Competition Is Irrelevant When You Follow Your Passion

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Competition is irrelevant | God's passions, purpose for life, blogging, competition

I’ve had a blog (albeit, in several different forms) since 2008. I’m amazed by a couple of things when I look around at other moms with successful money-making blogs.

  1. Some of these bloggers have been online and working for a shorter amount of time than I.
  2. There are a dang lot of women bloggers, but it seems like there’s always room for more.

So what that means to me is this:

Don’t worry about “the competition” and work your tail off.

Regardless of your area of expertise …

If God’s calling you to something, it means that the competition is irrelevant.
Faithfully following his call, your message will be unique enough that it won’t get lost and it will reach those that need it most.

We must believe this, friends. It’s the “partner” message to the primary one of “look in your house” to find your priorities, passions, and provision.

Let’s consider this idea—something I’ve wanted to do forever: write and sell an ebook.

But I have to tell you that part of delay in actually doing it has been wrapped up in my thought patterns. I have a tendency to think that my efforts would be in vain: No one would benefit from anything I’d have to say. Would my ebook be unique enough to stand out against an already-full market?

Let’s interrupt those thoughts, though, and turn them around. What if I were to approach it this way: God has given me a unique set of experiences, skills, and passions. God has created a passion in my heart to write an ebook. If God wants me to write an eBook then nothing else matters.

It’s a lot more fun to go through life wondering, God, what will you have me tackle today? What awesome thing that seems difficult or awkward will you have me achieve?

So, look in your house to see what’s there, follow your passion, and then shrug off everything else that hinders you.

Photo Credit: Johan Larsson via Compfight cc

My Word for 2012: Receive

2012 Mayan Calendar

(My friend, Jamie at BlondeMomBlog, posted this cartoon with her year-end post.
I had to borrow it for mine. I love it.)

It’s a new year—the perfect time for reflections and fresh starts.

I’m a real sucker for cliched rituals like that.

And so, I look back and look forward.

I started this blog one year ago with the greatest of aspirations. I wasn’t completely sure where it would take me, but one thing was foremost. I was devoted to being intentional.

Intentionally, Chris and I set goals for our family surrounding faith, family, and finances.

And unlike most New Year Resolution Resolvers, I actually held to a state of intentionality for much of the year. In fact, I consider it somewhat of a triumph that I was at least still considering intentionality as I closed the door on 2011. I was intentional enough to at least assess my success with goal-setting.

Drum roll, please.

You know what? Most—if not all—of those “goals” I set about faith, family, and finances were not reached. In fact, most were woefully missed. As in not just “come up a little short” but more like “the target was way over there.” And I’m not being negative, just realistic. You know what this tells me? That simply having intention isn’t enough to cause change.

Hmmm.

I have a theory. I think that most (if not all) “success stories” are “accidental.” (And by accidental, I actually mean God-orchestrated.) Hard work? Intention? Determination? All of those are simply by-products of calling and God-given talent.

I think everyone has something (or a few things) that he or she is created to do. As imagers of God, we are creators. I think everyone comes hard-wired to do/be a unique something/someone. Period.

My particular temptation (for whatever reason) is pursuing everything under the sun. I see the possibilities in all things and try to fit my square peg in a round hole. No amount of “intention” or “determination” can change or improve something that doesn’t exist.

This fall, I attended the PCA International Women’s Conference in Atlanta. My friend, Nancy Guthrie, was the speaker and was absolutely fabulous. Anyway, one of the most important things I took away from the weekend was the idea that God was calling me to a special place. (And that wasn’t the topic of Nancy’s talks but was something I found to be kind of a residual effect of my learning and listening.)

He is calling me to a posture of reception. Of listening. I have always been praying and seeking his guidance about what to do. I believe he now is calling me to simply be. To watch for his moving. To identify his signs. To become still in order to hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit.

So, I enter 2012 with one word: Receive. And I’ve got to say that we’re only a few days in, and it’s tough. My mother is dealing with some health issues associated with recovery from breast cancer, and our family is navigating some sticky relationship issues. And yes, I still need to address faith, family, and fitness, just like last year.

But I come to 2012 in place of cautious expectancy with no agenda except to wait, watch, listen, and receive.

 

 

The Unprecedented Popularity of The Crock Pot Girls on Facebook—and What’s Really Going On

crock pot girls on facebook

I have been consumed (consumed, I tell you!) with a social media phenomenon this week surrounding the overnight success and explosive viral growth of a Facebook fan page called Crock Pot Girls. In fact, you’ve probably “liked” it and at least a dozen or so of your friends have “liked” it within the last few days.

crock pot girls on facebook

I noticed in my Facebook news feed that three or four of my friends had “liked” it, so I clicked over to see what I was missing if it was something I should “like” as well.

The Crock Pot Girls on Facebook

When I got over to the page, I noticed a rather non-descript photo of three women decked in black holding their Crock Pots (with a couple of Crock Pots on the floor—why did you put them on the floor?). The wall posts were just three- and four-ingredient recipes and lots of people saying, “I love this page!” and “I love my Crock Pot!” and things like that.

Since I’ve been in an “un-liking” mood lately on Facebook and I have gotten rid of at least a couple of Crock Pot and slow cooker recipe books at yard sales in the last few years, I chose not to like the page and move on. I can’t remember at the time how many fans the page had except that it was already passed 100,000, which I remember impressing me but not enough to have me explore it any further.

Fast forward a few days and I noticed another friend’s post about a separate website calling the instant popularity of the Crock Pot Girls page and its viral growth into question (this is a wonderful post, incidentally, and the commenters raise some interesting points). Since Wednesday night (less than 48 hours), this page has jumped from 800,000 to almost 1.1 million fans. Absolutely unbelievable.

After some research on Google through various posts and persons’ hypotheses (another post with excellent comments that you must check out), I have come to my own conclusions about this unprecedented turn of events. Here’s what I think happened (completely my opinion and speculation):

  • Three moms got together and said, Hey let’s put up some Crock Pot recipes on Facebook.
  • They did that.
  • People liked the page and their friends liked the page. (What I can’t account for between August 19 and say, August 28 or so is how so many people found out about the page. Once people were “liking,” their friends saw that and followed suit. But how did that first handful become alerted? Not sure. Several commenters on posts have said that it could have been FB bots working to get followers. Many say they’ve looked through the FB accounts of the posters on the Crock Pot Girls page and they seem to be “fake” accounts. Others say the friends who liked the page originally in their stream are now not listed as “likers” of the page. If you refresh the Crock Pot Girls FB page and watch the counter, I guarantee you it will jump 30, 40, or 50 likes per click! To me, that’s not just crazy; it’s really impossible. Will the counter ever stop, even for 5 minutes?)
  • Then, regardless of how those first thousand folks got onto the FB page, legitimate people joined, something unbelievable happened. At this point, it has become the “perfect storm” of:
    • Women love their Crock Pots (as a friend, who is a working mom of four, said yesterday when we discussed this).
    • Women are incredibly busy and don’t have the time, interest, or skills to make meals every night from scratch.
    • The FB page format capitalizes on the human ego by allowing others to post their recipes, their variations, their suggestions, and their experiences. People love to talk about themselves, even if it’s just about their favorite Crock Pot recipe (which I don’t really get, but whatever—then again, I do have a blog … ha!).

I counter the legitimate, organic nature of the growth, however, with these arguments:

  • You can Google “Crock Pot recipes” and get your hands on any type of free Crock Pot recipe you want. That’s a heck of a lot easier and streamlined than wading through hundreds of wall posts about all types of ingredients.
  • Crock Pot and slow cooker cook books abound. I have gotten rid of several.
  • As far as I’m concerned, Stephanie O’Dea is the consummate Crock Pot girl, but she devoted an entire year to a create journey through slow cooking. Through that, she has become a bestselling Crock Pot cookbook author. But it took her a year to find her fan base and maintain it. And her FB page has only 4400 fans.

The Crock Pot Girls and their “people” should expect a cease and desist letter really soon. Crock Pot is a trademark. I suspect the owners are doing their own investigation into this.

And—for the record, I love my Crock Pot. So, I consider myself one of the target audience. I am a busy mom; I work, take care of home and family. I use my Crock Pot about 3-4 times a month. But I find little value in joining this FB page and posting my recipes (readily available in a variety of places) alongside comments of my undying love for the page and my beloved kitchen appliance. I say, MAJOR disconnect between reality (what’s happening on their page) and my own experiences as a member of the target audience.

What do you think? There’s more to come in this saga and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. I’ll keep you posted.

Oh, and for your Crock-Pot-ing pleasure, I offer you my all-time favorite Crock Pot chicken recipe. ;)

 

I’ve Looked in My House and It’s a Mess

This is not anything new, really. My house is always a mess.

By “house” I mean both my physical dwelling, as well as my mental/emotional/spiritual “house.”

And I straddle sanity between enjoying the permission to be unstructured with the overwhelming desire to “get it together” and get it cleaned up.

The first few weeks of school have been hard for us.  We’ve been dealing with all sorts of broken household appliances and behavior and sleeping issues with the kids while just managing the daily stuff, too.

Trying to juggle it all brings me to wallow in the low-grade guilt that I haven’t kept up with my blog or other online projects. But then of course, I begin to wonder, Why do I feel guilty? Is it awful or earth-shattering that I haven’t blogged on schedule?

I’m pooped.

And I’ve made a really hard decision. I’m turning everything off for a while. I love writing and I love dreaming about having a successful blog/online business. But something is wrong with this picture. When I start hating The Pioneer Woman because she has her own TV SHOW coming out on The Food Network, something is wrong.

I’m hoping that “pulling back” can reveal the truly important stuff.

See, I am not structured. I am not. I am not predictable nor routine. I live by a loose rhythm, I guess you’d say. Which is OK. I think it would be more OK if I just embraced it and sought the positives instead of always beating myself up that I’m “not doing so-and-so.”

And that’s what happens when I see The Pioneer Woman’s TV show promo or read posts from my blogger friends who homeschool their 15 children AND maintain three blogs AND have a book deal in the works. I just start the inner pummeling: If you really want to be successful, write books, have an online business, you’ve got to get with it, young lady. Nothing’s getting done while you’re sitting here playing Words with Friends on your iPhone.

And as true as that may be, I also realize that somewhere in a crucial and important way, it’s NOT true. Because it’s really dishonoring who I am. (And, oh, I’m a dang good Words with Friends player.) The problem is that I don’t know who I am. I know that I don’t thrive in this structured, you-must-Tweet-every-10-minutes-to-stay-viable-in-online-media world, but beyond that? Really—who am I? And what gifts do I bring? And really? What makes me happy?

What makes me happy?

Well, what doesn’t make me happy is jealousy, self-loathing, self-criticism, and constant regrets.

So, I’m off to discover how I can capitalize on how God made me. Why he gave me the gifts, talents, and preferences that he gave me. You know what? I think I’m facing the fact that I don’t think he wants me to be Blogger Extraordinaire OR homeschool my 15 children (kidding! I only have 3, but I don’t think he wants me to homeschool them, either—at least not right now). But I also know that I can’t hear from God when I have so many competing voices and pictures of “success” constantly bombarding me.

So, here’s my plan:

  • I will post here when I feel like it. Not sure what that looks like. I hope you’ll stick around but I totally understand if you ARE a structured person and like to hear from your bloggers on a regular basis. That’s just not me.
  • I’m going to unsubscribe/stop reading the “Blogger Barbies”—those “perfectly coifed” ones to whom I’ll just never measure up. It’s just not healthy for me. To the “Blogger Barbies”: I don’t fault you. I just think that I have an incredibly difficult time looking at you and your accomplishments from afar without comparing myself and obviously, we are differently gifted. But I can’t see that right now, so I must go away for awhile. I just can’t take any more posts in my news feed about how you made an entire clothing line from your discarded newspapers, traveled half-way around the world to minister to starving children, or stocked your freezer with (healthy! organic! made-from-veggies-you-grew-yourself!) meals for the next six months.
  • I do have a few ideas of upcoming projects that I hope to complete. I have at least one eBook in the works, but I’m not sure when/if it will be finished. I’m working on it and have a loose time frame for it. That’s exactly where I want to be with that. :)
  • I need more glitter in my life. Much to the chagrin of my children, I’m setting out to fill my life with glitter. Because? Glitter makes me happy.

I hope I haven’t come across as too gripey. I’m just tired of being a slave to my own emotions and suffocating behaviors. Enough. I’m ready to enjoy my positive attributes and really seek earnestly the ways that God has planned for me to live, work, and play.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you have traveled this road and discovered something new about yourself.

Thanks for reading.

I’m off to buy glitter now.

Feeling Overwhelmed? and How to Make $1000 a Month Online

I wanted to pass along two really interesting links for you, especially as we continue to explore issues of time management here.

Overcoming Overwhelm

Michael Hyatt posted a helpful list about how he has overcome feeling overwhelmed. I liked his list and I believe he has some positive things to say.

His major take-away, though?

Delegate and out-source those tasks that are not productive for you.

I get that. I really do. I can see the wisdom in hiring a part-time maid/nanny/cook to take care of my kids, dust and vacuum, keep the laundry moving, grocery shop, and prepare meals (think I could get all that accomplished with ONLY a part-timer? Ha!) while I write and blog on an almost full-time basis.

My biggie question, though, is how do you outsource when you have no way to pay for it? It doesn’t seem wise to go into debt to pursue this business model.

What do you think? How helpful is Michael’s advice for the struggling new business owner who is doing it all because there’s no other option at the moment?

Read the entire post here.

(Thanks, Jennifer Cortez, for calling this post to my attention.)

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How to Make $1000 a Month Online

If you’d like to make at least $1000 per month with your blog online, you should check out this upcoming webinar from Authority Blogger. These types of webinars are every where, but the pitch for this one impressed me, and I signed up. Why? Because the organizers tell you up front that not everyone will become a millionaire online:

Contrary to popular belief, not everybody can make millions of dollars per year while working in their underwear on the computer. It’s just not realistic.

BUT, they say they do believe that everyone is capable of making a nice supplemental income (at least $1000 per month) with their blogs. They say this webinar will give 5 different ways to do just that.

I like that honesty. That’s really my approach, too. I DO believe that most anyone can make at least a nice part-time income online.

So, I want to learn more.

You may want to, as well.

Register here.

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Disclosure: I feature affiliate links on posts on this blog. If you follow my link and eventually make a purchase, I will receive a commission from my referral. You will never pay more through my affiliate link; in fact, you may receive a better price because you were referred by me.

 

Need Blog Content? Try PLR Articles!

 

I asked some blogger friends what was their greatest need when it came to blogging. Overwhelmingly, “more time” was their answer.

I’ve discovered a great shortcut for blogging content. It’s called PLR articles.

Let’s face it: for those of us who want our blogs to generate income, we are sometimes at a loss for words and/or aware that few people are going to find our family stories interesting enough to return.

PLR helps me fill in the content gaps, offering keyword-rich articles and blog post ideas. PLR means the hard part is done, and I can spend what limited time I do have putting on the finishing touches.

Veteran PLR provider Nicole Dean offers this informative article about PLR.

What Can you Do with PLR Articles?
by Nicole Dean

You may have seen the term Private Label Rights or PLR articles
being tossed around frequently lately. PLR articles are articles you
can buy (usually in packages or as part of a membership) that you may
edit and use as you wish. Unlike free reprint articles, you are not
required to link back to anyone else’s website which makes them
appealing to many web publishers.

Once you understand the concept behind PLR articles, you can see
why they are appealing. Most people can envision the value of adding
the articles to their websites. But, did you know there are more ways
to use PLR articles than that?

1. Add them to your blog.

Similar to adding PLR articles to your website, you can take
excerpts and use them on your blog for fresh content. Whether you take
a portion and use it as a “tip of the day” or use the entire article,
PLR articles can be a huge time saver for you.

2. Send them in your newsletter.

Need content for your newsletter? PLR articles are an option. Of
course, if you’re developing a relationship with your readers, you may
wish to edit the articles to make them your own voice. However, you can
pull a section from a PLR article – use it as inspiration — and whip
out a newsletter in minutes.

3. Start an ecourse.

If you purchase a package of PLR articles based on a theme, it’s
quite easy to turn them into an ecourse simply by adding them to your
autoresponder. Something as simple as “Five Ideas for Kids Lunches” can
become a 5 day ecourse to grow a big newsletter list.

4. Use them in your podcast.

Take a PLR article and use it as inspiration for a podcast. Add the content and you’re done.

5. Send them in a print mailing.

Direct mailing is huge. If you have a list of postal mailing
addresses, put together a free report from PLR articles and send it
out.

6. Create a special report.

Simply bulk together some PLR articles that have the same topic,
and make them flow into a special report. Turn it into a pdf file and
give it away to your website visitors.

See how easy that is?

The only hard part is finding a high quality PLR service that fits your niche. Look around. Make sure the PLR package or membership you choose provides you with high quality articles so you can create something you’ll be proud of.

Nicole Dean welcomes you to check out EasyPLR.com – where you’ll find high-quality PLR articles on niches sold in very limited quantities.

I highly recommend this PLR site for the best PLR on the web.

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I also want to let you know that I have created a PLR site myself. Please check out All Content PLR and grab some FREE PLR articles. Sign up for my mailing list to be notified when I add new PLR. Tell all your blogger friends!

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Disclosure: I feature affiliate links on posts on this blog. If you follow my link and eventually make a purchase, I will receive a commission from my referral. You will never pay more through my affiliate link; in fact, you may receive a better price because you were referred by me.

I’m Coming Back

Hey, y’all.

I’ve been completely off my blog for about two months. I really hadn’t planned to be, but my spring has been so busy with birthdays, holidays, end of school, a few sicknesses, work, and church.

I kind of just set my blog aside awhile as I evaluated (always evaluating!) my online pursuits. I have been doing crazy research into all facets of Internet marketing. I finally decided to come back to Look In Your House but with a tighter focus and purpose. I’ve also tweaked the design a bit, just to reflect a cleaner, more streamlined approach to life.

This blog going forward will focus heavily on helping working mothers manage home and family. This is broad enough to include moms who work at home, outside of home, part-time, full-time, freelance—you name it. This is really my passion because I believe that happy mamas make happy families. And I believe that work—in all its shapes and forms—makes many mamas happy.

So I want to discuss here things related to all these topics.

I hope you’ll stick around and tell your friends. I really want this site to be a helpful resource.

Want more Look In Your House?

Sign up for my FREE weekly email devotion now.

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Find Online Success Through a Support Group

I spent several hours on Saturday with the Nashville Women Who Blog, a group of women who blog and live in and among the Nashville area.

I was first introduced to this group in the fall of 2009. I had been blogging and feeling my way around the business side of blogging for a few months, rather clueless about all the ins and outs of websites and writing for the web.

The women are super-savvy, creative, and business-minded. These bloggers use their online platforms to promote their small businesses, writing endeavors, and creative endeavors. I am always encouraged and inspired after spending a few hours with these gals.

Find Your Own Small Group for Encouragement

Regardless of your creative or business niche, you, too, should find a group for support and encouragement. I can’t over emphasize the importance of meeting regularly with others.

If you don’t know of a group already in existence that you can join, why not start one? Use Twitter, Facebook, and Meet-Up to find other similarly-minded folks in your vicinity who may like to meet on a regular basis.

Just put it out there and see what happens.

Being a member of a group will offer you:

  • Insight, tips, tricks, and knowledge for your business or craft.
  • Moral support, encouragement, and shared experiences with others who have similar interests.
  • Launching pad for partnerships, which can be mutually beneficial to all businesses.
  • Accountability and assistance with all those “business-oriented” tasks, such as goal-setting, determining vision, and making action plans.

In the spirit of blogging love, I’m giving a shout-out to the gals I met with on Saturday. Go visit their blogs and tell them I sent you!

Carrie from Tiki, Tiki Blog and Bilingual in the Boonies

Rowena from Romesticity and Rostitchery

Brigid from BrigidDay.com and Sweet Pea Embroidery

Jena from Southern Joy

Tanna from Complete Organizing Solutions

Sami from SamiCone.com

Scarlet from Family Focus Blog

Leisa from LeisaHammett.com

Do you have a group for support, encouragement,
and ideas for your business?

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What Do You Want?

I’ve been blogging here for a few months, and I appreciate your reading.

Now, I’d like to hear from you.

What do you like?

What would you like to read about more?

I’d love to create an eBook, but I want to hear what you’d like to read. On what topics would you like for me to write? If you were to come to the site, what type of eBook would you expect me to sell?

Tell me, people. What would you like to read here next?

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What Do You See On Your Front Porch?

What’s In Your House? Weekly Link-up

This week’s writing prompt for the weekly link-up:

What do you see on your front porch (or main exterior entryway) of your house? What’s the potential for creativity there? How might God use your front porch for great purposes?

My response:

I managed to pick a super-hard first writing prompt for my very own first meme link-up. I chose the front porch for us all to examine and upon which to write.

This space “in my house” is hard to write about because, well, when I look at my front porch I see—literally—decay and neglect.

The pair of urns are still sitting in the same spots from last summer with dead leaves and vines crawling down their sides. They look horrible. I have dead leaves piled in the crevices of the corners of porch and cobwebs lining the small window panes that frame the front door. A neighbor pointed out the other day that we also have two wasps’ nests in the upper corners of our porch roof.

Doesn’t it sound lovely? Don’t you want to pay me a visit? :)

Nevertheless, I must examine my front porch in the spirit of this meme.

What in the world does my disgusting, neglected front porch tell me about God’s purposes for me? What about my front porch inspires creativity?

Front porches are symbolic of hospitality. A welcoming front porch, stoop, and door seem to beckon the outside in. We can all picture in our minds the front porch of homespun tranquility with waving flags, creaking rocking chairs, and crisp, white railing.

Yet my disheveled front porch is a more authentic display of who I really am.

I’m a mess. I struggle with the effects of decay. I suffer from “parched foliage” due to neglect of soul-feeding yet overstay my usefulness and wallow in past failures, just as those dead plants parked on my porch.

I love bright, cheerful porches with pots of geraniums and ferns announcing a welcome. I want a stand-out front door in an unexpected red or yellow or green. I want to be hospitable and open and inviting.

I’m not sure exactly what about my front porch inspires me to creativity or sparks a business endeavor. I do know this, though: I want to work hard enough at the things I’m good at so that I can either free up an extra hour in my week (or pay someone for that hour’s work) to keep my plants alive and make them look pretty.

Regardless, I want the front porch of my heart to be always ready to receive what God may give. I want to experience the new fruit of life and the freedom from dead vines that easily entangle. I’m ready to move out the dead potted plants so that God can create in me a hearty, new flower garden of vitality.

Your turn now …

  • Post your link to this week’s writing challenge below.
  • Link back here on your blog.
  • Visit some of the other posts and leave some words of encouragement for the writers in their comments’ sections.

Thanks for participating!

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Writing prompt for next week:

What do you see in your bank account? What’s the potential for creativity there? How might God use your bank account for great purposes?

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