The Santa Fe Plaza ~ Inspiration Mecca
Recently, I’ve had a couple of friends tell me they want to start blogging. They want to know how to get started. I’ve referred them to WordPress, because this platform has worked for me more so than the others I’ve tried. I am not an overly techy girl, and WordPress is pretty darn intuitive.
If you are somewhat computer literate, you can start a blog quite easily…and it will cost you nothing but some time and energy. Start with the link above, and then if you decide you love it and want to monetize it and all sorts of other fun stuff, you can upgrade it later like I did.
Backyard Blogging in Nambe, New Mexico
That’s my easy answer to the question of how to blog. The more complicated question that needs to be asked of anyone who wants to start a blog, is why? What do you expect to come out of this blog you are contemplating creating? This is important, as blogging can be a real labor of love…it can take quite some time to build an audience, and no time at all to lose said audience if you don’t keep at it.
It doesn’t really matter why you want to start a blog, so long as you yourself know the reason. Do you want to share your travel stories? Build brand recognition? Meet other Harry Potter fans? Post your head shots in hopes of furthering your acting/modeling career? Gauge interest on a new business idea you have? Establish yourself as an expert in your field? Great! Just know your “why”.
I began blogging because I enjoy both writing and photography and the thought of communicating with people all over creation excited me. Initially, I blogged about Mountain Girl Organics, a company that I have since sold. For the past three years, I have blogged mainly about our adventures as Caretaking Couple, throwing in suggestions and support to those who are interested in a similar lifestyle along the way (to date, there are over 160 posts on this site).
Like I said, I am not all that techy. Still, I have managed to capture an audience of like-minded people. My target audience or demographic is mainly caretakers (or house and pet sitters) like us along with people who are looking for caretakers like us. This demographic includes travel enthusiasts, animal lovers, and friends and family who enjoy keeping in touch on a more personal level than our other social media outlets allow.
New Year’s Eve in Nambe, New Mexico
My main expectation for this blog was that I would get the word out that we care for properties and pets across the US. This I have accomplished. We are now offered sits based solely on the contents of our blog. This has saved us tens of thousands of dollars, owing to the fact that when we caretake, or house and pet sit, we typically have no rent/mortgage/utilities to worry about. I have a looong list of other goals to accomplish as well, including publishing our e-Book and making SEO a priority.
Are you a blogger? If so, how and why do you blog? Has your blog met or maybe even exceeded your expectations? Please let us know via the “comments” link and share your blog address as well, if you wish. If you are considering starting a blog, please let me know if you have any specific questions, and share with us what you expect to receive in return for your blogging efforts.
The numbers are down on our blog as of late. That is what happens when a blogger gets all sporadic with her posts. I love blogging, but there have been so many things going on and I have inadvertently lowered it on the priorities list.
So, what have we been doing with ourselves, then? Here goes:
Tabor at Alberta Park
1. Paul and I have been figuring out a way to keep Caretaking Couple going now that we are stationary, and it has evolved into us offering a more exclusive kind of pet sitting service. 95% of our clients here in Portland prefer that their pet(s) not go to a kennel for a variety of reasons (elderly dogs that don’t want/need as much play time, dogs with high anxiety levels, etc.). They are looking for individualized care, and that is where our focus lies. Word of mouth is providing enough business for us at present, although I do plan on stepping it up a notch, which leads me to…
Thank you, Oregon SBDC (Small Business Development Center)!
2. I applied for and was offered a scholarship via the SBDC last month and am now taking business classes for the next ten months. Yes, this is very exciting for me in so many ways…I am learning new things every day and am meeting more and more local small business owners, which is fantastic. This class would have cost me $1,600.00 had I not received the scholarship, and I am grateful.
Wellness Section at Alberta Cooperative Grocery
3. A couple of months ago, I decided to become a “working owner” at Alberta Co-op. I work one shift a week in the Wellness Section in exchange for a discount on all purchases along with other perks. I love that I get to be around essential oils, bath and body products, beeswax candles, etc. again (reminds me of my Mountain Girl Organics days). They have so many healthy & yummy foods, too! And speaking of healthy…
Beachbody Coach Summit 2012
4. I continue to grow my Beachbody business and am doing my best to help “end the trend” of obesity here in the States. Most of you know how much I love my food and drink, and how easy it can be for me to park my butt on the couch versus get it moving (especially in the rainy Pacific Northwest) so this is such a great company for me to be involved with. Beachbody is growing by leaps and bounds and I am proud to be a part of it. My goal is to get to the Coach Summit in Las Vegas this June so I can meet more like-minded people and continue to be inspired.
5. Exhale (my favorite local yoga studio) posted a request on their facebook page a couple months back. They needed a couple of people to clean the studio in exchange for unlimited classes and workshops (!). Soo happy I decided to do this. I am learning a lot more about Yoga and a little more about Ayurveda as well, which is something I have been interested in for some time. Yoga keeps me sane.
Collage in NE Portland
6. Just down the street from us is Collage, a mixed media arts supplies shop that offers all kinds of cool classes. So far, I have taken embroidery, bookmaking, and collage. Tomorrow, I am taking an image transfer techniques class ~ can’t wait! A seamstress friend has just rented a space and is looking for artisans to fill it with their creations and I am having fun deciding what it is I want to contribute. I may do a post on my creative endeavors here soon.
7. I meet with a group of blogger friends on Thursdays at Tabor Space (Portland has the coolest coffee shops, by the way) and know I will be getting back into blogging regularly as I plan on attending Seattle WordCamp (if I can hustle a ticket since I forgot to buy one and they sold out quick!). I loved the WordCamp here in Portland…fingers crossed I pull it off.
Spring in Portland ~ Can't Wait to Plant!
8. We are working on creating a backyard oasis here. Not much to show yet, as it has been constant rain. This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous, so hopefully I will have a “Before and After” post for you next week.
9. My Mom shared her Ancestry account with me in hopes that we could do some genealogy detective work together. I haven’t gotten very far with it, but I do have some leads. I want to make this more of a priority. Mom lives in California and we don’t catch up in person much, so this is a great way for us to keep in touch and share exciting discoveries.
10. I met Helen while volunteering at a Community Cycling Center event a few months ago. We have accountability meetings at local coffee shops every Tuesday morning for 90 minutes, in which we go over our accomplishments of the past week and post goals for the next week. If you don’t have an accountability friend (or group of friends), I recommend you go out and get yourself one…it has been invaluable for me.
Paul at the New Bollywood Theatre on Alberta Street
What is Paul up to? Working, spoiling our four legged clients sweetly, hanging out at his favorite local(s), waiting patiently to get started on the backyard raised garden beds, cooking delicious meals (they get healthier all of the time), and keeping me entertained on a daily basis. We typically go somewhere fun for our birthdays (next month) but we are having so much fun here, we may just hang out. Not sure yet…
What are you up to? I would love an update from all of you, near and far, wherever you are…
It is hard to believe this is my second season sans Mountain Girl Organics. I do miss it sometimes but am super happy that Paula is doing so well with it!
In celebration of Paula and MGO and this little blog up and running again and it being the most wonderful time of the year and all, it is Holiday Giveaway Time!
All you have to do is leave a comment on any post here on this blog between now and Friday, December 16th. If your name is drawn, you will be the lucky winner of a handful of hand selected MGO goodies (sigh).
Of course, if you don’t want to take your chances, and/or you are searching for lovely gifts for lovely people, you can always go here and order directly from the site. She has completely revamped it and it is gorgeous! OR, if you are a Colorado friend, you can look here for local shops that carry MGO.
Again, just leave a comment on *any* post on the blog (there are two years worth of posts to choose from) and your name will be entered into the drawing. Good Luck and Season’s Greetings to you all! Love,
Valynne & Paul
Driving Through Texas
Garden at the Parkview House
Feeding the Carp
Welcome Back (Highland Haven)
Our View From The Gardener's Cottage
Lola, Watching Us Eat Breakfast
Sadie & Gary with Little Hemi
Dancing with Jen at Cactus Jacks
Martinis with Jaime
Emily and Ivy
Lee & Marlee at Bear Creek
I Finally Got to Meet Paula (New Owner of MGO), Scott (Hubster) and Sam
Sadie, Wyatt, and Rev
On The Road Again
The new face of MGO (pictured here with her family)!
Hello Friends. To clear up any confusion, we returned from our August road trip a month ago and I am just now finishing up my posts, so when you see titles with Mississippi, Colorado, Kansas, etc. in them, we aren’t actually there anymore. It isn’t that I haven’t been dying to tell you about the rest of the places, people and pets we met along the way…it is just that I got a bit…distracted. Shocking, I know.
What was I distracted with, you wonder? Well. The BIG news is that my little business, Mountain Girl Organics has officially sold! We have been doing all the stuff that needs doing to get Paula (the proud new owner) up and running. Just in time for the Holiday Season, no less. Phew – so much to do! Luckily she will have lots of help from Laurie Teason (of Sweet Cheeks Soap Co fame) and “the guys” (see above).
We will be sending out a press release and more very shortly. There are a few things that still need tweaking! In the meantime, if you are a facebook user, be sure to fan Paula at Mountain Girl Organics. Paula is currently working on the website, www.MountainGirlOrganics.com, and you can still leave comments on the blog, www.MountainGirlOrganics.wordpress.com.
I was going to wait until everything was “just so” to make this announcement, but it really is a process and I just can’t keep it to myself for another minute. In other words, I am very excited! A little sad, as well (my baby…) but mostly excited! Paula is taking on A LOT in a very small amount of time, so if you would care to share the love through a few words of encouragement via fb and/or the blog I know she would appreciate it : )
OK, now…where was I? Oh, yes…Clarksdale, Mississippi…
MGO Soap Display at Mountain Man Fruit & Nut Co.
It is Earth Day and I am feeling good. The Bay sparkles. The doors and windows are open wide. The clothes are drying in the ocean breeze. And the gardens are coming to life. We are blessed.
I am happy about something else, as well. This morning, I woke up feeling a bit melancholy over my little business, Mountain Girl Organics. Earth Days past involved Evergreen celebrations that included local poets, musicians, artisans, and MGO prizes (of course).
This year, my little business is up for sale and the products have all but dwindled from the shelves. Recently, interest was expressed from a potential buyer who lives out of state and has never tried MGO products before. So, Laurie agreed to make a few bars of soap for her.
It is pretty much just as easy to do a large batch as it is to do a small one, so I asked Jeanie at Mountain Man Fruit & Nut Co. in downtown Evergreen if she would be interested in ordering a few more bars. Her inventory is all but depleted and she said absolutely.
So, while I am excited to be heading in this new direction in life, I am also very pleased to see that my bar soaps will once again be available at Mountain Man during this time of transition.
The bars will take a few weeks to cure, and not all scents will be available, but they will be on the shelves in time for the busy market season. I am a bit surprised to feel such relief over this!
But what is the correlation between bar soaps and Earth Day, you ask?
My bar soaps are more natural than most. They are created with organic, sustainable, and fairly traded ingredients…no need for chemical preservatives. They use very little packaging (which has been recycled and is recyclable). Lightweight and easy to ship as well. No leaky messes. I could go on and on…
Your turn. Are you doing something special in honor of Earth Day? Do you make your own natural products? Or maybe you have tips for us, on how to live simply so that others may simply live? If so, do tell!