Blogging Their Way to a Midlife Makeover
This month, Sheffield, a full-time corporate employee and part-time writer based in Seattle, is putting into words her dreams and anxieties about her milestone birthday and what she wants to do with the next half of her life.
"Frankly, I had no idea that this would be the perfect way to celebrate beginning the next phase of my life," she says about her blog, called Motherlogue. "Thanks to guest posts and plenty of reader comments I feel like I have a mini manual, preparing me for the journey."
Sheffield is one of more than 200 people from around the world taking part in a community blogging event that I host on my writers' website every May. The WordCount Blogathon challenges people -- some of them professional writers, many of them not -- to post 31 days straight to build up their blogging skills and connect with other bloggers and readers.
This year, some participants are middle-aged people embarking on new careers. Others are navigating the world of blogging for the first time. I thought you'd enjoy meeting some of them.
City: Oregon City, Ore.
Blog: Imperfect Mom
Description: Life lessons from a Christian homeschooling mom of five turned parenting magazine writer.
On blogging: "Write for your readers," she says. "I never know what will be a hit. I wrote a post about drinking green smoothies and surprisingly, got a large response. The comments were fun and entertaining."
Lessons learned: "I've been told some of my posts make people laugh. When I'm vulnerable and real with people, it begins conversations."
City: Somewhere in Minnesota
Blog: Conrad Zero: Dark Fiction Author
Description: Home base for anonymous, mild-mannered IT guy by day, super-hero dark fiction writer and metal-band rocker by night.
On blogging: "The alias helps me avoid potential problems when applying for IT jobs." he says. "I don't really want the HR person looking online to see that I not only write horrific stories but I'm also lead singer and bass player in a metal band."
Lessons learned: "The band is just a fun hobby, but the writing thing is a long-range plan to transition into a career for retirement. I just had my first story published and I'm an assistant organizer for the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writer's group, a group of 286 people. I record and engineer the group's monthly podcast."
Blog: Bankrate's Retirement Blog
Description: The low down on financial retirement planning from a veteran newspaper journalist turned freelance writer.
On blogging: "Like every other kind of journalism I've done, the reporting is key."
Lessons learned: "After reading comments from hundreds of retired people who are short on money and options, I've decided that the chances I'm going to retire in the traditional way any time soon are remote."
City: Gilmer, Texas, and Davenport, Fla.
Description: Reviews of young adult book from a laid-off high-school librarian.
On blogging: "It's okay to give one idea a good run, then to go in another direction in the next post."
Lessons learned: "The thing I've missed most since leaving my library is connecting the right book to the right reader. With this, I can do that again -- point readers to amazing young adult books that aren't bestsellers, books that they might miss if they rely on booksellers' publicity, books with other viewpoints and interesting perspectives."
Name: Rosalyn Demaree
City: Atlanta, In.
Blog: Small Town Writer
Description: Chronicle of small-town life from a laid-off newspaper editor launched "to get my name and work out there for my job search."
On blogging: "An amazing landscape of people find your writing through blogs. I figured folks in my community might be drawn to various posts, but never expected to find readers in Europe, Asia and South America."
Lessons learned: "I don't let go of my journalism training easily. I work hard to verify facts, find a news peg and follow the traditional canons."
Blog: Memoir, Writing & Life
Description: Advice on writing, creating and publishing creative nonfiction from a corporate consultant turned author and creative writing instructor.
On blogging: "My memoir manuscript is done and I'm about to go out to market it (so) I wanted to have a web presence as an author."
Lessons learned: "That move (to writing and blogging) was a big step. I had worked for the same firm all those years and was quite senior but I had reached the end of that road for many reasons."
City: Edwardsville, Ill.
Blog: Aunty Juju's Perspective
Description: Thoughts on everyday life from long-time stay-at-home-mom with a communications degree brushing up her skills as she contemplates returning to work full time.
On blogging: "The logistics are far more complicated than I originally thought (but) there are a lot of helpful bloggers who are more than willing to offer assistance. Getting people to read posts is not as simple as `if I write it, they will read it' because there are a plethora of bloggers."
Lessons learned: "I've been a slacker. I could have been blogging years ago. I've still got lots to learn and that it's time I invest in further education for myself."
Name: Lisa Elliott
City: Clinton, Md.
Blog: The Haute Host
Description: Entertaining tips from a long-time HR professional transitioning into a new career as a party planner.
On blogging: "I made a conscious decision to blog to create awareness, as well as build trust for my clients and potential clients. I network face to face and send (people) to my blog."
Lessons learned: "I believe in my ideas much more sharing them with the world."
Needless to say, between running the blogathon and blogging for SecondAct, it's been a busy month, which you can see for yourself with this behind-the-scenes look at one of my average work days.
If you're thinking blogging as part of your own mid-life transition, here are some of my tips for getting started:
- 6 simple steps for starting a blog
- How to pick a topic for a blog
- The well-dress blog post
- How to get more comments on blog posts
- Bad beginnings: 10 newbie blogging mistakes and how to fix them
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