The Savvy Bump has a great post up with 10 Easy Ways to Save on Baby Stuff at Target.
So my question might be too pessimistic, but I am wondering if some of us are getting i to the blogging too late. Are there just too many blogs out there to really be able to get in on it all?
I have so many ideas, but then I do a little research and see that there are a ton of people already posting on these things. I feel like another blog is not needed.
So how do you make your blog something people need to read? The really successful blogs either look like they had money to put into it before making money or they have been around since the beginning. What are your thoughts? -Debby
Can I just encourage you, Debby? I don’t believe in any way that the market is saturated when it comes to blogs.
I know others disagree with me, but I hold to that statement because I believe that everyone has a unique perspective, everyone has a different writing style, and everyone has their own story. These three things will set apart your blog from anyone else’s in the world.
Think about book ideas and business ideas: there are millions of them out there. And yet, every week, many new books are published and many new businesses are started. Not all of them will succeed, but many of them will make a difference.
There are multitudes of amazing books and stories and business concepts that would have never come to fruition had someone felt like the book market or the business market was too saturated! In fact, some of my favorite books would never have been written and some of my favorite businesses would have never been started.
So remind yourself of this when you begin to feel like the market might be saturated. There is always, always room for new blogs, new books, and new businesses.
However, I want to give you four important words of advice to think about as you contemplate the possibility of starting a blog:
1. Don’t Blog for the Money
While I’ve written extensively on how to start a blog and make money blogging, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you have a purpose for blogging that is much bigger than making money.
I’m a firm believer in being smart and strategic. I think it’s wise to find creative win-win ways to make money that also help your audience out. But never, never, never start a blog just to make money.
You will crash and burn if you have no bigger why behind your blogging endeavors than making money.
When I first started blogging here on MoneySavingMom.com, there were quite literally no other blogs that I’d ever found that were matching coupons with deals. Pretty soon after I started, the idea caught on and soon, there were a number of bloggers covering deals at their local stores and sharing great online deals.
Because people found out that there was pretty good money to be made in this field — especially if you did a great job of it — more and more people jumped on the deal-blogging bandwagon.
I saw blogger after blogger start new deal blogs — some starting multiple deal blogs. Many outright said to me that they were really only blogging for the money.
A year or three later, the majority of the bloggers who only started blogging for the money had either shut down their blogs entirely or had confessed to me that they were exhausted, frazzled, and overwhelmed.
Blogging is hard work. Making a living from blogging is not an easy road. And when the frustrations and set-backs and discouragements come, if you’re not in it for a bigger purpose than making money, you’re going to have a hard time sticking with it for the long haul.
I love that blogging allows me to pretty much work from anywhere! Today, I took my “office” to the skating rink and hung out with Kaitlynn while she had an intensive day of figure skating lessons and training.
2. Don’t Try to Be Someone You’re Not
You are the only you on the planet. The world needs YOU — not you trying to be someone else.
Instead of looking at other bloggers and thinking of how you can replicate what they are doing, be inspired by them and then go do your own thing.
Instead of trying to copy others, think about what you can do to set yourself apart. What unique perspective and life experience do you have to bring to the table? What ideas and subjects are you intensely passionate about?
Do not compare yourself to other bloggers. I repeat: do not compare yourself to other bloggers.
This is a recipe for discouragement and defeat or for pride. Whether it makes you feel better than or less than, either way, it’s not good for your heart. Save yourself the fallout and just stop comparing.
Focus on being the best version of yourself that you can be. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, build you up, and challenge you to improve and grow as a person.
But also, give yourself grace and remember that you don’t have the same gifts, capacity, or calling as others do. And that’s the beauty of us all being unique individuals.
For more encouragement, read my post on the 3 Most Important Things to Do After You Start a Blog.
3. Don’t Over-Research
There’s a huge advantage nowadays over when I started blogging, because the public at large knows what a blog is.
When I first started blogging, most people hadn’t even really heard of this thing called a “blog”. So before you could tell them about your blog, you first had to explain to them what a blog even was! It was a weird phenomenon to many people and just didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
If you start a blog now, you have a big advantage because blogging is widely accepted and understood. But it also means that it’s no longer a sort of cutting edge thing.
Because of this, as you go to research topics and ideas, you’ll find that there really isn’t anything new under the sun. What your friends think is your personal brilliant idea has probably been blogged on dozens and dozens of times.
In fact, it always cracks me up when I post something simple — say about making your bed every day — and then get emails from people telling me that they read that idea in a book before and I really should give credit to the author I got the idea from.
Here’s the truth: there are really rarely many truly new ideas. While I’m all about giving credit where credit is due if I got an idea or quote directly from someone else, for most ideas, they’ve been shared so many times in so many ways that it’s basically impossible to say where an idea originated from. And often, I may have come up with the idea on my own, but that doesn’t mean that a thousand other people didn’t also come up with the idea, too, and write about it on their blogs.
I don’t say this to discourage you, but to just remind you that you can’t be concerned about only blogging about ideas that have never before been shared. Otherwise, you’ll be hard-pressed to find material to write on!
Just write from your heart, write what you’re inspired about, share what’s working or what’s not working for you. Share from your own life story and unique perspective.
If you’re going to hold something out as a brand-new, never-before-heard-of original idea, you probably should research to make sure it’s truly not been blogged about before. But otherwise, just be you as a blogger. Give credit to anyone you get ideas from, but don’t stress about always having to cite a source for everything — especially if the idea is something you just learned by trial and error.
Too much research can stifle your creativity. If you go out trying to search to see what else has been written about a particular topic, it can sometimes be more discouraging than helpful — as you’ll find that three or 30 or 300 other bloggers have shared a similar idea, but with better photos or graphics or storyline than you would have ever come up with yourself.
Instead of spending hours researching, I encourage you to spend a lot more time writing, editing, tweaking, and creating than you do researching. In the long run, it will be a much healthier decision for you.
As I’ve said before, “Stop collecting more information and, instead, go and apply what you already know.”
4. Don’t Let Lies Limit You
Do you feel like you just don’t measure up? That you’re not good enough? That you wish you could be successful and fulfilled in life but you’re met with failure and discouragement at every turn?
So much of the time, our unwillingness to act or our inability to gain momentum has to do mostly with the things we’ve let ourselves believe about ourselves.
It’s long been said that if you believe a lie for long enough, it can become a truth to you. So if you tell yourself for months and months that you’re not good enough, that you don’t have anything to offer, that you shouldn’t start blogging because you wouldn’t do a good job of it, then you’ve probably slowly started to own those lies and let them be believed as truth in your life.
Instead of embracing these untruths about yourself, start calling them out for what they really are — LIES! Then replace them with the truth: you have a unique story and purpose, you are enough, the world needs your gifts and talents.
Be you, bravely!
If you, too, struggle with living under lies and letting them dictate how you live, I encourage you to download my talk on the 3 Lies That Are Stifling Your Success & The Truth That Will Set You Free. I think it will really encourage you!
Want to Pick My Brain About Blogging/Business?
Have a question you’d love for me to answer regarding business and/or blogging? Click this link and leave a comment on this post here or shoot me an email (crystal @ moneysavingmom.com) with your question. Each week (or as often as I have time!), I’ll choose one question from those submitted to answer in-depth in a blog post.
I also just recently started offering a monthly blog coaching package. This consists of a monthly hour-long call via Skype, a followup email with a plan of action, and the ability to reach out to me with questions and/or to report your progress and stay accountable to your goals. You can fill out the form here if you are interested in finding out more details on this.
Jamerrill has a very helpful article up on How to Stick to a Cash-Based Grocery Budget.
If you missed it, be sure to also read my post on 6 Ways We’re Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low Without Using Coupons.
Kelli from New Leaf Wellness has put together a list of 31 tried-and-true Healthy Crockpot Freezer Meals.
You need to go watch this short Tedx Talk on the 10-Item Wardrobe. It’s really inspiring and motivating — and just might challenge you to re-think your wardrobe and how many clothes you own.
As you probably well know, I’m a big fan of the minimalist wardrobe. Not only does it simplify my life, it requires less space, it makes packing for travel so simple, and it also saves money since you are shopping much less often, only owning things you love, and wearing the same things over and over again.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is that I think it makes me more relaxed and able to just focus on people in a situation versus worrying about my clothes since I’m wearing something I love, look good in, and (usually) have worn many times before.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the video. Did you agree with the idea? Did you think it was crazy? Did it make you think of your wardrobe in a different light?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post sharing 5 Reasons I’m Glad We Don’t Have Many Toys. So many of you commented and said you’d love to cut down on toys but you don’t know where to start or how it’s really feasible when you constantly have friends and relatives giving you new toys.
If you’re feeling like you wish you could have fewer toys, but you just don’t know how to pull that off — especially thanks to generous grandparents! — here are some suggestions:
1. Set Boundaries
I’m a big believer in having a home for everything in your home. Meaning, everything has a place for it to reside — be a drawer, a cupboard, a basket, a tub, or a box. Not only does this help your house stay cleaner and more organized, it also allows you to place limits on what you have.
For instance, when we lived in a little basement apartment, we had almost zero room for toys, but I designated one of the end tables that had a cupboard door on it as the place where we kept Kathrynne’s toys. If it didn’t fit in there, we couldn’t keep it — otherwise we’d be stepping on or over it all day long!
Nowadays, we have a tub for LEGOs, a barrel in the garage for outdoor toys (balls, bats, etc.), a shelf in a closet where we keep games, and a few baskets in the kid’s closet for misc. toys (walkie-talkies, stuffed animals, etc.)
Need help getting started designating a place for your toys? Check out Five Steps for a Pared Down Playroom.
If you have more than one child, you could consider having assigned areas for each individual child’s toys and then a place for toys that everyone shares. You might consider having a tub or shelf labeled with each child’s name. Our rule at our house is that when the shelf or tub is full, you can’t get any new toys until you get rid of some that you already have.
Since my kids are really, really into LEGOs, we’ve had to put some measures in place to help them not take over a room or area of our house. The kids know they are expected to have them all picked up once per day when they clean up their room (where the LEGOs usually are).
If they bring the LEGOs into other parts of the house and don’t pick them up when they are done or if they leave them lying out in their room after they’ve been told to pick them up, the LEGOs are put up for 4-6 weeks — which is a pretty huge punishment for our LEGO-lovers. It’s happened a few times and it’s been enough to convince them to be very responsible in keeping them put away when they aren’t in use.
2. Only Keep What You Love
We love quality, versatile toys in our home: things like LEGOs, art supplies, craft supplies, outdoor toys, and educational toys. We try to have toys that encourage creativity rather than solely entertain.
And here’s the thing we’ve discovered: our kids would much rather play with cardboard boxes or build tents with old sheets, folding chairs and couch pillows than have the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. The few bells-and-whistle toys we’ve had in the last couple of years served to entertain for a short while and then were abandoned for LEGOs, puzzles, and creative play.
We try to go through our house very regularly and get rid of things we no longer love, use, or need. There’s no point in keeping something around if no one likes it or uses it on a regular basis. Is it sitting around untouched for weeks on end? Is it broken? Does it have parts which can’t be replaced? Get rid of it!
If you have toys that are in good condition that you no longer use or love, donate them to a daycare or children’s home, sell them in a garage sale or consignment sale, drop them off at Goodwill, sell them on a Facebook Yard Sale Groups or Craigslist, or even have a Toy Swap Party.
Here’s a creative idea from The Bargain Shopper Lady:
My boys started a “friend toy swap” which is their idea of giving to their friends. Anytime they have a friend over to play, they let their friend choose one toy to take home. I approve all toys before the friend leaves just in case they are trying to give something away, such as “their brother’s favorite toy” or something that they just got and is still pretty new.
This method is great for us! We have friends over often and it really helps with the clutter! My children are also learning that they really enjoy giving toys they don’t play with as often to their friends!
3. Ask For Consumable Gifts
One of the biggest reasons parents have told me that they can’t cut down on toy clutter is because of their well-meaning and generous relatives and grandparents who are constantly gifting various things to their kids.
First off, if this is the case for you, I just want to encourage you to remember that this is a blessing that you have grandparents who want to give to and bless their grandchildren. Not all families have this. So be grateful for it instead of resenting it.
Always remember that the relatives are likely buying things for your children because they love them. In almost every case, they aren’t purposefully seeking to annoy or irritate you.
That said, I encourage you to graciously and lovingly communicate your preferences to your relatives. Perhaps they don’t know you are short on space or really would love it if they spent less money. Maybe they feel obligated for some reason. Whatever it is, come up with a plan to talk about the issues in a calm and loving manner.
However, don’t just go to Grandma and say, “Sorry, we don’t have room for your toys. Please don’t ever buy another toy again.” Give your relatives some options.
Here are some consumable/no-clutter gift ideas you could suggest:
- Bubble bath, crayons, & sidewalk chalk
- A special outing with the grandparents
- Magazine subscriptions
- Subscription to craft kit boxes — like Doodle Crate, Kiwi Crate, and Tinker Crate — our kids got these for Christmas/their birthdays and love, love, loved them!
- Subscriptions to LEGO’s Pley membership — Kathrynne got this for her birthday and has loved it!
- Craft supplies
- Crayons, paper, coloring books, and other craft supplies
- Gift cards for restaurants/treats
- Memberships to Local Attractions
Check out the comments on this post here for many, many more ideas.
You could also ask for clothes, books, educational toys, outdoor toys, LEGOs, gift cards, or even for them to donate money to your child’s college fund!
At the end of the day, though, be sure you don’t deprive the grandparents of getting the joy that comes from giving. Just as you would like to see change on their part, be willing to meet them halfway–or more! It might never be perfect or ideal, by openly communicating in a loving manner and presenting some options and being willing to listen and show appreciation to them, you just might be able to come to a happy medium.
4. Rotate Toy Collections
If you feel like you have too many toys, but you don’t want to part with what you have, consider a rotational toy system. Put away half the toys for a month. After a month, put away the toys you currently have and get out the toys which were put away. You could even do this on a quarterly basis.
This method can help you to see what toys your children really like and use. It also might help encourage more contentment with you already have since your children will probably feel like they are getting “new” toys quite often — when really it’s just the same old toys they’ve always had being presented in a new way!
One toy rotation system we’ve used in our home when our kids were little was the Day of the Week Tub System. This idea has so many variations, but the basic gist is to divide most of the toys in your home into seven groups and put them in seven different tubs labeled with the days of the week.
Your children can then play with the appropriate tub each day. It keeps things rotated and fresh, while creating less mess.
5. Don’t Shop for Toys at Garage Sales or Dollar Store
I know, I know! There are so many supposedly “good deals” to be found at garage sales and dollar stores when it comes to kid’s toys. But like I often say, if you don’t need it and it’s just going to be cluttering up your home, it’s not a good deal for you — no matter how inexpensive the price is.
So unless it’s something you really need, it’s consumable, or you’re planning to get rid of it after they play with it for a few weeks, just don’t buy it. Because there’s no point it filling up your house with stuff that you then have to pick up, clean up, care for, organize, and (maybe even) get frustrated by!
What ideas and suggestions would you add to my list? How do YOU cut down on toy clutter at your house?