9 Tips to Use Your Blogging Journal Guaranteed to Make Your Blog 100% More Interesting

Journaling can make your blogging easier and 100% more interesting.

“Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.”

Mina Murray

Blogging is like shouting your thoughts to the universe. Connect them and you have a high traffic blog with valuable insights.

Mental health experts, Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005 tell you that journaling can improve life. In the same way, a blogging journal can also take your blog from lifeless and disorganized and add sparkle, interest and so much clarity that your uppity friend will want to read every post. 

Introducing Peter Problogger and Holy Hobbyblogger

Holly runs a photography business out of her home. In her spare time, she blogs about gardening and photography. She struggles with managing all her blogging tasks. When she gets frustrated, she calls her friend who writes for several famous blogs and has thousands of followers and high traffic on his blog.

“I need a bigger brain, Peter Problogger. Blogging makes it hurt. I’m learning so many things at once.”

“Your brain is fine, Holly. You need a blogging journal. Your blogging journal acts as an extension to your brain that never gets tired and is always there for you.”

“I don’t have time to write in a journal. I take at least ten hours to research and write a post. Then it’s another ten hours to edit it.  I barely have time to read anyone else’s blog. Most of the time, I just click and read blogs as fast as I can. Sometimes, I press like to get through more blogs.”

So, why are you blogging, Holly? If you just want to pass the day, work a jigsaw puzzle. 

“Very funny, you know I make puzzles from my best photos. But I love to blog because I love it when people like my posts. It’s nice reading about people around the world.”

“You’ve met over 30 people on your blog this month. What do you remember about them, Holly?”

“Off the top of my head? I remember the names of the ones that I featured, and what their blogs are about.”

“Great!. Why, Holly?”

“We talked about something they wrote, or that I was researching for my post.”

“Uh-huh. How did you find them a month later?”

“Ugh, I waste hours sorting through my posts or worse, I don’t find them!”

“Like I said…”

“Don’t say it, I need a journal. But how do I get started? I don’t even know what to write, or what kind of journal to get.”

“You’re not alone, Holly. You don’t need to buy anything. Let’s get started.”

From Journal to Amazing Blog

“I’ve always written. There’s a journal which I kept from about 9 years old.”

Maya Angelou
9 tips infographic Date Stamp, set goals, document news and weather, review and revisit, keep open while blogging, curry your lists, track your blog posts, develop a niche sheet, link research notes
Guaranteed!

Top Tip #1 Date and Time Stamp

You can buy or make journals both paper and online. Before you write a word, date any journal entries {especially with paper journals} Don’t wonder later! Dating an online journal, though less disastrous if you miss, maintains an organization useful for scheduling and searching.

You might include the time because as you continue, you get a feel for which times are best for journaling, writing, reading. One of the biggest problems bloggers have is being consistent. A journal will help you discover your best journaling times and help you be a steady blogger until you develop a habit.

Journals gather data for you effortlessly. You can chart or graph later. Readers love infographic data. The data will shows you your best blog reading and writing days. Were you stuck inside because of hot weather or an unexpected storm? The more data you write down, the easier you can draw conclusions.

Details make 100% more interesting writing!

Top Tip #2 Set Goals

“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.”

Robin Sharma

List your goals for:

  • Learning about blogging – classes, webinars, conferences, coaches
  • Researching posts
  • Writing headlines
  • Writing posts
  • Editing posts
  • Reading blogs – readers, email, social media
  • Expanding your reach – newsletters, social media

Goals can be as large as a mission statement and as small as a daily to-do list.

Top Tip #3 Document News and Weather

Why include information about news or weather? When you reread your journal, it gives you a perspective you might use when writing a new post, or a comment. You might even include how it made you feel.

Writing improves memory. Ask yourself, what was in the news six months ago? Did anything get resolved?

New post – follow up on last year’s news.

Top Tip #4 Review & Revisit

“Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding.”

Jen Williamson
  • Each month, maybe mid-month, read back over your journal from the month before. 
  • Highlight or star the blogs of your favorite influencers for each day based on what or how much and what you wrote about the blog. 
  • At the bottom or top of the online journal, use these starred entries to create a list of URLs to your favorite sites to create an easy roundabout blog post. The roundabout blog post features influencers and what they have to say about a certain topic. Your saved URLs in an online journal  make it so much easier to create this type of blog. 

An influencer is anyone who makes a difference in their field of study.They might be amazing bloggers, knitters, surfers, doctors, gardeners, authors, psychologists, even poker players. Every blogger has their own group of influencers.

Influencers write 100% interesting articles!

Tracking your favorite blog posts provide you with data to find your writing niche. [Acccording to Sophie Lizard of Be a Freelance Blogger, successful bloggers have their own niche or niches] 

To find your niche, bserve patterns in your reading that will appear as you review and revisit your journal. In addition, having data about the blogs you enjoy will identify your audience – ESSENTIAL to create a 100% interesting blog.

spiral journal with printed page pasted ona a page
Cut and paste: real and digital

Tip #5 Blog with an Open Journal

“I started writing a journal, and I was learning so much along the way.”

Jay Leno

You always learn something as you read blogs, so keep the current month’s journal open at the same time to record your thoughts and insights. Keep it open as you write.

Online jourals make cut and pasting into your journal fast but you have to watch your flow of writing. Edit for smoothness

screenshot of Always Write Blogging Journal in Use
Online journal – one of many tabs open when you write The boldface line includes links to other Google docs, including a list of favorite blog URLs.

Top Tip #6 Curry your lists

At the top of your online journal, paste a list of your favorite blog’s URLs  from previous journals, or create a new Google Document and paste the link into your journal. You can cut back your list to weed out those who are not responsive, don’t blog consistently, or any other reason you have to eliminate them from your current open blogging journal.

By the way, I discovered Jon Morrow, Freelance Writing King (my moniker for him, not his) and Mary Jaksch Write to Done, years ago when reading Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging and Queen of the Roundabout Blog Post. She interviewed on Always Write, and even the interview is a roundabout.  Write to Done published an article by Carol Tice, Make a Living Writing – another freelance writer influencer.

Your To-Do – If you haven’t met any of these fine folks, please visit them and tell them I recommended them. They all offer valuable courses in writing and blogging.

Since your Favorite Blog List may get long, you might want to keep track of how many times you visited that blog, if you don’t have a quote or notes to write about your visit.

Top Tip #7 Track your own posts

You might use the journal to also keep track of your own posts. It’s quicker than searching through your blog for your posts. Write as much information as you want, but include the link to the post. 

Use the links to fulfill Tip #8.

Screenshot of Niche List in Use.
8–Sample Niche Sheet with topics or Category Headings that show up on the left side of the screen, and a list of titles with links. This sheet is done in Google Docs.

Top Tip #8 Develop Your Niche Sheet

Eventually, you can use your search feature to create a Niche Sheet listing to categorize your blog posts. Unless you want an excessively long journal, cut and paste your blog links on a separate Google Doc, and post just the link to it at the top or bottom of your current journal – the one you have open all the time you are writing.

Niche Sheet = SUPER TIME SAVER

Many blogging platforms already suggest posts for your readers to visit after they finish your amazing post. Having your posts categorized in a safe place, away from your website, allows you to find related posts without having to open and close your website constantly. It also allows you to pick the best articles to include internally. This doesn’t replace plugins that help you find posts to reference, but it does allow you flexibility.

It is a must if you have more than one blog or blog on public platforms like Medium or Linked In.

screenshot of Always Write Research Page in Use
Google Doc linked to Online Blogging Journal

Tip #9 Link a Notes or Research Page

This is also a list of topics or URLs. For example, you might have spent about two hours visiting writing communities on Facebook. Let’s say you created a list of great writing groups you joined or want to join on a separate Google Doc. Link research doc to your journal!

You might have taken an online Bootcamp class from Carol Tice blogging at Make a Living Writing. You could link the handouts and your notes into your journal so that you can find them easily. Important research links may follow you in month-to-month journal entries. 

DO NOT share the files you download from other sites. They charge a premium for their information and it is for your use only.

Summary

If you blog consistently, you will develop your own system for managing all the work that you put into blogging. These are tips I’ve learned from years of journaling and blogging experience,  picked up from classes, face to face meetings with powerful influencers, reading books, and reading thousands of blog posts. 

I hope this post will encourage you and give you useful journaling tools that will make your blog posts 100% interesting

blogging journal sample iinfographic
Checklist of what you might record in your Always Write Blogging Journal

Related Post

13 Reasons You Should Start Online Journaling Even If You Hate to Write

Always Write Homework

Great teachers always assign homework to help their students learn skills.Once a teacher – always a teacher! 

  • If you enjoyed this post, please pass it on. 
  • If you have written about similar topics, feel free to drop a link in the comment box.
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family enjoying the greatly improved life with an online journal

There are many kinds of journal formats. You can spend hours creating your own. Or you can use mine for free.  Click to receive a free PDF template or Google Doc for an online journal or print it out to create a paper diary. 

Debating which to use – paper or digital journal? Join the debate.

Three Easy Steps to Make Your Garden a Work of Art

Plan, Plant, and Purchase sums up the three easy steps to turn your garden into a work of art.

back yard bordering new garden area
Looking into BellaVista Gardens Northeast Garden

Landscape architects tell you there are rules to obey when designing a garden if you want it to be a work of art. My husband and Dr. Manuel Jimenez, a friend and small farm advisor emeritus for UC Davis just dig in, and they have beautiful gardens. 

Another friend, Jack Pizura of Wicky-Up Ranch Bed and Breakfast says, “I’ve done all these things over the years, and they come out, but I couldn’t tell you what I’ve done.”

Doesn’t that sound like most of us? When something comes naturally to us or we’ve done it so often, we can’t explain how we did it.

As a non-landscape artist, non-horticulturists, I’ve come up with my own rules based on observing others as they fashion something beautiful out of bare land.

Marsha’s Rules

Step One – Plan Your Layout

“Hardscape, Marsha. You have to start with hardscape.”

Vince Ingrao

Warning: This phase can take a LOT of time!

Last spring when we started planning our Northeast Garden, my husband asked me to draw out what I wanted in the big garden.

“Write it down,” his rule for me not for himself. He works by vision and talking it out.

Not being artistic I panicked and found a garden planning site and spent most of the day researching what plants grew best together. You might find this helpful, but I found it hard to use it as a design tool. The plant information was great, though.

My husband looked at my plan and said instantly that it wouldn’t work.

“Where’s the structure? You can’t fit that many plants into that amount of space? What do you want from your garden anyway?

Ouch, he had a point. Although some people do, I knew I wasn’t going to supply our entire food source from the garden. I was stumped and our garden languished for a year.

“I like to watch things grow,” Vince’s sister commented.

“Yes,” I thought. “It’s that simple.”

Plants are beautiful, and I enjoy looking at my garden as much as I enjoy eating from it. So Vince designed Section One of the Northeast Garden. He terraced the garden into two sections using the repurposed cement and began shaping the lower section.

Fewer plants enjoyed the room to grow in raised rows and rock pathways. I would not have made the paths so wide, but it’s working well. I appreciate that now. Fewer plants mean it’s a lot less work. I can live with that. Harvesting is very time-sensitive and time-intensive work.

I planted the strawberries and beets. He brought in the bathtub – a garage sale find that has been unused in the back forty for at least ten years.

In January, Vince needed a project before he could tackle the garden again. He began to plan outside with a measuring tape and the vision in his head. First, he envisioned a bridge over the gully, where the creek will go someday .

There still was no plan for irrigation in the garden. You can not garden in the Central California Valley without irrigation unless you want to hand water every day. That’s what I have been doing for five years in the South Garden.

Bridge to BellaVista Gardens

Over the years, I’ve learned that one can’t fight with visions. No amount of coaxing is going to speed up the process. One of the things I love about Vince has been his ability to imagine a space and create something beautiful from nothing. I can’t do that.

However, Vince was not motivated to plant a garden. He finished a pathway around the palm tree made with cement from a project completed sixteen years ago. Manuel, my horticulture mentor, lined one of his garden areas in ornamental cabbage, so I bought the ornamental cabbage to line the path. Still no plan for irrigation. He loves to hand water every morning. I think it must start his creative juices. It doesn’t do that for me.

Nutter Butter enjoys the bridge but could care less about the cabbage. He looks forward to digging in the garden and adding his own touches.

When Vince asked me in April what I wanted to plant in the upper garden, I told him that I wasn’t lifting a finger until there was a watering system. I was done. I lied, of course, but I refused to give him any ideas and said the garden was his. The next day he had a vision for the irrigation system.

Newest landscape elements, rocks defining the tomato area, a retaining wall behind the tomato area, steps to the third terrace, old farm implements, and a garden-store-bought planter wreath without plants.

Encouraged, I planted some tomato and eggplant six-packs, while he got sidetracked by additional design elements. Within a few more days he and Hector Casteneda, the handyman/gardener/ who makes all of Vince’s projects doable, had built another terrace and a set of steps down to my new and improved composting area.

The design is not finished but he repurposed two loose extra sections of the fence that had been just leaning up against the back of the fence for nineteen years and some rocks from around the back – a mystery where he found them. Who knew all that stuff would be so handy?

Vince and a friend dug the stove from our friend’s field. Notice where the legs ended up.

As of May 18, the upper section irrigation was not finished, but as you can see, I couldn’t wait to start planting. The result was that I lost ninety percent of my bean plants and fifty percent of my squash. I replaced most of them with seeds. The South Garden still awaits irrigation.

You really need a plan, and part of the hardscape in this area needs to be irrigation.

Step Two – Plant Like Vegetables in One Area

Garden experts agree that you should plant a lot of what you like and plant it together, not scattered throughout the garden.

rows of blueberries

My husband loves blueberries, so he mentally designed our new garden to have a patch of blueberries. (Not three like I bought from the nursery. ) They cost $12.95 apiece, and I felt I had splurged buying three plants. Eighteen blueberry plants now mark the start of the Northeast Garden in rows fanning out from the fence line in three rows of diminishing numbers of plants – 7-6-5.

As a side note, my friend Manuel is the hybridizer or inventor of the types of plants that make it possible to grow blueberries in the super-heated, semi-arid climate in the Central Valley of California.

The lone blueberry bush – ah, where is it?

In my South Garden, there is one blueberry plant amid some leftover strawbabies and mint babies that Vince would not let me put in the Northeast Garden. I’ve stored them there temporarily/semi-permanently. You probably would agree with Vince and other garden design experts that the blueberry plant doesn’t make a statement.

What about volunteers?

My South Garden – totally under my control now that the design elements are done has evolved into an experiment, much like my blog. That is a design flaw. To have a beautiful garden, you must not let these little babies sway you into letting them stay.

These blackberries started growing in a limited place in my small garden. I left them where they were, but put them in their own dirt in a small pot. I have a place for them next year in the big garden.

Manuel who created the Woodlake Botanical Garden might commingle two or three types of vegetables – a row of tomatoes next to a row of carrots, for example. Plants that grow well together in the same place, but they don’t take up the same air or root space increase your garden’s yield. Putting varieties of plants together works when you know what you are doing but it can get messy.

This gem is growing on the cusp of Terrace Three where my compost pile was this winter. The soil is dry, rocky and nothing should live, let alone flower.

High-yield gardening is not the same as random planting or allowing volunteer plants to overtake and manage your garden. I am guilty of the latter. I can’t bear to get rid of a healthy-looking plant. I’m so proud of it for surviving and surprising me by its presence.

Step Three – Purchase or Make Decorative Elements

 Themes allow the non-artist to contribute to the overall look. The BellaVista Garden is rusty. Sometimes you can buy decorative pieces in garden stores, handcrafted shops, or home goods stores. That’s my speed. It can also be expensive for very small items.

Repurpose

Really great garden pieces are bigger and more unique than you can find in stores. Manuel builds fountains out of old farm implements for his gardens.

He brought in a building-migrant housing, a tractor, and now is building a porch with a house front.

In our case, the fence defined the space. Vince wanted rusty Rebar, so he found someone who would make the fence. Over the years it has rusted to perfection.

The fence is rusty. How many other rusty elements can you find? I see eight.

We found our own yard art sitting on the side of the road with a for sale sign. We had driven by it for probably a year, then one day I said, “I wish we had a business or something. I love that truck.”

Before I could blink, Vince turned the car around and was already dialing the number on the sign. We had it towed home. Yesterday Valero Brothers in Woodlake, CA moved it to the garden. Vince has plans to lift the back of the truck and add steps with rows of flowers cascading down. Or possibly a tailgate party look with a shade cover. Then he will whitewash a sign on both doors that says, “BellaVista Gardens.”

Additional Gardening Posts

Creative Gardening Ideas

Spring Inspires Gardening Chores

Lessons Learned from Sheltering in Place – Harvesting Lettuce

Role Model Series – Johan Van Hulst (Holocaust Hero)

“Great teachers emanate out of knowledge, passion, and compassion.” A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Role Model Series – Johan Van Hulst (Holocaust Hero)

I loved this tribute to a wonderful man who did what he could to save children from the Holocaust. Marsha Ingrao

Lessons Learned from Sheltering at Home

I’ve learned to appreciate you – and what you do. 

Some of you have been doing creative things on the computer with Zoom and other communicating programs. I love the music videos compiled from various performers operating from their home. That’s not what I’ve been doing.

In Tulare County, California, we have the second-worst COVID-19 statistics in the state. For that reason, unless I have to go out, I shelter at home. The weather has been perfect for gardening – 70 to 80 degrees. Ultra-violet light is supposed to be good for us, and here in the Golden State, we have plenty of sunshine.

The most important lesson I have learned this week is an appreciation for the people who process food. 

Yesterday, I chopped off two beautiful lettuce plants to make room for a summer crop of cantaloupe. If you think growing the food is work, then be prepared. Harvesting is much more work, and if you let it go, your crop and months of effort are wasted. 

Steps to Harvest Lettuce

First rinse

Warning! Don’t immediately take fresh lettuce or leafy plants in your house. You might be safe if you harvest a few leaves at a time but don’t count on it.

When you cut off lettuce be prepared for several unappealing things to happen. 

  • First, the bottom leaves are wilted and mushy. 
  • Secondly, bugs emerge from within the safety of the leafy bundle. Earwigs scurry out of the plant and carpet the soil in a mad dash to save themselves from sure destruction.
  • I immediately plopped the plants upside down into a bucket of water. A few roly-poly bugs surfaced during the first rinse.
  • Slugs leave their shells behind and burrel into the plant. 

So, rinse OUTSIDE! The lettuce soaked in a large pail of water for an hour or so. With the lettuce removed, you can see all the dirt that came off.

Second rinse

Inside, I stripped the leaves off the core and tossed the core, and the scummy leaves into a compost bucket. I added dish soap to this wash. The water came out mildly dirty compared to the water from the first rinse.

Third rinse

I thought this would be the end of the rinsing, but stubborn pieces of garden soil clung to the crevices of the curly lettuce. Bugs had left their brown marks on the center of the leaf. The compost bin grew, but I still had more lettuce than we could use in a month.

Fourth rinse and packaging

This last rinse came out clean. I let the lettuce drain and dry for about a half-hour, then packed the leaves into plastic bags with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. The towels help the leaves stay fresh for a long time. I’ve kept them for a month and the leaves came out crispy and sweet as though I had just picked them.

The discarded leaves went into a compost heap outside in the back of the garden. 

Harvesting and Processing Peas

It takes time to shell peas, but it’s an easy task. You need a knife to save your fingers, a clean bowl for the peas, and a compost bucket for the shells. This was the final harvest of peas which I gleaned off the bushes I pulled off the fence.

I put the peas into a Ziplock bag with a paper towel inside and stored them in the refrigerator. Google says that they last 3-5 days like this, but you can tell if they are going bad. I found that they last much longer.

Harvesting and Processing Strawberries

Strawberries must be picked twice daily, but not processed that often. If I don’t get them, the birds, roly-poly bugs, or slugs will. I store up the berries until I have enough to serve, no more than a day or two. After that, I process them simply by slicing them and adding sugar. My husband wants me to dry them in the oven, but that takes three hours so I haven’t tried it. 

Today I found this strange strawberry. Since almost every seed had sprouted, I planted it. We will see what happens.

Thanks to Food Processing Workers

So today I offer my thanks to all the workers who do the processing that goes into the food I normally buy from the grocery store in a nice clean package with everything included. 

And don’t even get me started on how much I respect those who run restaurants! I will never take any of you for granted ever! 

Next time tribute to farmers!

What have you learned during your time of sheltering at home? 

Mental health and Metastatic Breast Cancer

Since I had breast cancer a year ago, my world has opened up to many others who struggle with health issues. Each person’s situation so unique but we all struggle to survive and make the best of what we have. Take courage from Abigail’s transparent posts about her illness.

Mental health and the ability to handle the emotional and psychological affects of living with a terminal disease is a tricky topic. There is still a…

Mental health and Metastatic Breast Cancer