Blogging and the Natural Leap to YouTube

At least three of my very favorite people are pretty much addicted to YouTube.  One of my best girlfriends has been following British bloggers since before I even realized YouTube was for more than music videos.  My brother uses it frequently for miscellaneous tool and vehicle reviews, and my boyfriend faithfully watches at least five (very awesome) nerd channels.

I don’t really have the patience for videos. I prefer to read, where I can skim or skip to the point if I want, and also I don’t have to be somewhere I can use sound.  To me, reading is simpler, and so is writing.  Video takes a lot more setup and brainpower to consume.  But the longer I’ve been blogging, the more I’ve noticed just how many people use blogging as a stepping stone to a video channel.

Take Johnny from sci.casual, for instance.  Johnny is a scientist who blogs about science in his spare time (seriously).  But recently, he posted this about his decision to (probably) move to YouTube.  Which is awesome — science-y stuff is often better portrayed in video anyway, where experiments and weird phenomena can be observed.  If Johnny does indeed make the move to YouTube, I’ll probably use my boyfriend’s account to follow him.  But I will definitely miss the science-y essays.

Other bloggers I follow are moving to YouTube slowly as well.  Catherine Ryan Howard, an Irish author, just started a (possibly temporary) vlog to promote her new book, Distress Signals (which I really want to read).  Idle Emma from Puddle Side Musings has done video tours of her planners and I think I remember one of her craft room.  And there have been several others from my blogroll who have experimented with video.

Not all of these bloggers will move to YouTube indefinitely, obviously.  Video is a great way to add interest to a blog, but moving completely to video isn’t for everyone.  But the fact remains that many YouTubers begin as bloggers, and I have a theory as to why that is.

People start blogs because they have something to say.  It’s a way to be heard, and a way to connect with yourself as well as with others.  I’ve learned a lot about myself since I started blogging, because writing regular posts forces me to shape my thoughts in a way that can be communicated clearly.  I have to know myself before I can tell anyone else what I think.

But, blogging is relatively low risk.  Posts can be written and rewritten until they are perfect, and we can wait to hit that “publish” button until we are ready.  I know videos can be edited as well, but the written word is easier to hide behind.  It’s a comforting barrier between us and the world.  It’s much harder to conceal things on video.  Facial expressions and inflection often give us away.

I think the reason many bloggers use their blogs as stepping stones is because it builds confidence.  Blogs are a fairly simple way to put ourselves out there; to see if there is anyone who wants to hear what we have to say.  If we’re brave enough, and keep writing, we end up getting responses and encouragement.  We realize that we are valuable; that we have something to contribute.  We start to want new ways to express ourselves.  We become comfortable with the level of exposure blogs bring us, and we end up wanting more.

And that’s where videos come in.  Videos expose us.  In video, we can’t hide our faces, our personalities, our nerdy excitement over things we love.  Videos, while they too can be scripted and edited, are a more naked introduction to the world.  As humans, we all want to be known.  Video is a great way to achieve that.

I’m not, of course, dissing blogs as a way to be known at all.  I am and will always be a huge fan of the power of the written word.  Blogging on its own is a great choice and one that I can always appreciate.  But I do see the draw toward video.  I’ve toyed with the idea of making a few videos myself, maybe once I show myself that I can consistently blog for a year or more.  But it will probably be awhile before that happens, if it does at all.

I always have bittersweet feelings whenever I read that a blogger may be switching to video.  I love video and all that it can show.  But I love the simplicity of writing, too.  I guess this just means I need to brush the dust off my own YouTube account and get fully on board the bandwagon.

If you have a channel about books, writing, travel, or other random nerdy things, leave a link in the comments!  I’d love to take a look.

How I Come Up With Post Ideas

I finally decided on a regular blog schedule back in September or October. This was a biggish step, because it means I have to work harder to stay on top of writing blog posts. It also means I’m writing a lot more. Writing more is proven to get your juices flowing — every single writer I follow touts writing every day as the best way to stay focused and get new ideas. Sometimes this is true for me. A lot of times I find myself with two or three ideas I really want to write about, which is good since I try to write and schedule several posts at once. But then there are those days (cough…like today) where I don’t have a ton of ideas and end up putting a post together the day of. (Not recommended.) So here’s what I do when that happens. 

  1. Keep a running list of topics. I think of random blog topics all the time. Sometimes it’s just a shadow of an idea, and sometimes it’s fully formed with two or three points I know I want to make. I keep them all on a list on my phone, and usually scroll through it for inspiration every time I sit down to write.  This post idea has been on my list for awhile, and today’s situation is definitely a perfect day to use it. 
  2. I scroll through Twitter. I don’t write about current events a whole lot, but when I do there’s a good chance my thoughts stem from a news article I saw on Twitter. I also follow several authors, bloggers, and celebrities there too, so sometimes their tweets will give me an idea for a related post. (I’ve found that, for me, other social media is not so good for post ideas.)
  3. WordPress’s post prompts and blogging courses. The employees at WordPress know that we all struggle with post ideas, and that’s why we have the Daily Post. I’m not a huge fan of the daily one word prompts, but there are also weekly challenges and other prompts specifically for bloggers to look through when they have writer’s block. WordPress also hosts free blogging courses a few times a year, several of which I’ve participated in before. A couple times, I signed up knowing I wouldn’t be able to actively participate, but I can still go back through the lessons and challenges for even more inspiration now. 
  4. Take a break and talk with friends. A lot of my post ideas come from conversations I’ve had with friends over coffee, or with my family while I’ve been home over the holidays. While online content is great for inspiration, I tend to subconsciously curate stuff I know I agree with. You can’t do that with actual people. Many of my more thoughtful discussion posts have stemmed from real-life conversations. 
  5. I don’t post if I don’t have a pretty good idea. I know technically this isn’t a way to come up with ideas. But there have been a couple times where I’ve wanted something on my site so bad that I’ve posted something completely worthless. While I will try to push myself and get good posts up on time, I’d rather skip a day than post something subpar. Quality over quantity, people!

If you have a different way of coming up with ideas, feel free to share!

Blog in Review 2016

I’ve had Mission:Incomplete since 2012, but this June was really the first time I began getting serious about blogging.  I still only blog as a hobby, but since I’ve really become active in the WordPress community, blogging has become much more important to me.

Blogging helps me keep on track with my goals and gives me a creative outlet.  I love putting my thoughts in words, and often writing helps me really examine why I feel what I feel about a topic.  It helps me think critically.  In addition to that, reading others’ blogs has helped become even more culturally aware.  I’m more aware of current events, more aware of different worldviews, and more aware of just how many people are affected by mental illness.  This year, my political leanings have changed, and my religious beliefs have solidified more.  I’ve continued growing up, and the blogs I read have helped shape me.

My blog has grown a lot this year, too.  Posting regularly has made the biggest difference (which I should’ve known).  My number of followers has more than doubled since June, and while numbers don’t matter that much in the long run, I’m extremely thankful to everyone that has read and/or enjoyed my thoughts.  It’s always nice to be validated, you know?  So — a sincere thanks to you all.

And Now — Some Super Fun Blog Stats About 2016

Most popular post:  On Makeup

Least popular post:  Thanksgiving 2016

Total visitors:  visitors

# of countries views have come from:  57

countries

Month with the most views:  November

Month with the least views:  May

views

See y’all in 2017!

Final Fall 2016 Goals Update

Since this is the last week of the fall semester, it’s time for a final update on the goals I set.

Goals for Employment

  1. Apply for entry-level jobs in marketing.  So far, I think my total applied-for jobs is at 21 or 22.  Pretty respectable.  I’ve only gotten calls back from the companies I’m not really excited about, but that’s okay.  I’ll keep applying, and I’ve got backup plans and internship applications going as well.  Hopefully winter break will give me time to make good progress on this.
  2. Utilize university resources.  I took personality assessments, went to a few workshops, and am looking into an entrepreneurship competition for the spring.  I definitely could have done more with this one, but I think with this goal in mind I participated in more than I would have otherwise.

Goals for Extracurriculars

  1. Video Production Team: Work at least one game per sport.  So far we’ve only been covering soccer, volleyball, and basketball, and I’ve worked multiple games of each.  I may not be the best at graphics or being a camera man, and my size has definitely held me back some — it’s hard to shoulder a camera for 3 hours when the camera is as big as your torso.  However, this is honestly one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.  I’m excited to work all the basketball games over break.
  2. COB Ambassadors: Work one event a month.  I think I’ve made this goal, but just barely.  Somehow big events always landed on Tuesday or Thursday, when I have classes literally all day.  Next semester should be better, since I’ll only be taking 15 hours of classes.
  3. COB Ambassadors: Project manage one event before graduation.  At this point, I don’t know if there will be time for me to both shadow a project manager and also project manage my own event.  Co-managing may be a better option, but I’ll just have to wait till next semester to see what all will be going on.

Goals for Daily Life

  1. Don’t add unnecessary stress.  Really the only stress I’ve had this semester have been over things that were out of my control.  Apart from a few random incidents, I haven’t worked myself up about much, and I’m trying to let go of the things I can’t change. My focus this week will be on projects anyway, so I won’t be giving attention to much else.
  2. Cut back on buying coffee. So, this hasn’t happened. At all. I have, however, tried to be smart about my spending — I use a punch card at the local coffee shop and use a reloadable card at Starbucks so at least I get a bit of a reward for the money I spend. I’ve also been making coffee at home regularly. If I try to cut back again, I’ll definitely need to set a specific dollar amount per month. I try to stick to a set amount mentally, but having it in writing will help.
  3. Make time for friends. Honestly, this hasn’t gone super well. Five group projects have taken up a lot of my time the past month, and everyone else is busy as well. We have planned a group outing for after finals, though, so hopefully we can make that work.  And I hope to see some of my older friends when I’m home over break!
  4. Make time for myself.  Seeing as how I’ve had the time to begin posting regularly here, this has been a resounding success.  This is more due to my classes being easier (or me slacking on them?) than to any brilliant time management on my part, but I’m definitely thankful nonetheless!  I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have this blog as a creative outlet.

And my overall goal for the semester:

  1. Enjoy senior year.  This is a definite yes.  There have been annoying frustrating things, obviously, because that’s how life is.  But I’m enjoying planning for the next step in life, and I’m really, really looking forward to what’s next.

In about a week, I’ll have only six months between me and graduation.  It’s a little stressful to think that between now and then, I’ll have to find a job (crossed fingers!), and a new living situation, and I’ll truly be out on my own for the first time.  But honestly, I am more than ready.  This semester has definitely been good, and I’m just looking forward to what’s next.  Plus, I already have ideas for goals I want to accomplish in the new year.

Also, I just want to give a shout out to everyone who has been reading my blog.  Even though I’ve been blogging since 2012, I’ve only really completely dived in since June, and I have loved all the feedback I’ve gotten!  I genuinely appreciate everyone who has read, liked, and commented on the thoughts that run through my head.  So thank you all, and have a great weekend!

Thanksgiving 2016

So I was planning on doing a photo gallery of things I’m thankful for in my life, because today is Thanksgiving and I didn’t want to write a whole post.  But turns out, I don’t take that many photos — and also, I had a different idea.

  1. I’m thankful that I live in a country where we get to elect our own president and representatives, even if the results aren’t always what I wanted.  It hasn’t even been 100 years since women got the right to vote in the US, and here I am, never having lived in a world where I couldn’t.  Unlike many, many women all over the world, I got to voice my say in my own government on November 8.
  2. I’m thankful I live in an area that has clean water.  As of this week, Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water.
  3. I’m thankful that I have the money to mostly pay my own way for my living situation and college education, and I’m thankful that my parents have the means and willingness to make up for the little I don’t have.
  4. I’m thankful that I have a good chance of soon having enough disposable income to support the causes I feel strongly about, because I am tired of feeling and not doing.  I’m thankful that I’m privileged enough to have this be one of the things I’m thankful for.
  5. Finally, I’m thankful for the ability to blog and the community I’ve gained from it.  Blogging and reading other blogs forces me to think through hard issues and exposes me to viewpoints very different from mine.

All these, of course, are in addition to the things you all know I love — my boyfriend, my parental units, friends that still love me even when I suck at texting back, books, coffee, and the fact that cats exist — just to name a few.  I could go on and on, and I probably should because thinking through all these things forces me to have a better attitude.  (Maybe that should go on my goals for the new year.)  But I’ll go ahead and sign off now, because I know there is Southern-style dressing and turkey waiting for me.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Oh — and don’t forget to #ShopSmallSaturday!

My Favorite Beauty Bloggers

I have never gotten more views on a post than I have on this one.  Since I wrote it about a month ago, it’s been the most read post on my blog ever.  It seems that a lot of people want to read about makeup.

I get why that is.  Makeup is fun, and dynamic, and pretty.  It’s a form of art that is easily accessible, and it’s one that most everyone appreciates.  Combined with selfie culture, makeup is a magic wand.  It lets us transform ourselves.

I’ve gained a lot of new followers from this one post, and I appreciate that so much!  It always gives me a little boost of happy when I see that someone new has followed me.  So thank you for that!

But makeup is not what I write about.  I write about goals, books, and my other niche interests.  While I may begin to dabble more in makeup once I have a little more disposable income, I don’t think it will ever feature prominently on my  blog.  However, I still have that appreciation for makeup, and I want to appeal to you all, not just myself.  So today, here are four of the best makeup and beauty blogs that I follow.  They all tend to feature drugstore products, simpler looks, and a laid-back lifestyle.  Have fun exploring!

Keira Lennox — She is also great to follow on Insta, since she runs a flower shop and never lacks for beautiful bouquets!

Beauty on a Budget — I’ve branched out a little in lip colors because of her, and she has a knack for finding quality, affordable products.

Samaries — I just started following this blogger, who posts tutorials specifically for glasses wearers, which I really appreciate since I’ve never seen that before.

Ordinary Adventures — While this blogger doesn’t post a lot anymore, her archived product reviews are very informative.

Disclaimer:  I’m not getting anything from any of these bloggers for linking to their blogs.  I simply want to share the love!

Bloggers: A Question for You About Commenting

The further I delve into the blogging world, the more blogs I seem to find that I really, really love.  When I first began blogging, I followed a ton of somewhat arbitrary blogs just to get my feet wet, and have unfollowed a lot of them because I ignored them when they popped up in my Reader.  But in the past few months, I’ve been blogging and interacting in the WordPress community more, which means I’ve found a lot of bloggers that I genuinely look forward to reading.  These bloggers are thought-provoking, or they make me laugh, or they write about things I’m really interested in.  But they’re all very different — the only common denominator is that they’re all genuine.  Most of them are smaller blogs, because a lot of the bigger ones I’ve found can feel too corporate.  There’s nothing wrong with being polished and professional, of course, and bigger blogs can be great.  But smaller ones feel like they could be written by my neighbor, or my classmate, or a family member even.  There’s an intimacy in them I love.

Honestly, I can think of three four five six seven (I keep thinking of another one!) bloggers just at this second that I would love to meet, because I think we would have interesting conversations.  I have to admit I’ve dreamed about having to go to X state, maybe on a business trip or something, and realizing I follow a blogger from there.  In a perfect world, I’d shoot the blogger an email, and in a totally non-creepy or stalkerish manner, explain that I’m a fan and that if they aren’t ridiculously creeped out by a random person asking them out for coffee, would they like to meet for an hour or two?  And we would, of course, and we’d have a great time, and it would be one of the best things we’d ever done.  (Or it would be super awkward and we’d both be forever scarred from blogging.  Who knows.)

However, this is real life, so I often have to settle for commenting.  But here’s the dilemma.  Occasionally, someone will publish three or four posts in a row that I really love and/or have thoughts about, and I always want to tell them what I thought.  But then I notice that I’m one of the only commenters, or that I’ve commented on every single post in the recent past.  I’m wary of becoming overbearing or annoying.  I’m inclined to think that comments will always be welcome, because I love love love getting comments, and I enjoy multiple comments from the same reader, because it establishes a relationship and shows engagement (and confirms that someone actually enjoys my writing! yay!).  But I know I am not everyone.

So, bloggers, how much is too much?  Do you like to see the same reader commenting a lot, or is that domineering?  Comment me your thoughts! (#irony)

Disclaimer:  I just realized that this post looks a bit like a thinly-disguised tactic to get more comments for my own blog.  I promise this is not the case; I am genuinely curious about how much commenting is appropriate.