This time last year I never would have imagined that I would be sitting here writing a review of the 2015 highlights from my blog. Blogging wasn't even on my radar. It's always amazing how God directs paths, and this has been an amazing journey of learning new things, managing new hats, and building new friendships. I feel blessed to be on this journey, and I wanted to share some highlights from my first 10 months of blogging! (Has it only been 10 months?!)
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I started blogging mainly as a way to share my love of learning while making a little extra money on the side to help support my homeschooling endeavors. I've had the opportunity to review some great curricula. Two of my favorites were:
One of my top viewed posts of the year featured a printable I created to help my Classical Conversations friends with their Latin studies! It's been a much used worksheet in my home. I'm not big on busy work, but I am big on drilling the grammar. Anything that helps my kids enjoy their memory work is a blessing in my book.
The success of these worksheets led me to develop other Latin resources. While I'm not a master Latin scholar, I've spent the past three years studying Latin with my son. He's my tutor actually because he loves the language and his young brain absorbs the information so much easier. He's really inspired me to continue studying the language.
This also led to the creation of my first product...which was such a blessing to create as it enhanced my own study of Latin.
As a lifelong learner, I have been thrilled by the way that blogging has pushed me to not only to learn to be a better teacher to my own children, but it has encouraged growth in other areas as well.
Family Style Schooling - Behind the Scenes
When I started my blog, I had no idea how big of a role that social media played in growing my blog. I've been much more active on Facebook than I ever was before, I've actually tweeted, and I stumbled upon Stumble Upon. I've found some great tools that have helped me make sense of how to keep up with all of the posting. You can totally manage all of these platforms for free, but I value the time that I save by investing in a couple of great tools. Here are some of my favorites:
- CoSchedule - I love the way CoSchedule integrates a calendar with social sharing for Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Tumbler right in WordPress. There are so many wonderful features. You can read my review here. I'm on the $15/month plan. Worth every penny.
- Tailwind - I'm new to the tailwind family, but I absolutely love it! I know many people find great success sharing their content on Pinterest, but I have yet to figure out the system. After a couple of weeks with Tailwind, I really feel like I'm learning the unique brilliance of Pinterest as well as feeling like I have an actual marketing plan on this platform. Each social media platform has to be approached in a unique way, and Tailwind takes the guesswork out of Pinterest. My plan is $10/month, and I can't wait to learn more about one of the biggest social media platforms.
- Round Team - I've been so thankful to meet an amazing group of homeschool bloggers at the iHomeschool Network. I've learned so many wonderful things from these ladies. I use Round Team to retweet their great content on Twitter. I'm on a free account with them, but the accounts are super cheap, like $3-$4 per month.
Images can either enhance or kill a blog post. You can say some amazing things, and then pair it with a poor image, and no one will want to share it. Crazy, I know.
My Gear - I don't have the fanciest gear, but a good camera goes a long way.
- Nikon D60 - I bought this over 10 years ago. If you're looking at buying a new camera, look for a bundle with an extra lens. My 55-200mm lens is my favorite, but the basic 15-55mm lens is great for close up shots.
- External Flash - Nikon Speedshot SB-800 again...a dinosaur, but it is still going strong, and I absolutely love it. The beauty of this flash is it bounces the light off of the ceiling instead of hitting your subject straight in the face with harsh light. It makes indoor photography beautiful.
- My latest edition to my gear is a small studio popup tent kit to take beautiful pictures indoors of items that I really want to focus on, and also help feature my husband's great creations for his Etsy shop.
Creating Images -
- Canva - Canva is an amazing program that I use to resize images to help my blog load faster. I also add text and a watermark to my images if I want to. "Canva for work" makes it quick and easy to resize those images for Pinterest or Instagram. It's a free program, but if you want added features, you can pay for them. I'm upgraded to the $10/month rate. Again, I find value in the time it saves me, so I happily pay!
- Pixabay - When I don't have a picture that quite lives up to my standards, I head over to Pixabay and search through their royalty free images. They have some great selections.
- Piktochart - I made my first infographic this month!! Yay for Latin Noun Genders. Piktochart functions very similarly to Canva, so the learning curve was small after spending so much time with Canva. I opted for the free plan because I'm not yet ready to dive full on in the infographic realm. I might be inspired to make one every now and then, and having "Piktochart" at the bottom of my image is a small price to pay.
It's been a fun year getting my feet wet in the blogging world. I look forward to what 2016 will bring!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.