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I think you’ve noticed that I’m trying to shape up my blog.

A big part of that is Dana – he loved my writing. The sincerity and pride in his eyes when he talked about it meant a lot to me.

This blog needs a focus that is more clear than it has been. And I need your help in defining what that focus will be.

Toward that end, I’ve developed this anonymous blog survey that I would truly appreciate you taking a moment to fill out.

Thank you.

xo – Meriah

PS. If the embed form below gets screwed up, you can get to the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D7QRMYZ

________________________
Create your own user feedback survey

I’m one pent up Mama right now, chock full of stories that are begging to get out. I want to talk about my friend Heather visiting, about the yoga class I went to, about how we went swimming in the river. All of these will likely come on out in due time, but I haven’t been able to write ANYTHING for the past week because of all the blog cleaning up I’ve been doing.

Did you notice? Take a look up at the header – this blog has shifted from withalittlemoxie.com to meriahnichols.com . Same header, the blog title is the same, nothing has fundamentally changed except that I finally decided to put everything under one umbrella. That’s all of my sites: withalittlemoxie.com, meriahnichols.com and downsyndromeblogs.org – all in one place.

In anticipation of your questions, I’ve got some answers!

Where is Downsyndromeblogs.org ?

The navigation bar (above the site logo – see it? On the black strip up there?) has everything tucked into the categories. If you hover over “Down syndrome Blogs”, you will get the whole ball of wax – categories, ultimate blogroll, etc – something to bookmark!

I’ll still work on Down syndrome Blogs and I’ll add new blogs once a month, more often if possible.

Why’d you do this, Meriah?

1. It’s a pain in the ass maintaining 3 sites with limited internet access. One site, I can handle. Three, no.

2. I am claiming ownership on it all. I’m really putting my name to my game.

Are you thoroughly exhausted with trying to figure out stuff?

Uh…. yeah… how you’d you know?! Plugins, schmugins, filter this, and code…wwhhhhaaaaaaaaat? Seriously, I couldn’t have done it without my friend Susan – I got really lost around the FTP process and she guided me through that whole maze – then served as my sounding board with all the issues that cropped up. Someone who has patience for someone else asking them about mailchimp plugins at the crack of dawn…yeah, she’s a saint. Bless & thank you, Susan! 

Will you miss withalittlemoxie.com?

Yeah. I will. But change is also exciting.

It does suck  big time that I just lost all of my post-share counts. My post on the 10 Dumb Things the Hearing Say to the Deaf? Last I checked (on Saturday), I had 5,900 shares and over 40,000 views – I’ve never had so much traffic on my blog from one of my own posts, and it was pretty ‘YAY!!!’ (- coupled with a Dora dance) – but now it just shows “o”. So sad.

I took a screenshot to frame and smile at –

proof!
proof!

Just looking at those numbers make me droop a little inside – they are ALL GONE NOW.

But I’m pretty sure it was worth it. I lost all my numbers before, with the installation of multi-site (which I ditched), so basically it just looks like nothing I’ve written has ever been read or shared.

Blah-blah-blah blog-yada-yada – I don’t care, just give me a cute picture of something!

Here ya go:

 

drooooling
drooooling
for the last of our cherries
for the last of our cherries
oh yeah
oh yeah
tea roses explode
tea roses explode
and these guys. ouch
and these guys. ouch
little hands
little hands
"aaaahhhh"
“aaaahhhh”
mmm
mmm
say, "ahhhh!"
say, “ahhhh!”
*giggle*
*giggle*

meriah nichols_-11

Hope you are having a good one

– oh, and I almost forget – the last question I thought you’d ask:

Am I still getting my posts via email?

I sure hope so! If you don’t, please sign yourself up:

Email address: 

 THANK YOU!!

********

PS

#ModSummer

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My opinion is that blogging is over-saturated in general. The market is full – everyone has a blog these days and the competition to gain readers is pretty intense. I am too off-colour and thoroughly non-inspirational to ever be a raring commercial success – but I have learned a lot in the 6 years I’ve been blogging. Maybe some of it will be helpful for you:

 1. Get off Blogger

 This is the thing: when you have your content on Blogger, you don’t have ultimate control of your site. You can’t tweak it easily so that it can make you money, you can’t use plugins that will help you understand SEO better, you can’t do squat.

 Sure it’s easy though. I started with Blogger myself and I loved it. But in the long run, it’s like google is handing you a fish which will feed you for a day; self hosted WordPress is teaching you to fish. You’ll suffer in the beginning (and oh, how I suffered!) but you will be so, so much better off in the long run.

 2. Get off WordPress.com

 WordPress.com fools you into thinking it’s like the self-hosted WordPress.org.

 It’s not.

 You can’t use plugins with WP.com, you are stuck with their ads in exchange for the free hosting. It’s not a fair trade because your own hosting won’t cost you more than $100/year and you can literally make thousands of dollars from your own site through ads if you are savvy.

 But plugins are not all about making money – it’s also about expressing yourself creatively. Want to use a really cool photo gallery? Different share buttons? Want to upload your own themes? Or create community forums? Plugins let you do all that. And WP.com won’t let you use them. Boo.

 3. Get familiar with SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. That’s where you make your content so that google will display it when someone searches for something you’ve written about.

 I’ve always loved playful titles for blog posts. But by and large, calling a post “skyfluff love” won’t do you favours the way that a post called “3 Things That I Love About My Child With Down syndrome”. You want your post to be boring enough to be caught in the SEO net, but catchy enough to catch a reader’s eye. Not fun writing, I know. But necessary.

 4. Learn how to market

Blogging really seems to me to be the fine art of regularly writing short pieces, coupled with relationship building, and generous doses of tech savviness and artistic flair thrown in for good measure. Marketing is showing people what you’ve written in a way that makes it easy for them to engage with. If you have some tech savviness, it can be easy to set this up, but it takes monitoring and work.

 5. Know your platform

In terms of blogging-as-a-career, I think blogging is most useful as a platform. Build a connection with your audience through blogging, then moving to whatever else is meaningful for you. Use your blog as a diving board to your book, your movie, your project, your nonprofit, whatever.

 6. Pictures are important

Photos can move your blog to the top – they are *that* important. If you like photography, it’s worthwhile to learn how to be a better photographer and how to optimize your photos for the web. If you don’t like photography, it’s not a bad idea to stalk free photo sites to build your own personal stock photo arsenal.

 You need photos on your blog, point blank. Good ones.

 7. Have clear goals

I think it’s incredibly helpful to know why you are blogging and what you want to get out of it. Is it that you want a large readership? You want friends? You have stories to tell? Do you want money? I mean, how are you going to define success for yourself?

 There are no right or wrong answers, but the answers that you give yourself will help you in creating your plan and help you identify areas you want to focus on.

 8. Create emotional distance

I have to put this one in for those of you who are like me, very sincere and sensitive and wear their hearts on their sleeve. Man, have I been burned through blogging! People can get mean out there on the internet and than can be hurtful.

 My advice is to keep some space. Trust people, but remember that you really don’t know them, so if they do something stupid it won’t hurt (as much).

 9. Listen to yourself first

 There are exceptions to every single thing I have written about here. There are some huge bloggers that use Blogger – but it doesn’t matter what they do because they’ve had viral posts, are professional editors and/or write for larger networks or sites. This doesn’t speak for the average blogger.

 There are also people who wander around without goals and are blazingly successful. There are people who suck at SEO, who post photos rarely (if at all) who have a large readership. There are exceptions to every*single*thing I’ve written.

 So this is why it’s crucial to listen to yourself: people are going to tell you 50 million different versions of how to be a successful blogger (trust me; I read most of ’em). In the end, it’s your story, it’s your blog. It’s your deal, your gig, your show.

 If you know your own goals, you’ll be able to roll your eyes at someone telling you how important it is to self-host because you know that making money isn’t a priority at all for you; you just want something simple to connect with your buddies. Or if money-making is your goal and you don’t actually like writing that much, you can smile and shake your head when people talk about story-based blogging.

 10. The Useful and Useless….

I love blogging. It’s basically an online version of what I did growing up with my diary-writing. I love connecting with other people, I love stories and storytelling. I love the integration with art and craft. I love how it pushes me to learn and stay on top of developments in this field.

 As much as I love it though, I think it’s a sea that is absolutely packed with fish. I think it’s only going to get harder to make a living from telling your stories in this venue, but I think the diving board of blogging-as-a-platform has grown significantly larger.

 Sites that I Found Really Useful:

  • wordpress.org: explains plugins, the forums are fantastic for learning

  • bluehost.com: superior chat-based customer service

  • w3schools: for practicing css

  • google: no, seriously, when I see something I want to do or figure out, I google it – and keep googling until I have an answer. I learned almost everything about this through google

 Books that I Found Useful:

  Sites that I thought were a big, fat waste of time for growing readerships:

BlogHer: For established bloggers, this is probably awesome. But if you are not established, it doesn’t seem worth it to put their ads on your site, receive half of what the ads yield and then get very little traffic from them.

 Any of those Mom-Blog things: there are a ton of them. Huge blogging networks with thousands of blogs participating. I added my RSS feed to all I could find, actually participated in quite a few (and that includes BlogHer), but fuggedaboutit. Trying to get a foothold in those places is like a fish trying to get noticed in a giant aquarium. Or something.

 ***

So that’s it, my 10 tips on being a better blogger, helping you learn from my (numerous and gigantic) mistakes.  If I’m going to add a PS Tip, it would be to lay off on a new blog facebook page – facebook pages for businesses/blogs used to be great, but now facebook only shows 2% of your audience your content. If you pay them, they’ll show everyone.

My advice? Stick with your personal profile and start putting energy into twitter, facebook groups, Facebook live and Instagram. 

Good luck! Not that you need it 🙂

This is how it goes:

I wake up at 4 something in the morning to figure out wp framework. Mack wakes up with my waking up, he wants to nurse. So that happens. Then – around an hour later? – I can finally slip out, make a cup of coffee and figure out things that confuse me. I usually write a blog post while I am trying to figure things out. I get sidetracked on social media. I edit some photos. I sort of tinker around a bit more with that plugin or the other one and – oh! Mack’s up again! Moxie too!

This is invariably right when I’m in deep with a twisted knot of something – so I spend the next hour sort of doing a half-assed job with everything. With the problem, with an online conversation, with my kids. It’s all done with a fraction of my brain, and my brain is already operating with injury, so I end up constantly feeling fried, scattered, divided. And I end up feeling guilty that I’m not paying wonderful attention to my 3 little love-drops (two of whom are plunked in front of Dora as I type this, the other is sleeping on my lap).

It feels exactly like that saying: when you put the small stones into a jar first, then try and fit the large ones in, they won’t fit.

small-stones-in-first

And when you put the large stones in first, adding the small stones after, they will.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve got a lot of large stones right now – these ones

IMG_8303 IMG_8309 IMG_8322

– which are huge, solid and joyful, to be sure.

The other stones in the jar are the things that I try and figure out at 5 in the morning and kind of end up wanting to sacrifice small animals over (- that’s totally just a joke, okay?) (probably a bad one, but that’s what happens when you try and figure out plugin-shumugins-head/width/px-whatever nonsense for too long – bad jokes happen).

But this stuff needs doing.

So I’m going to take a break from this blog and a break from social media (- and of course, by “social media” I mean “facebook”).

Try and focus on the big things.

xoxox

meriah

 

I'm sure you've noticed that I've been working at shifting things around here, haven't you?!

– haven't you?!

Well, if you have, then you have.

I'm trying to streamline, simplify. I paired down all the "follow" stuff (to the right), making it really easy for us to connect all over the place.

I am also categorizing ALL posts – art/disability/travel/parenting for you readers that like things organized If you click on those respective pages (see above, the page links), you'll be taken to the new sites that I am still developing that will be ONLY those subjects. So if you are just interested in disability for example, then bookmark that page and subscribe to the RSS feed on that page – you'll only get the disability posts. Same goes for travel and art.

I'm also setting up a couple of shops – one over at amazon with my book recommendations, and the other will be at etsy for things that I make.

Thanks for sticking through this period of construction. And for everything else, too.

I love you.

You rock.

And yes, I'm hormonal.

IMG_7797

 

This is super short, super sweet – and man, this made my day, my week, my month!

 

Conny Wenk, she of the astonishingly gorgeous photos and frolicsomely happy twist of words – she has interviewed me on her blog!

 

Let me put some more exclamation marks there – !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – woo-HOO!

 

I shall now dissolve into a mound of quivering delight. Yep, that's me there, puddle on the ground. You know it's me because of the sparkles.

 

PS.

Still pregnant

 

PS2

The link! HERE IT IS!!!

 

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