Six years is a long time. You pick up some things along the way, some right away, some things through experience. Here are 6 things I’ve learned from blogging:
6. The internet is Forever. Write that on a piece of paper and stick it to your screen or keyboard. Because it’s the #1 rule of the blog world. It’s a blessing and curse. A blessing because that means that every random baby/puppy picture and story I post is retrievable somewhere out there, because if someone tries to steal your words as their own, archival data can prove you published it first. A curse because, well, the instant publishing of every single possible thought someone can have inevitably means that hasty words written at peak emotion that wouldn’t have been shared if more care had been taken are out there…forever. It means that if, at the end of a long and frustrating day, you snap at a total stranger and spout your mouth off, and someone catches it on video and posts it online, you could lose a lot more than your cool. The internet is a hydra, with good heads and bad heads. I’ve certainly been guilty of posting things I shouldn’t have, or wouldn’t have in retrospect. And poor decisions are out there forever. Of course, once it’s done it’s done, and sometimes the only thing you can do is apologize, forgive yourself, and move on. Or, accept someone else’s apology (or accept that they’ll never give one), forgive the offender, and move on. At the same time….
5. There will always be drama. And it doesn’t have to involve you. There’s always something going on. There’s a piece, and then there’s a response piece, and then a response piece to the response piece. Someone on the internet was wrong! Or mean! SOMEONE SAID DEPENDA!!!! Not everything is worth your outrage. Even (especially) when people don’t like you. I remember back years ago, some woman started a thread on The Nest (Remember “The Knot” and “The Bump”? Do people still even use those sites anymore? Well, “The Nest” was the one for parents/families.) because she hated my blog. Literally, she said in the thread that the only reason she read it was to “facepalm” herself. I guess that’s a thing. And she linked to a few posts where she picked out one or two sentences that PROVED I was going to be a horrible mother one day. (They weren’t even posts about parenting or anything, because hello, not a mom yet.) And several others joined in and they had a nice little vent session about how stupid I was. It was hilarious. Really. Mostly because they thought it was a private forum because you had to join to comment, but little did they know, lurkers could still read without joining. :) But also because, they didn’t know me. They thought they did, of course, because they read my blog. But they had no idea who I was, really. So it made it pretty easy to walk away. I could have joined, and jumped on the forum, and argued with them until my emotional energy for the week was completely drained. But why? Even if I had changed one or two minds, what would be the point? Did I need their permission to have children? Their validation for my opinions? Heck no. They were random people on the internet I had never met and would never meet. So who cares? More often than we realize, the best option for our mental and emotional well-being is just walking away.
4. There are insanely talented people who aren’t even a little bit famous. (I’m not one of them). I’ve linked to some of them in the bar above, but it’s oh so true. Men and women all over the internet who are clever, intelligent, wordsmithy – and of course, hard workers – who will likely never have their names on a Bestseller, be a guest on a late-night TV show, or even become really Twitter famous. But you know what? I love reading them. They challenge me to step up my game and remind me to stay humble, that so often someone else online has already said what I wanted to say, better than how I would have thought to say it. It’s important to make sure those people are always on your reading list. You will be the better for it.
3. It’s okay to “just” be a hobbyist. Obviously career blogging is a worthy ambition. And if that’s what your goal is, go for it, all the way. But if not, it’s okay, too. It’s okay not to monetize. It’s okay not to have a regular newsletter emailed directly to a couple hundred subscribers. It’s okay not to have a running stream of giveaways and product reviews. It’s to only talk about your dogs. It’s okay to only talk about your race training. It’s okay to just build a community. Because that community will have its own rewards, even if they aren’t monetary.
2. Your blog will go through seasons. There have been times where I’ve been great at cranking out posts on schedule with my blogging calendar. And there are times like now, where it takes a lot more self-discipline just to sit down and get out one or two a week (this is definitely the exception!) And just like my life’s focus shifts as time goes by, so does the blog from time to time. It’s normal to have lulls. It’s normal to feel burned-out. It doesn’t mean you should abandon your blog. It doesn’t mean you have no skills. Sometimes you just want to talk about food for a while. Sometimes you just want to talk about daily life. Sometimes you don’t want to talk at all. Again, that’s normal.
1. Blogging is as fun as you make it. Yes, it can feel like work (even for us little hobbyists). But even between blogging schedules, SEO, monetizing, PERSEC, writer’s block, metrics, legal concerns, and everything else bloggers consider….this is actually really fun, if you let it be. The post link-ups, the real-life meet-ups, even the snazzy blog designs that you actually pay someone to do for you – do I get any real return on that investment? Just my own pleasure, because it’s fun. :) Being part of conversations on other people’s blogs, starting your own conversations, and again, building some awesome relationships – let’s not forget hosting and winning giveaways! – some days it can feel like one big virtual party! If this was only a chore or a character developing exercise, I would have quit long ago. Finding your fun is essential to sticking with a blog, I think.
How long have you been blogging?