• Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with Gardein Meatless Meatballs
  • Terrific Tempeh Tacos
  • Running Wednesday: My Favorite Pure Speed Workout
  • Starting a Blog. What’s Next: 11 Tips to Get More Readers
  • Aquafabulous Chocolate Chip Cookies. Vegan and Gluten Free
  • 8 Tips for Running Downhill.
  • A Plant Based Memorial Day and Remembering a Friend
  • 10 Blogkeeping Tasks that Anyone Can Do
  • Meatless Monday: Chili con Not-Carne. Plus #BloggyBootCamp!
  • Fit Friday: TRX Circuit Workout

Starting a Blog: What’s Next? Own Your Domain

Welcome to Part 3 of my series on starting a blog. Today we’re going to discuss owning your own domain name and self hosting. Did you miss the previous posts?

Part 1: Blogging Goals
Part 2: 11 Tips to Get More Readers

Starting a Blog: Own Your Domain

If you’re just starting a blog, you may very well have used one of the popular and free blog building tools available. Today I’m going to focus on the two most popular, Blogger and WordPress.com. That means that most likely you have a website with an URL like www.blackdograceproduction.blogspot.com or www.debwoodruff.wordpress.com. They’re great, they’re free, so why would you want to change?

Part 3 of the series. Starting a Blog: What's Next? Owning your own URL and Self Hosting.

Well, for a few reasons. First on the list is that having your own URL, say www.blackdograceproduction.com, makes a more businesslike appearance. If you want to take your blog to the next level, that is important.

Second, it is easier to remember. I can easily remember www.debwoodruff.com (well, it is me, so that does help a little), but tack on the wordpress part and it gets more difficult.

Third, your blog should represent your personal brand, no matter what your plans down the line. Especially since those plans may change, you may want to start monetizing your blog, and become self-hosted, in which case you will need your own domain name, if it’s still available.

Other reasons include easier search, improving your web presence, and that it’s just cool to have one (yes, that’s one of the reasons I still own debwoodruff.com).

Finally, why wouldn’t you? For around $10 a year, your URL can represent you. That’s less than two Frappucinos! Let’s do it!

Where Do I Start?

This is the easiest part. There are dozens of places to purchase your own domain. When I purchased my first domain, I did it right through the Blogger site (which actually used Go Daddy). I’ve also purchased a few through Domain.com. Others include Namecheap.com, Register.com, Network Solutions.com and many more. Most web hosting sites sell domain names too, which can make it easier when and if you choose to become self-hosted. (Note: I’m not endorsing any of the above. I’ve only had experience with Go Daddy and Domain.)

Picking a Domain Name

The next step is picking your domain name. The logical thing to do is to purchase the name that matches your current Blogger or WordPress name, right? Not necessarily. For one thing, it may not be available, or you may have to do a variation on your current name. And, now that you’re buying your own URL, you want it to be something you can stick with. What sounded cute and fun when you started your free blog just may not fit as you move forward.

I really suggest checking to see if your own name is available. You can still call your blog whatever you want, but if you have your name for your URL, you really are branding yourself. Sadly, my name has not been available since I first started checking years ago (hence the debwoodruff.com).

What about .ORG, .CO, .BIZ?

You have the option, if yourname.com is not available, to choose from a number of extensions, including .org, .biz, and .co. If you’re in the US, “.com” is really the standard for most websites. What if I type in your URL, but use .com, and end up on an entirely different website? It’s really for you to decide, but I prefer to use the .com extension.

What’s Next?

So you have your user name and you’re ready to go. You have several options, but this post will cover two: Keeping your free Blogger or WordPress.com site, or becoming self hosted. There are advantages to both. It just depends on your needs and goals.

Free or Self-Hosted?

If your goal is to have your own space on the web where you can write what you want, have other people read your writing, and keep things simple and virtually free, by all means stick with Blogger or WordPress.com. You can always change your mind later. If, however, you want to make some money, either through advertising, sponsorships, sales of products or services, or other means, or if you want full control over your website, self-hosted is the way to go. WordPress.com does not allow advertising or sponsored posts, and gives you few options with widgets and personalization. Blogger also has some restrictions, with which I am not as familiar. Of course, web hosting costs money, though it doesn’t have to be too expensive. The price varies with your needs.

So let’s get started on the how-to, shall we?

Blogger

Here are step by step instruction for using your own domain in Blogger (called Third Party Domain).

Blogger Step OneIn your Blogger dashboard, select Settings then Set Up a 3rd Party URL for your blog. If you have not yet purchased your domain, you can do it here, through Blogger, by clicking the blue button.

Blogger Step TwoIf you already have your own domain, enter it here. Be sure to use “www.” If you click on View Setting Instructions it will also lead you through the process. Click Save.

Blogger Step ThreeYou will receive the error message above, and instruction to go to your domain registrar, locate DNS, then CNAME and enter the following CNAMEs.

Blogger Step FourThis is the view in my registrar, Domain.com. First navigate to your domain and select it. Click on DNS, then Modify and select CNAME from the drop down menu. Fill in the information from the previous photo (yours will be different).

The next step is optional but important. Right now, if someone types in www.yourdomain.com, it will lead them to your Blogger website. However, if they don’t type the “www” they will get an error message. In order to fix this there are two more steps.

Blogger Step FiveOn your registrar, navigate to DNS (you’re already there), then select A Record from the drop down menu. Scroll down to the bottom of the A Record and enter (Host) your domain name without the “www.” Under Points To, enter the IP addresses shown above (all four of them). These IP addresses are also on the Setting Instructions (see below).

Blogger Step SevenNow, wait. It can take a few hours to be verified and work properly. When my URL had not been verified by then, I had to go back and verify it manually. Read here for instructions on how to verify your URL. It’s very simple, and takes just a few minutes.

Blogger Step SixYour final step is to go back to your dashboard settings and check the box that says “Redirect yourwebsite.com to www.yourwebsite.com. Now, if someone just types it in without the “www” they will still make it to your site.

WordPress.com

A little disclaimer here first. While I have had two previous WordPress.com sites that I have switched to my own domain name, I didn’t do it here because there is a $13 per year fee to Map Your Domain, which is what WordPress calls it. Instead, I will walk you through the process as much as I can, but I may be missing some screenshots.

Wordpress Step One In your WordPress dashboard select Domain (at the bottom of the list, it wouldn’t fit in the screenshot). As you can see, you can purchase a domain and the mapping through WordPress (it doesn’t show debwoodruff.com because it is (obviously) not available. The $25 is for the domain itself and the first year of mapping. If you already have a domain, click Map It.

Wordpress Step TwoFill in your domain name and click Add. This will take you to a page where you can pay your $13.

Wordpress Step ThreeThen you will need to update your DNS on your domain registrar. You’ll need to use all three name servers shown above.

Wordpress Step FourHere again is my account on Domain.com. Select your domain, then Nameservers. Select “Use different name servers,” and fill in the three from the previous picture. Click Save.

Then wait. It can take a few hours, but then you’ll be up and running with your own domain!

Self Hosting

Now it’s time to take the next step. To become self hosted, you’re going to need to find a host. I use Hostgator and I’ve been very happy with them. Other well ranked hosts include Bluehost and Dreamhost. Prices start around $4.00 a month depending on the size of your blog and your needs.

I’m not going to go into detail here, because each host will be different and they can help you with the process. Believe me, it is very do-able by a layman. I know that because I’ve done it myself several times.

Action Plan

Be brave. Buy your domain. It’s only about $10. Report back. Next week we’ll discuss ways to monitize your blog.

Coming next week. Part 4 of the series. Starting a Blog: What's Next? Monitizing your blog.

For those of my readers who are already experienced bloggers, I hope you will contribute to the conversation and  add any tips that have helped you.


 

My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!

Meatless Monday with Tina and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie 
Bonnie, the Pin Junkie
Tip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape
Wednesday Wisdom with Nanna’s Wisdom
That Friday Blog Hop with xoxo Rebecca
The Blog Booster Party with Kathleen

 

Home Workouts with Grokker. Win a Premium Membership!

Okay, so you guys know I’m a runner. Duh, right? I also weight train a few times a week with my best training partner (that would be my hubby). So when I had a chance to try out Grokker, I knew exactly what types of classes I wanted to try. I specifically needed some mind and body home workouts, yoga in particular, plus some core work because I hate it tend to skimp on it at the gym.

If you’re like me, you’re pretty darn busy. Between work, blogging, family, and general living, it’s hard to find time for fitness. I love to run because I can slip on my shoes and head out the door. I love going to the gym because I’m with Alan (so it counts double as family time!). I have found though, that yoga is always the first thing that I drop when life gets extra crazy. And that’s not a good thing because not only does yoga strengthen my body, it strengthens my soul, centers me, and reminds me that I need to breathe.

Enter to win a free one year membership to Grokker! All kinds of home workouts from yoga, stretching, and meditation, to HIIT, Body Conditioning, and even cooking!

Grokker solves many of these problems because you can do your workout at home or anywhere you have an internet connection. I downloaded the app to my iPad, and now I’m free to do yoga in the park if I want! Grokker allows you to curate your own collection of favorites, so it’s always easy to find what you’re looking for. If you want to check out my collection, here you go!

In addition to the best yoga videos, you will find every kind of workout available, from HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), to Body Conditioning, cardio, stretching, core, and more. You’ll even find recipes with video instructions on preparing them!

Home Workouts with Grokker

I, along with other Sweat Pink Ambassadors are joining Grokker and FitApproach to help us get closer to our goal of #1millionminutes! To do that, the Sweat Pink team has curated their own favorites, from high intensity to mellow, and we’re sharing it with you to help get you started. Check out this list of participants and their go-to Grokker videos! And be sure to follow me on Instagram this week and keep an eye on #grokkermillion, #1millionmiles, and, of course, #sweatpink. We hope to inspire you with prompts to help you get and stay active!

Even better, or at least just as good, I have a giveaway for a one year subscription to Grokker Premium! You can enter using the Rafflecopter below. Plus, you can get a free month of the premium services by using the code LOVEGROKKER.

Enter to win a free one year membership to Grokker! All kinds of home workouts from yoga, stretching, and meditation, to HIIT, Body Conditioning, and even cooking!

Before that though, here is a fun little Mad Lib. I’d love to see your answers in the comments. Mine are in red.

“I’m so excited to rack up more minutes using video workouts from Grokker! There’s everything from HIIT to Strength Training for everyone from beginners to advanced, and I’m especially pumped to try YOGA (especially Vinyasa) because it will make me extra mellow (and stretchy).

I plan to do my video workout in my house before showering and after running. My favorite thing about video workouts is they’re so much fun, and they’re a super convenient way to get sweaty when I am short on time.

My goal is to hit 200 minutes this week! I’ll do a speed workout on one of my more intense workout days, and restorative yoga on a rest or lower intensity day.  I challenge my husband to beat my # of minutes or to do a Grokker Yoga video with me!”

Home Workouts with Grokker

As always, I got a little doggy help with my yoga.

Okay, here’s your chance to enter to win a one year membership to Grokker Premium. You can get extra entries each day by doing a Grokker class each day, so remember you can get a free one month membership with the code LOVEGROKKER.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What’s your favorite way to get sweaty?

 

Disclosure: this post was sponsored by Grokker. All opinions are my own.

My IDEA World Experience: The Functional Workouts

As you know, I spent last week at Blogfest and the IDEA World Fitness Convention. Here are my Top 10 Takeaways. While Thursday and Friday were spent learning some great blogging information, the last two days I was able to attend six workshops. In addition, on Friday, mixed in with all that blogging stuff, we managed to fit in three (yes, three!) workouts. I will admit, by Saturday afternoon, at my second Functional Fascia workout of the day I could hardly lift my legs.

My IDEA World Experience: The Functional Workouts

I managed to learn a lot of information about various types of functional workouts, so I thought I’d share some of it with you here.

Kaia Fit

Our first functional workout on Friday was called Kaia Fit and it was taught by one of its creators, Nikki Warren. Kaia Fit is designed to be empowering for women, and it included some teamwork and competition in the mix. We were split into two groups. As we started, one group was given a high intensity partner exercise to perform for time. For example, one partner would hold a plank, while the other hopped twice over her, then they would switch positions. After the first team completed the repetitions, the time was recorded.

Over on the other side of the room, the other team was doing lower intensity but still functional exercises. One partner would hold a plank while the other did squats to touch down on their partner’s back. So many repetitions, then switch positions. The teams took turns completing each set of exercises (my team won two of the three sets…go Pink!), then we were treated to a nice cool down and stretch. I loved that all of the exercises were body weight only, and both the partner and team aspect added a lot of fun to the equation. The exercises were simple (that doesn’t mean they were easy, just not complicated movements!), so easy to teach to and monitor in a large group. Kaia Fit

HighX

I’ll tell you up front that HighX was my favorite functional workout of the weekend. And not just because it was taught by Gabrielle Reece, who was also the keynote speaker. During her talk, Gabby told us how she created this workout, basically a group of women getting together to workout with Gabby as their leader. As the group grew, so did her ingenuity in planning a workout that would challenge, but would still be accessible for all age groups.

Let’s work! @highxtraining w: @gabbyreece #sweatpink #blogfest #1millionminutes #ljinspired A photo posted by Jamie King (Walker) (@jamiekingfit) on Jul 17, 2015 at 11:08am PDT

As we entered the large room, we were divided into 15 teams of eight (somehow our group ended up with 10, but that worked out fine). Equipment was laid out in a large oblong, with the name of each exercise printed at each station. Each team spent three minutes at each station, alternating high intensity and lower intensity exercises for 30 seconds each. Then we moved quickly to the next exercise.

Gabby2

This was a tough workout! From planks to lunges to sandbag presses, we pretty much killed each muscle group (in a good way). The group format created a sense of teamwork, and everybody was cheering their team on.

Fortunately, by my third workout of the day, Zumba with its creator Beto Perez, all I had to worry about was having a good time and trying to wiggle my hips. I was much more successful with the former than the latter.

Functional Fascia for Group Exercise

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I quickly decided that my body was too beat up for a run. Instead, I took my time getting ready, in order to get to my first session at 7:30. As I’ve mentioned, I’ll be getting my Fascial Stretch Therapist certification later this summer, so I wanted to soak up all the information that I could. What I didn’t realize was that after about 45 minutes of lecture and demonstration, we had a 45 minute workout to perform!

The idea behind functional exercises for fascia is to use new exercise sequences that are designed to train the fascial lines of the body. These involve a variety of multiple part movements such as a lunge with a reach, squat with a curl, then moving to an upper back extension, and side plank with a hip drop to a full hip extension. Yes, you need to focus your mind as well as your body.

The workout was quite challenging and I broke a good sweat. It also gave me a ton of ideas that I can take back to work with me. These are exercises that be used in either a group setting or one on one.

Fascia Gone Wild

Fascia Gone Wild

I will admit that by the time I did this workout my body had given up and just wouldn’t cooperate. In the lecture portion, we learned more about fascia and its function, then began a workout that started with holding planks while doing various types of arm and leg movement. I just couldn’t. I tried. But my hips were sore and just didn’t want to work anymore. I did a little better after we stood up and did a few exercises like squat presses, lunges with twists, and other exercises that work the body in multiple planes and are good for the fascia.

Plyometrics Palooza

FitFoodieMama

Annmarie was one of the bloggers I was so excited to meet.

After a pretty good night’s rest (considering I had three roommates), I headed to Plyometrics Palooza early Sunday morning. Taught by my friend Jason Karp, Ph.D, this session focused on using plyometrics to improve performance. After very little lecture time, Jason got right to the workout portion of the workshop. We did hops, jumps, rebounds, and more. I did pretty good all things considered. I was sore and tired, but so was everybody else. Our last exercise we teamed up for a little relay race. We were the Bloggers!

Bare Essentials

This was my final workout and as you may have guessed, I was pooped. The presenter was wonderful. She specializes in functional flexibility and in addition to running her own studio, training at yet another, she also travels to various football teams, in particular the NY Jets, to stretch some of the players. The idea of Bare Essentials was learning tips to teach proper from and creating progressions with little or no equipment.

She taught us how to teach various exercises and to progress them in a group setting. I picked up a few good tips (side lunge for the win!), then we were led through what would be a moderate level workout at any other time, but exhausted as I was I found the squats (with progressions of course), lunges, and burpees (at the end!!!) very challenging.

Overall, even if I was exhausted, I had a great time at IDEA World, and feel like I learned a lot that I can implement right away. It is always inspiring to meet other fitness professionals, get great new ideas, and just get energized from the experience.

What’s your favorite functional workout?

 


 

My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!

Meatless Monday with Tina and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie 
Bonnie, the Pin Junkie
Tip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape
Wednesday Wisdom with Nanna’s Wisdom
Fitness Friday with Jill Conyers
That Friday Blog Hop with xoxo Rebecca
The Blog Booster Party with Kathleen

Starting a Blog. What’s Next: 11 Tips to Get More Readers

11 Tips plus 11 Bonus Tips = 22 Tips to get more Blog Readers!

Welcome to part 2 of my series on how to take your blog to the next level. This series is dedicated to my daughter-in-law.  She has just rebranded and you can now find her at Healthful Balanced Mama. We were discussing what she can do, but there was quite a lot of information to pass on so I was inspired to write this series.  I hope that it will help anyone who has started a blog and wants to move on to the next level.

Don’t miss part one: So you started a blog. What’s next? Blogging Goals.

If you’re just starting a blog, it may sometimes feel like you’re talking to the air. You’re speaking, but is anyone listening? There are several ways to get people to come to your blog. This post will help you begin to get more blog readers.

 

Starting a Blog Part 2: Here are 11 tips (plus 11 bonus tips!) to get more readers.

Starting a Blog: 11 Tips to Get More Readers

Write quality content. This is probably the most important thing you can do if you want to build your readership. Sure, you can attract readers with social media, and all the other methods mentioned below. But if you want them to stick around and become loyal followers, you need to produce quality content.

Bonus Tip: You don’t have to write a novel for each post. Somewhere between 500 and 1,000 words is optimal.

Use large, clear, attractive images. Readers like pretty. Pretty images not only attract readers, but allow them to share, which will attract more readers.  Many bloggers receive up to half of their traffic from Pinterest, so you can see that making images “pinnable” can be very important. Images also do well on other social media too. Twitter users frequently use pictures in their tweets to make them more attractive to click on and retweet.

Bonus Tip: Be sure to update the “Alt text” for your image. Use your keyword, along with a short description. That is what shows up when the image is shared. You don’t want it to have the title of the image that your camera assigned!

Create social media accounts specifically for your blog. If you haven’t done this already, create Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts for your blog. Spend some time to follow and interact with other users. If starting with all four sounds too intimidating, pick one or two to start. If you are new to social media, it will take some time to find your niche, the type of sharing that you enjoy the most and that reaches the most potential readers of your blog.

Bonus Tip: Make sure that all of your social media accounts include information about you, your blog, and your niche. This will help others find you!

Share, share, and share some more. Now that you’ve started those social media accounts, start sharing your content. The key, though, is, don’t just share your stuff. Find a great article? Share it. Read an interesting post? Share it. It is very important to share a variety of content and interact (see above) with others.

Bonus Tip: Use hashtags, especially on Twitter and Instagram. This will help people who don’t already follow you find your content.

Use keywords. Keywords are how searchers find you, so you can see that using descriptive, specific keywords can help get more blog readers to your site. Don’t overload your post, one or two keywords or phrases are fine. Use it within your title, your headline, and in your actual post. For example, my keyword is “starting a blog.”

Bonus Tip: Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a free tool that can help you find what keywords readers use in searches. You need to sign up for Adwords, but the planner is free.

Learn at least a little about SEO. Keywords are important, but there are other things to learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that can help your blog be search-friendly. There are many resources out there, including this post from Sara Downey Robinson, who conducted the session on SEO at Blogfest.

Bonus Tip: You can change the URL of your post so that it is clear, concise, and contains your keyword. In WordPress, this is at the top of your edit post page, right under the title.

Visit, comment on, and share other blogs. Finding other blogs that you love, leaving thoughtful comments, and sharing the posts through social media is a great way to bring readers.

Bonus Tip: When commenting, don’t just say, “great post!” Find something that moves you and write about it, ask a question if you’d like clarification, or even disagree (respectfully).

Share the love within your post. If you refer to another blog that you follow, product that you love, or information that you want to share from another source, be sure to link to it. This applies to your own posts too, so if you’re referring to something that you’ve written, link to that older post. This will keep readers hanging around longer and increase your pageviews too.

Bonus Tip: Set the link to open in another window, especially if you’re linking to an outside post. Otherwise your reader may wander off and not come back.

Make sure that your readers can share your posts, and that they can follow you on social media. You must have social media share buttons easily visible within each post so that your readers can share your content. They should also be able to find out how to follow you, so make sure that you have follow buttons in your sidebar or header.

Bonus Tip: Check the settings on your share buttons to make sure that your Twitter handle will show up when readers share your post.

Treat your readers right. When someone take the time to comment on your post, be sure to reply, answer their questions, and thank them (if that applies). Same goes for social media. When your followers share your post, be sure to thank them.

Bonus Tip: There are several plugins available that will send an email to someone when they comment on your blog. Get one! Many people want to interact with you, but few have the time to keep checking back to see if you replied to their comment.

Join linkup “parties” to share your posts and to find other new blogs. Linkups are a great way to share your content and find other blogs to read. Part of the “deal” with linkups is that you must stop by and comment on several other blogs in the linkup. Some will even highlight popular or interesting posts the following week, which can lead to more readers.

Bonus Tip: Check below and in my sidebar for my favorite linkups.

Action Plan

Pick one or two tips from this post and go for it! And remember, you don’t have to do all the things right away. Take small steps, implement one or two of these suggestions a week, and you will start to see your numbers increase.

Next week we will discuss owning your own URL and whether (and how) to go self-hosted. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or by email: debbie@coachdebbieruns.com. I’d also love so see your homework, so feel free to share a link. If there is any topic you would like to read more about in this series, please let me know.

Starting a Blog_Part 3

For those of my readers who are already experienced bloggers, I hope you will contribute to the conversation and  add any tips that have helped you.

 


 

My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!

Meatless Monday with Tina and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie 
Bonnie, the Pin Junkie
Tip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape
Wednesday Wisdom with Nanna’s Wisdom
That Friday Blog Hop with xoxo Rebecca
The Blog Booster Party with Kathleen

Blogfest: My Top 10 Takeaways Linkup

I’m SO excited to be co-hosting this LinkUp with Tiffany and Natalie!
If you attended BlogFest 2015, you need to participate as you’ll have a chance to win prizes!
If you DIDN’T attend, you can still benefit from the knowledge/inspiration at BlogFest by reading everyone’s Top 10 Takeaways!  Blogfest Top 10 Takeaways! #betrublogfest

Tiffany, Natalie and I have shared our Top 10 Takeaways; best moments, best blog tips, inspirational speakers, etc. We’d LOVE to read yours, but if that isn’t incentive enough to participate, we have a prize to giveaway!

BE TRU with Truitt Family Foods

All bloggers who participate in this LinkUp are entered to win a prize from our sponsor, Truitt Family Foods. Truitt strives to BE TRU to their family’s vision of working with local, family farms to bring fresh, natural products to you!

betrublogfest-link-up-prize

They’ve partnered with us to help you BE TRU to your vision for your blog/business and encourage you to share what inspired you the most at BlogFest and IDEA World. One lucky link up blogger will win a free pair of custom NIKEiD shoes! WOW.


TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS FROM BLOGFEST 2015

Here are MY top takeaways from BlogFest & IDEA World:

1) Live your life with no regrets: From Brendon Burchard, speaking about his survival from a serious car accident. What are the questions you’re going to ask yourself at the end of your life? Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter? Now you know the clock is ticking.

2) I really need to work on my SEO:  I learned so much from Sara Downey Robinson about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Way beyond how to use keywords. My biggest takeaway was that I needed to create a persona for my blog readers. Once you define your audience and give them a personality, with interests and passions, you can use appropriate keywords to bring them to your blog.

3) It’s still really all about the People: Last year I wrote an entire post dedicated to the people I met at Blogfest, and I’ll likely do it again. Meeting the bloggers that I have followed, seeing my friends from last year, and finding totally new connections (sadly, one cannot read ALL THE BLOGS on a regular basis).

Group Shot

RoomiesThe best roommates ever. Seriously. Me, Jessica, Jill, and Tiffany.

BF_friends CollageClockwise from top left: Susie, Jill, Katie, Lea, Laura, Sandra & Natalie, Kymberly.

4) When it comes down to it, we’re all really just training for life: From Gabrielle Reece: We all have high cards and low cards, you need to learn how to play your high cards instead of complaining about your low cards.

5) I loved this product and these people: Truitt Family Foods Hummus. It was such a pleasure to meet the people behind this family business (which is the sponsor of this post).

FunrunThanks to Truitt Family Foods, who sponsored the fun run, there were some good prizes on the line. The entries involved social media, so…

6) The truth about nutrition: I knew beforehand that Melissa Burton was nervous about her presentation. In spite of that she managed, in just the 40 minutes allotted to her, to bust the top five nutrition myths in such a way that all of us non-dietician listeners could understand. While much of it was information that I already knew, I appreciated her clear and concise presentation of what anybody who writes about fitness and health should know.

7) If you’re going to talk the talk and walk the walk, you need to look the part: I got an opportunity to meet Amy Neighbors, the founder of Brick Betty. I love how she created her company from scratch, that all her products are made in the US, and that each piece of clothing that they make comes from her vision. I’m proud to be an ambassador and be able to share this beautiful and colorful active wear line with my readers and my clients.

Brick Betty

With Jamie and Alyse, showing off my Brick Betty gear.“Modeling” my Brick Betty Girl on Fire tank and Butterfly Workout shorts. Alongside Jamie and Alyse, of course.

8) My fitness word for the event: Fascia. If you’re involved in the fitness industry and you don’t know about fascia, it’s time to start learning, because almost everything we do physically, and how well we do it, is related to the health of our fascia. I’m so excited that I’m taking the Fascial Stretch Therapist certification course in September!

9) Fitness info I can use right away: Because I work mostly with an older population, the information I learned from Sheri Kalkstein in “I’ve Fallen, Now What?” was invaluable. My biggest takeaway was that I learned how to prepare my clients for something that is almost inevitable, falling. Even something so basic as making sure that all the phones in their home are reachable from the floor is hugely important.

With Gabrielle Reece after her HighX Workout.

10) I tried a lot of different workouts and my favorite was…: I loved Gabby Reece’s HighX workout. Boy, was it challenging! The best part was that it inspired teamwork amongst the participants because the large group was divided into teams for the high intensity, circuit workout. My second favorite (and I include this because I”m already on #10), was, surprisingly for me, Zumba! Of course, the fact that it was taught by the creator Beto Perez probably helped. Even though this blonde girl’s hips don’t want to move (I swear Beto looked me in the eye and shook his head a couple times), I had so much fun, which is really what it is all about.

Beto Perez, creator of Zumba


Join the LinkUp!

How To Participate:

  1. Make sure you read Tiffany’s and Natalie’s Top 10!

    ThoroughlyThriving.com
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  2.  Write your Top 10 Takeaways post and include this copy at the top:“I’m joining Tiffany, DebbieNatalie and Truitt Family Foods in sharing my Top 10 Takeaways from BlogFest 2015.”
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  4. Come back to add your link at the very bottom of this post BEFORE AUGUST 1st and you’ll be entered to win prizes!
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ADD YOUR LINK HERE to join TiffanyDebbieNatalie and Truitt Family Foods in sharing your Top 10 Takeaways from BlogFest 2015.


You’ve Started a Blog. What’s Next? Part 1: Blogging Goals

Welcome to part 1 of my series on how to take your blog to the next level. I decided to write this after lunching with my daughter in law the other day. She has a blog, updates it occasionally, but is interested in perhaps doing a little more. We were discussing what she can do, but there was quite a lot of information to pass on so I was inspired to write this series.  I hope that it will help anyone who has started a blog and wants to move on to the next level.

This first post will help you pinpoint what your goals for your blog are. Future posts will help beginners learn how to increase followers, own their own URL (website name), become self hosted, and monitize their blog.

So you've Started a Blog. Part 1 of a series to help you take your new blog to the next level. Part 1 is finding your blogging goals.

You’ve Started a Blog. What’s Next?

So you’ve gone and done it. Or perhaps you’re planning on doing it. In any case, you’ve started a blog. You put a lot of thought into your blog name, rolled your favorite topics around in your head for a while, maybe even written your first few posts. Perhaps some people have even read it. So now what?

I’m not going to cover the actual step by step process of creating a blog in this post. There are a lot of resources out there that will help you get started. I want to help you decide what to do next, and perhaps guide you through the process of growing your blog.

Blogging Goals

When I started my blog over six years ago, I had no clue what I wanted to do with it. Or what I was going to write about. Or anything, really. I just had a friend who had a blog and it looked like fun, so…

Finding your voice

My blog has evolved over the years, and probably will continue to do so. It is a personal blog, where I write about the things that are important to me: fitness, health, plant based diet, animals. While those things have remained the same over the years, my blog has changed focus to reflect my priorities at any given time. At first, Live from La Quinta was a chronicle of my life, with a few random recipes thrown in for fun. Gradually I added more workouts, less recipes for a while (now I’m back “into cooking” so you see more recipes again). As I put my real life focus back on running, my blog reflected that, even to the point of my brand change to Coach Debbie Runs. My most recent change has been the addition of blogging “how to” posts, sharing the knowledge I’ve acquired over the last six years in an effort to help other bloggers achieve their goals.

That was a long way of stating that whatever you choose to write about right now may or may not be your focus two years from now. And that’s okay.

That being said, as we start to take a look at goals for your blog, take a moment and think about what you want to write about. While random life stuff is fine, it will be easier to find a loyal audience by focusing on one or two main topics.

Here are some questions to help you figure it out:

What do you love to do? This could be cooking, running, fashion, makeup, spending time with your family, and so on.
What are you an expert at? Are you a good cook? A coach or personal trainer? Do you keep up with designers and the latest fashions? Are you a mom? Or a dad?
Is your life changing in some way? This could be a pregnancy or trying to get pregnant, weight loss, divorce, job change, training for your first marathon.
If someone asked your best friend what you always talk about, what would they say?

If you ask yourself these questions, you can find one or two main topics for your blog. That doesn’t mean that you can’t write about “other stuff.” It just means that you now have a focus.

How much time can you spend on your blog?

Whether you want to blog for a hobby, to track your life, to have a writing outlet, or to make a little (or a lot) of money, blogging takes time. If you choose to keep your blog small, maybe for your family or a few friends, a couple hours a week will be adequate. However, if you want your blog to grow, find an audience, increase your views, you will need to spend more time, not just writing, but marketing your blog.

How much time? Depending on your posting frequency, the time you spend daily on your blog can be from one hour to over four hours a day or more. This would include not only writing posts, but using social media to market your blog, time spent reading and commenting on other blogs (a very important aspect of marketing), upkeep on your site, researching and preparing a post, responding to comments and emails, and other miscellaneous chores.

How often should you post?

Knowing how much time you have to dedicate to your blog will help you decide how frequently to post. There are many opinions about how often you should update your blog. Some bloggers post once a day or even more often. Others post once a week. You should post what feels right for you. Quality will win out over quantity, so if you put more effort and research into one or two blog posts a week, you will be more successful in the long run than if you hammer out five off the cuff posts.

Homework!

Sit down with a pad of paper and ask yourself some of these questions. Be honest with yourself. If you currently work full time, run a household and barely have time to grab a quick meal, chances are trying to blog five days a week is just going to stress you out. By next week, you should have an idea of where you want your blog to go.

Action Plan:

Write one post with your new goals in mind. Based on your goals and your topic list, your post can reflect who you are, what you’re planning to do, or you can jump directly into writing about the topic that you have chosen to focus on.

Next week we will discuss how to increase your readership. Here’s the link to part two: Increasing Your Readership. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or by email: debbie@coachdebbieruns.com. I’d also love so see your homework, so feel free to share a link.

So You Started a Blog Part 2. Coming July 22: Increase Your Readership

I’m off to Blogfest for the rest of the week! I hope to check in on Friday with a mini-recap. Then, stay tuned for Monday, where I will present my 10 Takeaways from Blogfest. Tiffany, Natalie and I are hosting a Blogfest Takeaway linkup, hosted by Truitt Family Foods!

My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!

Meatless Monday with Tina and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie 
Bonnie, the Pin Junkie
Tip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape
Wednesday Wisdom with Nanna’s Wisdom
That Friday Blog Hop with xoxo Rebecca
The Blog Booster Party with Kathleen