Tracy Saunders has been working hard on her launching her new WordPress blog and she succeeded in just 6 Weeks! Tracy is a teacher (not a tech guru) who turned to blogging, in her free time, in order to to help other teachers and make money online. I’ve had the pleasure of helping her setup this new blog and even teach her a few things about WordPress in the process.
After successfully launching her blog, I interviewed Tracy about what it was like for a non-computer-geek to launch a blog. Here is Tracy’s story.
Interviewing Tracy Saunders: Launching her WordPress blog
Chris: Congratulations on launching your new blog, Tracy! Can you give me your pre-blog story, in a few short sentences?
Tracy: A few short sentences? That’s not enough!! For blog purposes, I had a blog several years ago, that was more an anonymous diary. Then I started Gas Station Cappuccino as a combination teacher/mom/politics/stuff blog, but the more I learned, the more I realized that to build a solid readership, I needed to pick a lane and stay in it. I’m really good at curriculum and digital design for the classroom, so that’s what I did.
Chris: So you had to learn to focus. That’s such an important part of blogging. What got you interested in the online community? What got you interested in blogging?
Tracy: The online community, for me, is easier than people in real life. As confident as I am in the classroom, I’m kind of awkward socially. I’m an over-talker, and over-sharer with a loud voice. But online, I can regulate that, which I like. As for blogging specifically, I love to write, and have been told occasionally that I’m pretty good at it.
Chris: And from what I’ve read, that’s very true. What was your inspiration for your new blog?
Tracy: Two years ago, I was asked to be the New Teacher Induction Coordinator for my school. Basically, that means that I’m in charge of taking care of the new teachers, making sure they have mentors who are trained and on board, and helping the newbies find their balance and focus. Being a new teachers is the best worst job ever–It completely stinks, but if you love your students and your content, it’s worth it.
Also, being a veteran teacher isn’t all that easy, either. I was really sick last year, and had I known where to find “canned lessons,” things teachers could download and immediately use, I would’ve gladly spent money on it. But I couldn’t find much that was affordable, immediately ready to use, and that was up to my expectations.
So Solutions and Similes was born.
Chris: That’s really great, Tracy. You found a need you could meet and made that the purpose for your blog. Was launching a blog easy? What was the hardest part?
Tracy: Starting anything is easy. It’s finishing that’s the hard part. Look at New Year’s resolutions. It’s so easy to start them, but a week later, how many are still holding on.
For me, knowing where to start beyond free blog sites was the hard part. I literally stumbled into Word Camp Jacksonville online looking for “how to make money blogging” online, and knew I had to go. I fell in love with WordPress that weekend. So many great options that you don’t need to take out a loan to use!!
The hardest part for me, honestly, was choosing a company to host my site. I ended up with SiteGround, and have been completely impressed with their work. Professional, helpful, affordable, and easy to use, once you actually learn some of the computer lingo!
Chris: I’ve heard some great things about SiteGround. So what tools, people, and other resources did you use to make launching your blog easier? Did they work?
Tracy: There’s a tie for first in the “What made this easier?” category: WordCamp Jacksonville, and you, Chris. #WCJax got me started; I learned more that weekend than I have learned in so long. For an educator, it was invigorating, a little (okay, that’s a lie), A LOT intimidating, but it was accessible, and the people were so nice, and willing to help.
You were the other super helpful resource, Chris. You’ve been amazing. I honestly would have quit had you not responded to one of my Tweets for help, and then stuck around and made the mistake of asking me if I needed anything else. Once I start making money, you’re going on my very small payroll to help me work out the kinks in things I know nothing about yet.
I got a lot of help from WCJax people, random folks on Twitter, and from you, Chris. I would tell anyone reading this interview, that if they get a chance to go to a Word Camp, DO IT. It will change everything. I know it did for me. I already have two more website projects lined up–And I’m going into them with the knowledge that I’ll be able to do it, mostly on my own, and largely because I got help getting started.
Chris: Thank you for the kind words. My purpose on WP Like a Pro is to help people just like you succeed with WordPress. And the WordPress community is so willing to help! As you were launching your blog, what did you do when you got stuck? Was there anyone to help you?
Tracy: When I got stuck, the first thing I did was tweet for help. In doing that, I learned a lot about how Twitter works, which I didn’t know before. Lots of total strangers responded, and lots of people from WCJax did too. That’s where I met you, of course, through a tweet I sent out asking a WP question.
Nobody I know in real life does WP blogging or tech stuff, so it was me and the internet (and you, Chris lol!).
There were some random bloggers I met who I asked questions of, but those were one shot deals as they’re all busy doing what I was doing.
Chris: Finding someone who’s willing to see your learning process through to the end can be difficult for sure. But, as a WordPress Coach, I’m here to change that. What were the best, and worst, parts of launching your blog with help from a WordPress coach?
Tracy: BEST: Getting it done!! There’s no way I would have finished without a coach. I’m a former paramedic, current HS English Language Arts teacher, and adoptive mom. Those are awesome things, but NONE of it taught me how to build a website and business at the same time. Without your help, I would not have finished. Period.
WORST: The nagging fear of not having met this person, who has access to my web site, in person. While I love digital life, there’s not much that replaces a handshake and conversation over a hamburger. I don’t even know what city or state you lives in, but I’ve come to trust your opinion, research skill, and technical knowledge.
And none of that actually has much to do with coaching, honestly. But here’s the thing: A good coach does it once alone. Then walks you through it, then watches to make sure you get it right, then trusts you to do what you learned to do. As my WordPress coach, you’ve done all that!
Chris: Yeah, for finishing! Most people just flounder in a sea of confusion and frustration without a coach to help them learn. So glad you let me help. If you had to setup your blog alone, with only vague tips from random people on social media, how do you envision that experience panning out?
Tracy: HAHAHAHAHA! It wouldn’t have. There were a few times when the problem I was having was more than I could even ask about – like, I couldn’t ask the questions because I didn’t know enough about what was going wrong to even frame a coherent request about it. Thank God for screen shots and video messages.
Without a coach, there’s no way I would have finished it, because I would’ve launched my laptop into the dumpster after having beaten it into pieces.
Chris: Good thing you launched your blog online, instead! Was launching your new blog a timely success? What was the biggest contributing factor?
Tracy: Not as timely as I wanted it to be, but it’s launched, and I’m working on material for school opening in the late summer and early fall, so I didn’t get to do what I wanted with the launch, but that’s on me, not anyone else.