Allume Changed Me

77n8q21001 It was Saturday evening at the Allume Conference when I began this post. So many wonderful things were spoken over the weekend. This conference is not merely all the how-to's on blogging. It goes beyond that. It steps into real life living and challenges me do the hard work of mothering (in not so many words) and reminds me that I'm not "just a mom". What I do matters and I have influence. My influence matters first for my children. Then I extend out wherever God desires for me to reach.

Blogging how-to's mean nothing if we don't know how to give ourselves and our writing, our art, to God first.

Bianca Olthoff talked about having dry bones.  That's where I was before right Allume. I was so drained and had nothing left, I felt like dry bones. I felt like I could not feel. Not drained from preparing for Allume, drained from fighting through our adoption process and feeling like I would never measure up as a mom. The stress levels have been high and felt not only by me, but by my children. And I didn't want to go home unchanged. I didn't want to go home the same person I went there as. I wanted to go home knowing that God has called me to fight for my girls in Africa, but also to fight for my children here, in my home.

I felt like I was so tightly shut up, with all these protective layers around me that I could not be broken open. I was all cried out and nothing inspiring would make my feet move. It's strange, it wasn't that I didn't feel vulnerable. It's just that, I knew all the head knowledge, but didn't put feet to what I knew. I was inspired but the inspiration was no longer enough to make me move. I've grown immune to it. It no longer spurs me to action.

Now that I am home, I have a greater sense of peace and a new beginning aches to be unleashed. So many people pulled me aside and prayed for me and our adoption. I would have spontaneous bouts of crying, like when I pulled out the picture of our girls to show Ann Voskamp. I just broke down in tears, and Nasreen (a dear friend and production manager of Allume), slid over, wrapped her arm around me and prayed for me. Ann reached across the table and put her hand on mine and prayed for me further.

Many others came alongside me and prayed: Traci, Cynthia, Erika, and some I don't even know by name (and I sincerely apologize for that. I am SO bad with names, but want to be better!)

The message of Allume was awesome. It was empowering, encouraging, and equipping. But without prayer, it would have gone nowhere for me. The Holy Spirit needed to be unleashed on my heart in ways I could not understand, and the prayers of these women helped to break that bond around my heart. God brought me a peace that I have not had in weeks.

I also learned through Jennie Allen's keynote that my sense of control was holding me bondage. I didn't quite realize how much control I have tried so hard to hold onto. That control is keeping me from being free and I need to let it go in order to have that freedom--and then help set other women free.

Allume is community in the best sense of the word. It's not a conference, it's a reunion. Working on the back end for months and months (12 to be exact) and watching the work of our hands come to fruition is nothing less than beautiful. God doesn't ask us to be adequate, just available. We showed up, and He did the rest.

I hope you'll join us next year.

I Have Not Forgotten & Why I've Been Busy

I have not forgotten the Biblical Motherhood series, promise! I have lots to write about and am looking forward to continuing the series. Consider this post a Coffee Break. It's just a little behind the scenes look at what's been going on around here and where I've been.

Mingling at Allume

Something you may (or may not) know about me is that I work as a Sponsor Administrator for the Allume conference as well as manage the Allume blog. Well, the conference is this weekend and the weeks leading up to any conference are extremely busy as we tend to the (1000) remaining details.

I have the incredible privilege of working with an awesome team of people who all share a vision. From there I work with some a-mazing organizations who partner with us to make this happen. These aren't just any organizations -- they are organizations who get and support the heart of Allume and we fully support what they do. So we form a partnership.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much work is involved in pulling something like this together. It is very exhausting yet rewarding work and I am so honored to be a part of it all.

So I have been behind the scenes answering emails, creating detailed spreadsheets, having team meetings, managing the Allume blog, working with sponsors, etc., and it has forced me to set aside any writing until it's over. There just aren't enough hours in the day for both and part of why I blog is the heart behind this conference.

I have had the opportunity to be a part of this conference since it began back in 2010. And every year my involvement evolves as the conference evolves. The privilege of being a part of this, both as an attendee, and as a team member are equally rewarding. As an attendee I was poured into in the most awesome ways. After a couple years, I wanted to pour out onto others and God answered my hearts cry and through the means of only His hand did I come aboard as a member of the Allume team. Sarah Mae simply asked me as we had built a relationship over the past couple of years prior to her first asking. (Does that make sense?!)

Sarah Mae and I

So, if my blog is a bit quiet this week and a bit into next week, you'll know why. But I'll be tweeting lots of conference goodness from the @Allume twitter account. Not just about blogging, but about work in Africa and Asia, about publishing, and authors such as Emily P. Freeman, Ann Voskamp, and Tsh Oxenreider,

There will be sessions on branding and balancing mothering with blogging and lots of other goodness to tweet and Facebook about!

And guess what? Allume will be in Greenville, SC next year, too, so if you think this is something you'd be interested in, follow us on Twitter with the #allume (hashtag) and on Facebook this coming weekend to see what it's all about. This conference sells out every year. Knowing in advance also allows you the opportunity to plan and save in advance.

I'll be doing some Instagramming (which will also post to my personal Facebook page and Twitter account) so you can see it in action.

Keep an eye on the Allume blog for some goodies after the conference, too!

I cannot say enough good things about this conference. It's about more than blogging -- it's about living and being the light Christ has called us to.

For more Coffee Breaks, click the button below.

Coffee Break on Joyful Mothering - On the Allume Conference

Understanding How Twitter Works

There are so many people frustrated with Twitter because they aren't sure how it works and what they are supposed to be doing on it. I totally get this. It can be confusing because the majority of what see is constant self-promotion. That is not the purpose of Twitter. Understanding Twitter

While it's very natural and easy for some to jump in and feel right at home with Twitter, other's struggle to understand it's purpose. I hope to enlighten you today and later offer you some simple "Get Started" tips.

Twitter is an ongoing conversation

--or at least it should be. Unfortunately, many have strayed from that and made it all about promoting. Promoting product, posts, people. We've forgotten to be present, instead, putting everything on a schedule. So when I go to reply to a tweet, no one is there to answer.

Twitter is a place to connect with people...

...not advertise them to death. If you are looking to expand sales or gain new clients, the best way to do this is to connect with them and offer free advice. Sort of a sampling of the bigger picture of what you're offering. But don't bombard people's streams with ads or never  be there to respond/engage with potential customers.

Tweets have a lifespan of about 60 seconds.

After that, they are pushed down by more tweets. So it's important to remain engaged consistently. Not constantly. But consistently. When you sit down to converse on Twitter, plan on sitting longer then sending a mere promo tweet out. Rather, interact with those who ask questions, or ask questions yourself. Share useful information. Spend 15 minutes or 30 minutes there. Tweet only when you're available to respond. 

Jump into the conversation and offer valuable input. 

Simply tweet information that would be useful to your followers. What do you blog about? Tweet about that. Don't always include a link. Any time a link is included, it's considered a promotion. Promotions aren't bad, unless they fill up your stream. Engagement should far outweigh tweets with links that pull the tweeter away from Twitter.

Twitter has been called "micro blogging" before, but I find it more like a large chat room, filled with lots of people. Your job is to mingle with people and get to know them. Help meet a need. People need to know they matter. Show your followers they matter by engaging with them.

If you are just starting out on Twitter (or have had a dormant account), be patient. It takes time. But do find people to follow to make it easier to join in the conversation.

In the next post I will share some of the tools you need to get the most out of Twitter. It makes following people easier and more visible.

 What questions do you have about Twitter that I have not addressed here?

To follow conversations with me on writing as a mother, use hashtag #momswrite

How to Get the Most Out of Facebook

blue button F in the form of tag clouds on the keyboard

When I talk about Facebook, I am talking out your Facebook page, not profile. A page is something you can create outside your profile that people can "like". But you must have a profile to create a page.

Many people have expressed how unhappy they are with Facebook and I totally understand the frustration. It seems to me Facebook has a barrier one needs to get through in order to break into their reach.

Currently, I run two Facebook pages: Joyful Mothering and Christin Slade. The Christin Slade page is much newer and it's reach is harder to break through.

On Joyful Mothering, I went through this same barrier until one day I busted through the barrier and my reach and "likes" have flooded ever since. What did I do?

I changed the way I post, strategically place my posts, and have been super consistent about posting.

If you are struggling to break through that barrier, consider these steps and don't give up until you get through:

Change the way you post

Don't just throw anything up to have something up. Be very intentional about what you post and consider posts that get the most attention. Do not over promote--not just yourself but anything. ENGAGE with your community. These include:

  • Photos - you want to use clear, eye catching photos, especially with text, that will grab your readers attention. You can utilize PicMonkey for free to add overlays and text to your photos. Here is an example:The Gospel Isn't Life Management
  • Links with photos - rather then posting a link and allowing Facebook to grab an, often non-relevant, photo from the site, delete the preview box and upload the best looking photo from that particular post to include with the link. (This means you'll need to save it to your computer). Also, include a quote or personal blurb about the post you are sharing (whether it's yours or someone else's)
  • Post relevant questions - when you post a question relevant to your community, you offer an opportunity for engagement. This engagement reaches out to more walls as more people comment. It may be slow going at first if your page has not made much headway. But be patient! And keep at it!

Strategically place your posts

Know your peak times for posting. This might take a bit of trial and error, but watching your page insights will give you a clue into when your posts get the most reach. Post at those times. There is a general idea of what times are best, but it really does vary based on your own audience.

My audience is mostly stay at home moms and I find my best reached posts are between 9-10am EST, 12pm EST, before 4pm and sometimes even around 8pm EST. Monday thru Friday.

So, that's when I stick to posting, and links get the best attention between 9am and 2pm EST so that's when I post links.

On the weekend I will often share some Instagram photos through my Facebook page and people really like that because it offers them a peek into my real life. So those do get attention on the weekends.

Be consistent

I cannot stress this enough. Along with following the above two strategies, you must be consistent about posting--what you post and when you post. This is what is going to break that barrier into furthering your reach. It could take months to do this, so you must be patient.

Consider this, though--Facebook is more than just for driving traffic back to your blog. It is my number 2 traffic driver (used to be my first until Pinterest came along), but it's more than that.

Facebook is about connecting with people outside your blog. This helps draw them into your blog. Sometimes this can take time, but once you get past that barrier, it's almost effortless.

The goal is to focus on engagement first. Not trying to make conversions. Because when you engage, the conversion automatically follows (in most cases).

So, these are the three things that are a must on Facebook. It is super important that what you share on Facebook has value to it. Because if it doesn't, people stop paying attention. They will either "unlike" the page or simply hide it. Hiding the page from their feed stifles your reach. You do not want this! Do not share people's work just to share it.

Share people's work because it's worth sharing.