Tuesday, January 28, 2020

How to Start a Blog

It is the New Year, and there are people who want to start something new and different.  Writing is usually one of those hobbies that people want to start doing, but, for the most part, they are clueless on how to start or where to start.  10 years ago, I was in that same place most people are in when the itch to start writing kicks in.  I loved writing, but I was not sure if I had the skills to be a writer.  In the past, I was that person who had tons of spelling and grammar mistakes, and I did not care when I started my blogs. One of my problems was that I was always an impatient writer. This lead to being a careless writer. Another problem was I never did any research.  I wanted the paper to be done and done quickly.  If I did any research, I copied the text word for word without putting my spin into what I was reading and still meaning the same thing.
Photos from Pixabay
Side Note:  I want to take this moment to talk about the art of writing in general.  I find writing a lost art and a lost skill. We, as humans, may not like to write with pen and paper anymore, but in order to write an effective paper, both in pen and paper or digitally, you need to know how to write basic sentences.  Social media has made us lazy and I must admit at the time it includes me. We depend on the computer to correct our mistakes and this includes, spell checkers, grammar checkers, instead of watching what we say, and how we write it.
You should know the difference, for example, between words that sound the same but have two totally different meanings.  You should know where to insert a comma, and the difference between a noun, a pronoun, an adjective, and a preposition, and how to use it.  In social media, you SHOULD ALWAYS punctate a sentence with a period (.), an exclamation point (!), or a question mark (?), no matter what Twitter says.  A person should not try to figure out what you are trying to say to them in a Facebook post or Tweet.  Learn how to spell.  I am saying this because it does not matter if you want to be viewed as a professional writer to your friends on social media, or when you write for a blog or a business, the rules do not change.  Blogs may be more relaxed, but that’s about it.  Okay, rant over. Back to my story.
When I first started writing the papers that my teachers wanted, I did it on a typewriter or wrote it as older people would call, “long-hand”.  By the time I graduated from high school, the home computer started becoming a thing in the household.  Now we have smartphones, tablets, and all sorts of devices that make starting a blog easy and fun to start.  The key to writing is to have content that interesting, informative, and relatable.
Are blogs still a thing?
I was asked on Quora.com if starting a blog in 2020 was a silly idea, and it is not.  In fact in an age where Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok, and Snapchat are the marketing norm, writing a blog is still relevant today, as it was over 10 years ago when I first started.  Another fact is that some bloggers use their blogs as an addition to the vlogs that they put out.  Blogs today are more of a marketing tool to sell their products than to give out information about their products. For instance, If you have a brand to promote with products to sell on your website, you need content that promotes the very thing you want to sell.
For example, if you are a crafter and you sell paintings your life in the Columbus, Ohio area, You would create an e-commerce website with portraits of downtown, the Eastside, and Southside of the city.  You decide to create a portrait of a family enjoying the Ohio State Fair.  Once you have the concept of the painting, who the family is and represent, and what they are doing.  Next, you create a story about this family and why they are important on your blog website.  Perhaps, you may not want to do that, but write a post on how to bring life to your portraits or how to bring light and shadows to portraits for intermediates or the beginnings on how to paint for beginners. 
Tip: Whatever you decide to do on your blog, make it interesting, informative, and relatable to your website or brand.
So how do you start a blog?
I was looking to see how you start a blog in 2020.  Yes, I know how, but you have to remember that I started writing my blog 10 years ago, and well times have changed slightly. A person I found called Blog starter suggested you start a blog in these 6 simple steps:
1.    Pick a blog name.  to me, pick a name that is easy for a reader to remember and is not already taken.  For instance, I wanted to name my business and blog, P Lynn Designs.  Lynn is my legalized or government middle name. Of course, the “P” stands for Patricia.  The problem with it is there was already a blog with that spelling, and I did not want people and companies I deal with to get confused with that spelling.  I chose to use P. Lynne Designs because I always wanted to change the spelling of my middle name since the 10th grade (my parents had a fit about it), and a period (.) to further distance my blog and business from the other P Lynn Designs. Little did I know how much the website servers hate it.  Etsy still calls my shop, Plynne Designs.
2.   Get your blog online. Yes, it is important to find a self-hosting site.  I use SiteGround, and I could not have been any happy with the site.  Right now, all three blogs are still on Blogger, which is not a self-hosted site.  It is owned by Google, which means Google has a say so to the things you can and cannot do on your blog.  WordPress is the type of blog that most bloggers use.  Yes, there are sites like Wix, and it is a good blogging website, but you want something that can stand the test of time. I am very confident in Siteground. 
Also, register your blog with a domain name.  I use GoDaddy, but any hosting site that allows you to create a website or blog will allow you to create and register a domain name.  Godaddy is cheaper for the first year.  Renewals, however, are $17.00, at least that is what I paid yesterday.
Photo by Becca Clark for Pixabay
3.   Customize your blog.  Once you have created a blog name, registered the blog and domain name, you will want to pick a theme.  You can use the default theme, which is usually named after the year it was created (Twenty Nineteen is the theme that is currently activated on my new My Ambiance Life site), but if I were you, I would pick a theme that resonated with your blog.  Twenty Nineteen is not that theme, so I will have to change it.  Also, choose a theme that has a “parent-child relationship (main and sub-main pages).  We could get into plug-ins later, but there are thousands of plug-ins to suit the style you want to go into for your blog.  One tip:  do not fall in love with too many plug-ins.  The reason is a server is a great big computer, and if you fill your blog with too many plug-ins, it will take longer for the blog to load.  If your blog takes to long, you could push away some readers who only want to get to your post, read it, make a comment, and move on.
4.  Write and publish your first post.  Once you have customized your blog, it is time to write your first post.  It is important that reach your audience and provide the answers that they seek, even if your post is for mere entertainment.  Here is what I do in order to write a post from start to publish:
With that being said, when I first write a blog post, I plan it out. This takes about 15–20 minutes. Next, anything that I am not familiar with, even if I am well versed in the topic, I research the parts I am not familiar with. after the research, I write a rough draft, which takes about an hour or two. Then I proofread and edit the post. this takes about 30 minutes. Lastly, I will add photos, affiliate links, and other things that may draw a reader’s attention.
I tell readers that the way to start a blog post is to start with a concept.  Choose a topic.  I always use motorcycles as a starting point but this time I am not.  Let’s take Disney as a subject.  I know, there are Disney movies, property, theme parks, food in the theme parks, and shows.  Yes, you have to be able to break this Whenever you write a blog, it does not matter if it is 500 words or 5000 words, always plan out your topic and do your research, especially on a topic you are not familiar with. So, I would have to say that depending on what I have to do that day, it will take me about 24 hours from concept to publishing the post. This is an estimated time. Some posts may take a little longer, while others may be shorter than 24-hours. Once you have written and edited your post you want to
5.  Promote your blog.  After all, if you do not tell anyone that you have written a new blog post, how are you going to get clicks throughs and traffic.  I will admit that I have a hard time doing, and I have a degree in marketing.  Silly, huh?
There are many ways to promote your post.  Currently, I am in at least 5 groups whose sole purpose is to allow you to promote your blog posts and 3 groups that allow you to promote my YouTube channel.  I am also on 3 Twitter groups that allow blog post promotion, and I use Tailwind to promote my posts through Pinterest and Instagram.  About YouTube, while you are uploading your video to your channel, fill out your description of what the video is about.  You can place a call to action link in the description area.  This is where you can place a link to your blog and everything that links your social media to both the blog and video channel.
There are also websites that allow the promotion of blogs as well.  One such website I am on is Bloglovin.  The way Bloglovin works is you submit your blog to the site.  There is a code you put on your blog that allows Bloglovin to grab your post every time you post it on your blog.  That is all there is.  For those in fear of coding, it is super simple to plug it into the backend of your blog site or ask any teen to do it for you.  They would love to be paid a couple of dollars for the chance to sharpen their skills.  There is always a catch and, in this case, follow other bloggers and like their posts.
One word about marketing.  It is getting harder and harder to promote because of states like California, who a few weeks ago passed a law that if a person does not want to receive any communication from a third-party company, you, as the company they are communicating with have to honor that request, and you need to display it on your blog or website.  This is something that requires some more discussion on the matter, and since I live in the State of Ohio, the only way it affects me is if I am doing business with a customer who lives in California.  What you need to do is be strategic about marketing, and research what is allowed in your state or country because if you are not careful, marketing can cost you additional thousands of dollars over what you have estimated the cost to be in your yearly budget.

6.   Make money blogging.
This is a tricky subject as well.  I cannot tell you the full details on how, except what I am trying to do, which is through affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and products. 

Tip: Find what works for you and your blog.  Do not try everything, because everything may not work for you and your type of business. 

This ties into promoting your blog:  Promote companies that are in line with your business and brand.  If you are a crafter, find craft companies that you use on s regular basis.  I love my Cricut Electronic Cutting Machine.  I have been using one since 2005 when the first one started selling.  I am now using the Cricut Maker exclusively, which not only cuts paper, but Balsa Wood, Acetate, and fabric to name a few materials.  I have every single type of blade this machine can use, and I have invested money for this machine.  I also have the older Cricut Explore (1st edition), but it is on standby, in case something goes wrong with the maker.  It almost did 5 weeks ago when Microsoft updated the operating system, and I found out the computer kicked out my Bluetooth for all Cricut machines because, hey, it was not made by Microsoft (the little turds), so, I couldn't work neither machine.   “This is the very reason why I do not like automatic updates, Microsoft, stop this nonsense.”
Yes, I sometimes promote the heck out of Cricut machines, including the EasyPress, which I need time to learn. But if you want to earn some money, you need to put in the work to allow your blog to earn that extra cash.  By the way, Cricut does not pay me to say these nice things about their products by giving them to me, I buy them with my own money.  There is that aspect too, which I will dive into through the year.
Well, another long blog post is done and ready to publish.  Remember these 6 principles to having a profitable blog, and I just touched the surface on this subject.  There is plenty of content to cover with blogging for beginners.  Blogging is not for everyone, and there is a 7th principle that I have not touched on, and that is what if you have to quit.  I have done that on a couple of blogs that I no longer write, and I will touch on that topic later.
Until then, be well, and do not give up.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Introductory to a new year and change

Hello, and welcome to 2020.  This post is in place of the Motivational Monday I usually have for a Monday post.  I will start back to regular Motivational Mondays next week.  There is so much to see and do in my life until I have to explain it along the way.  Before I get into today’s topic, let me revisit a few things:

2019 the year of mystery and misery…

Not true.  I will admit that I had a bad year, but who hasn’t.  I am going to tell you right now that as long as you are going to be alive, you are going to go through something.
2019 was a year of first-time losses in a very long time.  The last person I lost that was close in my family (meaning biological) was my grandmother.  This was 2003.  In 2019, I lost an aunt in Indianapolis, IN.  she just turned 84 in September.  She was my uncle’s wife, who is my mother’s brother.   The second person died Monday, December 30th.  She was my mother sister who lived in Bessemer, AL, she was 79. So, as my brother would tell me on the phone yesterday, it is starting.  My mother’s siblings are dying, but I do not look at it that way, as we are all dying.  We do not know when and how we are dying.  The moment that a baby takes its first breath, on second thought, when it is conceived, that baby is dying.  It may live to be born or not.  A friend of mines baby did that 6 years ago.  She died the moment she was born. Then again, that baby may live to be 100 years old or more.  It all depends on how it is taken care of by the parents and other caregivers, and how they decide to take care of themselves once they turn 18 years old.
Photos from Pixabay;
Arranged by P. Lynne Designs
(c) 2020
2019 was a year of self-discovery.  As I get older, I am learning what is tolerated by me, who I let into my life, and how I handle the situations that are thrown at me.  For instance, It has been a challenge to deal with my parents getting older, especially my mom.  She is holding on her own, but I feel that traveling is a challenge for me, rather I invite the family to come or not.
Back in May, I finally booked that Walt Disney World vacation I have been trying to get the family to go on for years since me, my parents, and my eldest nephew, who was 11 at the time, came back from Southern  That day in Anaheim was a blast.  While me, my mom, and nephew spend the day at Disneyland, my father, who is not a Disney fan spent time at a Dodger’s game.  Perfect timing. My brother nor sister did not go.  My sister could not go because my middle nephew was 3 months old and not cleared to fly.  My brother had to work.
California, and spending time in Temecula, Los Angeles, San Bernardino (where the family lived for 6 years), and Anaheim where Disneyland is located.
I decided to plan the Walt Disney World trip after the first of the year, 2010, but since then, things and situations had come up over the years, including my mother’s illness.  I had to continually cancel a booking after booking and even allowed Disney to cancel a couple for a lack of commitment on my part.  I made the announcement at the beginning of 2019 but kept putting it off.  This coupled with the opening of the Galaxy’s Edge in Disney's Hollywood Studios, which drew a lot of people, I did not want to be standing in long lines for one ride.  So, I booked for us to go from December 15-20, 2019, in a 3-bedroom Grand Villa at Bay Lake Towers at the Contemporary Resort.  Everyone was excited, except dad, who I had to try to ask in a nice way if he wanted to go to Florida, which would automatically land him at Walt Disney World. Well, that did not pan so good.  I will mention in another blog post what happened (Hint- At Home with Tricia's Baskets)
It is little things like that which made me wonder if 2019 was a bad year, but really it was not.  No one has threatened me, threaten to take anything away from me, and so forth.  My health was pretty good. So I postponed one little trip?  A year is what you make it, good or bad.

Now finally for today’s topic 2020.

I want to take the last few moments to talk about this year 2020.

Business dealings 2019 and the coming 2020

I finally did it.  P. Lynne Designs is splitting up.  This is how that is going to happen.
P. Lynne Designs is going back to its roots.  I started this company as a creative company.  Creating stationery products such as greeting and note cards, invitations, business cards, bookmarkers, and anything related to them.  However, I am not going back to scrapbooking.  The reason is quite clear.  The industry itself has changed and has incorporated digital to its core lineup.  In the wake of Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tiktok, it is hard for me to keep up while handling these items and my other business.  If a person requests it, I will do one for them, but it is not going to be the main product of my business anymore.
Speaking of my other business.  I will admit that I have felt the loss of running two businesses.  Before it was being a Longaberger Home consultant (which is coming back in a new way for the moment via QVC), and P. Lynne Designs. It was fun doing the juggling act.  No, I will not be a consultant for another company.  Although it was fun, I was not getting commissions like I would want it too, because I had too few customers in comparison to other home consultants.  This has to do with my blogs and the freelance writing side of P. Lynne Designs. The new company is called The Writing Grove, and this is where I will take on clients who need something written for their business or personally.  I will also house the blogs, At Home with Tricia's Baskets and My Ambiance Life (which I am thinking about changing the name to The Writing Grove). The P. Lynne Designs blog will be with business, P. Lynne Designs.
There is a third business that will allow for affiliate marketing and content sponsorship, but it will serve both companies, so it is not an official company and it will not be registered with the State of Ohio.
Speaking of which, my name renewal for P. Lynne Designs is coming up in April, although I have up to that time to pay it, and I will be registering The Writing Grove at the same time.   Unless it has gone up, that is around $100 for both companies (or $50 each).

2020 personal

Lastly, my plans for me are simple.  I am finally going to try to adopt a child.  I know, dealing with a child and a business is going to be rough, but I am up for the challenge.  I also want to take home my friend’s babies.  I also hope to find a nice guy.  Yep, love life to which I currently do not have.

Photo by Annette Meyer from Pixabay
Personal buys I would like to make.  A new home and a new car.  About the new home, I have been talking about this since I moved out of my last apartment, which was 2002.  Yes, I live in this amazing condo that I did not intend to stay for more than 5 years, but it has been close to 20 years.  I want a home where I do not have to worry about stairs.  I want a larger kitchen, a dedicated room for my craftroom, which I will have in the current condo when my nephew and his girlfriend move out, but at the present moment, I have a corner in the dining area.  This is more than what the average crafter/business owner could ask for.  I also prefer not to share my garage space.  I am sharing mine with the neighbor upstairs, and sometimes they irritate me.  The other day, my nephew was unloading something from his car, and in the middle of his unloading, the neighbor’s father came down and closed the garage door, without asking.  I could not tell him to leave the garage door alone because my Spanish is rusty, and he does not speak English at all. Gone are the days when I could tell my neighbor to leave the garage door up.
As for the new car, I am currently driving a used 2008 Dodge Caliber.  This car was an emergency buy because I had an accident in 2015 with my 1998 Honda Accord.  This car was only supposed to get me through the fall and winter of 2015-16, but I elected to keep it for a while and shop for a car payment that I could handle.  For a while, I was dead set on getting a Honda CR-V, a year behind whatever current year.  So, if the current year is 2020, then I would get 2019.  Well, I rode in my friend’s car, and I could not help but think how big this car was.  I mean, the only thing riding with me would be my child (unless I get siblings), and my business, so I switched to an HR-V, which is much smaller, easier to handle, and it is still a Honda, plus it is the same size as my Caliber.  Next thing I knew after making the announcement that this is what I am going to purchase or lease, my father thinks that I am better off with a 2020 Hyundai Kona, like the one that one of the older ladies at my church drives.  I got irritated with that.  So, now, I am supposed to test drive both the Kona and the HR-V. My money is still on the HR-V, but I am open.  He also does not want me to lease, even though he has been leasing his cars for years.  OooKay?

2020 Blogs

I will tackle this in the next post.  I have spent too long talking about the other stuff, and I am close to the 2000 wordmark, which is a tip, this is actually small in comparison to what was the 1000 wordmark for most blog posts.  I will have the normal Motivational Mondays, only it will be on all three blogs.  My Ambiance Life blog, everything will be about the same for now.  I will mention on At Home with Tricia's Baskets what I am going to change on that blog, as well on the P. Lynne Designs blog as well.
Well, this is long and drawn out.  I hope I did not bore you.  I am really out to grab more readers and give you information on all things writing, creating blogs, journaling, and other things related, like planners.  This is going to be a fun year, I can tell.  Until then, check out the rest of my blog posts from 2019 and before.  May God bless you, and peace out.  

Thursday, December 26, 2019

It is almost time (Planner setup)

Disclaimer: P. Lynne Designs is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Today, I want to talk about time.  I know, boring subject, but there is a purpose for this topic.  I am not going to talk about time too much on this post, except for when it comes to setting up your planner.

How much time do we really have?

Photo by P.Lynne Designs (c) 2019
We all know what time is and how valuable it is in a day.  I feel that if I have a lot of time on my hands, I am not being productive when I watch a video or playing a game on my tablet. I like to be productive, as I am sure many of you do.  I am not saying don’t play games or watch videos.  Find a set time in the day/night to do that sort of thing.  This is part of your scheduling.  I do not write it down in my planner, but I make a conscious effort to note that in my head. 
Experts say that went you go to bed each night, turn off the screens.  What does that mean?  It simply means turn off your computer, turn off your phones and tablets, and do not play the television all night.  If you cannot do that, at least put them in the next room.  If you put them in the next room, you now have to physically get up to answer any texts or comments on your posts on Facebook, for example.  I know if I have to do that, I do not want to get up, so, I save it for the next morning.

For instance, I turn off my phone.  Not because the experts say that I have to, but I have a phone that constantly needs charging.  It is a Samsung Note 4 and on its last lap around the mobile bin. I will get into my issues with my phone at a later time and hopefully, I can change my phone soon. Next, there is my desktop computer.  I keep it on all the time, except when Windows 10 updates without my knowledge, and it automatically turns off the computer.  I have the computer downstairs because where I really want my computer, which is in the next room, my nephew and his girlfriend are living there until they can find an apartment.  My laptop is powered down for the moment and in my backpack for when I want to work in my room or decide to go to a coffee shop or the library to work. Those are examples of turning off the screens.

I have a flaw that I am working on.

One problem that I still have is my Ipad.  I carry it to bed with me.  I look at my messages, play games, read articles, and watch YouTube videos.  This is a bad example of turning off the screens.  When I don’t do these things that I mentioned, I find myself walking over to my Ipad, unlocking it, and just let the light from the screen put me to sleep.  It is my 5 minute night light, which I am trying to correct right now.

My tips for scheduling:

In addition to powering down your screens, which is more of a “how to get a restful night of sleep” than “How to schedule” tip.  I have these other tips:

  1. Get a good planner. 
I have I ready mentioned in Part 1 of Planning for Beginners 2020 Edition, steps for buying that first planner if you do not already have one.  I have watched plenty of YouTube videos prior to writing that post, to make sure that I was pointing the reader in the right direction.  This is sort of part 2, and I apologize for not writing a proper post for this second part.  What I have learned from my experiences and watching those videos is get a planner that is right for you and how you plan. 
Photo by Pixabay
No two people can have the exact type of planning and planners.  I have mentioned that I have 4 different planners.  One is for my business, for my personal life, for my budget, and I am trying out bullet journaling, after a failed attempt of it for 2019.  The planners are all from Erin Condren, but I am open to trying new ones.  This is the brand I have chosen for me.  There is also the Happy Planner, Moleskine, The Simplified planner, Mead has a planner, Emily Ley, and Carpe Diem, to name a few thousand.  It seems that everyone has a planner to sell.

  1. Have a “Think Tank” session. 
Choose a day to think about what you want to do and accomplish for 2020.  You do not have to take the whole day, but take a good chuck out of your say to set up your system and your schedule.  Place standing dates and dates (such as doctor’s appointment) that were scheduled in 2019 and place them in your planner. 
So, decorate or not decorate it according to your tastes.  Make a schedule that you are comfortable with.  I have 4 planners, and I am fine with that concept.  I know others who have 8 or 5.  There are some people who stick with one paper planner and have a digital planner. Do what makes you happy. 
Take ideas from people and make them your own.  You do not have to make an exact copy of their setup.  Before you begin, ask yourself, how can I make this work for me?  Use a scratch piece of paper, and write out a budget on what you are willing to spend and what you can spend.  Next, draw or write out your sections, such as Home, Business, Budget, and personal.

  1. If you can, have a separate budget book. 
Yes, that is what the Erin Condren Monthly deluxe planner is for with me.  This is not a new concept.  I adopted this technique from Shay McMillian, AKA Shay Budgets.  What I like about this planner is that there are notebook pages inside of each monthly section, where you can write down your notes, your income, your expenses, your sinking funds (I am still learning about those), and your financial goals.  You do not have to go all out like me.  I am testing this system for the first time.  What was not working for me was using Excel for a budget, and placing it in my main planner.

  1. Business/Work Planner
Also if you can, have a separate business planner (or work planner if you still have a corporate job).  When I planned out My Ambiance Life and decided to talk about business ventures, I did not realize that I had a whole audience of readers who were both entrepreneurs and corporate workers, or corporate workers ONLY.  So this tip is for you too.  Many times, for example, we often find ourselves not only placing appointments in our personal planners dental appointments for our children, but that “all-inclusive” staff meeting from XYZ company, or meeting with a client, who wants to do 14 fittings of a wedding dress that she is not sure of in the first place into that planner.  Why not have a separate planner?  Even better if you can leave on at the office and carry the other one around. 
Photo by Pixabay
Not feeling the need to have to carry one around.  Does pocket-size mean anything or using your phone as a digital planner?  That is why I carry my Ipad.  I put all my dates in there

5. Putting it all together.

Find a way to coordinate your system.  Make a conscious effort to look at it every day.  Decorate if you want to.  I know of some people who go wild with the decorating and some who take on a minimalist approach to it.  I am in the middle.  If I feel like it, I will decorate it.  I do not make a habit of it.  I like stickers, which goes back to my days of making scrapbooks. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject of setting up a planner.  Place them in the comments section.

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Friday, December 6, 2019

Vlogmas day 6 Erin Condren surprise Box Reaction

Planning for beginners the 2020 edition Part 1

Today’s topic:  how to plan out 2020 without pulling your hair.

Well, I have news for you...

You cannot, but you can look like you are an expert, but first, let’s talk about planners.
Image by Jess Watters from Pixabay 
Please note:  there are so many planners out there and no one has the same style and technique in that is ideal for everyone.  So, guess what?  You must find it yourself.  I am not being mean about it.  It is like journaling, which is why I am including it with journaling.  Also please note:  I am not an expert in this.  The only way I can teach you is from my experience.   So, here is my experience with playing with planners.
I have had many different types of planners.  The one I started with is called DayTimers.  It is nothing fancy about this system at all.  I worked with this system from the smallest to what was called, the folio size.  I ordered it faithfully, and with its boring green and white style, you could order it in daily only and weekly only.  Both had the monthly layout with them, but you can also order just the monthly layout as well. 
What I liked about this system was I could archive it.  The layouts came in both spiral and binder style.  The last style I ordered was in 2006, and it came in a daily, spiral style, with a monthly layout feel to it.  All the style allowed you to plan things by the hour, which is a plus if you had clients to meet with, not so if you had an event that ran all day.
I stop ordering them and did not keep up at all.  I had no clients, just a job at Archiver’s, and my schedule was easy to keep up without a calendar, paper or digital.  That failed miserably.
Fast forward to 2014.  I was getting bored with entering my dates into my phone.  I was not looking at it half the time, as well as forgetting to enter the date in the first place.  I had all these papers that I carried around in my purse, which started looking like a briefcase.  I had to curb that ish quick.   I was looking at the Daytimer’s website (only because I received a catalog in snail mail, begging me to come home), and I learned that Franklin Covey (yes, THE Franklin Covey), had bought the Daytimer’s line.  I did not like Franklin Covey when I first started planning and my mind were not changing on how I was feeling about the brand, which to me was a little on the “Old man” side of planning.  So, I started researching.  I needed something that made planning fun, and NOT a chore.
Enter Erin Condren.  I looked at it and thought that for a cute planner, it was expensive. Well, so was Daytimers.  I had not learned about Happy Planner at that time and that was 2015 when the Erin Condren website had a sale because it was in the middle of the year.  So, I went for it, and at $35 (as a comparison to the normal $65) I decided to order it.  I was happy with my purchase, and it went nicely with some stickers that I also ordered it.  I have been with the Erin Condren Life Planner ever since 2015, and I love it.  Most of the time, I order when it is on sale, and as long as I am not too late in the year.  If I am, I order next year.  I also like to decorate the pages, more on that later. 
The first question is, are you a planner person?  If you are, great, you are ahead of the people who want to learn.  If not or you want to learn some tricks of the trade, sit back, grab a cup of your favorite beverage (mine is either coffee or water), and prepare to learn.
1.       Choosing your planner.
There are really two types of planners: paper and digital.  Digital planners are on your phone, your tablet, laptop, or your desktop.  They can also be on your TV since televisions are slowly becoming the family hub center.  You access your planner through an application or app.  
Paper planners, on the other hand, were once a dying thing.  There are many planners to choose from.  I have mentioned 4 already:  Franklin Covey and Daytimer’s are the oldest planners, and the Erin Condren life planner and Happy planner are some of the newest planners that came into existence in the past 10 years. 
There is no style that is wrong for it is a matter of preference.  The best way to choose is to think about what you want to do with the planner.  For instance, I have an Erin Condren as I said before.  The way I plan my planner could easily transfer to a Happy Planner, which I have plans to try for next year.  It is cheaper than ECLP, and I can go to any craft store for one.  This leads to to….
 2.      Price
When you first start using a planner, you do not want to go overboard with price.  One reason is if you get bored with the planner, you do not want to feel like you are stuck with it. You can get a fairly cheap planner monthly calendar at Walmart for $5.99 (not sponsored by the company)

3.      Are you a decorator or “Stick it in” person
Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay
Here is the difference.  Are you are a decorator, then you will want to purchase stickers, use colorful pens and markers, and have all the accessories that your little planner can handle.  If this is you, again, do not go overboard, or your $20 worth of stickers, pens, and accessories can rack up to $500 in a heartbeat, and you will wonder what you got for that much.  Trust me, I have been in your shoes, and I still, am.   The best bet is to set a budget stick with 1-3 brands and go with it.  I am on Erin Condren’s, Oh So Paper’s, and Happy Planner’s list.  I have also tried Planner Society, but I did not like the idea of renewing the subscription plan every three months.  I also tried other subscription plans with the same result, and I told you about my beef with Daytimers.       

Now if you are more of a “stick a date in and forget it” type of person, you have no worries.  You might want to use a colorful pen or two, but no stickers and accessories are at a minimum if any.  That is ok too. this means that your planner orders are going to be a whole lot less than “the decorator’s”, and your budget will thank you too. I. just. have. not. gotten. that. point. Yet. This brings me to…

4.      Watch the budget.

My suggestion no matter what your basic kind of planning is to have a budget.  Once you pick your planning system and your “stuff”, make a plan on how you are going to plan, and so forth, please price them out on your budget sheet, and divide by 12, and put that amount in your budget.  For example, if you plan on spending $1000 for the year, divide that by 12, which equals out to $83.00 per month.  On some of the months, $83 would be going towards a planner and some months the accessories.

5.      Have fun.

I am going to say this but have fun planning.  If you are stress over things that leave you ready to smack someone, then you should not be planning at all.  I look at it this way, it is your way of decorating the books.  Anyone can have fun with the project; men, women, and children.  This project does not have any age boundaries.  I hear all kinds of stories about a person who gets organized and loves it. 

There are no set rules of time management, except the following according to Entrepreneur:
1.       Start your day off right.  Not only be positive but meditate, have a daily routine, do not rush to get things done
2.      Plan for what you want to accomplish.  Have a to-do list.  Make that list obtainable and reasonable.  Going out to get ice cream is not a goal, but saying spending time with Angela, who is your 10-year-old is a short-term goal.
3.      Have a set time and day to set up your week. I try to set up my week on a Saturday before.

Well, this is it for right now.  Take care.

Vlogmas day 4/5: Real Talk Vlogging and Monetization