FAQ About Blogging

Starting and running a blog is hard. I'm not an expert, but I do get a lot of questions about blogging tips. If you're a new and overwhelmed blogger, trust me girl, I've been there-- and I want to help you! Five years ago I had to start my blog, too, and I have learned so much since then (mostly from my mistakes haha), so it would be a shame if I didn't share it!

Q: How did you start your blog?
When I was around 7, I used to literally write out "my favorites" on pieces of paper with foods, clothing items, and colors that I was liking at the time. When I was 13, I started my blog by literally typing "how to start a blog" into the Google search bar. I was really into crafts and fashion, and I wanted a place to share my ideas and favorite products. I was super into YouTubers like Bethany Mota and I wanted to do what they did, but I loved (and still love) to write. The blogging world has grown and changed a lot since then, and so have I. However, the same desire to get my ideas out into the world still motivates me.
One of my first posts, I was so little!
Q: How do you gain more readers? Did it take time or did you use certain strategies?
Find an ambitious and motivated group of blogger friends! I found a great group of girls who I often collaborate with. This helps expose you to a new audience. There's no "get followers quick" method and if you aren't willing to wait and grow a quality following, you should consider if you actually want to start a blog/continue your existing blog. Also, my family members are very supportive of me and always share my posts. How cute is this: my grandma has her sewing group read my blog (hi grandma)!
Q: How did you get the courage to start a blog?
Truthfully, starting my blog was easy because I just didn't know any better. I never thought anyone besides my mom, sister, and friends would look at it! For a while, that was true, and it was easy to be transparent and authentic on my blog. As I entered high school freshman year, I was mortified when people I didn't know well would follow my blog Instagram account (I think I even blocked some of them)! Hiding my blog continued through the rest of freshman year, but when I was a sophomore I thought "I'm proud of this, I'm passionate about this, why shouldn't I want people to see it?" Starting to tell people about the blog was one of the best decisions, because now my entire grade is there to support me. At school people will say they liked my latest posts, share ideas for posts, or jokingly ask me to put their meal/outfit "on the blog." It's so fun and I'm so glad I started to share this part of my life with others.
Q: How do you keep up with your blog while handling school?
You might notice that I have no set schedule for when my posts go up. This is because for me, school, family, and friends always come first. Right now, my job is to be a student and to soak up time with the people I love-- not to be a full-time blogger. Blogging will always be here, but going to a game or dinner with friends won't! That said, I usually work on blog posts in small sections at a time: during a homework break, during down time in class, or after the kids I babysit go to bed!
Q: Any advice on how to get started?
Establish your blog name, brand, and mission. What's your personality? What brings you joy? And how are you going to share that on the internet? Maybe start a Pinterest board for web design inspiration. Reserve yourself an Instagram account solely for your blog. Lastly, and I wish this was something that I did when I started my blog, create a content base. This means to create your blog and 3ish posts (including a welcome/about me) before starting to advertise it! People want to get a better grasp on the type of posts you'll have before following you, and that's hard to do when you begin with just one post.
Q: Would you recommend Blogger or Wordpress?
Personally, I use Blogger. I have to say I don't love it and lot of my blogger friends prefer Wordpress. Do your own research to see what fits you!
Q: How do you get ideas for blog posts?
I read other people's blogs, editorial websites like The Everygirl, newspapers, magazines, and basically anything else that comes across my desk. My dad is really into the Wall Street Journal and always pulls interesting articles for me to read. I get inspired by these articles but I do not copy them.  No one wants to read the same thing twice. I keep a running list of ideas for posts on my phone for when my inspiration runs dry!

Hopefully this post will assist anyone starting a blog, and if I did not answer your question feel free to DM me on Instagram @asunnystateofmind. If you want me to look at your blog and give insights, leave the URL in the comments!

stay sunny

Trader Joe's Must Haves

If you're like me, you've probably spent many afternoons wondering through the glorious aisles of Trader Joe's. And rightfully so-- it's a GOLDMINE of delicious, healthy, and affordable food. In all my visits to Trader's, I've discovered a ton of products that have now become my go-to's. That's why it was super easy for me to come up with my top ten Trader Joe's must haves!

1. Frozen Cauliflower Rice- Apparently cauliflower rice is all the rage these days, and I for one love it. It's super easy to saute with some veggies for lunches throughout the week, or you can use it as a base for a Chipotle inspired "burrito bowl." It's an easy way to sneak some extra veggies into your diet.
2. Handful of Roasted and Salted Cashews- These are my absolute favorite snack to take to school. When I'm running out the door, this is a healthy pre-packaged option that I can just grab and go!
3. Dark Chocolate Cacao Nibs- If you are serious about your dark chocolate, these will become your new obsession. I love throwing them on top of granola, eating them with nuts or raspberries, or just snacking on them plain.
4. Raspberry Lime Spindrift- As a die-hard La Croix girl, I can't even believe this is on my list. But, I recently tried Spindrift when I bought it on a whim at TJ's, and I LOVE it. It's a bit more flavorful than La Croix and I can't get enough.
5. Everything but the Bagel Seasoning- This is THE best. Sprinkling it on avocado toast has been taking my breakfast to the next level. I also love it with ghee (which TJ's also sells) on a bagel.

6. Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax and Chia Seeds- I eat this crunchy PB by the SPOONFUL it's so delicious. Plus, it packs a punch of omega-3's with the flax seeds and fiber with the chia seeds. 
7. Microwave Oatmeal Cups- These are a Godsend on busy school mornings and I know I'll love them in college, too. I always buy the cherry pumpkin seed flavor!
8. Scandinavian Swimmers- Just like Swedish Fish without all of the artificial-ness!
9. Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate- This is my summer go-to, and the cheapest cold brew concentrate I've seen! You can dilute it for iced coffee or blend it with ice and milk for a frappe. 
10. Super Seed and Ancient Grain Blend- I love sprinkling this on top of oatmeal and cereal for an extra crunch and nutrients. It has seeds chia, flax, and hemp, red quinoa and amaranth, and sprouted grains like buckwheat and millet. 

My wonderful friend Nicole rounded up her favorite Trader Joe's buys too, you can check them out here! I totally recommend reading some of her other posts while you're on her page, she's wise beyond her years when it comes to food and eating!

Leave your favorite things from TJ's in the comments so I can try them!

stay sunny