to take care of our four little ones. And into the bargain I will be visiting Sligo, one of the most scenic counties in all of Ireland.

When I was a little girl we visited Sligo for a short family break one weekend.  We stayed at a hotel on Rosses Point, beside a spectacular sandy beach overlooking Sligo Bay.  When we reached the hotel I discovered I had forgotten my suitcase.  My two sisters wore their trendy 1970’s maxi dresses to dinner at night. I wore practical corduroy pants with a red sweater my mother bought in Sligo.  All weekend other guests assumed I was the boy of the family.

And that’s not the only time I reached my destination without sight nor light of my suitcase.  Most people can blame their airline for such incidents, but in my case it’s usually some silly oversight on my part.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelclarke/3584266839/in/photostream/

View of Ben Bulben mountain from Drumcliffe, the burial place of W.B. Yeats

Image Credit

On our trip to Ireland two years ago, I once again arrived without my suitcase.  Unfortunately my bag has very sensitive rollers. It only needs the slightest touch to glide across a hardwood floor.  As my husband grabbed bags from a stack of six awaiting loading, a slight nudge caused my bag to slide away and topple over behind the bed.

And there it lay, all forlorn hiding in the bedroom awaiting my return.  And there I stood, with nothing but the clothes on my back when I arrived in Ireland.  Lucky for me I have two sisters living in Ireland.  I felt like a teenager as I raided their wardrobes.  Don’t worry, I didn’t find those trendy 70’s maxis.

My bag is now packed for my trip. Let’s all say a prayer it makes the journey all the way across the pond to Ireland.  This time I plan to arrive in Sligo with a suitcase and a change of clothes to my name.

A big thanks to Debbie Chartoff, a travel writer for Examiner.com based in Louisville, for her words of encouragement when she reviewed my trip in her feature article today.

I promise to take lots and lots of photos of Ireland to share with you this week.  Keeping my fingers crossed a little bit of sunshine will break through the clouds to illuminate some good shots.

In the meantime, please excuse me if I don’t add very many new posts this week.  I have a few stories prepared to share, but posting them will depend on internet connection at my destination.

And so during this first week of May, the Kentucky Derby won’t be the highlight for this Louisville girl.  Instead of focusing on horses, I’ll be cooking stew in Ireland.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

 

Thanks For Your Support

Yesterday I got some great news.  Irish American Mom won the gold award for best expat blog in the USA.  Thank you all for your support, your comments, your votes, and above all for reading my ramblings.

I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing your comments on the expats blog page.  Your insights help me better understand what you wish to read.

Recipes are the most popular and appreciated posts on Irish American Mom.  I promise, I’ll keep on cooking, and reworking old Irish recipes for success in America.

Creating entertaining yet useful information about Ireland, and her strong ties to America, is a key element of my blog.  If there are stories you would like to hear, please feel free to leave me a comment, send me an e-mail, or contact me via twitter or Facebook.  I always love to hear from readers. Your e-mails make me smile, and laugh, and make me proud of our shared Irish heritage.

One reader wrote that this blog brings her:

“Ireland with the mix of American in a way that zeros in to truth, humor, history, and brings an escape of sorts into believing I’m even more Irish than I am.”

It is said everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but I believe if you feel a connection with Ireland, then you can be Irish all the time – 24/7 -365 days of the year.  Even if that drop of Irish blood running through your veins is only a teaspoonful, it is a very potent teaspoonful indeed, and you have every right to feel Irish.  Any time you wish to strengthen that connection to the land of our ancestors, just stop on by.

And so, thank you all once again for your support, your kind words and for joining me on my blogging journey.  I couldn’t do this without readers like you.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

My Nomination For The Expat Blog Awards & A Request For Your Support

Last week I got a lovely surprise.  My blog has been nominated for the Expat Blog Awards, run by Expatsblog.com, a site for bloggers from around the world living away from the country of their birth.

The best five blogs from each country will be recognized, and other worthy sites will also be included in their expat blog directory which currently lists almost 900 blogs from around the world.

When I discovered a reader had nominated my blog I was truly flabbergasted.  It is lovely to know others appreciate my ramblings, and my efforts to express in words my experiences, feelings and thoughts.  I am not alone on this journey I call my American evolution.

I love to write, and until I discovered the joy of blogging, I never shared my words with anyone.  To tell you the truth I never even shared my dream of being a writer until recently.  But now I have found a platform for my work through this blog and I feel deeply honored by this nomination.

Thank you all for reading my work, commenting, sharing your thoughts and above all for your support.   So here is where I need your help.

Judging of these Expat Blog Awards is partially based upon reader feedback and rating of the nominated blogs.   Please, please, please, click on this link for my nomination page to add your comment and rate my blog.

 

Irish American Mom’s Nomination Page For The Expat Blog Awards

 

Every comment and star will count, so thank you in advance for your vote.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Oh, To Be A Techie Celt!

I apologize to all those who have tried to access my blog only to receive an error message.  My site has crashed and burned on many occasions over the past week.  I promise I am trying my best to set this right, and hoping and praying my best will be good enough.

 

But alack and alas, I am no Techie Celt.

 

I started blogging because I love to write, not realizing a little background in computer programming might be helpful along the way.

 

Of course, I didn’t pick a simple blog layout.

 

No! That would have been the safe way. Instead, I chose a complicated, graphic-rich, plug-in laden, server-resource-loving template.  I think my adjectives really show I should stick to writing rather than trying to be a computer geek.

Anyway, the long and the short of this story is that I must discover how to optimize my website.  When I phoned the helpline for my server host, they advised me to contact my webmaster.

 

“My Webmaster?” I asked. “And who might that be?”

 

“The person who developed your site, and does your programming?” came the reply.

“Speaking!” I said. “But I am afraid this master or mistress of the web is not very masterful.”

The support guy explained that website development is not part of their provided service.  At least he gave me some links to check out, all on this scintillating topic of “optimization.”

It all sounded good to me.  I rolled up my sleeves, focused on my computer screen, then typed in the first recommended url.  A few latent synapses fired in my foggy brain, as I read the introduction.

By the time I reached the third sentence I had completely forgotten what on earth I was supposed to be researching.  Something about MySQL servers, HTML, optimization, caching, spam-bots, query limits, kilobytes, hits, page views, traffic……

 

Did someone say traffic?

 

Yes, blog traffic!  That’s what I want!

 

 

But to handle all this increased traffic, I need to know what on earth I am doing.

I think my host company knew we were in trouble when I phoned to ask about caching last week.

 

“Do I need to caché ?”

 

I asked in my best French accent, with a lovely, long “eh” sound at the end.

Anyway, the long and the short of this story is that I am on a very steep learning curve.  In fact, there is no curve at all.  It’s just one massive steep slope, and I am starting right at the bottom of the hill.  This computer lingo is Double Dutch to me.  With zero dollars in my development fund, I have no choice but to get to the bottom of this mess.

 

 

My writing and posting have been put on the back

burner for a few days, while I try to figure out this

whole server crashing business.

 

 

So please, if you try to reach my page and get an error message, don’t give up.  I am evolving into a techie Celt, an Irish American geek, who will hopefully become the master of her own domain any day now.

Today you will notice I have published my first post without one single image.  I resisted the temptation with difficulty.  Much as I wanted to search for a lovely photo, I held out.  I’m not adding one more resource-hogging image until I know what on earth is going on.

And so all I can ask is for your patience and understanding.  Please do come back and visit.  Don’t give up on this confused and frustrated Irish American Mom.

 

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom